Monday, June 30, 2014

Book 3 Nights / Get 3 Nights Free / Hot Summer Nights at Oman's Luxury Resorts

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So, I am posting this deal because I think it's pretty good. During the summer (until August 31 specifically), the Entertainer is offering these special deals on luxury hotels in Oman (and not just in Oman.. so if you're looking to get out of Oman, it's good too):

Book 1 Nights / Get 1 Night Free
Book 2 Nights / Get 2 Nights Free
Book 3 Nights / Get 3 Nights Free

The Entertainer is a discount book, you can purchase at Barnes & Nobles at Qurm City Centre or online, It's normally is around 30 OMR but on sale during Ramadan as I remember. There are also restaurant coupons to the leading restaurants in Oman; buy one entree get one free, so you will be able to eat too. The catch with the hotels is you must call them, make the reservation and inform them of the deal at the time of the booking and bring the coupon to the hotel. Also, with food its best to tell them first before ordering. I'm just going to cut and paste the specials below.


Crowne Plaza Sohar 
Sohar, Oman


save up to USD 570

Offering unhindered panoramic views over a vast natural reserve, the 5 star Crowne Plaza Sohar is an elegant hotel which features 126 modern rooms, a large outdoor swimming pool and a fully-equipped gym, or guests can relax with a massage in the spa. The Crowne Plaza Sohar also offers a great choice of dining options, including Mediterranean Cuisine and North African delicacies. It is located 12 miles away from the Sohar Corniche and the city centre.

HOTEL RESERVATION No.: +968 2685 0850
InterContinental Muscat 
Muscat, Oman


save up to USD 531

Occupying a prime beachfront location, the 258 room InterContinental Muscat is ideally placed in the heart of the city and is just a 15 minute drive from Seeb International Airport. Guests staying at this hotel can enjoy the beach, two swimming pools, a health club featuring a well-equipped gym, sauna, massage facilities and six tennis courts. Other facilities include six fantastic dining experiences offering an extensive range of international cuisine.

HOTEL RESERVATION No.: +968 2468 0000

Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa 
Al Bandar, Muscat, Oman


save up to USD 750

Located on the secluded bay of Al Jissah between the stunning mountains and the sparkling Sea of Oman, Al Bandar is in the heart of this luxury Shangri-La resort just 15 minutes from the old city of Muscat. A pristine beach and crystal-clear waters skirt 124 acres of landscaped gardens. The resort boasts a selection of restaurants and bars, the Al Mazaar souk and CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La with 12 private treatment villas.

HOTEL RESERVATION No.: +968 2477 6262

Atana Khasab 
Khasab, Oman


save up to USD 312

The Atana Khasab Hotel (formerly known as The Golden Tulip Khasab) is a 10 minute drive from the Khasab Airport, 45 minutes by air from Muscat and 170 kms from Dubai. All the 60 rooms, suites and chalets benefit from an extraordinary sea and mountain view and are designed with the highest international standards. The resort is the ideal place to be, where you can enjoy many activities such as a dhow cruise, dolphin watching, diving, snorkeling, fishing and a city tour of Khasab.

HOTEL RESERVATION No.: +968 2673 0777




Crowne Plaza Duqm is the newest beachfront hotel in the upcoming town of Duqm, located 600kms south east of Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. The hotel has been developed in traditional Omani style and includes 213 spacious rooms and suites, and features a range of dining options including an all-day dining restaurant, seafood grill, bars, lobby lounge as well as fitness centre, swimming pool, business centre and ballroom.

HOTEL RESERVATION No.: +968 2521 4444

Millennium Resort Mussanah 
Mussanah, Oman


save up to USD 507

Millennium Resort Mussanah has been meticulously crafted with a blend of Arabian and Asian themes. The resort offers guests views overlooking the private 54 berth marina nestled on the coast of the Gulf of Oman and the Hajar mountains. The resort features 234 spacious guestrooms and 74 furnished apartments. It offers 7 dining outlets, on-site 18-hole Mini Golf course, swimming pools, including one exclusively for ladies, a private beach, kids’ area and a brand new fitness centre and spa.

