Friday, December 6, 2013

Tomorrow: Ambassadors’ Wives Group Charity Bazaar

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Tomorrow, December 7, 2013: Ambassadors’ Wives Group Charity Bazaar

This sounds like an interesting event featuring traditional dancing and foods from the various embassies participating. The event will be held in the Afrah Ballroom, Grand Hyatt Muscat starting at 10:30 am until 4 pm. There is no charge for entry; however, raffle tickets will be sold. The event is to benefit the Association for the Welfare of Handicapped Children.



Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sri Lankan Embassy files complaint with Oman against National Day "Gropers'

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Apparently, the teenage girl who was groped on National Day is a Sri Lankan citizen. She has been in the hospital for trauma. The Sri Lankan Embassy has filed an official complaint with Oman on her behalf. The Omani guys involved in the incident have been picked up by ROP and are being dealt with. It is said the girl and her companion were not there to celebrate but trying to get home through the traffic the revelers caused.  : Video  

Sorry for the blurriness. Omani guy reaches out and gropes girl in pink t-shirt and red helmet.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Omani Civil Defense rescues four from overflowing wadi : Video

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Omani Civil Defense rescued these four Pakistani from Big Wadi in Ibri, Governorate of Dahirrah. The pilot of the helicopter is an Omani woman.

انقاذ اربعة باكستانيين كانوا عالقين بسبب جريان وادي الكبير بولاية عبري

Omani rescue pilot from Ibri

Oman National Day 'Groping' : Video

 الفيديو الذي احدث ضجة وغضب عارم نتيجة تصرفات صبيانية لا تعكس اخلاقيات الشعب العماني الخلوق  / في العيد الوطني ال 43

This video shows a young girl being what looks likes being groped by a group of Omani National Day revelers. You can hear her screaming in fear/disgust. This is one of several incidents from this year's celebration. I do not remember another National Day where such happened. I'm not sure what got into people this year; maybe, the full moon during National Day caused people to go partially nuts.

Although many Omanis have indicated outrage by this video and such actions on various forums, unfortunately sexual harassment does happen in Oman especially toward expat women. I have an acquaintance whose husband worked at Vale, she was followed out of LuLu's by an Omani gentleman. He then pursued her in a car as she drove home. She was so frightened her husband had to leave work to rescue her.

This is not an isolated story. In Oman, they call it 'eve chasing.' Certain Omani men may see expat women as an easy target as they are outside of the 'tribal system'. So, the 'shame' factor in chasing an expat is mitigated as the expat most likely does not know anyone who matters as far as the reputation for the Omani goes nor does the Omani pursuer fear the possible physical retribution from the many male relatives of an Omani girl, or the Omani thinks rightly or wrongly the expat may be more amenable to dating.

 For example, in Omani culture it is even considered inappropriate for male friends to inquire about the wives, mothers, daughters, etc. of the other; instead they make a general inquiry about the welfare of the other's family. So, 'groping' a wife, mother, sister of a compatriot would be in extreme contradiction of traditional values.

I hope ROP cracks down on such behaviors in the future, puts stiff penalties, and/or educates the public against following / harassing expat and Omani women to stop its occurrence so woman don't have to experience such while in Oman. In addition,  it does tarnish Omanis reputation when most of the Omani people have so much to offer and are so hospitable and helpful as the expats share their experiences about Oman with their colleagues, friends and families in their respective home countries.

Muttrah Souq Floods : Video مياه الأمطار تدخل إلى سوق مطرح

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013 : Severe weather forecasted in Oman from tomorrow night

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ROP & the Oman Met Office have been issuing warnings about severe rain and hail predicted from Thursday night throughout the weekend. Honestly, I never know about the reliability of their predictions based upon experience of following the reports through the years; however, it seems they are going the extra step about warning people for the coming storm.

When it does flood, it can be quite serious in the Sultanate as the water rises quickly without warning on roads and in wadis. Every year, sadly, I read about someone or some child being washed away by a wadi or about people being stranded in their cars in high waters. So, use common sense and don't let your child play in the wadi during a rain storm and don't drive through high water with a current. The maximum water level a car can probably take is the engine air intake location; even a modified Land Cruiser can't go more than mid-door deep.

