Hello from Kenya! This dispatch is coming to you from a beautiful country very much devoid of tourists, but one which is desperate to have you all back.

Not advocating for travelling en masse during #Covid19, but here are 24 reasons it's a GREAT time to go to Kenya:
1. By the numbers: 
- Kenya’s total number of #Covid19 cases: 36,205
- Deaths: 624
- Recoveries: 23,243
- Population: 50 million ish 
- Tests conducted: 481,982
2. Kenya's international borders have been open since August 1. Their daily #Covid19 cases have decreased since the borders were reopened

3. Getting in: 130 countries are exempt from the 14-day quarantine, including all of the GCC countries & most Western countries
4. A PCR test is mandatory to get in, taken within 96 hours
5. It was one of the first countries to be awarded the Safe Travel Stamp from the @WTTC
6. I’m SO impressed with how seriously everyone is taking health and safety. Masks are mandatory and social distancing imposed, cleaning is constant. Not just in Nairobi either, even out in the villages, people are wearing masks & disinfecting credit card machines etc vigorously
7.  It’s Great Migration season with no one here to see it. Today, in the Maasai Mara, we saw 6 jeeps all day. Usually, my guide says, there would be many hundreds

Wildebeest for MILES
8. This means a front row seat to action like this, with approximately zero other people around

(Sound on)
9. It's also TWIN Migration season. Wildebeest in the Maasai Mara and humpback whales on the coast. And again, no people around to see it
10. Zero tourists, zero selfie sticks, zero influencers
11. Most national park fees have been cut 50% to encourage tourism
12. But that's not to say there is no tourism whatsoever. The domestic market is thriving & that is awesome to see. Apparently some hotels are experiencing a surge in demand because Kenyans have only just begun exploring their own country and have realised "how amazing it is"
13. The Kenyan people are the friendliest, warmest, most welcoming people on planet14. In 2019, tourism contributed $7.9 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the Kenyan economy. That has obviously now nosedived and there are many people struggling
15. Not advocating for mass tourism right now, but people’s livelihoods depend on it & they are desperate for people to return. So if you’re safe & responsible then Kenya definitely is an option
16. In the Maasai Mara, go and stay at @angamasafari, it will be the best decision you’ve ever made. Proof below:
17. In Nairobi, stay at @villarosakempin. Beautiful, central, GREAT food and GREAT staff. Also, Obama stayed there
18. On the coast, prepare to see some of the most sparkling white beaches of your life. And if you're lucky, spot the humpback whale migration. Stay at @hemingwaysKE and get to know the marine life with @watamumarine
19. On your way out, if you need a #Covid19 test to re-enter your country, rest assured it's incredibly safe and easy to get one here. PCR tests are serious business in Nairobi. Genuinely felt safer getting one done here than I did in Dubai
20. You will leave with the fullest of hearts

21. Your plane there and back will most likely be empty & there are many safety precautions the aviation industry are now taking to make sure everyone feels totally safe. Disinfecting, social distancing, PPE etc
22. Completely up to you whether you feel safe to travel again (and up to each country & their protocols). But there are some countries, like Kenya, doing everything right to kick the tourism industry off again. And if you're comfortable travelling, it deserves your time & money
23. People have said to me here "Corona kills, but so does a bad economy", quite poignant
24. There is a stigma with Africa as a whole that it is poor, it is struggling with Covid and it should be avoided. While some countries are doing worse than others in the virus response, you shouldn't lump them all together. It's an entire continent consisting of 54 countries
That is all. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. Now I'm leaving Twitter for the remainder of my trip because I'm breaking a promise to @sophieprideaux and she's gonna kill me
(More photos, info and stuff here: instagram.com/ash_stewart_/?…)

Newsy bits if you don't believe me

Of course, there are issues too. The police are crazy corrupt & pulling people over for bribes left, right & centre. That’s weird. In a matatu on my way down to Mombasa I was used as a talisman for safe passage - they seem to wave on the ones with the tourists in them
And I’d advocate never flying @FlyJambojet - no real concern for health & safety there, half the passengers without masks or around their chins & no one telling them otherwise. @Flysafarilink & @KenyaAirways on the other hand are excellent

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More from @Ash_Stewart_

11 Aug
🚨#Breaking: New Zealand has confirmed its first case of #Covid19 outside managed isolation for the first time in 102 days

Comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern scheduled an impromptu press conference with just a few minutes notice late at night in NZ
There are now 4 confirmed cases of #Covid19 cases in New Zealand (other than the 23 in managed isolation), in one family, from an unknown source.

