Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ban Alcohol & Sheesha on 'Land, Sea & Air' votes Oman's Majlis Al-Shura

The vote came in today to ban alcohol in Oman over 'land, sea and air' and to stop issuing sheesha restaurant permits by Majlis Al-Shura. But, keep in mind that Majils Al-Shura has minimal legislative powers and only makes recommendations that are then taken up by high authorities such as the Ministers Council until the final say is with the Sultan.

Some of the Majlis Al-Shura members may be considered a bit 'old-school' and well-intentioned by some but many other Omanis support the ban; meanwhile, I doubt it's likely (or am hoping not) a full ban on alcohol will be realized in Oman. The ramifications on business and tourism are to great too ignore. However, possibly more restrictions will be put in place as a compromise. Instead of banning, why not raise up the tax on alcohol and collect funds for the government.

Credit: http://www.blueridgeinstitute.org/
Old moonshine operations during prohibition on alcohol in USA.

...envisioning such a whiskey still in deep in the Hajar mountains...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Vaseline Oman

'Vaseline goes around the world to find out how its healing properties are used by different nationalities and cultures.' Below is an actual commercial for Vaseline for the Omani audience (note the pic of Muscat Gate in the background). 

This video (Eng subtitles) was featured on CNN (Arabic). Some found the video unbecoming to Omanis; others found the video catchy.  What are your thoughts..........


Vintage Vaseline

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mixed Feelings: Latest Qantab Construction Photos

Saraya Bandar Jissah, the ITC project located in what locals used to call 'Qantab' beach has posted construction updates on their website, http://www.sarayabandarjissah.com/, of which I have poached a few and am posting below. An 'official' description of the project states:

'Luxury residences will lead down the valley to the pristine sands of the natural Bandar Jissah beach, masterfully integrating simple contemporary architecture with the complex mountainous terrain. The masterplan development fits perfectly in to the landscape thanks to the unique approach to community planning which prioritises preservation and conservation of the natural landscape, flora and fauna to create a native and indigenous landscape for resort living.'

After viewing the photos, I am not sure to be excited or to cry as I cannot help remembering and missing all the enjoyable walks I had there, picnics and even the 'beach cats'. But, I may be overly nostalgic. The terrain looks a bit torn up with parts of the mountains blasted away.

The most concerning thing I noticed or didn't notice in the photos was the old cemeteries. I hope that they are still there, was one of the 'prioritizes in preservation' and are not bulldozed and built over; lots of jinni could be there. Qantab was hit by a plague in its history and many villagers died; the main tribe al Qasmi abanonded the area and moved to the Emirates.

The mock-up of the new residences does look stylish and I believe will be a refined place to live once completed. If it was inevitable the beach would be developed, this project's design is a dignified answer.  For those interested in buying in, there is a place to register interest on their website. The project is classified as an Integrated Tourist Complex which allows ownership by foreigners.

Overview - These photos as of Oct 2014. - 
Source: sarayabandarjissah.com

This is where qantab's 'secret beach' was.

New roundabout just after the old turn into to Quantab with new annoying but necessary speed bumps

Construction trailers

Excavation of mountain side

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Avoid Swimming from Sifah to Wave Complex due to unknown contamination in Omani coastal areas

Please refer to forwarded letter below: Also, today, there was a fire at PDO - a gas unit caught fire - , and at least three (some reporting four) persons sustained injuries.

Dear Colleagues,

We would kindly like to bring to your attention that, after a thorough investigation, PDO has concluded that the crude oil deposits, which have recently been recently reported as affecting the local coastline, are not as a result of our operations. PDO has surveyed its facilities and confirmed that it is not related to our tankering operations at Mina Al Fahal. (MAF)

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) is aware of the problem which has affected the coastline from the Wave, Crown Plaza, MAF area down to Sifah and the Dimaniyat islands and have been surveying the sea and coastline since the end of last week. They have, however, not been able as yet to identify the source.  PDO is providing support to MECA to deal with the problem.

For the health and safety of you and your families, we advise you to refrain from accessing the beach for swimming during this period until  we have received the all clear.

Kind regards,

Mohammed Al Salmani (MSEM)
Corporate Health, Safety and Environment Manager


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Happy 43rd to the UAE

Happy National Day to the UAE !

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free Nawras/Ooredoo Today, but....

For National Day holidays, Ooredoo, formerly Nawras had announced a promotion for today 27 Nov by texting #ouroman to 80144 national calls would be free all day until midnight. They even published a press release in Muscat Daily. I subscribed and received a confirmation message, 'Enjoy free national calls from 12am to 11:59pm on the 27th of November to any network in the Sultanate!'

But then, oops, around 2am in the morning I was awakened by a text message. It was Ooredoo. 'Dear Customer. Thank you for registering for our National Day offer. Due to the high level of registrations and to allow everybody to enjoy this offer we have had to limit the offer to 5 OMR.'

This is very uninspiring on their part ! a - it's not the customer to blame for registering for a promotion they heavily marketed b - backpedaling when they realise they didnt think through the promotion fully is imprudent. c - waking people and sending messages at 2 am to cover themselves is inelegant.

On a different note, congratulations to Qatar for winning Gulf Cup.

ooredoo Myanmar

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nice Old Photos of Oman

I lifted the photos below from the blog post: http://qal3ataltareekh.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/blog-post.html?m=1. This blogger went to great effort to post what seem to be more than 100 historical photos of Oman & Zanzibar. Some, I had never seen before. If you're into Omani history or old photos, I recommend checking the post linked above out. From looking at some of the photos,  it becomes clear how much Oman has changed in the last half century but maintained her essence.

