Friday, August 31, 2012

Top News Oman August 2012

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In no particular order...

Aug. 18 - A ROP Brigadier was sentenced to jail and fined for accepting bribes and for misappropriation of public funds. Total fines for the crimes: 91929 OMR; jail time: 4.5 years. Rumored amount of ill-gotten gains 500,000 OMR.

Aug. 15 - A Filipino fitness instructor working at PDO's gym stabbed her Filipino colleague to death with a kitchen knife 
in flat over a dispute.  

Aug 8 - Oman mediated the release of Iranian woman from US prison and received her for transfer.  

Aug - Al Said royal yacht returned from summer tour and docked at Sultan Qaboos Port in Muttrah near Muscat.

Aug 25 - Attention is being drawn to the increasing drug and alcohol use going on in the Sultanate in regard to youth.  In 2011, there were 3000 reported cases alone make that about 1 per 1000 people.* This seems to be a newer problem in Oman, but with serious negative effects all around. 

Aug 12 -  A gas pipe caused an explosion at the apartments Muscat Oasis in Baushar. Four floors were destroyed. Eight people were injured. Questions about safety standards arose. 

Aug 3 - Labour camp workers rioted near Azaiba and destroyed property and at least 20 cars upon hearing one of their compatriots had died (of Malaria without receiving proper medical care). The company assured that they provide the best available health care in accordance with the law. This is another tragic episode in the plight of the foreign labourers. 

Aug 8, 28 -  The  'Lese-majesty ' detainees and activists were sentenced to one year prison time in most cases and a minimal fine. 

Aug - The board members of Oman Football Association (OFA) collectively resigned to avoid sanctions and being suspended by FIFA. OFA board elections have been scheduled for late September. 

Aug. - Oman welcomed many new Ambassadors. 

Aug 28 - Horrible road accidents in Salalah claimed the lives of 7 members of an Emirati family while vacationing. The spotlight has been on this family, but about 55 people died in accidents during Eid vacation in Salalah out of about 95,000 travelers which comes out to about a .05% chance of having a fatal accident during the Eid in Salalah. Driving has serious risks in the Sultanate. Each year a traffic symposium is held to discuss what to do but the statistics show the accident rate is on the rise. 

Aug - The Quantab beach development project kicked off. 

Aug 12 - The US Destroyer USS Porter and a Japanese tanker collided in the Straight of Hormuz.  

Aug 19 - Eid Mubarak

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Website Popularity Rankings Oman: English blogs higher than newspapers & Ministry of Tourism

Popularity Rankings in Oman of websites listed by category based on Alexa data. Forums about society, politics and football are extremely popular. The Ministry of Education is the most popular government sponsored website. Egyptian and foreign news outlets are more popular than Omani ones. And, certain English blogs have a higher popularity ranking than major newspapers (including the Oman Observer), the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Tourism.  Downloading and file sharing also ranks high. I have not included all sites or search engines in the rankings below.

Government Sites
14 - Ministry of
21Ministry of Education Forum - 
30 - Higher Education Admission 
31 - Sultan Qaboos 
77 - Manpower
121 - ROP - Royal Oman Police 
181 - Muscat 
237General Directorate of Traffic - 
737 - Ministry of Information Oman -
1127 - Ministry Of Tourism - 

Forums / Blogs / Hobbies
2 - Facebook
5 - Sablat Oman - - Global rank 3,059: Popular online forum all about Omani society
8 - - All about Arab football
17 - Censored Blocked Page Template - 
20 - Hi Kora - - For those interested in Arab football 
28 - Omaniaa - - Popular forum about politics, economy and society
37 - لبرزة العربية ALBRZH ALARABYA -  - General Arab forum; jobs... 
45 - Cool Binat
52 - - 'Provides soccer news and entertainment'
55 ظفار المجد Dhofari Almajad - - Local forum on affairs of Dhofar region - Omani forum
199 - London Olympic 2012 
570Muscat Mutterings -, English blog on Oman
812 - AndyinOman .com - Expat teacher's blog about Oman; nicely done with lots of photos and descriptions

