Friday, 16 March 2012

Payment Problems

We took the car back to the workshop and Abdullah gave me BD 6,000/- cash as part payment. I asked him, “How was he paying for the balance?” and he told me to see his father up at the house later this afternoon. Normally I would have not released the car without full payment, but I was sure Sheikh Isa would pay us and I let Abdullah take his car.
In the afternoon, I went up to see Abdullah and his father and Sheikha Sheikha his mother stood on the balcony whilst Abdullah drove the Porsche 930 turbo up and down for her to see. She said something in Arabic, which I could not understand, and Abdullah laughed. Apparently his mother thought it very expensive for such a small car and that a Cadillac was twice the size and half the price!
As King Khalid’s death had been formally announced, Sheikh Isa told me he would pay the balance after the period of mourning once he was back in the office, so I left without my BD 8,000/- balance payment.
I chased Sheikh Isa for payment for a further few weeks and I informed him I was going on leave to London that weekend for the summer holidays and I really need the outstanding settling now. He informed me that he was leaving for London with his family and he invited me to come and see him in his house in the Bolton’s in West End of London and he would pay me then. I took his address and telephone number and said I would call him in a few days after my arrival. The last thing I wanted was to chase up payment whilst on my holidays but this was a lot of money and I thought to make the effort.
Upon arrival in London I called Sheikh Isa and he invited my wife and I up to lunch as Sheikha Sheikha was there, which eventually took place at 4pm in their house in the Bolton’s.
Abdullah had flown the Porsche 930 turbo into London for the holidays and it was parked outside on the double yellow lines. It had been towed away by the police some days earlier upon arrival but they had come to some arrangement with the police thereafter and he kept it parked outside still on the double yellow lines. Sheikh Isa told me that only the Arabs and the Church owned houses in the Bolton’s, so he could not understand what all the fuss was about with yellow lines?
The police arrived shortly after, whilst I was there, and it turned out young Sheikh Sulman, who was only around 7 years old kept pressing the button by the front door of their house as it brought, “The men with blue flashing lights on their cars.” The officer told me this was a regular occurrence but Sheikh Sulman thought it was great fun!
I never got the money from Sheikh Isa in London and after the holidays, I was waiting for Sheikh Isa the following Saturday at his office. We had a catch up meeting and he told me that I needed to go and see his brother-in-law, Sheikh Sulman at the Ministry of Justice & Islamic Affairs as he was paying the balance for the car. I reluctantly accepted this, but thought at least there was some movement at last.
I then drove over to the Ministry of Justice & Islamic Affairs and popped into to see my landlord and friend, Sheikh Mohammed to ask him for some advice on this matter. He said that Sheikha Sheikha was always taking things and not paying for them and that all outstanding payment matters were passed to her elder sister Sheikha Thargba who was Sheikh Sulman’ wife.
I went upstairs to Land Registration to see Sheikh Sulman who was delighted to see me again. I had met him several times and he said he was sorry for messing me around on this payment and that his wife would see me this afternoon at their palace in Riffa, where they lived. I asked him about protocol and he said it was not problem and to give my name to the guards on the gate.
In the afternoon, I duly was shown into to wait to see Sheikha Thargba and after a few minutes she came in and introduced herself. She apologised for the delay in payment and I said, “As long as it is sorted out shortly as all these delays are getting very embarrassing now.” She was a very strong woman who presence was noticeable. She gave me some Qahwah (Arabic Coffee), which was delightful, and I asked how it was made and she explained.
We then chatted about any number of things except the money owed. She asked about Porsche cars and Porsche Design products. She asked me, “Do you have any brochures?” and I said “Maybe in my car outside?” I went out and returned with a range of them. She asked me, “Where does the driver sit in the Porsche 928?” and I explained it was a car that one drove yourself and it was not one to have a chauffeur drive you. She then enquired about all sorts of Porsche Design items and then asked to see samples the following day. I agreed I could bring a range of items to show her and we made another appointment to meet up again.
On the way out she said she would talk to her brother, the Amir of Bahrain, about the balance payment for Abdullah’s Porsche. I thanked her and got up to leave and her servant came in with a bag of ingredients to make my own Qahwah. She told me how to prepare the ingredients so I thought I would give it a try at home later that day.
The following day I went back to see Sheikha Thargba as agreed loaded up with most of our Porsche Design stock from the office. She told me, “I’ll take everything”, I had to ask her again what she exactly did she want to buy? She said, “I will buy it all!” I worked out the cost of everything and she came back with the cash and gave it to me there and then. I told her I would drop a receipt off the next day. She told me her brother, Sheikh Isa, the Amir, had told her to send me to see his personal secretary, Isa Dossary, who was actually Director of the Diwan (Amiri Court). I thanked her for her custom and assistance and she said, “Let me know Alan if you need anything else.”
I was at the Amiri Court the following day and was told to come back next week. The following week I was put off again and this happened for several appointments. I eventually got really upset at all the messing around and so I called in to see Sheikha Thargba again. She was apologetic and she told me she would speak to Isa Dossary herself.
A week later I then got a call at my office to go to the Amiri Court to collect our cheque. I was down there in a flash and sure enough I collected our cheque for BD 8, 000/-. I drove back to the office and gave it to Irene to bank. She said, “Did I know it was post-dated?” I looked again at it and it was posted dated for three months! I could not believe it that the Ruler of Bahrain had given us a post-dated cheque that he had signed himself!
Looking back on this episode, I should have made arrangements with our bank to get this cheque back and I should have framed it!
A couple of weeks later Sheikh Abdullah invited Bob, Rob and I up for a magnificent lunch and this time the spread had a sheep not a goat centre stage! Abdullah said he was thinking of getting his grandmother to buy his younger brother Sulman, the gold 911 Targa we had in stock, which was another cancelled order. I said that his little brother must only be six or seven years old and Abdulla said, “So what, he has his own driver to take him to school”.
The following day Abdullah came and collected me and we took the new gold Porsche 911 Targa into a restricted part of the desert to a very old house to show his grandmother, the Ruler’s mother. I did not meet her but I had to drive the car up and down with Sheikh Sulman standing on the passenger’s seat next to me waving out of the window to his grandmother!
We did not sell the car but looking back the whole Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa experience was out of this world.

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