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

Monday, August 26, 2013

Omani Arabic for Expats: Computer terms

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A few basic computer commands/phrases.

Print etba        اطبع
Save ehfath       احفظ
Delete ehthef    احذف
Open  eftah          افتح
File    malaf        ملف

Email   bareed electroni    بريد الكتروني
Send    ersel               ارسل
Forward  ersel marra okhra       ارسل مره اخرى
Reply  red رد
User name ism almastaqdem     كلمة المستخدم
Password   kalemat alsor         كلمة السر

Browser  Mutsafeh      متصفح
Search    bahth       بحث
Surf       tasfuh       تصفح
Hacker   Muqtarik or 'hackar'      مخترق
Blog    Modawanah      مدونة
Website   Mauqa   موقع


Omani fishermen catch giant fish/small whale


Seeb: Omani fishermen catch giant fish/small whale


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Today in Liwa: Protest over pollution shut down by riot forces

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Today there was a protest in Liwa, a town just north of Sohar near the Sohar Port in the Batina region. Both men and women demonstrated in regard to environmental pollution issues in the area. Protesting is a controversial and potentially illegal manner of expression in Oman. It has been reported that pollution from the port and industry nearby has caused health problems such as respiratory issues, cancers and fetal defects.

The residents are demanding to be shifted to a new area as previously promised. Whether or not protesting is appropriate, there seems to be a real concern here for the health of the residents that has not been dealt with by the proper authorities to the satisfaction of these residents. Liwa is just in between the Sohar Port, Sohar Aluminum smelter, a mining company and Sohar refinery. Later, it was said riot squads confronted them by using tear gas and water to disperse the congregating residents.

Liwa protesters. The sign reads 'ya Orpic killed all the things that grow and people '

Ladies demonstrating in Liwa

Pollution in Liwa

Mr. Al-Mamari, Shura member from the area attended.
Later, he was arrested with several others. See:

Omani Arabic for Expats: Driving

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Please see words and expressions in regard to driving in Oman.

Sayara - car سيارة
Shahena - truck   شاحنة
Water Truck - tankar mai  تنكر ماء
Rental car  - sayara l'jarra  سيارة اجرة
Company car - sayara sharka   سيارة شركة
Student driver - sayara taaleem -سيارة تعليم

Street, road - shar'aa, tareeq  شارع طريق
Lane - Harra حارة
Traffic signal - ashara - اشارة
Roundabout - duwar دوار 
Speed limit - al sura al mahdeda السرعه المحدده
Speed bump - matab مطب

Insurance - Ta'meen - تامين
Car registration - Mulkeeya -  ملكية
License Plate - lawahat sayarah  لوحة السيارة
Accident - Hadith حادث
Driving test - Ektibar al qiyadah اختبار القيادة

Police - shorta شرطه
Police Station Markaz Shorta مركز الشرطه
Police report taqreer تقرير
Radar - raadaar رادار
Violation/fine - mukalafah مخالفة

Slow down !  koof alsurah خف

Watch out for the student driver. Entabeh lsayayaq altaleem انتبه لسايق التعليم

Trunk/Boot - dabah دبة السيارة
Back seat - seat/cursi al khalfee الكرسي الخلفي
Front seat - seat/cursi al amamee الكرسي الامامي
Engine - Makeena ماكينة
Tires taiyar  at'aar تاير اطار
Flat tire banshar  بنشر

Stop at Oman Oil. I want to put air in my tires.
waqaf fi oman oil. ureed aabi hawa hal tawayar وقف في عمان اويل اريد اعبي هواء حال التواير

Driver - sa'aq سائق
Taxi- taxi

Road Construction amal tareeq اعمال طريق
Detour Mona'taf منعطف

Car repair industrial area - senaiya صناعية
Oil Change Tagyeer oil تغير زيت او اويل

Gas station - Mahatat gas, sheesha (very local)  محطة غاز
Air Hawa هواء
Regular petrol - a'adee عادي
Premium petrol - mumtaz ممتاز
Full -fool- فول
Empty Fadii فاضي

