King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan was in Mallorca filming. | JOAN LLADO

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Trucking Confusing

Having assured residents last week that they would not be joining the national strike, a decent-sized number of Balearic truckers caused rush-hour havoc on Monday morning. Congestion built up at the main access points into Palma, as protesting transport workers obstructed traffic and sounded their horns. In response, the Balearic Minister for Transport, Raquel Sánchez, appealed for calm, saying that the industrial action wasn’t having “too much impact” and the supply of goods was “guaranteed”. By Tuesday, things appeared to have cooled down, however, hauliers warned that if the Spanish Government failed to help reduce inflationary pressure on fuel, protests would resume – this time hopefully with the backing of the Balearic Transport Federation.

Bollywood Comes to Mallorca

King of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan (SRK to his fans), has been in Mallorca filming scenes for upcoming action thriller Pathan. One of the most successful film stars in the world based on income and audience size, Shah’s leading an all-star cast, with model-actress Deepika Padukone playing his heroine and Indian actor John Abraham cast as the villain. Locations have included Hotel Can Simoneta in Canyamel, the coastline surrounding Sa Calobra, and Beach Club Gran Folies in Cala Llamp. The 17-day shoot will end in Palma, before the troupe head back to India. Scheduled for release in January 2023, Indian media cites Pathan as “the biggest action spectacle that audiences can ever expect to see”.

Ukrainian Children Dock in Mallorca

In the early hours of Monday morning, a group of 11 youngsters from Ukraine arrived in Alcudia where they were warmly greeted by Majorcan host families. They braved a 2,300-kilometre trip from a children’s shelter in Bucha, just west of embattled capital Kyiv, through Hungary, Slovenia, Italy and France, before boarding the Baleària in Barcelona. The journey was made possible by volunteers from Sa Pobla-based non-profit ‘Per Ells’. More children are on their way.

Superyachts Seized

This week saw a spate of superyacht seizures on the part of the Spanish Government. First to be “provisionally immobilised” (in the words of Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez) was 85-metre Lürssen Valerie. She was undergoing repairs at Barcelona’s MB92 shipyard and belongs to former KGB officer and Putin ally Sergei Chemezov. Next came the now-infamous Lady Anastasia in Port Adriano – yes, the very same superyacht that a Ukrainian engineer attempted to sink some weeks prior. Finally, the largest of the three, 135-metre Lürssen Crescent, who was denied the right to leave Port Tarraco in Tarragona while authorities verified her ownership. If Crescent is found to belong to a person or entity sanctioned as part of the global crackdown over Ukraine, she will also be “immobilised”. Speaking in a TV interview, Sánchez said “there will be more”.

A Cloud Hanging Over

Midweek, such was the intensity of the Saharan dust hanging over the Balearics, that residents were advised to limit physical activities outdoors – and not go out at all if they were in a high-risk group. In terms of scale and density, the cloud was said to be the most severe in the last ten years. As the week went on, rainfall helped to clean the atmosphere, but the unwelcome by-product was a mud-red spattering over cars, boats and everything else.

Logjam for Non-Perishables

According to the President of the Balearic Association of Freight Transport, Ezequiel Horrach, up to 70% of non-perishable goods destined for the Balearics are being held up by pickets in Barcelona and Valencia. While hauliers are obliged to allow the movement of perishables, the blocking of ‘dry goods’ could impact Easter, and perhaps even the summer season, if things aren’t resolved in the coming days. It’s not just food that’s affected, construction materials are also facing short supply.

“Excessively Solvent” Town Halls

The Public Audit Office of the Balearic Islands delivered a report this week which suggested that many of our town halls were “excessively solvent in the short term”. They have a solvency indicator of 327.7%, which is “well above the range of reasonableness - 120% to 150%”. The total amount defined as “idle public resources” was 860.7 million euros, with town halls in Ibiza the idlest with an indicator of 459%. At the other end of the scale, Sa Pobla was the only one not to reach a reasonable solvency level - with an indicator of 80.8%. While “excessive solvency” might sound like a good thing, it actually means that revenues are not being spent. Alcudia has the largest cash reserves of all – close to 100 million euros of accumulated budget surplus.

Energy Prices Cut

Wednesday brought better news with Félix Bolaños García, Spain’s Minister of the Presidency, announcing lower electricity, gas and fuel prices from 29 March. He stressed that the Government is aware of “what it is costing to fill the tank, pay for electricity and keep homes warm” and said prices would be lowered in an “immediate and simple” fashion.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is Free

The positivity kept coming, with imprisoned British-Iranians Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (43) and Anoosheh Ashoori (67) finally reunited with their families this week. Both had been detained in Iran on spying charges - Nazanin since April 2016, and Anoosheh since August 2017. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confirmed that the UK Government settled a 393.8-million-pound debt it owed to Iran from the 1970s “in parallel” with the release of the detainees.

Stellar Line-Up for Mallorca Live

British rock bands Editors, Supergrass and Temples, Australia’s Cut Copy and Germany’s Milky Chance have been added to the line-up for this year’s Mallorca Live Festival. Big names Christina Aguilera, Franz Ferdinand and Muse had already been announced for the three-day event. The Festival is said to be “100% back to normality” and will feature at least 83 acts across five (perhaps even six) stages at the usual Magaluf venue. Dates have been shifted forward to 24 – 26 June to take advantage of the sun-beach market, and the square metre area increased from 16,700 to 25,000 to accommodate 76,000 pleasure seekers across the three days – more than double the number in 2019. The event is predicted to have a positive economic impact of 11 million euros. Tickets are available, priced from 59 euros.

High Expectations for Boat Show

Organisers of the upcoming Palma Boat Show are hopeful for full occupancy of the Moll Vell site. Held from 28 April to 1 May - in tandem with the Palma Superyacht Village – event directors expect to exceed the 227 exhibitors and 185 boats seen in 2021, the first in-person edition since the outbreak of COVID-19. Palma Boat Show is the opening event of the Mediterranean nautical season and therefore one of the most important in its sector. Tickets are priced from 10 euros and available now.