Source: Merge Radio

Omani National Day Qurm 'Booty' Dance Video Controversy

1 comment:
Outlandish night dancers in Qurm celebrating Omani National Day. While an acceptable display of activity in some cultures, these cross-dressed Omani dancers are now rumored to be sought after by ROP. It appears the lead dancer is dressed as a pregnant Arab woman and twerking while lifting his gown from the rear which is at the least an unsuitable style of public dance and in contradiction with public morality in Oman.

The video was going viral in the Sultanate today through various social media and apps
 Prankish fun or vulgar public display
This windshield says ' Don't chase me. I am engaged.' written in jest by the driver an Omani male. Now, he could be in trouble for indecent slogan on car.
getting home

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Omani National Day Songs - أغاني العيد الوطني العماني

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Congratulations to the Sultanate of Oman on the occasion of the 43rd National Day. 

Eid Watani Saeed, Happy National Day, عيد وطني سعيد
Events: Fireworks 8pm: Seeb, Amerat, Salalah
Buraimi: Car decoration contest and vehicle parade: 4pm from Buraimi Public Park

Omani National Day Songs:

 أغنية تزهوا بك الاعوام (قابوس
This is a very popular National Day song.

Sawt linhdah tunada صوت للنهضة تنادى
"A Voice Calls for Renaissance"
Classic Omani National Day Song

Song from Omani Folklore.
 HM Sultan Qaboos in Ibri some years back.

1990: Share a smile.
Al Myiasi - Houbk Oman
Omani Singer for National Day

Tornado today in Quriyat, Oman : Video , اعصار في قريات عمان

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From Facebook: Oman Akbar. Strange tornado looking cloud spinning in Quriyat.
اعصار في قريات عمان


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Omani Arabic for Expats: Is the wadi flowing?

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Rains hit the Sultanate yesterday; here are a few Arabic words/expressions having to do with rain.

Is the wadi flowing?
hal alwadi habit   هل الوادي هابط؟

It's raining
Local dialect: indana sail al heen  عندنا سيل الحين
GCC standard: Tomtar al heen, amtar hina  تمطر الحين  او امطارهنا

Thunder & lightning  raa'd wa barq  رعد وبرق

Rain is coming   almatar gaay المطر جاي

The clouds are dark alsohob mudlimahلسحب مظلمه

Drizzle        rathath            رذاذ

Storm               Aseefah       عاصفة

Downpour         enhimar almatr    انهمار المطر
Flood                    faydan or garfahفيضان او جرفه

Umbrella    madalaمظلة


Sohar flooded after the rainstorm.   garqat sohar meen alamtarغرقت صحار من الامطار

The wadi is overflowing.  الوادي هابط Alwadi habit

I love when it rains.     ouhoub lama tomtarأحب لما تمطر

Move the cars to higher ground.    enqil al sayarah ela mantiqah aala    انقل السيارة الى منطقة اعلى

Don't drive in wadis with high water.  لا تقود في الوادي عند ارتفاع منسوب المياة la taqood fi alwadi enda ertafaa' ansoob almiyah

Sohar: ROP to the rescue
Budget underwater near Duwar Sohar



Mirbat, Salalah: Recent Massive Shark Haul Reported

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Due to environmental factors such as wind and current,  schools of sharks have been brought closer to the coast of Mirbat. Fishermen have been taking advantage and pulling in large catches of shark daily. The fins of sharks are highly prized. Each shark sells for about 50 OMR or more making it relatively a lucrative business for the fishermen.

Mainly expats take the boats (called 'carab' قارب in Arabic) out and split the profit with the Omani owner.  Although a windfall for locals; there is an environmental cost for over fishing. Unfortunately, the over hunting of shark has caused their populations to dwindle over time and some countries have legal protections in place regarding the fishing of sharks.


Friday, November 8, 2013

ROP allowing car decoration for National Day

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According to ROP command, it is allowed to put stickers on cars from November 18 until the end of November in recognition of the 43rd National Day of Oman. Stickers should be fixed tightly and not block windshield vision, plate numbers or lights. Use of immoral slogans or Royal Office logo are not allowed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Two Omanis Shoot 19 People Around Muscat Oman ....

Two Omani shabab were very recently apprehended by ROP investigations. The two Omanis admitted to shooting at least 19 people with a traditional type gun (in Arabic a 'kasar كسر') over the last month in the Muscat area. The first shooting took place in Ansab, and then continued in Seeb, Al Khoud, Al Amerat, Wadi Kabir, Al Kuwair and Gubra. The motive is unknown.