Put 5 OMR - sawi or Abi hamsa 5 ryial  سوي او عبي خمسه ريال

Fill-u the tank - Abee full عبي فول

Drive Thru -  talabyah مدخل للطلبيه
Order here - Etlab hona اطلب هنا

Put the bags in the trunk -  Khali agraad phi Dabah خلي الاغراض في الدبه

I have five speeding violations - indi Khams mukhalafat Sora'ah عندي خمس  مخالفات سرعه

Be careful of the radar near Qurm signal - ehtaris min alradar qorb eshrit alqurm احترس من الرادار قرب اشارة القرم

This is a one way street. Turn around. - Tariq  awhadi, lif طريق احادي لف

I need to take my car to the repair area. My engine has a problem. - ureed awadi sayarti  tasleeh. almakinah fiha muskilah اريد اودي سيارتي التصليح المكينه فيها مشله

I ran out of petrol. Kalas petrol indi خلص البترول عندي

I'm on empty (petrol). Fadi tanki al petrol indi فاضي تانكي البترول عندي

Straight - Seeda سيده
Right - Yameen يمين
Left - Yasar يسار
Back, reverse - Wara, Revrs (same as English word different pronunciation) ارجع
Turn - Lef لف
U-turn -  رجوع
One way طريق احادي

Turn left at the signal - Lef yasar fil eshara لف يسار في الاشارة
I had an accident - Sowait hadith سويت حادث
Where is the police station - wain markaz alshorta  وين مركز الشرطة
I am lost -  ana tayih fi alshaee انا تايه
I am looking for Araimi Plaza - ana adoor  Mujama araimi انا ادور مركز العريمي

Turn on the car - Shagel al sayara شغل السياره
Turn off the car - Banid al sayara بند السياره

Open the window/door - Ifta al dreesha/baab افتح الباب
Close the window/door - sakiral dreesh/baab سكر الدريشه
Lock the doors - sakar al baab سكر الباب

Slow down - Hafifh خفف
Speed up - B'sura, doos(very local)   بسرعه دوس
Stop - qef قف
Brake - 'brake' بريك
Go - 'rooh' روح
Drive - yasooq, yaqood يسوق يقود
Park - waqaf  وقف

Turn the volume down - Qaser radio قصر ع الراديو
Turn up the volume - Toawel radio طول على الراديو

I passed my driving test. Najahat fi emtihan alqiyada نجحت في اختبار القيادة
I failed my driving test    Rasabt fi emtihan alqiyada رسبت في اختبار القيادة

Register a car - Sagil sayarah سجل لاسيارة
Renew registration - gadad sayarah جدد السيارة
Transfer registration - Tahweel mulkiyah تحويل ملكيه

Rent a car - estager/tajeer Sayarah أستأجر
Buy a car - ishtari sayarah  اشتري
Sell a Car - bea' sayarah  بيع


What's your phone number? kam raqam talafoonak? كم رقم تلفونك
Drive fast. I am in a hurry. Sook b'sura. Ana mistagul. سوق بسرعه انا مستعجل
Stop here. I want to get out. woqef hina. ureed anzil. وقف هنا اريد انزل
I'm going to call the police. Rah atasil  b'shorta  راح اتصل بالشرطه

Danger - khateer خطر او تحذير
Watch out - Intabeh انتبه


Monday, August 19, 2013

Bank Muscat Hit Again - Ibri

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According to local reports, around 4am the Bank Muscat branch Ibri in the Dhahira region of Oman was robbed. The perpetrators took out the security cameras and made off with a safe from the bank. The nearest police station is 40 km away. The bank employees have been given a few days off. Earlier this year Bank Muscat travel cards were used in a major international scam.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Doctor attacked in Royal Hospital's parking lot after patient died from medical error

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A doctor from the Royal Hospital in Boshar, Muscat was attacked in the hospital's parking lot last Thursday when leaving work. She works in the X-ray department. The assailant had been stalking her after his mother had died from a medical error in the hospital. He fled the scene but was later arrested. The doctor sustained minor injuries and is in stable condition.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Omani Diplomat Found Dead in Moscow Hotel Room from Moscow Times

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Two nights ago an Omani Diplomat was found dead in Moscow. It's being said he was from Al Abri tribe from the Al Hamra area in Oman.