HOTEL RESERVATION No.: +968 2687 1518

Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat 
Muscat, Oman


save up to USD 570

Surrounded by lush, tropical landscaping that belies its centre city location, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Muscat welcomes guests to Al Khuwair. Only minutes from corporate and business headquarters like WorleyParsons, the hotel is 15kms from Muscat International Airport. Each of the hotel's 153 guest rooms and suites provides thoughtful amenities, including cable television, free high-speed Internet access and mini bar. Guests can choose from six restaurants and bars located on the hotel property. After a long day of business meetings or sightseeing, guests can unwind at the hotel's private Fontana Health Club, which includes a gym, sauna and swimming pool.

HOTEL RESERVATION No.: +968 244 87777

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Booze Market in Oman

So, I thought to talk about the liquor market in Oman. Oman is not a 'dry' country like Saudi and Kuwait; these are the legal ways to buy alcohol:
  • 1) Non-Muslims can bring a specified quantity of intoxicants through Duty-Free ( two bottles or 24 beers).
  • 2) Drinks can be purchased at licensed hotels, in some restaurants, and in certain social and military clubs by everyone (including Omanis), but the alcohol must be consumed on the premises (no take-out). Ironically, in the Omani military clubs, the price of alcohol is subsidized. Public intoxication is not allowed.
  • 3) Alcohol can be purchased in special shops if you have a liquor permit. Liquor permits can be obtained by non-Muslim, expats if the employer provides a non-objection letter. Those who hold permits can spend up to 10% of their salaries per month at the liquor shop. ROP issues the liquor license; African + Eastern retailers can help obtain the permit. 
  • 4) Room Service. You can order spirits through room service in certain luxury hotels even during Ramadan or during bar closing times.
But, sometimes it isn't enough...

The Blackmarket:

1) Bootleggers.  A) Generally, they are expats who smuggle the booze in from the UAE or sometimes have a corrupt 'connection' working in a liquor shop that supplies it. They generally charge three times the cost of the shop's prices, i.e.,  a case of Bud Light at the shop costs 8-10 OMR but through a bootlegger costs 25-30 OMR. It is a risky business for the bootlegger; if caught, for sure, they will be serving a prison term or be fined before being deported. But, the pay-off for selling the contraband is very tempting for them. 

They may be in Oman illegally or under a different pretense on their labour card. They operate by having a 'delivery' service or meeting their clients in inconspicuous places. The typical client is an Omani male (99.9% would not be an Omani female) or another expat. Some pitfalls are some of their stuff can be real crap, expensive and sometimes they sell counterfeit liquors such as whiskey; there is no telling what chemicals are in the bottle. They build their client base through word-of-mouth.

B) Some bootleggers in the network are Omanis. They also smuggle in the liquor; a lot from the UAE. They generally sell the booze from their house to other Omanis or expats.

C) Villagers in Jebel Akhdar are said to produce their own vintage of red wine.

Bust by ROP

2) Other means of acquiring but not legal  - a) The liquor shop clerk purposely doesn't record the allowance correctly on the expats liquor permit which in essence increases his budget for more purchases or the Omani sponsor indicates a higher salary on the letter to apply for the permit (one can buy up 10% of salary in liquor per month.)   b) The hotel or bar lets you 'slip' a few out. c) People with licenses buy alcohol and sell/give it to their Omani/expat friends. d) Homemade brew.

*You could get in criminal trouble for engaging in these activities even if it seems innocuous at the time.