The victims were of Indian, Pakistani and Omani origin. Some of those who were shot are still undergoing treatment. However, thanks to god no one was mortally wounded. Apparently,  the two on the shooting spree used a four-wheel to shoot and flee. The two shooters were identified as Saud Al Abri and Abi Al Harthy.

This may be a first of its kind as far as random shooting sprees go in Oman. In order to have guns in Oman you must be licensed; however, old hunting guns are still around especially in villages. 

Suspect 1

Suspect 2
Victim photos from Times of Oman
'Kasar' style gun

'Kasar' style gun
Air powered weapons are not fired without some risk of major bodily harm to the victim.
regarding air weapon fatalities.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Video: No Woman No Drive: Little Sister Don't Touch That Wheel

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This video, No Woman No Drive, cover spoof of the popular Bob Marley song, No Woman No Cry, has now reached over 1,000,000 views in one day. The creator calls himself a Saudi social activist and that he made this video after completing his studies in the USA.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

UK Mother in Despair as Omani Dad Kidnaps Kids to Oman

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Saw this in the The News - Portsmouth, 'Please help me get my children back Mr Cameron.'

In summary, the Omani father while visiting his kids (who are British nationals) in the UK, took them to the Omani Embassy and said their passports were lost. He got travel documents issued at the Omani Embassy and abducted the children out of the UK to Oman without the mother's knowledge.

It seems the UK Foreign Office hasn't been that helpful. It is unclear if the mother and father were married as it's been reported both ways. The father's family must have some wasta as I have heard of cases where it is difficult for the offspring of non-married parents where one is a foreigner and the other Omani to even obtain Omani citizenship and there is a difficult approval process in place in Oman for such marriages to foreigners. These types of cases have strong sentiments all around.

--------The Article------

Heartbroken mum Lacey Plato today made a desperate plea to David Cameron: ‘Help me get my abducted children back.’

She wants the Prime Minister to intervene personally after her son and daughter were illegally taken from their Portsmouth home by their father.
Lacey has endured a year of anguish since Usama Al-Barwani managed to get Aisha, eight, and her five-year-old brother Faris out of the country and take them to Oman.
Now, having suffered a crushing blow in a court fight to have them returned, Lacey believes that only pressure from the UK government will see her children being able to return home to her.
She said: ‘I would just plead for help from Mr Cameron, both as Prime Minister with the influence that he could possible have, and as a parent. These are my children. They are very young and they want to be with their mum.’
Lacey has been to Oman four times since their father took the children there just over a year ago.
He had been Lacey’s partner for six years and they lived together in Dubai.
But when the relationship broke up she returned to England with the children.
‘He agreed this was best for them,’ she said. ‘He came to visit them twice, but the second time he took them to the Omani embassy in London and said their British passports had been lost.
‘He was given emergency travel documents and took them straight to Oman.
Helped by her father Steve Grant, of Emsworth, Lacey obtained a judgement from the High Court in London that the children had been taken out of the country illegally and that Mr Al-Barwani should return them.
But, safe from the court’s jurisdiction in Oman, he has failed to do so.
The family thought they had at last secured justice when last May they discovered Mr Al-Barwani’s mother was making one of a number of regular visits to Portsmouth, where she had lived for many years.
Lacey tipped off officials of the High Court, who found her at a property in Copnor and seized her passport.
‘The judge said that the children would have to be returned before she was free to go, because by caring for them in Oman, she was aiding and abetting their father,’ said Lacey.
‘But she argued that she was not looking after them and that her human rights were being breached.
‘When a new judge took over the case this month, he allowed her to have her passport back and she went straight back to Oman.’
Now Lacey is pinning her hopes on a new effort by the government to secure the return to children, who are British citizens, from a country with which it has huge trade links. Britain’s ambassador in Oman has already been told by the country’s foreign minister that he will not intervene.
Lacey is pinning her hopes on persuading Mr Cameron to act personally despite coolness from No 10.
It says the issue is a matter for the Foreign Office, which in turn says it can only provide ‘appropriate consular assistance’.