Three generations of sultans. Photograph dating back to 1912. The Sultan Faisal bin Turki is holding his grandson, Sultan Said bin Taimur and standing is his son Sultan Taimur.

Muscat Harbour

Sidab 1960s, note the camel in the foreground.

American women working at Muttrah hospital with Omani woman sitting 1960s

Muttrah 'beach'

The shelling of Nizwa fort by the British

Education system

1860 Muscat

Traditional Dhow
This is Muttrah 1970 

Road between Muscat & Muttrah 1959. It still exists through Riyam near the upper park entrance.


Cyclone 1952

Sultan Said bin Timor in a tank

Sultan Timor bin Faisal (Grandfather of HM Sultan Qaboos)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

UAE did something cool last week...

HM Sultan Qaboos' image appeared on Burj al Arab

Friday, November 21, 2014

Gulf Cup : Oman 5 - 0 Kuwait - Yes Yes Yes !!

Oman has progressed to the semi-finals of Gulf Cup of Nations. Unexpectedly, Oman awesomely defeated Kuwait tonight five to naught to overcome an non-qualifying position after two games in the round which Oman tied. News of the Kuwaiti coach being sacked is spreading. Omantel is going to kick in some OMR to send more Omani fans to Riyadh, and, hopefully, no telecom blackouts during the matches will be experienced. Oman will play Qatar next, and, if victorious, Oman will play the winner of Saudi v Emirates in the final.

Omani Fan Bus Driver to Riyadh

Ali Al Habsi, Omani player


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kaboura man protests pot holes by planting banana tree in them

The Kaboura service road is filled with pot holes causing damages and dangers to drivers and their cars. One man is fed up and took action by planting a banana tree in the hole. Kaboura is in Batinah on the main road between Muscat and Sohar. Another man started fixing and filling them himself.

Banana tree thriving in pot hole.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gulf Cup kicking off, new solar radars being installed.....and more

Oman is participating in the Gulf Cup in Riyadh. An Omani fan bus is leaving from Sohar to support the Omani national team. Al Habsi, Oman's key player is competing this year. Let's hope Oman can do something this year at the Cup under the Frenchman. Oman is in a tough group. Their first game will be against the UAE.

Decorating the Fan Bus

Omani authorities bust Yemeni trying to steal a car near Mazyoona border station.
Solar Speed radars are being installed between Ibri & Buraimi. There are no street lights in this road segment.
Buraimi local's garnishment for National Day

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another sad maid story in Oman

I am writing this in reaction to Times of Oman article I read today about, 'Woman falls to her death in Oman.'  Basically, the only information the article reveals is that a woman of unconfirmed Sri Lankan citizenship (no mention of her occupation) fell from a multi-story building in Buraimi and died.  A chilling picture of the woman on the way down was also published with the article. There must be 20 or so comments of a heated nature readers posted below the story.

This is a very tragic incident, and I do not think the article did the woman justice and even if 'maid' issues are sensitive in Oman; the article could have mentioned the matter in a delicate manner or a least have given the actual facts. This is in essence what happened:

The woman was a maid and locked in an office building on the fourth floor with several other housemaids-to-be. The company employing the maids to be placed in households is run by a non-Omani Arab. She climbed out the window and held on to the outside before falling. There is a video going around but I find it distasteful to post it.  It is unclear if she committed suicide or if she fell to her death after trying to escape but lost her grip holding the outside railing (the word is suicide but it seems to me it equally likely she fell trying to escape).

Some of the Times of Oman commenters were calling this lady 'mad' or saying such things as that they are providing jobs for you and if you don't like it go back to your own governments. Others saying housemaid are the main abusers of Omani children and do black magic. Abuse of housemaids in Oman and the whole GCC is a major concern and controversial. There are heated arguments on both sides. Abuse does take place and its a 'dark side' to Omani society, but, on the other side, domestic servants have been known to also do wrong such as steal gold and run away. Oman does have a labour law that is favourable to employees; however, it is not always enforced or followed. It is difficult from such a subordinate position with little resources for housekeepers to have their rights applied. 

My take is - a job where you are locked-up and cannot come and go if you choose to- is not a job but something else. On a philosophical level, I find all human life to be miraculous and therefore should be respected and mourned when lost despite any background. The saddest part is that her death seems so unnecessary and it seems nothing will be changed for the better for housemaids here despite the incident. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

From around Oman and beyond this Week

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said. His Majesty gave a televised speech this week from Germany.  I really like this photo with the contrasting colours, and HM is looking quite dapper as well.
Oman received 'snow' in the form of hail at the beginning of this week. Rain or snow is a rare happening in most parts of Oman. The snow graffiti says 'Qaboos'.

Secretary Kerry in the Muttrah souk in between negotiations with Iran.  Oman Observer and Travels into Oman have more photos of his shopping exploits. My favourite tweet of the hour:
 hours ago  US diplomats are resorting to genie lamps? RT @RZimmt: #JohnKerry buying a "Magic Lamp" yesterday in #Muscat, #Oman.
Austrailian (long time resident of Oman) artist David Willis new exhibition,Traditional Oman, opened in Bait al Baranda on Nov 4. Oman has a fantastic maritime history; her coast extended down the shores of Africa.  ASafeHarbour blog has lots of photos of the event and the art. .
I was looking for inflatable pools at LuLu's and noticed the pictures on the boxes all had been manually censored with a black marker. It must of taken them hours. Oman is a conservative society.