Monday, December 28, 2009

Salalah News Bulletin

Weather: Greetings from windy dusty Salalah. The past two days have been absolute hell for anyone with asthma, allergies, etc. There's a sandstorm everywhere you go, and everything is covered in a fine layer of dust. Cool, huh? the winds were so strong yesterday that four electricity poles fell over in Dahariz yesterday (thank goodness not onto the road, but into a banana plantation). This morning I noticed that one of the NEW lamp posts down the major highway looked like it was about to fall onto the road. Is the wind really that strong or did someone drive into it? In both cases, the thing weighs a ton so it shouldn't be tilting a couple of weeks after being installed firmly in the ground.
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Traffic: I've been having nightmares lately, and it only dawned upon me this morning that the reason for these nightmares is the number of car accidents I've witnessed over the past couple of weeks. It's serious. I don't know what's happening in this town, but I'm figuring one of the main reasons are that there are too many cars and not enough roads. Traffic is congested most of the day, and police officers are controlling traffic on the three major roundabouts twice a day during rush hour. This can't continue. The Government is going to have to find a solution whether to build bridges or build another highway. The situation is getting worse by the day, and the number of vehicle accidents have increased horribly over the past few months. I've seen about 5 accidents over the past 10 days where drivers were actually killed or seriously injured. It's depressing, sad, unnecessary, and are caused mostly by speeding. A woman was killed in her car last week because the guy behind her was speeding and his breaks weren't working properly so he hit her car and she (trying to avoid him) drove into the other lane and ended up flying over the median into oncoming traffic. May she rest in peace and may Allah guide other drivers to a safer path in life.
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Missing Bride: A friend of mine (victim of an arranged marriage scheme) was scheduled to get married during January. She has never spoken to her husband-to-be and her father would probably murder her (kidding) if she even expressed interest in getting to know him before the wedding. She's been trying to keep herself busy these past few weeks getting herself ready for the wedding. She's worried, and can't even sleep at night thinking about the stranger she's going to share her life with in a few weeks. Well, lucky for her, the plan was for her husband-to-be and his two brothers to get married on the same day (cost-saving techniques?), so the family searched for three brides. The brides were found (hurray!) and the wedding was scheduled. HOWEVER, bride number three decides she doesn't want to get married anymore, and the engagement was broken. So .. the current dilemma is 'Wedding Postponed Until Third Bride Found'. There's talk of the wedding being postponed until July. My friend is in ecstasy. Family frantic trying to find another bride. Do you know anyone up for grabs? 18- 20 years old (groom is 23)? Plump? White? Tall? For more details do not hesitate to call groom #3.
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Business & Whatnot: A certain Brokerage manager at a top capital markets company visited me in my office today and proceeded to pull out forms and booklets and brochures explaning the importance of investing in the stock market and other forms of investment. 'Why come to me?', I asked politely. Turns out they're targeting women. Yes women. Interesting move. Target women in their offices, brainwash them into thinking they should invest money in your company, and bribe them with tales of profit. I wonder how many women fell for it.
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Proposals: A friend of mine works at a bank. She's young, pretty, independent, and a workholic. Along with her father, she's the main provider for her family (young siblings). She drives, and is working on her MBA via correspondense. Last week an older gentleman approached her at the bank. She assumed he was a customer so she invited him to her office to see what he wanted. This is the exact speech he gave her "My dear girl, I may look like an old man but I'm only 55. I have two wives, one bedouin and one from the mountains. I have 8 children, most of them grown up. I want to know where your house is so I can come and propose officially. I will give you 50,000 Rials as a dowry as well as a new car of your choice, and I will give your father 25,000 Rials. I will give you your own home and you will be free to raise your children as you wish. All I ask is that you agree to marry me. The years are flying by and I need to feel young. I've seen you around town a lot and I feel you're the perfect person for me. So where is your house?". Can you even begin to imagine what she was feeling? The horror? She told him simply that she was engaged and Insha'allah he will find another bride then she pretended to be busy and went to her manager's office and hid there until he left. She called me immediately in hysterics. I laughed my head off obviously. I love Salalah.
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LGBT: Anyone noticed that all the gay dudes who worked at Centrepoint disappeared? Wonder why...
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Behavior: I was a little surprised this morning when I met with a manager of one of Salalah's leading energy companies, and he extended his hand to shake mine. I smiled at him and thanked him but refused to shake. He looked a little puzzled and asked why? I was thinking to myself "what do you mean, why? I'm Muslim!", but I simply said 'Oh, I prefer not to. So how are you? What's new on the scene?". He didn't give up. Need I mention that he is a Dhofari from the mountains? Yes he studied abroad but has he seriously forgotten what Salalah is all about? he proceeded to lecture me on work ethics, etc. His logic was that in a work environment, I should shake men's hands when extended because it's purely professional. I argued back that no man had extended his hand in over two years (since my former manager, an expat, which is understandable). Anyway, we argued for a bit then I forced him to change the subject and get on with our meeting. P.E.S.T.
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That's all for today folks. I'm exhausted and over-worked. Coffee.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I'd like to think of myself as an advocate of briding cultures and global understanding. A friend of mine is involved in organizing this event at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat. If you're interested please drop by tomorrow! India is such an amazing and diverse country, and I'm sure you'd enjoy it.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Salalah