3) Local words/expressions relating to alcohol:
  • khamor  standard word for alcohol   خمور
  •  ‫   for alcohol used in the interior..local slang      شمبريشه‬ shambresha
  • saudi word for alcohol   sadeeqee   صديقي‬
  • Let's get some drinks.  ‫Yalla narooh nushrab. يالللهة نروح نشرب
  • Ali got drunk (drunk a lot)  ‫علي كان شار ب واجد‬ Ali kan sharap wajid 
  • 'Drunk / sloshed' sakran, teeqah, tayais, aabeer, tafeee  ie ana tafeee (I'm smashed, literally, the 'power cut')
    ‫   سسكران, ‫طافي. ‫عابر طيخه

Unfortunately, some Omanis and expats are suffering from alcohol dependence. I have heard stories of expat teachers showing up smelling like they chugged a few before their class, and many more Omanis are suffering from addiction than generally thought. Normally, they are 'functioning alcoholics' and their drinking issues are deeply hidden away from society and family.

Being a 'drinker' is considered something shameful here by society, in general, and most consider it forbidden in the religion to partake in intoxicating substances. For example, when someone wants to get married here, people will inquire about them to others and if known to be the guy at 'Copacabana' every Thursday, it would not be good.  There is not really a good support network here for Omanis with drinking problems nor for their close ones who are affected by the drinking. Oman is not equipped to deal with drinking and drug indulgences on top of their other challenges.

Recently, the Majlis Shura is calling for further restrictions in alcohol sales or even a total ban. Although this is well-intentioned, if alcohol is banned, the government would be in effect giving up its control over the sales of alcohol and turning it over to the bootleggers.  People who used to not use a bootlegger and drink in a 'controlled' environment with security such as at a hotel may then turn to one to fulfill their needs.

Also, that decision may hamper business opportunities in tourist areas or investment in the integrated tourism complexes. And, local expats and Omanis may flee Oman to places such as Dubai on weekends/holidays instead of frequenting the local tourist hangouts. Some expats may not wish to take a post in a 'dry' country, but these days Oman is trying to cut back on expat numbers in the work force.  But, depending on what society values, the governing bodies will have to weigh the pros and cons of what type of restrictions to enforce or not.

Ultimately, people are responsible for themselves and their choices. At best, people can be guided and addicts need help. Prohibitions rarely work as planned if you look at them historically.  Although it would be unpopular, I would be in favour of taxing the liquor sold in the shops to expats with permits more heavily to recoup some of the costs drinking has on society.

Monday, June 23, 2014

'Omanis ...Get Real!!' Tweet by Omani Official Stirs Up Local Opinion

A couple days ago, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Badr Albusaidi tweeted this (now referred to as the 'Get Real' tweet):

'Omanis get free education, free health care, subsidized petrol. Quite a few of the staples (e.g.flour rice) are also subsidized!!! Get real!'

also: see albalad newspaper:

The tweet stirred up an unexpected large reaction from the public of whom some boldly responded in social media comments something like (but in not such nice words), 'You get real, you've been living in comfort your whole life...' or that the tweet implies the Omani people are a burden. The Secretary's tweet may have been referring to the ire of the Omani people over the Ministers Council's decision to only regulate the prices of 23 commodities through the Consumer Protection. There seems to be a disconnect between the intention of the tweet, its interpretation, and the economic realities Oman is facing in regard to the governmental decision.

Maybe the timing of the tweet set people off into this fervor. These days, in Oman, it seems so arbitrary what gets highlighted in the social media outcry and what doesn't; somethings that I cringe at go totally unnoticed while seemingly unoffensive or less offensive things are treated as if it's the end of Oman. The good thing about it is the 'openness' of discussion and the general interest in what's going on.

Even though Omanis (and expats) do benefit from many government subsidies, a lot of younger generation Omanis feel in debt as they take loans up to a certain percentage of their salary to pay for marriage, housing, cars, and even for living subsistence at times after graduating leaving them with very little spending money for their families to live on and locked into their jobs which causes stress as there still is debtors prison in Oman.  

