Sunday, July 29, 2012

WSJ: Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door

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The Wall Street Journal recently published an article entitled, Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door by ELLEN KNICKMEYER, describing the new sponsorship programme of King Abdullah of KSA which has sent around 60,000 Saudi students seeking Bachelor's and Master's degrees to American universities and 130,000 worldwide (which is about 1 out of every 200 Saudi persons) since 2005.

After a personal plea to President GW Bush by King Abdullah, America opened its universities' doors to Saudi students. The King covers the cost of tuition as well as gives a living allowance to the students. Under the scholarship, students have up to 18 months to study intensive English abroad to bring their language level up to university standards before being admitted to a university.

Almost all students return home as part of the scholarship agreement the students sign to participate in the programme stipulating that the graduates will work in certain government selected fields for several years in remuneration for the cost of education. Saudi is in the planning stages of building several international economic cities such as 'King Abdullah Economic City' all meant to internationalize and diversify the economy in the future.

King A and GW
It seems to be a win-win for everyone; Saudi students receive exposure and good education while their western counterpart's educational environment is enriched through cultural diversity - learning about Saudi culture and making Saudi friends all while American universities receive much needed fees during the economic downturn.

In Oman, we hear of only a handful of such scholarship programs such as through the US Fulbright programme. Oman has definitely improved and enhanced the education of its citizens through the founding and building of universities and university programs over the last 30 years (which should be applauded despite current criticisms reported as the system basically went from almost nothing to something). However, a scholarship programme such as the Saudi programme (even on a smaller scale) would definitely augment the current education students receive here in Oman and better equip them with skills fit for a modern economy.

Thus, it would reduce the need to import 'middle manager' expat workers from abroad to keep things running as it seems happening today; for example, most company's managers are from abroad and most reporters and editors from English print newspapers are mostly from the outside.

Excerpt: Saudi Students Flood In as U.S. Reopens Door

'Saudi Arabia's international scholarship program, launched when Saudi King Abdullah took the throne in 2005, is a key part of his efforts to equip future generations in handling the country's main challenges, including a fast-growing population and declining oil reserves.

Since taking over, the Saudi king has emphasized scientific education and exposure to foreign countries as keys to combat religious extremism and transform Saudi Arabia into a modern state. This year, the scholarship program has about 130,000 young people studying around the world, at an estimated cost of at least $5 billion since the program began.'

'Some of Saudi Arabia's harsher critics have supported the scholarship program. "If anybody is going to modernize [Saudi] society, it's going to be people" with exposure to the West, said Elliott Abrams, a conservative policy analyst who served in two Republican administrations. "In that sense I'm all in favor of it."

Friday, July 27, 2012

Top News From Oman: July 2012 - Qantab project to start any day now

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Summary of news events in Oman - July 2012 from various sources:

  • The Qantab development project is due to start any day now according to locals. 'Road closed' signs are posted in front of the street down to the beach. For more information about the project, see

  • As most know, the handful  'activists' involved in offense writings were sentenced to one year in jail with the exception of one sentence being for a period of six months. The 'gatherers' (those who assembled in groups of more than 10 persons in protest) trial has been postponed twice in July.

  • Renaissance Day was celebrated on July 23.

    'At a time the Omani people celebrate the advent of the month of Ramadan, the nation today marks the 42nd anniversary of the Sultanate’s Renaissance led by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. The Renaissance ushered in a new era of development at all levels, including domestic growth and the establishment of relations of friendship with other countries of the world.

  • Ramadan Karim - July 21 marked the first day of the holy month in Oman.

  • July 19 - It was reported a US helicopter crashed 58 miles southwest of Muscat.

  • Yusuf Saloojee was suspended in mid July from his position as South African ambassador to Oman pending a corruption investigation. More from:
  • July 5 - FIFA issued a warning of possible immediate and indefinite suspension of the OFA (Oman Football Association). However, on the positive side, the Asian Football Confederation has picked Oman to host the AFC U22 Championship finals in January 2013 (assuming Oman has not been suspended).

    'FIFA has reminded the Oman Football Association that all FIFA member associations must manage their affairs independently and without influence of any third parties, as clearly stipulated in articles 13 and 17 of the FIFA Statutes. This is in relation to the apparent award by the Administrative Court in the Sultanate of Oman on 25 June 2012 following an appeal by three OFA clubs, in connection with the OFA elections of August 2011, the enforcement of which would allegedly entail the nullification of said elections and the organisation of a new electoral process'

  • It was reported the Sohar Globe Roundabout was taken down in early July to make room for construction of a fly-over to ease traffic congestion in the area.
Omani Coat of Arms featuring a traditional khanjar

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Omani Duwar, Two Well-Known Roundabouts Razed Recently

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The Omani road system uses roundabouts over traffic signals for the majority. Along Sultan Qaboos Highway roundabouts are seen as decorative landmarks adding artistic interest to the roadway. 

Recently, two iconic roundabouts the Sohar Globe (RIP Jul 6/2012) and Wadi Kabir Bakhoor (Mejmar) circles were reported razed in order to make way for 'fly-overs' to ease traffic. Instead of destroying these well-known icons, why not move them into a park out in the desert such as done in Szoborpark (Memento Park) outside Budapest where all the old statutes are now displayed.

More info@:
Globe Roundabout to be History
'Demolition of Mijmar roundabout brought sad news'
'I lived in Sohar when we had the Globe Roundabout'

The Sohar Globe roundabout in Oman destroyed in July 2012We will miss the Sohar Globe Roundabout

The Wadi Kabir bakhoor roundabout was taken down in 2012
Before: Wadi Kabir Roundabout in Muscat
Wadi Kabir Bakhoor Roundabout destroyed May 2012 to build flyover.
After: Wadi Kabir roundabout 'Sans' Bakhoor Decoration - May 2012

Wadi Kabir Muscat Roundabout with Incense Burner Decoration

Sohar Globe Roundabout destroyed July 2012 to make way for flyover
Spring 2011: Sohar Globe Roundabout
'Sans' Globe'
Sohar Oman Globe Roundabout taken down July 2012. The Globe Roundabout will be missed.
July 2012: Source:

Sohar Globe Roundabout is no more