Dear Readers,
;
.Well, I wasn't expecting such a reaction to my meeting with Rania, but nevertheless I'm pleased. Just so you know, Rania and I met again this weekend at her house, so I could meet her children. The sweetest things EVER!
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Today is the 25th of December, a.k.a Christmas to most people around the world. I've witnessed many debates lately among people I know in Salalah on whether to acknowledge the fact that Christmas exists or not. Excuse me? Are we not Muslims who believe in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? Do we not believe in Jesus? Christmas is the day Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, one of the most important prophets in Islam.
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I'm fired up about this today because someone I know criticized me for wishing my Christian friends a Merry Christmas. She said I had sinned for believing in 'their' holiday. Remind me again which century we live in? I lived among Christians for several years. I do not 'celebrate' Christmas because I am Muslim but I do make sure to wish them a Merry Christmas because during Eid, they always sent me Eid cards, gifts, and some of them even fasted during Ramadan with me to try and understand my faith. It touched me, and I believe it helped them make positive changes in their lives.
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Are we not humans? Do we as Muslims not believe in Christianity as a major world religion? Do we not believe in the same God? Do we not share the same planet and breathe the same air?
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How do we expect others to understand us or appreciate our way of life as Muslims if we are unable to acknowledge what they believe in? Don't all world religions believe in the Golden Rule: " Do to others what you would like to be done to you "? Yes they do. Every single world religion. Our Prophet Mohammed PBUH, in his farewell cermon, also known as خطبة الوداع told his followers "Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you", and this is what we as humans should practice in our lives, regardless of what we believe in. We cannot continue living like enemies. Peace and understanding are what we should base our beliefs on.
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However! Although I recognize Christmas as a major religious event for Christians, I do not believe in the commercialized Christmas we see nowdays all over the world. Christmas has become a materialistic event. Many Christians don't even go to Church on Christmas anymore and merely spend all day, eating, drinking, and opening gifts. Many of the beautiful Christmas traditions are disappearing slowly, and this makes me sad. I was outraged when I drove past Browniz Cafe on Al-Salam street in Salalah and saw a huge cardboard Santa at the door. Hello? We live in a Muslim country. Santa does not represent the religious history behind Christmas. How do the management at Browniz think they are going to maintain their Omani customers during December? Let's be realistic here. No young man in Salalah is going to cheerfully walk into Browniz, sit on the sofa next to Santa and order a coffee. I think that's gone too far and I find it a little offensive.
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It also saddens me to see that many Christians tend to over-do it on the alcohol. Since when was Christmas about getting drunk? What about the Christmas parties at the major hotels where you go, dance and get drunk? Is that religious? What's happening to our world?
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Anyway, this post isn't about alcohol or parties. This post is about the incident with my friend. Instead of talking and criticizing, try to listen. Listen and you will understand. Listen and you will become a better person.
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Peace.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Two Bloggers Meet

Dear All,
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Yes it happened. Yes I'm alive. Yes Rania is the person I expected her to be and my sources were 100% correct. And YES Rania is cool!
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As she mentioned in her post about the meeting, I did sit in my car and wait until she pulled up and then I waited until she got out and spent a few moments observing her. She was standing nervously clutching her bag and trying not to look left and right. I decided to put her out of her misery, so I approached her from behind and shouted 'Boo!'. She jumped. I smiled. Arrogant, my dear readers? Nah.
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I could tell she was nervous. I'm not that scary, but I guess after following my blog for so long, she'd created this 'Nadia' personality in her little brain and wasn't able to handle the real person. However, her nervousness didn't last for very long. After about ten minutes (and probably after I'd pulled out a pair of grilled shades for her) she started to relax. We ordered coffee (café lattes from Browniz if you really must know), and drove to the beach.
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We parked at the end of Haffa Beach, took our shoes off and settled down in our chairs with our feet buried in the cold sand (it's a nice feeling). I find it easier to talk to people in the dark for some reason. Conversations are more meaningful at night. Does anyone agree with me? We talked for three hours straight about absolutely everything. We do have a lot in common, even though she's not Omani. I guess being married to an Omani and knowing many locals has expanded her 'Dhofari Horizons'. She understands the culture and blends in very well.
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We talked about Dhofar in depth. Both of us are Dhofar-lovers. We discussed the fact that many people are now using Dhofari Gucci and Sleepless in Salalah as valid reference material on Dhofar, which is flattering yet scary. I have met so many people who have quoted my blog and even used it as teaching material. It's reached the point where if you google anything about Dhofar or Salalah, inevitably one of our blogs will show up on the first search page. We realized that it's our responsibility to make sure that what we write is good and valid material. We brainstormed so many ideas for our blogs, and listed the issues we want to tackle. As a foreigner married to an Omani, Rania has a unique perspective on life here. Positive and realistic. She's very down to earth and intelligent, and I trust that she will write excellent posts on our crazy little town.
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She was off on a camping trip with her husband's family the next day and begged me not to write about our meeting until she got back. To those of you who aren't techie-minded, I actually cancelled comment moderation this week, and so I wasn't moderating all the comments under my last post, as many of you thought. I decided to take a break from the computer this past weekend and enjoy real life. The rain in Salalah was refreshing. Winter arrived this morning. I took one look out my window and knew that today would be the first of many dry windy dusty days.
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Rania came back from camping, and told me I could write again (well, thank you!). Overall, our meeting was great, and I predict many more similar encounters. Ask any person who was on Haffa Beach between 6:30 and 9:45 p.m on Tuesday whether they saw anything … odd.
Two girls in abayas wearing grilled shades?
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Yours Sincerely,
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Nadia
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PS (In her blog, Rania accuses me of insisting on using my car to go to the beach and being bossy. Well, evidently she wasn't focused enough to realize that the beach mat and chairs came out of my car, so yes we had to take my car. Just thought I'd clarify).

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Reply

Dear Rania,
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Referring to your Open Letter, dated December 12, 2009, I'm quite amused. The responses and drama you've caused in the blogosphere with your simple letter were very entertaining. Perhaps you haven't been in Salalah long enough to know that there are no secrets in this town. However, I've been writing for many months, and to this day only a handful of people know who I am. I enjoy being anonymous, and intend to keep it that way.
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On the other hand, you must remember that I am a pure Dhofari. This means I have a talent for gathering information and news using my connections. Thus, I wish to inform you that I know who you are. Your disguise was not difficult to uncover. I was worried that you'd end up being someone I know, and this is why I was not willing to contact you. However, since you do not know me personally I think it is safe to meet for coffee.
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We will meet tonight at 6:30 p.m. Email me for more details. I will not remove my pink grilled shades. I will observe you from afar and then approach you. You will not know me, but I will know you. You will follow me to my car, and we will drive to a place where we can chat freely. We will be good friends I know. I hereby declare today to be 'Dhofari Bloggers' Day'.
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See you in nine hours.
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Your Sincerely,
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Nadia