Interestingly enough, the Secretary tweeted this in English; although he equally tweets in Arabic. The Secretary's comment reminds me of a blog, 'Keeping it Real in Oman' written by an Omani - now archived - which the author describes as:

'I’m an Omani female who loves her country, but realizes its far from perfect. So tune in for some reality check from Oman!'

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy World Cup

Please see schedule of group matches below. Notes: The World Cup will coincide part of the time with Ramadan this go around.

Group Matches

The Independent 
Group Schedule by Date

Thu 6/12
4:00 p.m. — Brazil vs. Croatia, Group A in Sao Paulo 

Fri 6/13
12:00 p.m. — Mexico vs. Cameroon, Group A in Natal 
3:00 p.m. — Spain vs. Netherlands, Group B in Salvador 
6:00 p.m. — Chile vs. Australia, Group B in Cuiaba 

Sat 6/14
12:00 p.m. — Colombia vs. Greece, Group C in Belo Horizonte 
3:00 p.m. — Uruguay vs. Costa Rica, Group D in Fortaleza 
6:00 p.m. — England vs. Italy, Group D in Manaus 
9:00 p.m. — Ivory Coast vs. Japan, Group C in Recife 

Sun 6/15
12:00 p.m.— Switzerland vs. Ecuador, Group E in Brasilia 
3:00 p.m. — France vs. Honduras, Group E in Porto Alegre 
6:00 p.m. — Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Group F in Rio de Janeiro 

Mon 6/16
11:30 a.m. — Germany vs. Portugal, Group G in Salvador 
3:00 p.m.— Iran vs. Nigeria, Group F in Curitiba 
6:00 p.m. — Ghana vs. United States, Group G in Natal 

Tue 6/17
12:00 p.m.— Belgium vs. Algeria, Group H in Belo Horizonte 
3:00 p.m. — Brazil vs. Mexico, Group A in Fortaleza 
6:00 p.m. — Russia vs. South Korea, Group H in Cuiaba 

Wed 6/18
12:00 p.m.— Australia vs. Netherlands, Group B in Porto Alegre 
3:00 p.m. — Spain vs. Chile, Group B in Rio de Janeiro 
6:00 p.m. — Cameroon vs. Croatia, Group A in Manaus 

Thu 6/19
12:00 p.m.— Colombia vs. Ivory Coast, Group C in Brasilia 
3:00 p.m. — Uruguay vs. England, Group D in Sao Paulo 
6:00 p.m. — Japan vs. Greece, Group C in Natal 

Fri 6/20
12:00 p.m.— Italy vs. Costa Rica, Group D in Recife 
3:00 p.m. — Switzerland vs. France, Group E in Salvador 
6:00 p.m. — Honduras vs. Ecuador, Group E in Curitiba 

Sat 6/21
12:00 p.m.— Argentina vs. Iran, Group F in Belo Horizonte 
3:00 p.m. — Germany vs. Ghana, Group G in Fortaleza 
6:00 p.m. — Nigeria vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Group F in Cuiaba 

Sun 6/22
12:00 p.m. — Belgium vs. Russia, Group H in Rio de Janeiro 
3:00 p.m. — South Korea vs. Algeria, Group H in Porto Alegre 
6:00 p.m. — United States vs. Portugal, Group G in Manaus 

Mon 6/23
12:00 p.m.— Netherlands vs. Chile, Group B in Sao Paulo 
12:00 p.m. — Australia vs. Spain, Group B in Curitiba 
4:00 p.m. — Croatia vs. Mexico, Group A in Recife 
4:00 p.m. — Cameroon vs. Brazil, Group A in Brasilia 

Tue 6/24
12:00 p.m.— Italy vs. Uruguay, Group D in Natal 
12:00 p.m. — Costa Rica vs. England, Group D in Belo Horizonte 
4:00 p.m. — Japan vs. Colombia, Group C in Cuiaba 
4:00 p.m. — Greece vs. Ivory Coast, Group C in Fortaleza 