Omani Diplomat Found Dead in Moscow Hotel Room

The Moscow Times
Police are investigating the death of a foreign diplomat whose body was found in a Moscow hotel.
The body of the Omani Embassy's first secretary was discovered late Wednesday evening in a hotel room on Ulitsa Bolshaya Polyanka in Moscow, an investigator said.
He said that the initial examination hadn't turned up any signs of criminal wrongdoing and that no evidence of struggle had been found inside the hotel room, the Investigative Committee's website said in a statement.
The body will be sent for a forensic medical examination to establish the cause of death, the report said.
Moscow police earlier confirmed the discovery of a diplomat's body in one of the city's hotels, Interfax reported.
Addition details from Russia Today: His name Mohannad Ali Al Abri. The hotel staff found his body.


Omani Arabic for Expats - Meeting up/Social Expressions

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Examples with variations.

Would you like to meet later?  Tureed naltaqi baaden? Tureed nitqable baaden?  Tabi niltaqi baa'den?
تريد نلتقي بعدين؟\ تريد نتقابل بعدين؟\ تبي نلتقي بعدين؟

When should we meet? Mita naltaqi? Mita nataqable? Mita benshoofik?
متى نلتقي؟\ متى نتقابل؟\ متى بنشوفك؟

Where should we meet? Wen naltaqi? Wen nataqable? Wen benshoofik?
وين نلتقي؟\ وين نتقابل؟\ وين بشوفك؟

Meet me at Costa a 5 pm. Qableni fi Costa saa hamsa. Bashoofik fi Costa saa hamsa.
قابلني في كوستا ساعه خمسه\ بشوفك في كوستا

I am coming now. جاي الحين jaay alheen

I'll be there in 10 minutes. bakoon hinak baad ashar daqayaq
بكون هناك بعد عشر دقايق

I'll be there soon. bakoon hinak qareeban
بكون هناك قريبا

Where are you? weenak?

On the Telephone

Hello - Aloo Marhaba
الو مرحبا
Who's speaking - Men mai? (lit. who's with me)
مين معي؟
Ahmed speaking - Ahmed mak. (lit. Ahmed with you)
احمد معك
How are you, how are things? Kaif halkum. Kaif Lamoor?
كيف حالكم \ كيف الامور؟
Everything is good. Alhumdullah. Kullu tamam.
الحمد الله كله تمام
Is Qassim there? - Qassim majood?
قاسم موجود
No, he's not. - La, Ma majood.
لا ما موجود
Could I take a message? Mumkin atrekluh resala?
ممكن اتركله رساله
Give my regards to Manal.  Ersil Taheeyateli Manal
ارسل تحياتي الى منال
Hold please - intad'er daqeeqa
انتظر دقيقة
Goodbye - masalama
مع السلامه

Inviting someone into your home

Knock Knock - atrick

Who's there - Men hunak?
 مين هناك؟

Come in - Tafadl,  Tafadeli (for female)
 تفضل\ تفضلي

Please have a seat. - Tafadl Iglees, tafadeli gelsee (for female)
 تفضل اجلس او اجلسي

Would you like something to drink? - Tureed tashrub shay? Tureedi (for female)
تريد تشرب شاي

Please come to visit my home. - Men fadlik tahal zoorni fi baiti.
 من فضللك تعال زورني في البيت

  • Question words:
    •  Mita - when
    •  Wen - where
    •  Men - who
  • Verbs (in third person masculine singular):
    • yaqable (meet)
    • yaltaqi (meet)
    • yashoof (see)
    • yureed (want)
    • yabi (want)
    • yashrub (drink)
    • yentader (wait)
  • Prepositions: fi (in),  saa (hour as in time), hamsa (five)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Useful Omani Arabic Expressions for Expats, Part 1

1 comment:
Part One - Useful expressions

I hope the following will be useful expressions for expats or visitors to Oman. The phrases below will be in local dialect.  Standard Arabic is called 'fusha' , and local Arabic dialects (ameeyah), and there is also what I call 'mafi maloom' language- a simplified version of Arabic mixed with some Hindi used to communicate with shop keepers in Oman. The default name to call non-Omani male shop keepers is 'Mohmmed' but one can also say 'Sadeeq (friend in Arabic), Beyaa (friend/bro in Hindi).