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Weather is A-Changing

Yes, you heard me right. Last night was the first night since last year that I was able to sleep without an air conditioner. Yay for winter! I'm not very pleased about the dry wind and dust storms, though! All we need is a little rain. I hear it's pouring in Muscat? Send some over!
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The reason I haven't written anything since my Eid post is because I have guests staying with me in my house. I've been giving the usual tours of Dhofar:
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To the West (Raysut, Mughsayl, Fezayah, Dhalkut, etc)
To the East (Taqah, Darbat, Taiq Cave, Sumhuram, Mirbat, Sadah, Hadbeen)
To the Mountains (Prophet Job's Tomb, and that area)
To the South (beach beach beach and the ocean)
The usual stops (coconuts, shopping, frankincense, BBQs, camel meat, etc)
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Did I mention that I'm sick? No? Yes, I'm sick. So that adds more fun to the tourist trips. Bah. All I want to do really is curl up on the sofa with hot cocoa and a movie, but no such luck. I'm off work for a week to entertain my guests, so I'm glad for the extra break after Eid break even though I've been driving all around Dhofar entertaining (first time I really use a 4WD. It's creepy)
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I've been receiving emails from people wanting to be-friend me/meet me(Rania?)/know who I am. I'm really good at ignoring, but sometimes I feel guilty. Maybe I should at least answer?
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I'm anti-Twitter. Just thought you should know.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eid in Salalah

If you know the beat to the song 'Feeling Hot Hot Hot', then sing along with me:
My stomach's on fire ...
Ma'ajeen is my desire ...
Eating Meat Meat Meat ...
Eating Meat Meat Meat ..
Party people ... all around Salalah .. Eating Meat Meat Meat ...
Throw your hands in the air!
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How are you all? I'm in a wacky mood today, but I promised you my Eid post, so here goes..
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The days before Eid were absolute hell. I thought Eid Al-Adha is about celebrating life's small blessings like food and shelter. Why it is that we're so obsessed with shopping before Eid? Buy buy buy. Why? Do we really need to replace the majlis furniture for Eid? Must I buy ten new dresses for Eid? Do we really need to show off that much? We're supposed to 'give'. I bought three bright 'cotton' thobe bothails (Father Of the Tail dresses) for Eid. Thank goodness my family don't like the fancy crap that other people must go through for Eid like having to get heavily embroidered silky shiny expensive thobes to show off. I did not get henna done nor did I dye my hair bright yellow. I did not buy new blue contact lenses or bukhoor. I don't feel the need for all that. For me Eid is about seeing family and spending extra time learning about what's going on in their lives.
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However, Dhofaris seemed to have other plans. I could not even get near the centre of town during Eid. I tried FIVE TIMES to buy Halwa at my favourite Halwa shop but I couldn't get near it! It was so crowded! Women on thobe street شارع عطية were busy buying clothes and blocking all traffic. I couldn't enter any supermarket because it was crowded with people buying the exact-same-items. More like Ramadan shopping! I decided not to go out. I paid my cousin a fee to go and buy Halwa for our house. He was pleased and keeps on offering his services. Perhaps he sees a potential source of income. (he's 17).
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On the morning of Eid, I woke up at dawn for prayers. Believe it or not, there was like 20 seconds of rain but then it stopped. I then dozed off again knowing that I'd wake up to the sound of the Imam's voice and Eid prayers soon enough. I woke up again to the sound of 'Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar!' (God is Great), and just like a child I jumped out of bed excited for Eid. It's was 7 a.m. I know some of you are thinking 'Why wake up so early? No one wakes up early except children'. Well, to you pessmists, Eid is a celebration and I choose to celebrate. I put on a new bright green Father of the Tail, applied bright red lipstick, adjusted my poof (pompom, kammasha, qamboo3a, etc) and joined my family for a hearty breakfast. The men had already left for prayers so it was just my mother and aunt and sisters.
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After breakfast we got to work preparing the Majlis for guests. We knew that by 8:30 the kids would be on the streets in their new clothes. Sure enough, by 8:25 the doorbell rang and it was the first batch of kids who came in giggling and sat down to introduce themselves and eat sweets. I gave them Eidia (Eid Money for kids) and they asked me 'Is it true that you drive a car?'. Umm.. yes? They were fascinated. Poor things. Off they went and the next batch arrived and it continued like that until 1:00.
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Meanwhile, after Eid prayers the men went off to the 'garbeeb' (our plain near the mountains) to slaughter a cow. They came home bloody and tired bearing lots and lots of meat. Off they went to get ready for visiting, and my aunt busied herself with the task of making Eid ma'ajeen, which is basically small pieces of beef cooked in fat and salted and then if kept in a sealed container, can last for months. It's really tasty. I helped her cut up the meat even though I hate the sight of it.

.A 3:00 the 'adult' visiting started. . . and it contined for then next six days NON-STOP. I spent my entire Eid holidays either visiting people or receiving people. I must have seen at least 300 relatives and neighbors during Eid week. The same scenario exactly:
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'Hello! Eid Mubarak! How are you? How is your father? How is your mother? How is your brother? How is his wife? Any baby? How is your health? Are you married yet?'.

.Every single majlis had the exact same food items. The big dish of ma'ajeen, Omani coffee, Omani Halwa, Danish cookies, nuts, Halwa bread, and then Vimto and mango-flavored water. I'm not complaining. I'm merely wondering why Dhofaris can't be more creative food-wise. At every single house you were FORCED to eat at least three or four pieces of Ma'ajeen. If you're visiting ten houses a day.... 10*4 = 40 pieces of Ma'ajeen a day. 40*6 days = 240 pieces of ma'ajeen in six days. Beef. Eating meat meat meat .. imagine the cholestrol and blood pressure problems in Dhofar after Eid. Eek!