'Quran Feet' French Women Gets 3 Years Jail

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Last July during Ramadan, a French woman was arrested for rubbing and making 'socks' from the Quran to cover her feet. Her feet were in pain and two mischievous locals had said using the Quran would help with the pain. It was definitely a strange occurrence. Her mental state was questioned and she was arrested. Desecrating the Quran is a crime in Oman. Last week, the Sohar Primary Court issued a verdict of three years jail time and 100 OMR fine for the crime. This is the maximum penalty for jail time. She still has the option to appeal and pay 300 OMR bail.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Omani kids on strike @ school

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Teacher's at Omani schools have been on strike the last few days demanding various concessions.
These kids are 'standing with the strike' according to the sign.

These kids going over the school wall.

For more, Muscat Daily put out an article about the teachers' strike:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Friday, September 27, 2013

Video: 'Dream of All HCT Students' Gone Quasi-viral & Other Telling Videos @ Higher Technology College Oman...

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'Dream of all HCT Students' This student video has nearly 40,000 views in several days.


The next video is more telling. The students put together a clip on the problems they are facing at HCT.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Oman participating in the 2013 Islamic Solidarity Games starting today; Omani Football team is a no-show.

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The 3rd Islamic Solidarity Games starts today in Indonesia. Around 43 nations are participating including Oman. The Omani football team pulled out at the last minute with a statement the gist being they were too tired and were saving up for another football tournament (kind of disappointing). It has also been reported there was some type of dissension between the Omani Olympic Committee and the OFA (Oman Football Association). Lest we not forget FIFA put out a press release threatening to suspend the OFA last year due to their operational practices.  However, Oman has other athletes set to compete in other sports such as athletics and volleyball. Best of luck to the Omani athletes.

This is really only the 2nd competitive Islamic Solidarity Games not the 3rd as the 2nd 'Games' scheduled for 2009 in Iran was cancelled. Despite the 'Games' motto being 'harmony in unity' and the word 'solidarity' used in the official name of the games, the Iranian games never took place because of a spat between Arabs and Iranians on what to call the 'Persian Gulf' or 'Arabian Gulf' (depending on your perspective) in official 'Games' literature and logo design. Many of the countries' participants scheduled to compete in the Iranian games were from Asia or Africa not even from the Middle East.  Besides all of this lack of coming together, I hope Oman can do something and win a few in this year's Solidarity Games.

Official Website:


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Omani Elected Officials Still Locked Up Over Liwa Protest

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Today, Gulf News put out an article reporting on how Talib Mamari, an Omani Shura Council member and another elected local Municipality member have been in jail with out bail since late August over their alleged 'participation' in the anti-pollution demonstration in Liwa.

See article:

Mr. Mamari claims he was there only to calm people down. He even has immunity as a Shura member but as far as we know has been lock-up due to some type of exception of being 'at the crime scene'. This protest was attended by members of the Liwa community and local tribes including ladies (not just a few hooligans) as cry for help to the fact that they are being sickened by the surrounding pollution. There are Royal directives in place to help the citizens regarding the issue but the directives seem not to have been fully implemented yet for whatever reasons.

These actions of locking-up elected officials over a 'pollution demonstration' attended by ladies and children create an appearance to the outside world that does not seem to fit a country with a reputation of being signaled out for the most improved country status in the Human Development Report by the UN in 2010 given improved life expectancy and health was one of the areas in which Oman excelled in the report.  The opening of this report reiterates, “People are the real wealth of a nation.”  - Oman most improved nation 2010 - UN report.

Ladies of Liwa 'pollution' demonstration - Aug. 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Famous Emirati Singer Ahlam in Salalah Performing at Wedding

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Ahlam a famous Emirati singer and who is also a judge on Arab Idol travelled to Oman to perform at a high profile wedding of a member of the Al Mashani tribe from Salalah.  It's rumored she was paid around 70,000 OMR. One of Ahlam's most popular songs is 'Ohhbuk Mot' (I love you very much). In 2003, she married Mubarak Al Hajri a car racer from Qatar. Apparently, she twitted she was heading to the wedding in Salalah.

Ahlam in Oman

Tweets about the wedding. She says she is on the way to the wedding # busaidi #salalah#oman# 1000 congratulations.// got to the party#..the wedding is 'completely majestic'#name of bride#Salalah#Oman


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Omani Stabbed in Pattaya

Pattaya One reported that a 32 year-old Omani man was stabbed in the belly by a employee of a bar on September 11, 2013. It was reported the larger-framed Omani dominated the petit Thai man, but the Thai man retreated, then, pulled a knife.  The Omani is alive and recuperating in the hospital. We hope to see him back in Oman soon.