1. Jeeb  and Shil  - To give and to take

Usage:  Jeeb - When ordering food, when requesting a item from a shop keeper, or when you would like someone to 'pass' or 'give' you something. Use 'Jeebi' when speaking to a female.
Arabic: جيب

  • In a store: Jeeb Wahid - 'give me one, I'll take one', jeeb hadha - 'I'll take that'
  • In a restaurant: jeeb cola - 'bring me a coke', 'I'll have a coke.'
  • With friend: 'Jeeb Ahmed' - bring Ahmed (with you)
Usage:  Shil - When you want someone to take something. Use 'Shili' when speaking to a female.

  • Shil sayara - 'Take the car (with you)'
  • Shil-ni ma'ak - 'Take me with you'
  • Ta'hal shil-ne - 'Pick me up'
  • Shil-ni LuLu's - 'Take me to the LuLu's market'
  • Shil Ahmed Madrasa - 'Take Ahmed to School'
2. 'Shay' and 'Ma Shay' - Something exists or is available or isn't available or doesn't exist

Usage: Shay - Use this phrase to indicate if something is available and 'Ma Shay' in the negative.
Arabic: شي | ماشي

  • In a store: Shay Pepsi? - 'Is there Pepsi?, Do you have Pepsi?'
  • In a restaurant: 'Shay Kingfish' - 'Are you serving Kingfish'
  • At home:
    • 'Shay Cola'- Do we have coke left?, Is there Coke?
    • 'La, Ma Shay' - No, there's no coke.
    • 'Jeeb Cola' - Bring some coke.
3. Sabr, Shwaya, B'Sura' - Wait/Slowly, Little, Quickly

Usage: Sabr - Use this phrase to indicate to someone to slow down, stop or wait. Use 'Sabri' with a female.
Arabic:  صبر| شويه| بسرعه

  • In a taxi: 'Saber, Saber'- 'slow down, wait'
  • On the phone: Saber shwaya- 'Hold on. Wait a minute'
  • With others: 'B'sura, b'sura' - quickly, with speed
  • الشارع السريع| Muscat Expressway | Sharee Al Sureea Muscat - Sureea adjective form of Sura' - speed
4. law smaht-- excuse me-- لو سمحت , law smahtee-- excuse me when speaking to a female-- لو سمحتي

Usage: law smaht - Use this to say excuse me; for example, if you need to interrupt someone or get someone's attention.

  • In a store: ' Beyaa, Low Samaht. Shay 'Dew'. Zain. Jeeb Wahid.' - Bro, Excuse me. Do you have Mountain Dew? Fine. Bring me one.
5. Zain, Tamam - Good, everything is Ok   زين | تمام

6. Kam - How much/many

Examples: 'Shay Marlboro Abeid? Kam?' - Are Marlboro Lights (whites) available? How much are they?

To be continued...


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

No Dancers in Less Than 4 Star Establishments in Oman

According to Times of Oman today, 'The Ministry of Tourism has issued orders that "dance groups" would not be allowed to perform in hotels or nightclubs across the nation that have less than four-star rating. ' One reason sited was to stop 'pick-up' joints. In addition, all groups must only have three members and call themselves 'talented group of artists' and conclude their performances by midnight.

There are bars and clubs around Oman with dancers hailing from India, Yemen, Morocco and Africa. Many of these establishments are found in the Ruwi section of Muscat. I have heard reports of Omani families complaining about licentious going ons of girls with Omani and other gentlemen making connections outside of bars in Omani neighborhoods with families and children especially near Al Khwair area in Muscat.  However, many of the hotels around there are 4+ stars.

A couple of years ago, allegedly a Russian woman working at the dance bar at a main hotel in Buraimi was found dead in the swimming pool. And, the non-beach front 'wadi' hotel has a reputation in Sohar.


@ 4 Star and above only