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Another thing that surprises me is that during Eid, it's suddenly fine to receive men and entertain male cousins, etc, whereas during the rest of the year it's 3aib عيب .. weird. I met so many male relatives, and I can't even remember half their names.
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Most families visit each house individually, but some families have gotten smarter and they now announce for example that on the fourth day of Eid the entire family will get together in the mountains for a huge picnic involving lots of meat.
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Anyway, all in all Eid is about seeing people, getting to know what they're up to, exchanging news, being happy and cheerful, talking your head off, eating your head off, and opening your house to your neighbors/family/friends. It's a time to get away from your stupid computer, let go of your boring routine, and enjoy spending time with PEOPLE.
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I love Eid. I was sad when it was over even though I was grateful that I didn't have any more visiting to do AND NO MORE MEAT HAD TO BE STUFFED DOWN MY THROAT. And here I am back at work and they're still celebrating Eid! On the first day back at work, all my male colleagues had their new turbans on, the women had new abayas, everyone was exchanging news. Many employees brought halwa, sweets, Omani coffee, and even ma'ajeen. The air was festive and everyone was in a good mood. We're still exchanging sweets and halwa even though it's already Tuesday.
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How did you celebrate your Eid? Are you meated out too?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jebbalis & Guns

I love my rival. I love her blog. I love her comments on life in Salalah. Please read her new post here. I especially loved number 10.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Alive and Well!

Besides being over-meaten (my word for eating too much meat), I'm alive and well, and trying to finish off everyone on my Eid visiting list (that could mean visiting them or literally finishing them off). I've been to 27 houses this week. I've eaten 5 kilos of meat AT LEAST, I never want to eat camel again, and when I head back to work tomorrow I'll type up my Eid post. So there. How was your Eid?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Father of the Tail

I'm beginning to like my competitor. I enjoyed reading her post on Dhofari Thobes. Read it...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Marriage vs. Love

I've been wanting to write about the concept of marrying for love or agreeing to an arranged marriage, in Omani society. It's an issue that we, the generation of 20-35 year-olds in Oman struggle with everyday-freakin-day. My fellow blogger Reality wrote an excellent post on this topic, and the responses are excellent too, so I recommend you read her post on Marriage vs. Love.
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My favorite hobby these days seems to be aimless driving with a friend chattering in the passenger seat (Yes, you know who you are). We can drive around Salalah for 2-3 hours with absolutely no purpose besides getting something cold to drink. Anyway, yesterday we were discussing this same topic exactly. We were trying to figure out how the hell we (the young women of today), are supposed to know who to marry. When do you 'know' that this is the right person to marry? What determines that feeling? Did we believe in marrying for love (I don't think I believe in that anymore). Is compatability without deep love enough to marry someone? Do you trust your family enough to allow them to choose your partner? Should you marry someone who shares some of the same interests and hope for the best? Should the person have the same sort of background or family? Should you or should you not discuss marriage expectations down to the very last details before getting married? Should you just pray Istikhara and hope for the best?
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In a conservative society like Salalah where interaction between males and females is almost non-existent, how do you find a partner? I swear, most of my friends have nightmares about this every night. Worrying about getting married. Worrying about being called into the family living room one day and being informed that they're marrying their cousin or a man from the tribe (always preferrable in Salalah!). Worrying about finding someone suitable but afraid of upsetting their family. Worrying about falling in love and then their families refusing.
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Should we get to know someone before deciding to get married? How much should you know before doing that? Are long phone conversations enough? Long chats online? Face-to-face meetings which are virtually impossible in Salalah? Or should you just pray and hope for the best? How important is 'love' when trying to make the big decision? Does 'love' blur your thoughts and mess up your logic? Is marrying someone from your 'tribe' or from a sister tribe really that important? Will our families continue to influence every single detail of us choosing a partner? Will we actually be able to 'choose' a partner?
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My driving pal and I 'want' to believe that if a man and woman discover that they are spiritually/religiously compatible and on the same spiritual path that this is enough to get married. But does it always work out? I'd like to believe that.
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You know what? I've always heard women's side of the story. I discuss these issues with women. Girls like myself. Bloggers, friends, neighbors, colleagues. Females. We have the same concerns and worry about the same things usually. But I'd really like to know what the guys think. So, dear male readers of Dhofari Gucci, I'd like your opinion on this matter. My female readers are expected to write of course, but this is a special request to my male readers. What are the important issues for you when choosing a girl to marry? What does your family want you to do, and what do you yourself believe in? Calling all men!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Competition On The Horizon

Yes, you heard me. I have a competitor. Not too sure if I'm pleased about it or not (I'm a selfish person), but I'm happy about having another blogger from Dhofar who writes in English. She's only published three posts, but I can tell that her future observations are going to be super-interesting. I may even meet her one day (in my niqab and pink grill glasses to conceal my identity). Please join me in welcoming Rania, author of Sleepless in Salalah!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Marriage Contracts

Dear Readers,
I need your input. I've been hearing bits n' pieces in Salalah about the idea of 'marriage contracts' (completely independent of the legal marriage document that is issued by the court). I've heard of women saying they will demand a marriage contract where for example the man will agree never to force his wife to stop working or driving, that he will never touch her income, that he will never divorce her without her consent, that he will never take on a second wife, etc. Do you know anyone who has done this in Oman? Did they do it through a lawyer's office?
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PS (kindly note that I am asking out of curiosity. I did NOT say I support contracts before marriage, nor did I say I was against them. And yes I heard of a man from Salalah who requested a contract, and he insisted on swearing against polygamy)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Oman's 39th National Day!

Dhofari Gucci is Happy & proud to be Omani today. I'm always proud to be Omani, but this morning I've got flags up in my office, and I sang the national anthem on my way to work and I was even slightly cheerful before my mug of coffee. If some of you are wondering, I'm actually back from Finland. Couldn't stand the thermal you-know-what.
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Some may wonder about our two national days. 23rd of July is Renaissance Day when His Majesty overthrew his father in a bloodless coup, and the 18th of November is National Day, which is actually his birthday (Scorpio!) .

Today I am thankful for the following:

- The Peaceful country that I call home

- Islam

- Our beloved Sultan

- The freedom to work, drive, travel, and be who I am.

- The ability to learn something new everyday

- Feeling safe and secure wherever I am in Oman

- My family/ My Tribe

- My friends and neighbors

- All the amazing Omanis I have met through this blog over the past few months.