Wed 6/25
12:00 p.m.— Nigeria vs. Argentina, Group F in Porto Alegre 
12:00 p.m. — Bosnia-Herzegovina vs. Iran, Group F in Salvador 
4:00 p.m. — Ecuador vs. France, Group E in Rio de Janeiro 
4:00 p.m. — Honduras vs. Switzerland, Group E in Manaus 

Thu 6/26
12:00 p.m.— United States vs. Germany, Group G in Recife 
12:00 p.m. — Portugal vs. Ghana, Group G in Brasilia 
4:00 p.m. — South Korea vs. Belgium, Group H in Sao Paulo 
4:00 p.m. — Algeria vs. Russia, Group H in Curitiba 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Emergency management in the Arabian Peninsula: A case study from the Sultanate of Oman.

No comments:
With the announcement of the impending 'cyclonic storm', I thought to highlight some the dangers regarding living in Oman according to a training report of FEMA (The American Federal Emergency Management Agency) entitled, Emergency management in the Arabian Peninsula: A case study from the Sultanate of Oman. In short, the top hazards that ex-pats could face in Oman are being in a car accident or being a casualty of a cyclone. 

You can read in it full here (.doc file):

"For instance, some would argue that the response of Petroleum Development Oman to Cyclone Gonu was by far more prompt and adequate than the governmental response."
  1. According to the report, 'hazards' in Oman are either 'human-made or non-human made'.
  2. On its way....Cyclonic Storm NANAUK, June 11, 2014
    Track the storm at:
    'Forecasted Path of Cyclone Gonu 2007
    • Natural Hazards
      • Cyclones - Cause flash flooding and winds.
        • Construction worker camps most vulnerable.
        • Complacency of population led to bad outcomes.
        • Lack of emergency response units and supplies to decentralized areas.
        • Power and water outages for a week.
        • Past Cyclones: 1977, 1981, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010
      • Survival Tips (obvious but many caught in past cyclones were under prepared)
        • Have extra jugs of water, non-perishable food, money and medicines on hand. Have candles or solar powered light and recharger.
        • Move vehicles or personal belongings to higher ground for those in potential flood areas. Secure pets. 
        • Leave dangerous areas that may flood out. Take a sojourn to the interior. 
      • Earthquakes - affects north of Oman
    • Human-made Hazards
      • Road accidents - more than 1000 per year, bad behaviours of drivers
      • Health in newly industialized cities like Sohar - pollution, melt down of the Aluminum smelter, etc
      • Security issues with geopolitically 'hot' neighboring countries such as Yemen and Iran.
      • Survival Tips
        • Nothing seems to help the accident rate even though much has been said, suggested and tried; all I can say is be safe and have a stronger car/SUV.  The increased accident rate seems to be linked directly with the user behaviour of the drivers; which ultimately I think is psychologically linked to how information is processed at different speeds with distractions by the driver. For example, in many Asian countries people drive at higher speeds with more distractions but less accidents.
  3. Lessons
    "The first record of establishing a national-level emergency management system started in the year 1988."
    • National Committee for Civil Defense (NCCD) became autonomous entity in 2002.
    • Emergency management needs to actively prepare instead of react.
    • Integrate emergency management into the development of the country
    • Partner with private entities such as PDO because they are way ahead of the (NCCD) 
    • Have local supply depots instead of only centralized (in case the roads are blocked)
    • Ensure 'basics of life' first
    • Implement the laws that are in force concerning emergency management
    • Have more local grass roots management system

      "Omani people tend to under-estimate the natural hazard and the lethality of natural disasters. During the recent cyclones many people travelled long distances to see the “new rivers” not appreciating the risk"

Monday, June 9, 2014

Manpower to hold conference today to clarify visa rules, etc,,,,,

No comments:
It's been said officials from Manpower will hold a meeting to clarify the 'new'(re-enforced) visa rules at 4pm today at Intercon. Maybe some visa matters will be extended. On a side note, it is immigration personnel from ROP that actually approve and issue the visas.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Recap of Omani Envoy's Trip to New York in 1840


Envoy to USA sent by Oman 1840. Painting in Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts

In 1840, Oman sent the ship Sultana with the Sultan's envoy Ahmad ibn Na'aman to New York to establish relations. The arrival of the ship made quite a splash with New Yorkers and American dignitaries in New York as it probably was the first ship originating from the African/Arab world to US.