40 - Ebay - 
48 - Apple Inc.- 
51- Amazon 

Service Providers / Banks
47 - Mazook -  Mozook is the number one mobile service provider in the Middle East and CIS region.
90 - - Phone service provider
92 - Bank Muscat -
99 - Oman 
106 - 
120 - Nawras - - Phone service provider Oman
1132 - Friendi 

26 - MBC - 
42 - Masrawy, Egyption portal and news site -
50 - Oman Daily - 
61 - Al Jazeera News - 
74 - Al Arabiya News Channel -, Arabic Language news station
81 - '7 Days' - - Egyptian news site 
95 - Al Watan - - 'The largest Arab American Newspaper'
98 - Al Watan (Omani) - 'Voice of Oman to the World'
101 - BBC 
135 - India 
155 - Shabiba; Local Omani paper 
158 - Oman 
176 - Azzamn (Time) - Omani local news
232 - Quds - Arabic daily political newspaper published in Britain
255 - Gulf News 
295 - Times of Oman -
322 - Muscat Daily 
1047 - Oman Tribune 
1251 - Oman

Downloads / Shareware
25 - My Egy - - Place to download games, films and Arab movies
33 -  GulfUp | Free Files Sharing Site :) - 
49 - Arab Seed - - Watch or download Arabic movies, TV shows, music,  games

274 - PDO

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Special Ramadan Programming 2012 - MBC1

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This is a quick summary of  some of the special TV programs produced for Ramadan this year on MBC1 Channel.

Adel Iman in Fareq Naji Atallah

9 pm  (Oman Timings) -  فرقة ناجي عطاالله - Gang Naji Atallah 

Gang Naji Atallah is a nightly series that stars the famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam.
Premise: Adel Iman plays an diplomat working in the Egyptian Embassy in Israel. He is sacked and his assets frozen. So, he forms a 'gang' to rob an Israeli bank of 200 million dollars. They pull off the heist, and now he and his gang are in the middle of escaping back to Egypt through Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The series is a comedy putting the characters in ironic and surreal situations, but sentiments of the struggles of the Palestinians and conflicts in Sinai, Egypt and elsewhere are weaved throughout the script. Comedy/Drama.

11 pm - Omar

This is a historical reenactment of the story of Omr Khattab who was appointed Caliph in 634 of the Islamic Empire. He was know for fairness and justice. The series takes us through his life; the rise of Islam in Mecca and later its expansion. The series is well-made and was filmed mostly in Morocco. There was some controversy just before the program's release concerning how religious figures were going to be portrayed.

12 am - Khawaja (Egyptian word for foreigner) Abdul Qadir 

This is a story about a British man who first moves to Sudan and then to Egypt in the 1940's. When he arrives in the Sudan, Khawaja is a heavy drinker but soon reverts to Islam with the guidance of his Sudanese friend and finds new peace in life. While in Egypt, he meets the wali's 'mayors' family and falls in love with the wali's sister Zainab. The story focuses on the relationships between the people in the Egyptian town and their trials and tribulations in life. Drama/Romance

1 am - Tariq wa Hayoona

The lively entertainers from Kuwait host a game show where callers can win various prizes and money. The shows format is a bit different this year. Whereas, previously callers searched for items in rooms; this year Tariq and Hayoona compete against each other in various tasks such as hanging laundry, making candy apples, screwing in light bulbs and more. The caller associated with the winner of the task (either Tariq or Hayoona) gets additional prize money. Callers are from all over the Arab world and each caller is serenaded with traditional music from their country. Average prizes are 500 - 2000 Saudi Rials. 

2 am - Haroof Waoloof  'Letters Thousands'

Another game show where callers receive trivia questions where the answer starts with a certain letter in the Arabic alphabet. The announcer is famous for waiving his Saudi sword around. In this year's promos, he is dressed up as Zorro and uses his sword to carve an Arabic 'ح' or 'h sound for 'haroof' instead of Zorro's 'z'. Almost every show a car or two is given away.