- I am thankful for the small pleasures that Salalah has to offer like chilled coconuts on the side of the road or the beautiful Indian Ocean and the untouched beaches 1 minute away from my house.

- I am thankful for the banana plantations, the camels, the bedouins, the mountain people, the fishermen, the hyenas, the internet, the roads, the schools, electricity, clean water, my warm bed, my cute black car, my phone, my books, paper, pencils, grass, frankincense, rocks, turbans, abayas, clock towers, honey, tribes, colors, the cheesecake at the Hilton, my blog, and last but not least I am thankful for coffee.

- I am thankful for the Life that I am Living and all that is to come.

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Omani Zombies

Please read this article on Omani witchcraft & 'zombies'. Saleh Al Shaibany's choice of words sent me into a fit of hysterical laughter as I imagined the evil Omani zombies working at slave labor camps in Bahla. I read his articles regularly but this one is really amusing. I know a lot of it is believed to be true in Oman, especially in Salalah where voodoo and witchcraft is big. Taqah, the small fishing village outside Salalah, is the witch-town of Dhofar. Dhofaris in general won't visit Al Baleed archaeological site because they believe the place is cursed. Security guards quit regularly because they're terrified of guarding the place at night. Khor Ruri Valley after Taqah is supposedly the meeting place for witches and spirits. Rumor has it that the valley is guarded by a red fox. That, I know, is true because I've seen it several times. Anyway, I'll blog about witchcraft and spirit beliefs in Salalah some other time. Today I'm merely entertaining you with this article. Cheers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dammit!

I'm officially sulking today. I'm not speaking to anyone and I've got a permanent scowl on my face. My friends and I drove to Haffa beach, known as 'The Corniche' last night, parked in front of one of the huge screens broadcasting the Oman-Australia game, switched on the radio to listen to the game, and prayed. It was like a torture session. At one point I had my hands over my ears and my eyes were shut so I wouldn't have to hear what happened after the penalty kick. What torture. Police were scattered all over town ready to handle the chaos on the streets in case Oman won. Sadly, after a series of near-goals and near-firecracker attacks, and damn the kangaroos, Oman lost.
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How the heck are we supposed to celebrate National Day on Wednesday when (a) Australia beat Oman IN OMAN last night, and (b) when Oman is playing against Brazil on Tuesday IN OMAN? (is it Tuesday?) ... If Oman loses again, I'm giving up my citizenship and moving to Finland.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Identity Revealed!

Nadia is happy ... just wanted to let you know that over the weekend I revealved the identity of two fellow bloggers (by complete coincidence) and turns out I know them both. Won't tell you who they are. I'm being Nice.
I'm in movie-mode. For those of you living in Salalah, the best place to get movies is Al Masa DVD outlet. They have two branches; one off Al Najah Street opposite Switz Bakery, and the other one on the corner just before phone street (Haramia Street) when you're driving past Dhofar Hotel. They only open after sunset, but they're worth it. They always have the latest movies and series (Arab, Indian, English). On Thursday I watched Seven Pounds (Will Smith). Highly recommended. I also watched Amazing Grace .. anyone seen it? About William Wilberforce who fought to abolish slavery in England. Excellent movie.
Cheers!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fear Not for I am Right Here!

Nadia is alive and well. Sitting at her desk after work hours blogging. How nerdy is that? I should be racing to my car like all the other employees in order to be at home and in bed before official office hours end. Work ethic in Oman can be QUITE frustrating sometimes.
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(1) This is just a random post with bits and pieces of news I've written down on scraps of paper in my bedroom, bathroom, office, car, etc. We can start with the fact that IHMD dude introduced me to the actual website for our upcoming first shopping mall in Salalah. For those interested, check out Salalah World . It seems we're going to have shops, a cinema, bowling alley, AND A CAFE THAT SERVES REAL COFFEE!!! I'm counting the days. For those who wish to uncover my identity, kindly note that I will change Dhofari Gucci headquarters to the new cafe, and you can just ask a waiter 'Who's the girl who orders more than three cups of coffee per hour?'. I'm ruined.
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(2) The flags are up for National Day! Exciting! I love seeing the workers raising the flags on all the poles up and down the highway and major roads. For the past week, the major highway has been under construction as they put up our brand new hideous gold and black street lights that looks like something out of 18th century England.
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(3) I was planning on making an official visit to the new Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Salalah, but my friend *soon-to-be-blogger* went on the weekend and was told that women aren't allowed into the men's section. Yes, you heard me right. Women are only allowed into one part of the mosque! Outrageous!!! It was at 10:00 a.m. Visiting time! What the heck is the government thinking? Everyone should be allowed into the mosque when it's not prayer time! Look at the Grand Mosque in Muscat! Expats, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Women, Men, wheelchairs, EVERYONE can go in when it's not prayer time, as long as they're dressed modestly. And my friend, so innocent in her burqa (niqab) and abaya wasn't allowed in. Very annoying.
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(4) I went to Lulu Centre yesteday and bought a Freej coloring book and a box of new Steadler coloring pencils. For some reason, I feel like coloring. And why not good old granny Freej? For those of you who don't know Freej, it's the UAE 3D animated series with the old lady in the niqab. Most school notebooks nowdays have her picture on them!
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(5) Lots of people I know are preparing for Hajj, the journey of a lifetime. I don't want to say I'm jealous (ehem.. Shahrazad), but I am! I can't wait for the day when I'll be able to go. I hope to go with a husband if and when I ever find one. haha..
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(6) Does anyone have any idea how long the National Day holiday will be and when Eid holiday will be and whether they'll be merged into one nine-day holiday like last Eid? I'm craving a holiday. C.R.A.V.I.N.G.
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Ok, enough blogging for today. I'm having a super-exhausting month at work and have no time for sleeping and eating, let alone blogging. I'm brainstorming posts on spirituality, life, travel, etc, .. season for deep-thinking. I've been writing in my journal almost everyday. Cheers

Monday, November 2, 2009

Note

No I have not disappeared off the face of earth nor have I been kidnapped and murdered by the individuals who hate my blog and think I'm blogging from room 3 at Ibn Sina mental institution. I've been extremely busy. Too busy. Work-wise. I'm in a 'Pissed-Off-by-Wasta' mood today. I should think up a post on Wasta. For those of you who don't know the magic word, Wasta is getting what you want in life when you don't deserve it by using your social connections and the grapevine. Wasta is big in Oman. HUGE.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Salsa Aerobics Salalah!