The ship brought along several gifts to the then US President Van Buren including two horses, pearls, and Persian carpet from the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar, Sayyed Sa'id bin Sultan. This roused controversy in the states as US Presidents were forbidden to accept gifts according to the Constitution. After hashing the matter out in Congress, it was decided the President can accept the gifts on behalf of the US but not personally setting the precedent followed today. The horses were sold and the funds deposited to the US Treasury.  

The Sultana was in disrepair upon arrival to New York. The captain was fired and a new captain 'Drinker' was hired for the trip back to Oman.

Saudi Aramco has a nice write up about the voyage here:

Omani postal stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of the voyage

First Lady Angelica Van Buren, daughter-in-law to President Van Buren possibly wearing the pearls gifted by the Sultan of Oman

Sayyed Said bin Sultan-Imam of Muscat and Oman, Sultan of Zanzibar

Monday, June 2, 2014

Omani Author Badria Al Ismaili's Book "Salt' Banned and All Copies Ordered Destroyed in Oman

No comments:
The book "Salt' or "ملح" by Badria Al Ismaili was banned recently by an Omani court due to the content being against the values and traditions of Oman. Previously, she was sponsored by Oman Cultural Club and Oman Scientific Research Council. Her book was published by Dar Al Entishar Al Arabi, a Lebanese publisher. The book consists of short stories.

The controversy is over some of the 'sexual prose' used in the writing style. There was a group who claimed outrage at the prose and made a big to do about it leading to the court taking up the case. There have been many write-ups analyzing her novel in Arabic newspapers. Whether the book is banned or not, does not change the reality of being human and what comes with it as described in her stories from what could be taking place in Oman nor the literary value of her work.

Sunday, June 1, 2014 / 'Campaign for the nationals..before foreigners'

No comments:
Some local sentiments posted on FB recently. This page was launched at the beginning of May. I'm going to post a translation of some of it for informational purposes; it's not necessarily the opinion of this blog. There seems to be a 'nationalistic' (anti-expat) trend spreading through Oman lately which is being more openly expressed.

Facebook Page :

Title of FB Community

حملة "صاحب الدار أولى من الغريب"

'Campaign for the nationals of the homeland first before foreigners'


Post May 28: Foreign workers and the national security of the Sultanate.  Excerpts:  'Omani nationals now have fears from the increasing numbers of expatriates. This is not fiction or imagination but the truth. This is bleak for the future. The increasing number of expats and their dominance in the 'joints' of the Oman economy......'

Post May 24: Background to video, Omani National and others taken into custody for marrying two minor girls: An Omani man was arrested in India for allegedly marrying underage Indian girl. However, according to an Arabic newspaper, the Omani family claims it is a set up to get more dowry money from the Omani and that the girl is 20 but the Indian faked the paper to cause trouble to exploit the Omani for more money. The Omani couldn't pay and is in jail in India now.


The Omani Taxi Driver's caption says, (literally) 'Like deer working while the monkey playing in our country,' meaning the local working very hard while the foreigner is enjoying. The license plate of the blue car says 'Hind 1' The FB comment says, '..even Indians are working as tour guides in hotels and giving incorrect information about the country ('Oman') and its history.'

At the bank. The left queue of new citizens 'remittances' while the right hand queue of nationals 'loans'

This rather propagandist looking picture of an Omani woman searching for cans to sell in the rubbish is juxtaposed against a foreigner shaking an Omani officials hand. The comments say, ' long for the national injury, how long for this shameful reality...'