Last August, an American was stabbed and killed with metal poles by a Thai music group in Krabi, Thailand when he refused to stop singing while drunk on the band's stage. As one may know and feel reassured by, the risk of being stabbed by a music group in Oman is rather unlikely due to the new tourism regulations of no more than three 'talented artists' in no less than four star plus establishments.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Oman Fighter Jets Collide Near Yemeni Border

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Today two Omani fighter jets collided in Rakyoot near the Yemeni border during exercises. One of the RAFO pilot from Nizwa died, and the other from Al Hamra was injured. Allah yarhamhoom wa yugamid roohahom phi al janah. Ameen (May God rest his soul).

Source: Al Zaman
Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO)


Monday, September 9, 2013

Qurm Beach Gets Pay Toilet

1 comment:
For those in need, a pay toilet is being installed in Shatti Qurm.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Omani Arabic for Expats: TV, Film & Media

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These words and expressions relate to TV, film & media.


Film, films  film, aflam  فيلم افلام
Program  barnamij  برنامج
Series   halaqa, muselsel مسلسل او حلقة
News    akbar اخبار
Channel    qanah   قناه
Arts     fann  فن
Special programming   barnamig khas   برنامج خاص
Watch TV   moshahadat talvision مشاهدة التلفاز
Subtitles      ektiar alooga  اختيار اللغة

Remote control   gehaz, tahkoom جهاز التحكم
TV         talvision  تلفاز
Screen    Shasha  شاشه
Oman TV       تلفزيون عمان
Al Thameena- MBC1 news show at 8pm  برنامج الثامنه
Talent     mawhoob   موهوب
Bollywood     filim hindi  فيلم هندي
Egyptian movies   filim masri  فيلم مصري

Newscaster        Moqadem, mothee   مقدم مذيع
Actor, Actress    Momathel, momathelah  ممثل ممثله
Director      Mohreg  مخرج
Producer   Monteg   منتج
Singer     Mogani  مغني
Cast       Majmua mamathaleen مجموعة اللممثللين
Oscar     Oscar اوسكار

Cinema    Cinema   سينما
Ticket, tickets    Tathkerahتذكرة
Now Showing  yourath alaa'n   يعرض الان
Coming soon   Qreeba  قريبا
Seat           Kursi
Royal Opera House/Muscat   Al Opera Alsultania Muscat  الاوبرا السلطانية


I have two tickets to the opera for Friday. Would you like to join me? endi tathkeratain asahn al opera youm al jouma. kaif batji maee? عندي تذكرتين عشان الاوبرا يوم الجمعه. كيف بتجي معي؟

I watched 'the Voice' last night. Sheft the voice laylat ams. شفت برنامج ذا فويس ليلة امس

I'd like four tickets for the film starting at 8pm. areed arba tathaker hal al filim saa'h thamaniah اريد اربع تذاكر حال الفيلم ساعه ثمانيه

Pass me the remote. jeeb al jehaz  جيب الجهاز

News Words
Live -mabashar  مباشر
Exclusive  hasri  حصري
'Breaking news' - ajel   عاجل
'Just in' - qabl qaleel   قبل قليل
Press Conference Moatamer Sahafi   مؤتمر صحفي
Media    eelam   اعلام

News   Akhbar  اخبار
Politics  siyasah  سياسه
Finance Malayah   ماليه
Sports riyadah  رياضه

King    Malik  ملك
Presidency, President  rea'sah, Raeis  رئيس رئاسه
Prime Minister  Raeis al wizara رئيس الوزراء
Minister, ministers  Wazeer   وزير
Leader, leaders   Qaeed, Qadah  قائد قاده
Official, officials - rasmee, masool   رسمي مسؤول
Diplomat, diplomats Diplomasiدبلوماسي
Spokesperson   Motahedeth al rasmi   متحدث رسمي
People -shaA'B   شعب

Latest Development - tat'oorat al kheera   اخر التطورات
Situation   Wadea' وضع
Controversy - ethara liljadal اثاره للجدل
Point of View- wejahat nather  وجهة نظر
Continue - tawasil تواصل يستمر
'Coming days' -  alayam aljayah الايام الجايه  
Information - maloomat معلومات