If you're going to San Francisco ... You're going to meet some gentle people there....
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Hectic HECTIC times. Thanks for all the positive comments on my OmanForum post last week. Very much appreciated. I haven't had time to write because of a 'Work Overdose' as my fellow blogger Bader likes to call it. I've been taking work home everyday now for the past two weeks. I'm also trying to write something for the new bloggers' campaign, but I need to concentrate when I'm writing, so I'll probably do it at home (with a nice cup of tea). .
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Anyway, I've been highly amused with a new gym I discovered in Salalah for women. Before I start explaining the reason behind my amusement, I'll explain a little about the women exercise situation in Dhofar. First of all, men are so damn lucky. They get to throw a pair of shorts and a t-shirt on and go jogging or swimming, and most of them play soccer on a daily basis in Salalah. Soccer is HUGE here. Some play badminton or tennis, and many just work-out in the gym. Easy.
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What about women, though? We spend all day in our black robes, and hardly ever get out on our own, let alone find time to exercise (unless it's within the four walls of our houses). I mean, seriously, how motivating is it to walk on a treadmill for an hour alone? Beyond Boring. It's the easiest recipe for depression. Many women walk along the airport road, but that's also depressing because they're fully clothed (many in face veils) and we live in a tropical town, so ..... yeah.... hot.Anyway, Salalah Al Hamdulillah has several hidden female gyms. In secret neighborhoods and dark alley-ways you may spot a building that has a tiny sign saying 'Health Club'.... on the door there's usually another tiny sign saying 'NO MEN ALLOWED'. Some have signs that say 'No Males Invited'.. I think that's cute. I'm not going to implement the 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' rule, and I'm actually going to explain to you what happens behind those closed doors. VERY amusing.
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Alright, so after sunset many females head to their cars (or their husband/brother/driver's cars) and discreetly make their way to the secret destination. They're dressed from head to toe in black. The car drives into a dark alley-way and parks in front of a seedy looking building with a red-lit sign saying 'Health Club'. The females get out of the car. The first odd thing you notice is that they're carrying a backpack and a suspicious looking roll of something. A what? Yes, a yoga mat. The car drives a way, the women look left and right then slowly open the door and slide into the building. The door remains shut.
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Once you shut that door, you're in another world. Men would kill to see what goes on in there. Big empty well-lit rooms. Mirrored walls. Women chillin' in tights and tank tops. Nike sneakers. Yoga mats. Puma shorts. Sweatbands. Che Guevara t-shirts (you heard me right). Ponytails. Bandanas. Loud Loud Music..... Hot stuff.
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At 8 p.m the aerobics class instructor arrives; dressed in pink tights and a t-shirt with a long blonde ponytail and lime-green sneakers. Women/girls start warming up and playfully shoving each other around the aerobics rooms. All the lights come on. Everyone takes their place in front of the mirror. Music system is ready. Press the play button and get ready to hit the dance floor.
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Global Deejays re-mix 'San Francisco Dreaming' blasts out of the speakers (listen to it. I need you to imagine with me). The instructor usually starts with warm-up exercises then gradually starts the heavy aerobics. Lots of hopping and jumping. Step-work. Mat-work. It goes on for an hour or more. Pain. Torture. But they love it anyway. Often the instructor will ask the girls if they're in for some hip-hop and break-dancing. Everyone will shout 'YEAH!' and out comes the hip-hop CD. She usually starts with The Black Eyed Peas 'Boom Boom Pow' and everyone will show off their dance moves. My favorite is Chris Brown & T-Pain's 'Greatness'. When the girls are feeling a little wild, the belly-dancing CD comes out. One of my expat friends who went there took one look at the place and said 'This is SO Ghetto!'.

The funniest part is that some instructors like doing aerobics to Salsa music. It actually works quite well with aerobics. Lots of hip and shoulder-shaking. The best is Marc Anthony's 'Mi Gente'. Dhofari girls pick up a lot of salsa moves from TV (So You Think You Can Dance/ Dancing with the Stars). After a couple of hours of fun and activity, one by one the women head to the cloak room (literally), change back into their abayas, tie up their hair, apply all the head-pieces until the hijab is complete, tie on the face-veil (burqa), change out of their sneakers, roll up their yoga mats and sneak out. The car is waiting outside (curious driver trying to get a peek as the door opens), woman gets in, and drives off into the night.

Nothing happened, right? Nope.

Salalah's best-kept secret. Dhofari Chicks Rock.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oman Forum

Some of you may recall that during September the cool founder of OmanForum.com started up a forum for 'Blogs By Omanis & Expats in Oman'. It meant that whenever bloggers published a post in their own blogs, the post would automatically be published in the forum as a new thread. Several bloggers added their blogs to this forum including myself, Reality in Oman, and others. The advantages were that the bloggers were getting more exposure and more readers. Disadvantages were that readers commented directly under the post in the forum (so at times the blogger had no idea when people were commenting).
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However, the worst downfall is that many OmanForum readers used their anonymity to criticize endlessly and to be quite rude at times. They didn't quite understand the concept of 'blogs' and didn't see the 'blogger' as a person; merely were pissed off because some of the posts were personal and not entertaining. One guy commented on my previous 'Mixed Post' by saying "Who cares what you do before you sleep? Your writing is empty". Umm... my dear sir, I am not writing to entertain YOU. This is MY blog, MY space, MY daily journal, and I can DAMN WELL write what I want, thank you very much! I think blogs and forums should be completely independent of one another and kept far away from each other because both have completely different audiences. I found the OmanForum audiences to be rude, rather empty, and not as intelligent and respectful as blog readers. I love my readers and I take time out everyday to check out their blogs and read what they have to say. It's a give and take relationship. We encourage one another to write, and our writing is most certainly not empty.
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This morning I sent an email to the founder of OmanForum asking him to remove my blog from the forum. He wrote back immediately, bless his heart, and informed me that he had removed the entire forum completely. It was obviously misunderstood and not the success he had hoped for.
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Anyway, OmanForum.com is a great place for discussions, even if some of the members are losers. But for serious, deep writing and contemplation, let's stick to blogs and limit your readers to the intelligent type. Cheers. Going to make myself some coffee ...
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PS (an Oman Forum reader would easily reply to this post by saying 'No one wants to know whether you're going to make yourself coffee!!'. .. Haha!!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Another Mixed Post!