The first case was found in South Auckland, and they have no history of overseas travel.
New Zealand's director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield tells the nation at 9pm at night, after a hasty press conference was called to announce its 4 new community cases of #Covid19: "We have done this before, and we can do it again"
Read 12 tweets
22 Jul
The existence of "Gulf Standard Time" has irked people in the UAE for decades. Mostly because 6 countries form the Gulf and only 2 use this time zone. The rest use Arabia Standard Time.
So - why does it exist at all?

I found the man who invented it one night when he was 'tired'
.@SultanAlQassemi perhaps said it best.

On GST: “I keep getting invitations to events at Gulf Standard Time, and I end up having to Google it and figure out what that is.

“It’s a false reality, it does not exist, there is no such thing. Someone needs to put an end to this.”
Actually, it was Bahrain that set the wheels in motion for the standardisation of time zones in the region in 1940

According to historical info, there were two time zones commonly in use in Bahrain at the time: Greenwich Mean Time +3.5 and, extraordinarily, GMT +3 & 23 minutes
Read 15 tweets
2 Jun
Meet Feby Baguisa. Every day, the Filipina mum rises at 3am to cook 150 meals for the needy in Deira

She pays for ingredients out of her own pocket, despite not having a job herself

Most days, 50 people queue before she arrives. She sits in the 38C heat until the food runs out Image
As word has gotten around, the queue has grown and the food runs out faster.

Feby spends time with those in the line - from India, Pakistan, The Philippines mostly - listening to their stories. Some haven't eaten for 2 days, others are sleeping rough because they can't pay rent Image
So now, she gives out her phone number, and her apartment number, with the chicken and rice.

"I give them my flat address and tell them if they really have nothing, then to knock on my door. We will do anything for them, if they need a bed and we can give it, we will" Image
Read 7 tweets
18 May
#Breaking: 832 new #Covid19 cases in the UAE, 4 deaths
Total cases: 24,190
Death toll: 224
Recoveries: 1065 new, 9,577 total
Tests: 37,844 more

Dr Amna Al Shamsi: "Unfortunately we are seeing a daily rise in cases due to irresponsible behaviour and lack of adherence to measures"
#Breaking (also): amendment for the UAE's nightly curfew - now to take place 8pm to 6am, instead of 10pm to 6am.

This starts from Wednesday, until further notice.

Pharmacies, supermarkets etc exempt from timings, can continue to stay open 24 hours.
IMPORTANT points for #Eid in UAE:
- avoid family gatherings and coming together, use Zoom
- do not give 'Eid' money to children
- exercise near your house for 1-2 hours, maximum 3 people together
- Eid prayers to be done at home
- do not leave home unless buying essentials
Read 7 tweets
8 Mar
PSA to anyone flying in to Dubai amid #coronavirus / #COVID19 outbreak: I came in last night at 3am from Lebanon and the process is super tight - which is actually kinda reassuring. A thread:
2: Flight attendants hand out a pretty thorough document before you land which asks if you’ve been to China, and all your contact details and seat information etc etc
3: On the air bridge you’ll be greeted with staff in hospital gowns and a thermal scanner, before you’re shuttled through to the gate which is basically now a makeshift medical testing area
Read 10 tweets
28 May 19
Headed home to #Christchurch to run the marathon in honour of 51 people who can never run again.

I’ve designed my kit to reflect the love sent from Dubai (spot the neighbourhood mosque!) & some incredible Arabic calligraphy from the mother of a victim of the terror attacks
The calligraphy pieces are by renowned artist Janna Adnan Ezat. Janna's son Hussein Al-Umari was a victim of the massacre at Deans Ave; he died saving others. The family moved to #Christchurch from the UAE, where Janna was a famed artist - even designing a watch for Sheikh Zayed
In Arabic, this piece says: "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un", which means: "We belong to Allah and to Allah we shall return."
This is said upon hearing the news of the death of someone.
I’ve simply got the words “love” and “peace” in Arabic in the middle

Read 10 tweets

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