Republic  Gomhoriah جمهوريه
Kingdom   mamlakah  مملكه
Democracy  Dimoqratiah ديقراطيه
Regime   Nedam  نظام
Election -entihabat    انتخابات
Vote   Tasweet  تصويت

Demonstrators Mohtageen محتجين
Protestors, protest  Ehtigag    احتجاج
Activists  Noshata' نشطاء ناشط
Martyrs - shaheed   شهيد
Numbers - adad   اعداد

Tank   Dababah  دبابه
Tear Gas Moseel Doomoh  مسيل للدموع
Bombing   Tafjeer   تفجير
Weapons Aslihah  اسلحه
Strike   edraab   اضراب
Drone   Tayrah bidoon Tayar  طائره بدون طيار
Military    Askariah  عسكريه
Special Forces  Qwat khasah  قوات خاصه
Internal Security    Alamn Al Dhakili   الامن الداخلي
Spy        Gasoos, baooda (lit. mosquito)   جاسوس  او بعوضه
'The injured'   Mosab  مصاب
Casualties    Esabat    اصابات

Terrorist, terrorists     Erhabi, Erhab    ارهابي ارهاب
Attack    Hajma   هجمه
Coup   Enqilab  انقلاب
Riot   Shagab  شغب
Revolution     Thawrah   ثوره

Political Party   Hezb Siyasi حزب سياسي
Brotherhood   Al Ekhwan  الاخوان

Human Rights    Hooqooq alensan  حقوق الانسان
United Nations   alomam al mutahidah الامم المتحده
International inspectors  Mofatsheen Dwalieen  مفتشين دوليين
Scandal      Fadiha  فضيحه
Corruption   fasad   فساد
Evidence   Burhan or Dalil  برهان او دليل
Deny    Enkar  انكار
'Witnessed'  Yashad  يشهد
Consequences   Awaqeb عواقب


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cartoon jokes about repeated water 'outages' in Oman after Amerat without water for 3 Days

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Recently, Al Amerat, an area of Muscat, experienced three days without water due to problems with 'pipes'.  Keep in mind Oman has a desert climate. People were forced to have water delivered by big blue water tankers.

'Made in China...'

Caption: "Explosions, the water pipeline repeatedly !!!"


Monday, September 2, 2013

Oman Air flight scrapes wing with another plane - Omani Minister onboard

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Oman Air plane's wing brushes with another wing in Tanzania Airport. The Minister of Information of Oman was a passenger.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Controversial 'sexual orientation' in Oman article published by 'the Week'

“It is not hard to find men to date here in Oman if you know where to look,” said Haitham ('The Outsiders', the Week)

The article, The Outsiders' published by 'the Week' on August 29, 2013 gives a very revealing and descriptive recount of the 'gay' scene here in the Sultanante. I find it surprising such an article was published here due to the social and cultural norms.

However, feedback on local Omani forums have mostly decried the article with some asking to shut down 'the Week' and to deport the author. Others have said the article was shockingly offensive, that it is marketing such behaviors to Omanis, and for god to forgive the journalist.  Everyone seems to be talking about it. The Majlis Shura has now picked up the matter.

The head of the Majlis Sura twitted, 'Thanks to the Sheaikh (previous Tweeter for his comments) and that the Media Committee at Majlis Assura will handle it. We thank you for your attention."

See Article Text Below. (It seems it may be blocked online but circulating in print. Please read on only for mature readers not easily offended by such issues and used to free speech.)


When Haitham (name changed on request) had his first same-sex encounter with his cousin, he was only about eight years old. It was only a few fleeting moments on a camping trip with some family members close to his native village just outside Muscat. “But those few moments continued to haunt my memory for the longest time,” said the 23 year old.

He spent the next nine years of his life wondering about that night and the recurring feelings he tried hard to bury under his externally happy demeanour. “I did not know what to make of it. My friends and I shared many passions like cars and football. But I just couldn’t share their enthusiasm for the opposite sex and that was eating away at my insides. I couldn’t talk to anyone about the fact that I, in fact, liked men.”

That was the last encounter Haitham had till he turned 17 years old when he started activ-ely seeking others like him. “Till then I thought there was something wrong with me. But then I could tell there were other people that I met and knew who were definitely going through the same thing. We never talked about it since it would be absolutely unimaginable to do that but it gave me heart that I wasn’t alone,” he said. His cousin went on to get married and Haitham said, that experience, to him was merely a sexual encounter. “Since there weren’t any girls around, he fooled around with me. But that chance encounter helped me eventually recognise who I was.”