Guess what?! Another random post! I seriously have scatter-brain syndrome, and I'm not even on Twitter, so I don't know what this is all about (i.e. people who use Twitter are usually scatter-brains). Anyway, here are a bunch of thoughts that are swimming around in my brain today:
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(1) I was reading G-Chan's blog this morning and she said it takes her at least an hour of thinking every night before she can contemplate sleeping. Tell me about it! I'm usually in bed at 11 p.m every night, yet I only ever sleep at 1 a.m usually or even 1:30. What do I do in those two hours? I think, analyze, contemplate, brainstorm, etc. I'm an intense person so I can't just imagine pink clouds and go to bed. No, sir, not me. I'm a deep thinker, so it's hard. Anyway, I have about three notebooks beside my bed and a bunch of pens. I usually have amazing ideas in the middle of the night (one of them was to start a blog! look where it got me) that need to be jotted down immediately otherwise I won't sleep worrying that I'll forget them. Finally, to prove to you all that I'm totally wacko, I solve math problems in bed because it helps me sleep. No, I am not a student. No, my career has NOTHING to do with math. Yes, I solve math problems in bed. Try doing (34856 x 32888 /4 - 500) in bed on a piece of paper in semi-darkness.
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(2) You know sometimes you end up having friends in life who are so sweet and kind, it's almost abnormal?! People who always take time out to ask about others, and help them, and who don't seem to carry a bad thought in their head/hearts? People who are pure, generous, caring, loving creatures who seem to be giving their all to the world? Yeah, well, when I first started this blog, I came across one of those creatures. We followed each other's blogs then met for coffee. Our first meeting proved my theory that she is probably one of the sweetest people I've ever know. Yes, I'm talking about you Shahrazad . Who knows, maybe you're evil deep down inside, but I seriously doubt it. You're one of the sweetest people I know. What was that crazy SMS conversation we had last night? It involved soap ... men ... journeys ... MAC makeup?
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(3) I met a very interesting man last night. VERY interesting. Omani orphan raised by expats? He's now a middle-aged man so you can imagine how odd that must be ...
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(4) This entire week the whole of Salalah has been full of ROP security check points. Some say it's standard procedure. Others say there are Somali illegal immigrants causing trouble. Anyway, I was stopped 3 times in a period of 36 hours. That's odd. I see the policemen being rough with all the cars in front of me 'Gimme that license! Why isn't your car renewed! What's this?! Who's that!', etc. They give you the look that says 'I'm tired, I'm a policeman, and I'm going to take it out on you'. HOWEVER, if you're a girl ......... that's a completely different story. He's my encounter last night:
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I'm driving through town and I see a flashing sign "ROP Security Check - Please Stop"...
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Nadia pulls over .. rolls down window and looks for her driver's license and car ownership:
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Police: Good evening, my dear. How are you?
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Nadia: Oh, very well officer. And you? *flashing innocent sweet smile* Policeman melts.
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Police: As you see, it's rough and exhausting. No need to give me your license. Go ahead. Sorry if we caused any inconvenience. (trying to act cool)
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Nadia: Oh that's ok, Officer. Have a nice evening! *flashes another smile*
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It's great being a girl sometimes.
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(5) I was having a conversation with Ma7feef last night about childhood crimes. I'm sure we all did something bad in our childhood that we'd rather not remember. Anyway, I was thinking about it (obviously in bed past midnight) and the only thing that came up in my mind was my evil crimes in grade nine when I was 13. It was my last year at that particular middle school before I hit high school, and the principal of my school was EVIL. When I say 'Evil' I mean evil. She used to chase girls around with scissors in case she saw loose strands on hair, etc *khuslat*. She tortured everyone in our school, including the teachers and I was determined to get my revenge before I left the school. Anyway, I spent two weeks writing an 85-line poem about her in proper 'fus7a' Arabic . On my last day at school I had printed out almost 100 copies of the poem, I went to school really early and I posted a copy up on each classroom door, including a huge colourful copy on her door. The school went into fits of hysterical laughter and the principal ended up 'arresting' several girls whom she thought had written it. I got away fortunately because I look so innocent. Only two or three friends knew about my crime. Yet over 500 people read it and enjoyed it and probably have kept copies of it. It was fun. Do I regret it? Not really.
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(6) I'm really proud of Dhofari bloggers. I don't want to discriminate between different parts of Oman, but we can't deny the fact that 99% of bloggers live in Muscat. I've only come across 4 blogs by Dhofaris. Please if you know any, send them to me! If bloggers in Dhofar can unite, then we can actually do something to serve society down here in the South (the wild wild South). Look at Bloggers Against H1N1 in Muscat! They're actually 'moving' and doing something besides hiding behind their computer monitors writing. Kudos to Bader and Muawiyah and the other Muscat bloggers who are doing something for others. As for Dhofar, I'm giving a shout-out to Ma7feef and Pepsi Diet who were brave enough to start their own blogs. Please spread the word and encourage others to start writing. As for you bloggers in Muscat, you've inspired me, and I admire you.
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Enough writing for now! Have tons of work to do.. Have a great day everyone! (PS: the photo was taken at the lookout point right before Darbat valley).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Salalah Scenes

