Saturday, December 27, 2014

Oman has blocked the website of the Editor & Chief of Yahoo Travel

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Blocking the editor-and-chief of Yahoo Travel may not be the best move for a country trying to promote tourism. ....

Source: Twiiter

Source: Web photos Paula Froelich - Informational purposes only

Ms Froelich wearing traditional mask

Her bio from the blocked website:

'Armed with a quick wit, unique voice and award-winning journalistic chops, Paula Froelich became the editor-in-chief of Yahoo Travel in April of 2013 after a stint as a senior writer at Newsweek and four years as a freelance journalist writing about politics, travel and pop culture. Her unique vision for the page has turned it into a must-read destination for anyone interested in being inspired, entertained, and motivated to engage the world and suck the marrow out of life.  In six short months Yahoo Travel went from primarily a booking site to the largest travel content site in the world.
 Her new video series, A Broad Abroad, is one of the first female-hosted travel adventure series of its kind. In it Paula invites viewers to explore the unknown and discover the unexpected in both familiar and exotic locales around the world. Her motto: Be Adventurous. Be Bold. Be Brave. Reclaim Yourself.
Paula is a New York Times best-selling author of the novel, Mercury In Retrograde. From 1999-2009, she was the Deputy Editor of the New York Post’s highly influential gossip column, “Page Six.” During her tenure she was seen by millions of viewers as a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight and The Insider and appeared as a guest on The View, Real Time with Bill Maher, The Today Show and Good Morning America.'

Compliments of the Season - Shangri-la Christmas Muscat

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Well at the last minute, our group decided to head out to the Shangri-la on Christmas Day. Thinking we, at least, could not go wrong with the locale by the beach and poolside. We arrived mid-afternoon and after inspecting the brunch offering decided to head to the pool bar due to the fact the food was about to be packed away. The pool bar service was as usual with the staff working inefficiently hard and the slow delivery of entrees and beverages.

About halfway through the meal, someone in our group wanted to head over to the Omani Santa set up in the dhow on the Waha side of the beach lawn.  Unexpectedly, this was the highlight of the day. Shangri-la really put out for the kids. Besides the ability to sit with a real Omani Santa in the dhow guarded by a huge inflatable plastic snow man, free beer, wine and desserts were offered in tables set up on the lawn. The adults were beaming with glee. Santa also rode a camel across the beach.

As an added bonus, each child that visited Santa received an age appropriate gift from ToysRus compliments of Shangri-la. Majlis cushions were formed into square pads laid out along the lawn for guests to relax and play. Parents, grandparents and kids alike were lounging and frolicking. At some point, the tech guy turned off the Christmas music and blasted Stone Roses and Oasis into the crowd reminding me of a college day rock concert. There was definitely merriness going around, and I think Shangri-la was successful in creating an environment where the Christmas spirit was shared by many.

Beach snowman guarding Santa's dhow

Complimentary beer & wine 

Omani Santa walking among children

Lauded as the largest X-mas tree in Oman at Shangri-la Muscat

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ba Boom ! Old bomb from Jebel Akhdar was found and set off today

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In Al Ainah, Jebel Akhdar a bomb was found on a property, Apparently, it's was a remnant from the 1950s during the Jebal Akhdar war. It appears that Oman forces were on the scene.

Monday, December 22, 2014

'Let's Roll' - Chez Sushi opening tomorrow @ the Wave

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The UAE's Japanese restaurant chain 'Chez Sushi' has a planned opening tomorrow for a new branch here at the Wave Muscat. I can't wait. At times, I have serious cravings for salmon sashimi and tuna rolls.  A 'cool' feature is the custom built rolls where you get to pick he wrap, rice and fish which suits picky eaters like myself. Over the last few years the choice of restaurants available in Muscat has certainly diversified with more international variety.

Sample of their Bento Sets.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Ban Alcohol & Sheesha on 'Land, Sea & Air' votes Oman's Majlis Al-Shura

The vote came in today to ban alcohol in Oman over 'land, sea and air' and to stop issuing sheesha restaurant permits by Majlis Al-Shura. But, keep in mind that Majils Al-Shura has minimal legislative powers and only makes recommendations that are then taken up by high authorities such as the Ministers Council until the final say is with the Sultan.

Some of the Majlis Al-Shura members may be considered a bit 'old-school' and well-intentioned, but many Omanis support the ban; meanwhile, I doubt it's likely (or am hoping not) a full ban on alcohol will be realized in Oman. The ramifications on business and tourism are too great to ignore. However, possibly more restrictions will be put in place as a compromise. Instead of banning, why not raise up the tax on alcohol and collect funds for the government.

Old moonshine operations during prohibition on alcohol in USA.

...envisioning such a whiskey still deep in the Hajar mountains...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Vaseline Oman

'Vaseline goes around the world to find out how its healing properties are used by different nationalities and cultures.' Below is an actual commercial for Vaseline for the Omani audience (note the pic of Muscat Gate in the background). 