Elena, an expatriate feels Oman is very different from any other country in the Middle East. “And this has a lot to do with the tolerance that this country shows in comparison with countries like Saudi Arabia or even the UAE,” she explained. She is relatively new to Oman and she had her reservations when she was offered a job in this country. “When I was thinking about moving here, part of me wanted to make the move for my career while the other half was very sceptical about how I would cope with my sexuality in a conservative Islamic country like Oman. After all, you hear horror stories coming out of countries like Saudi Arabia.” But she did some research that put her at ease. “I was told by several people who had been here and I did my own research on the Internet and found out that life wasn’t that hard for people of different sexual orientations in Oman.”

This paints a picture of a country very different from the one known to most of the world. As an Islamic nation, the sultanate is steeped in tradition and religion. “It is not hard to find men to date here in Oman if you know where to look,” said Haitham. He curren-tly lives in Muscat and prefers dating expatriates. “I dated two Omani men close by my village but people started gossiping and I didn’t want my family to be embarrassed. After all, every one in Oman knows someone who knows someone. If I date expatriates, it eliminates that risk.”

Haitham is not the only one to be worried about his sexuality and the repercussions of people finding out about his sexual preference. “I know a lot of men who are married and have children but lead double lives. I don’t know if their wives know that they also see other men. Coming out is often seen as a very Western concept and is not realistic in a society like Oman,” he said. Even Haitham has to keep up appearances. “I cannot be perceived to be different and so I also send flirty text messages and pretend to be interested in girls.”

For an expatriate like Jason, being gay in Oman is not a problem as long as he is discreet about it. “Back home I could be myself, but I have to recognise the realities on the ground here,” he said. He likes to date Arab men because that, to him, is a guarantee of discretion. “They usually have appearances to keep up and so it is in their interest to keep it discreet. Elena talked about communicating through eye contact. “There is this game gay people play with their eyes – they know what is happening between them and it’s a quiet nod of acknowledgement. This happens the world over and you see it just as often here in Oman as well, even if the women are covered.”  

Jason and Haitham’s desire for discretion can be understood because to risk upsetting the sex-ual status quo in this country can often lead to serious legal and social ramifications. Same-sex relations are forbidden by Article 223 of the Omani Penal Code of 1974 and transgressions enough to constitute a ‘public nuisance’ can result in a prison term anywhere from six months to three years. But for Harry, it is the social repercussions that are more real.

“In Oman, you can live life the way you want to and as long as you don’t draw too much attention to yourself, you won’t be bothered by the law. But walking down the street is a whole different story,” he said. He dresses flamboyantly and occasionally wears make up. “I live in Al Khuwayr and try walking down there without someone yelling something obscene and rude from their cars. It is hurtful and although it happens all the time and I try to ignore it, it still upsets me just as much as the first time it happened.”

Dr Gerald D’Costa is a clinical psychiatrist working in Badr al Sama’a hospital in Ruwi and sees a number of patients who come to him because they are conflicted about their sexual orientation. “They buckle under societal, familial and religious pressures,” he explained. “Many of them come here looking for a cure or treatment. They think there is something wrong with their bodies, why they are feeling these things. They want so desperately to be like people they consider ‘normal’ that they cannot reconcile their own feelings with any sense of normality.”

But Gerald is still glad that his patients choose to speak with someone about what they are feeling. “Sadly that is only the tip of the iceberg. According to international statistics, six to ten per cent of any population in any country is gay and that would be a reasonable assumption for Oman as well. And if that is the case, it is a real shame that all these other people who are having trouble understanding what they are feeling are just not seeking any kind of help.”

He feels there is no need for youngsters like Haitham to feel alone. “I do understand that people are reticent about speaking to another individual about something so private. But now, they can connect with other people, just like them and seek solace in their experiences even if they are halfway across the globe. You can become part of online communities and groups of people like yourself, listen to other people, ask questions anonymously and realise you are not alone,” Gerald added.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Omani Arabic for Expats: Words for Love

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Words meaning love ...

Love listed from the word with the strongest degree of love on down

Heyam  هيام
Garam  غرام
Hawa  هوى
ishq   عشق
Shawq  شوق
Hob  حب