Tash ma Tash - This was a Ramadan series that ran for 18 seasons, but was not shown this year. It is a comedy.drama that deals with social issues in Saudi. The actor Nasser from 'Tash' is also a judge on 'Arabs Got Talent'. Below is a translated episode from Arabic into English from last year dealing with the religious police the muttawah.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pirates of the Arabian Sea

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Check out the markers on the map below indicating actual (in red) and attempted (in yellow) pirate attacks off the coast of Oman in 2012. Oman is in a high risk zone of pirate activity.
2012 Attacks: Source:

Samho Jewelry in Port Sultan Qaboos
The map above shows all piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre during 2012. One may note a fair share of vessels have been attacked off the Omani coast.

Last year, South Korean press took over the Muttrah Cornish internet cafe by giving the owner a 'gratuity' to stay open during the afternoon 'siesta' period in order to report on the successful military operation of the South Korea navy to retake and rescue the hostages of the Korean ship Samho Jewelry. The ship was docked in the Muttrah port near Muscat after being saved. 

'In most incidents as soon as the pirates / armed robbers know that they have been spotted or feel the vessel has been secured and is a difficult target they will abandon the attack. However Somali and Nigerian pirates tend to be more aggressive in their attacks and hence additional precautions have to be taken.'

Most attacks in the Arabian Sea are perpetrated by Somali pirates and any ship seems to be prey from large oil tankers to fishermen navigating traditional dhow. To deal with pirates attacks, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has put together a bulletin of guidance on preventing and suppressing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships. 
Dhow hijacked off the cost of Oman Jun 20 / 2012.
NATO rescue ship in background

According to the Best Management Practices for Protection against Somalia Based Piracy bulletin, one of the most effect measures against being boarded is maintaining a nautical speed of 18 knots (which converts to about 32 km land speed) or above despite having machine gun fired or grenades flung on board to slow you down. Another is to hire private security contractor as no ship with hired 'security' has been successfully hijacked so far. Of course, being vigilant and fortifying the ship also helps. Basically, being boarded is bad and anything done to prevent that is helpful in thwarting an attack. 

'The average length of a hijacking of vessel and her crew is over 7 months.'

The motivation of the pirates is mainly money as there is often a ransom demand, but other motivations could be for revenge or pride. Some pirate groups calls themselves the Somali Coast Guard formed by fishermen touting the rational that they were protecting their seas from toxic waste being dumped in their waters by 'greedy' companies looking to dump cheaply and from over fishing of their waters by poachers.

Collecting ransoms may be seen as a form of remuneration for the pirates from being shafted in regard to their natural resources. This reasoning does not 'hold water' for some on the brutal attacks on private yachtsmen and their families including children. It is reported the pirates enjoy local support and encouragement from a majority of fellow Somalians. The pirate groups are known to coordinate and share in the booty. Pirating is a low overhead but high return endeavour for the Somali young men.

To engage in a 'pirate' attack it must be done in international waters; if perpetrated in a countries territorial waters, it is considered theft of a ship in addition to any other crimes which would have taken place during the attack.

IMO Reporting Centre:
Modern Day Pirates Tales / Blog:
The Pirates of Somalia / Book:

Some news articles relating to attacks near Oman:


Source BPM4 guide: Barbwire fortification to deter pirates

Source BPM4 guide: Water hosing to deter pirates

Pirate boats 'skiffs' 
Military boarding 

LNG tanker shot at by pirates

Article101 - United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982

Definition of piracy
Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).

Friday, August 3, 2012

Murderer & Drug Dealer Escape From Omani Court & Are On The Loose

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According to a popular forum, several (three) criminals escaped from an Omani courthouse (Seeb) yesterday (possibly through a bathroom window). As far as is known, they are still on the run as of now. It is said they are of Pakistani origin. Some of the crimes that is said they perpetrated were the murder of a Chinese woman and drug dealing. So, if you happen to see the likes of these persons around, contact the authorities.

For more see:

Alleged Photos of the Fugitives