This video (Eng subtitles) was featured on CNN (Arabic). Some found the video unbecoming to Omanis; others found the video catchy.  What are your thoughts..........

Vintage Vaseline

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mixed Feelings: Latest Qantab Construction Photos

Saraya Bandar Jissah, the ITC project located in what locals used to call 'Qantab' beach has posted construction updates on their website,, of which I have poached a few and am posting below. An 'official' description of the project states:

'Luxury residences will lead down the valley to the pristine sands of the natural Bandar Jissah beach, masterfully integrating simple contemporary architecture with the complex mountainous terrain. The masterplan development fits perfectly in to the landscape thanks to the unique approach to community planning which prioritises preservation and conservation of the natural landscape, flora and fauna to create a native and indigenous landscape for resort living.'

After viewing the photos, I am not sure to be excited or to cry as I cannot help remembering and missing all the enjoyable walks I had there, picnics and even the 'beach cats'. But, I may be overly nostalgic. The terrain looks a bit torn up with parts of the mountains blasted away.

The most concerning thing I noticed or didn't notice in the photos was the old cemeteries. I hope that they are still there, was one of the 'prioritizes in preservation' and are not bulldozed and built over; lots of jinni could be there. Qantab was hit by a plague in its history and many villagers died; the main tribe al Qasmi abanonded the area and moved to the Emirates.

The mock-up of the new residences does look stylish and I believe will be a refined place to live once completed. If it was inevitable the beach would be developed, this project's design is a dignified answer.  For those interested in buying in, there is a place to register interest on their website. The project is classified as an Integrated Tourist Complex which allows ownership by foreigners.

Overview - These photos as of Oct 2014. - 

This is where qantab's 'secret beach' was.

New roundabout just after the old turn into to Quantab with new annoying but necessary speed bumps

Construction trailers

Excavation of mountain side

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Avoid Swimming from Sifah to Wave Complex due to unknown contamination in Omani coastal areas

Please refer to forwarded letter below: Also, today, there was a fire at PDO - a gas unit caught fire - , and at least three (some reporting four) persons sustained injuries.

Dear Colleagues,

We would kindly like to bring to your attention that, after a thorough investigation, PDO has concluded that the crude oil deposits, which have recently been recently reported as affecting the local coastline, are not as a result of our operations. PDO has surveyed its facilities and confirmed that it is not related to our tankering operations at Mina Al Fahal. (MAF)

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) is aware of the problem which has affected the coastline from the Wave, Crown Plaza, MAF area down to Sifah and the Dimaniyat islands and have been surveying the sea and coastline since the end of last week. They have, however, not been able as yet to identify the source.  PDO is providing support to MECA to deal with the problem.

For the health and safety of you and your families, we advise you to refrain from accessing the beach for swimming during this period until  we have received the all clear.

Kind regards,

Mohammed Al Salmani (MSEM)
Corporate Health, Safety and Environment Manager


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free Nawras/Ooredoo Today, but....

For National Day holidays, Ooredoo, formerly Nawras had announced a promotion for today 27 Nov by texting #ouroman to 80144 national calls would be free all day until midnight. They even published a press release in Muscat Daily. I subscribed and received a confirmation message, 'Enjoy free national calls from 12am to 11:59pm on the 27th of November to any network in the Sultanate!'

But then, oops, around 2am in the morning I was awakened by a text message. It was Ooredoo. 'Dear Customer. Thank you for registering for our National Day offer. Due to the high level of registrations and to allow everybody to enjoy this offer we have had to limit the offer to 5 OMR.'

This is very uninspiring on their part ! a - it's not the customer to blame for registering for a promotion they heavily marketed b - backpedaling when they realise they didnt think through the promotion fully is imprudent. c - waking people and sending messages at 2 am to cover themselves is inelegant.

On a different note, congratulations to Qatar for winning Gulf Cup.

ooredoo Myanmar

Monday, November 24, 2014

Nice Old Photos of Oman

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I lifted the photos below from the blog post: This blogger went to great effort to post what seem to be more than 100 historical photos of Oman & Zanzibar. Some, I had never seen before. If you're into Omani history or old photos, I recommend checking the post linked above out. From looking at some of the photos,  it becomes clear how much Oman has changed in the last half century but maintained her essence.

Three generations of sultans. Photograph dating back to 1912. The Sultan Faisal bin Turki is holding his grandson, Sultan Said bin Taimur and standing is his son Sultan Taimur.

Muscat Harbour

Sidab 1960s, note the camel in the foreground.

American women working at Muttrah hospital with Omani woman sitting 1960s

Muttrah 'beach'

The shelling of Nizwa fort by the British

Education system

1860 Muscat

Traditional Dhow
This is Muttrah 1970 

Road between Muscat & Muttrah 1959. It still exists through Riyam near the upper park entrance.


Cyclone 1952

Sultan Said bin Timor in a tank

Sultan Timor bin Faisal (Grandfather of HM Sultan Qaboos)