Saturday, November 22, 2014

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

Khasab



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.

Foreign Affairs 'Silent Partner - How Oman Became the Middle East's Indispensable Nation'

Foreign Affairs published an article about Oman at the end of October. One may find it here:

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/142323/bilal-y-saab/silent-partner


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Today in Jalan, Oman....


School - Jalan, Oman
This is not Ebola or a response to some outbreak as it may appear in the photos, but a 'protest' against the smelly fish factory in the area. Jalan is a town in the Sharkiyya region of Oman.





Nov 18, MOTC will inaugurate Sohar Airport

congrats sohar
1

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reactions to HM's speech from around Oman

If you have not heard, HM addressed the nation today by video and relayed that due to known reasons would not be attending National Day. This was his first public appearance since early last summer. He thanked the people for their sentiments and the Armed Forces for their dedicated service and patriotism. Upon hearing the news, many people expressed sincere prayers to the almighty for his good health and prosperity.

His speech can be found here (Oman TV): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOLa9wweX7Y

Official Statement:
Statement:
“Dear citizens, it is our pleasure to greet you as our lovely Nation is celebrating the glorious 44th National Day.”
“We thank Allah for blessing us with wisdom to lead Oman to a modern nation with a promising future.”
“Our nation is heading forward with steady fundamentals since the emergence of renaissance. ”
“Due to Allah’s will, the National Day coincides with our presence in Germany for reasons you all know.”
“We thank Allah, for His blessings for achieving good medical results,which requires us to follow medical program.”
“We express our deep grattitude for your warm & sincere prayers and feelings.”
“We would like to thank the Royal Armed Forces of Oman for their dedicated services. We appreciate their patriotism.”

Today Omani school

Today Musandum

Today Musandum

Today - Ibri
Today - watching HM's speech

Omani boy meets HM - previous years


National Day decorations hung today..waiting to lite

Today, I noticed Omani flags and strands of lights are in place along Sultan Qaboos Road and the new Express way. Muscat Municipality must have had their labour force out all last night hanging the flags. The citizens and residents of Oman are waiting and praying for the safe return of His Majesty.

One of the most beautiful buildings that will be lit for National Day is the Opera House. And, the unoccupied Ruwi Sheraton actually serves a purpose with all its red and green lights during this time. The 'Sheikh' of Wadi Kabir put this notice out regarding decorating.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Prince Harry to Visit Oman for National Day

It's been reported Prince Harry will come to Oman on November 18th and participate in the National Day events. Then, he will travel to the UAE to play in a Polo match for charity on November 20th.

(http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/prince-harry-announces-middle-east-mini-tour-including-a-polo-match-2014311)


Prince William & Prince Harry playing polo
2010 - Grandmother of Prince Harry with HM Sultan Qaboos

1979
1982
2010


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Touching story: Kuwati man finds Omani man who worked for his family after 44 years

A Kuwati man had been looking for an Omani man that worked for his family in the 1960s. The Kuwati was 12 years old at that time. He contacted Oman's Ministry of Interior in search of the Omani, but there were over 500 people with the same name as the Omani.  After arriving in Muscat, the Kuwati told a taxi driver his saga and the taxi driver called his friend. It turns out by coincidence (or fate) the father of the taxi driver's friend was the old employee of the Kuwati's family. The next day the Kuwati drove to Sur to be reunited with the Omani man after 44-45 years. The Omani remembered him well and the names of the Kuwati's family. In the 1960's-1970's many Omani worked in other GCC countries.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzfM9zBrqjI

Reunion @ Sur, Oman Shell Station

Source: http://alroya.om/ar/mixing/113552





Talib bin Mamari, former Omani Shura member sentenced to 3 years

Talib bin Mamari, the former Shura member was sentenced to three years jail last Thursday. This was the final judgement from the Muscat Appeals court; however, the verdict is appealable to the Supreme court. He was convicted of wrongful gathering, blocking the roads (referring to a protest in Liwa over the pollution of the Port), and inciting and undermining the State (apparently there was a fiery speech made in the local mosque by Mr Mamari when out on bail). An elected Municipal council member from Liwa was also convicted of wrongful gathering and sentenced to one year jail term. Mr. Mamari's immunity from prosecution (Shura members have immunity from most crimes) was lifted and his member seat lost as he is convicted of a crime.

I find the verdict reasonable for the region considering in other Middle Eastern nations the verdict for inciting or undermining the state could be death penalty (such as last month in Saudi - the Shia protest leaders) or more than 10 years (UAE) or just locked and never heard from again. On the other hand, I find the citizens complaint of the pollution also reasonable and that I hope that they have been heard and something is done to improve the situation.

The press release from Amnesty International regarding Al Mamari:

http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/oman-release-politician-jailed-taking-part-environmental-protest-2014-10-30

Omani jail is survivable. I know several westerns who have been locked up for less than thirty days in local jail. They said they were not beaten but slept on the hard floor (however - I have heard that (beating) has happened on interrogation of other cases). Many of the fellow residents were from India and Bangladesh. I was able to visit one friend in jail and bring him English reading materials and snacks. Also, the ROP officer made us tea during the visit. Not to say his served time was a piece of cake, my 'inmate' friend was quite torn up over the experience but came out unscathed before being deported back down under.


Mr Mamari at Liwa protest




Thursday, October 30, 2014

1, US Embassy issues warning for teachers //2, Silly prank video on Oman Air

1, The US Embassy issued a warning that western teachers could be targeted by extremists; no specific threat mentioned for Oman but for Saudi and Egypt.

October 29, 2014
The Embassy wishes to notify the American community of a recent anonymous posting on an extremist website which encouraged attacks against American and other western teachers in the Middle East. The website specifically referenced teachers at schools in Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and Maadi (Egypt) as examples of locations with high concentrations of potential targets.  The Embassy is unaware of any specific, credible threat against any American or western school or individuals in Oman. 




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2, This was going around the last few days. a little silliness...re Oman Air (not related to above post)

video

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

No Women Fans Allowed / Gulf Cup 2014 @ Riyadh

It was announced today no women will be able to attend the football matches (be in the stadium) of the Gulf Cup 2014 to be held in Saudi Arabia in November. Apparently, an Omani official agreed with the decision. The reasoning being it will cut down on 'soft sex'. Oman won the Gulf Cup in 2009.

http://shabiba.com/News/Article-61425.aspx  (In Arabic)



Monday, October 27, 2014

Operation Oman

A new film about the Dhofar Rebellion and Britain's involvement is coming out. It looks interesting with old footage of Oman and perspectives of veteran British fighters. There will be several screenings in the UK in November.

http://www.operationoman.com/#!info/co58

'More than 40 years have passed since Britain fought a secret war in Oman.  Major Nicholas Ofield has returned for the first time since his involvement in the conflict to retread his battlegrounds and reflect on what the conflict meant personally, and in the wider socio-political context.  Supported with rare archive footage and interviews from Colonel Mike Ball and Major Mike Austin, who also fought in the conflict, Operation Oman is the gripping true story of one of the most successful
counter-insurgency campaigns ever fought.'

video
'Desert People'