Hey Everyone,
Sorry for my random posts. I'm still a scatter-brain. I was out shopping last night (abayas! Woohoo! I got two) .. and as I was at the traffic lights in the centre of town with my friend we noticed this building ... Concentrate on the photo and tell me what looks odd... See the towo guys sitting up in that window watching the world? Yes, only in Salalah will you drive through the centre of town and see two guys chilling in their shorts. My friend and I parked the car across the street and being the perfect Paparazzi type, we got out our cameras and started taking photos.
The beginning of the week has been hectic for me, work-wise, so I haven't had time for blogging because my evenings are filled up with committments and activities. My life goes through phases of complete boredom and complete chaos. I prefer the chaos obviously.
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Still have fresh flowers in my office. I'm working on a post for the new bloggers' campaign (will be contacting female bloggers about this soon). Keep your eyes peeled. Omani Bloggers Against........
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Cheers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mixed Post

Today I'm a scatter-brain. I want to write but I can't seem to focus on one topic. Bear with me; I'll be writing about a bunch of completely irrelevant things today..
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(1) This morning I have fresh flowers in my office. I even took a photo (see below). Sometimes a girl needs flowers, even if she buys them for herself. I'm extremely busy at work this week, so having flowers around (in addition to my plants) is refreshing. They help to remind me that there's more to life than computer screens and paperwork.
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(2) I'm thinking about death today. When someone dies suddenly (in an accident), the shock can be unbearable sometimes. A person can be driving down the highway listening to his favourite song and within a minute he can be lying on the pavement, a lifeless puppet. A strong reminder of how small we are and how fragile life is. Please please please be careful when you drive. Wear your seatbelt even if you think you're the best driver in the world. Don't use your phone when you're driving. Don't speed. Life is precious. Even if you think your life isn't precious, other people do. You are a human. You are needed in this world. Please take care of yourself.
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(3) When I was getting into my car after work yesterday, I stopped for a moment to listen to the afternoon call to prayer 'Adhan'. From my car I could hear four mosques. Four! I just stood there for a moment or two thinking about it. We, who live in Muslim countries, sometimes don't stop to listen to the Adhan because we're so used to it. A friend of mine who moved to Salalah from the USA told me one day 'You have NO idea how deliriously happy I am to be listening to the call to prayer five times a day from my own living room. You guys are so lucky'. And yes, we are lucky. Today, take a moment out to listen to the call to prayer when it comes.
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(4) I read one of Aristotle's quotes today that made me stop and think: (in my cousin's facebook profile if you really must know) ... ""It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." .... Every single human should take some time out in their life to read about Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. The world's greatest philosophers. Albus Dumbledore follows.
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(5) Why isn't the new newspaper 'Muscat Daily' available in Salalah? Has anyone read it in Muscat? ReviewS?
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(6) Covered parking lots are a blessing. Thank you dear employer.
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(7) I'm delighted with the Dhofaris who've been starting up their own blogs (whether in English or Arabic). I've been following a new English blog from Dhofar called 'Pepsi Diet' .. http://ihatemountaindew.blogspot.com/ Check it out. I like the way he compared Shisha restaurants in Salalah to pubs in Britain.
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(8) Do you believe in pure friendships with members of the opposite sex?
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Cheers,
Scatter-Brain Nadia

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Facebook

I'm planning a post on Facebook in the near future; however, my friend Shahrazad wrote an excellent post on the problem of Facebook among Omani teens. Check out her post here. http://thoughtreservoir.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/two-generations-on-facebook/

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Single Ladies Rock

Listening to Lady Gaga first thing in the morning before coffee is disturbing behavior, I know. Should I see a therapist?
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I've been so busy these past couple of weeks and of course the reason is obvious. Omanis sleep during Ramadan (and by sleep, I mean at work) so work accumulates and accumulates, and finally when Eid is over they suddenly realize they're one month behind schedule, and the poor innocent creatures like myself who worked their heads off during Ramadan end up suffering too because they have to 'help' their poor miserable fellow workers keep up.
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Anyway, do you know what it feels like when small pieces of a puzzle seem to be coming together over period of several days? I'll try to explain more; umm.. do you know what it feels like when you suddenly think of a topic and 'Sub7an Allah' over the next few days that same topic keeps on coming up again and again in many different ways through different people, places, etc, and you suddenly come to realize that God is trying to say something to you? You have to be tuned in to your inner self to comprehend that all these pieces are coming together at this particular time in your life for a reason. Everything is meant to be. God planned it that way.
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For example, if you've been thinking about completing your higher studies and you're worried whether it's the right thing to do but you're nervous about telling your family and you don't know whether to study abroad or at home, etc. Well, imagine that the following things happen during one week:
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(1) Your boss suddenly says to you 'You've got potential .. you should do your Masters' someday'
(2) Your company suddenly announced they're granting study leave with pay to outstanding employees.
(3) You get an extra bonus at work (down payment for your first year of studies?)
(4) Your best friend announces they're going to study in the UK in six months.
(5) You get a random email in your inbox from Leeds University with special offers on MAs for students from the GCC.
(6) Your favorite professor lives in Leeds.
(7) Your father announces one day at lunch that he wouldn't mind his daughters studying abroad.
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You see what I mean? This all happens in one week. Signs. Omens. Similar situations have happened to me several times.
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It has happened again this week. A week ago I was going through a mini-depression fit where several incidents occured to young women around me that were upsetting. Of course men were the reason. It upset me that any man would still think he could treat his wife as a slave even if she is working and supporting the family. I almost gave up on the thought of young Omani women being independent modern individuals. Suddenly this week several signs showed up in my life to get me back on track. It's as if God opened up my eyes to the amazing young women around me who are making a life for themselves. It was as if I was seeing them for the firs time. Then slowly more things showed up in my life; aritcles, emails, new blogs by amazing young Omani women, new people, new colleagues, interesting conversations over coffee, a song, lines in a book, etc. All these pieces came together to remind me that 'WOW, there are so many freakin' cool young ladies out there'.
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Oman is changing. It is AMAZING how much things are changing. I don't know what you guys hink about Salalah, but I'm telling you, there are many many many young ladies here who are smart, educated, fluent in English, ambitious, confident, drive cars, and have excellent careers. Not only are they successful in their jobs and studies, but they are also generous and compassionate women who really want to help others find their way too. They also want to be good wives and good mothers. Often, I meet a group of these women and we have 'Empowerment Sessions' or 'Girls Power Hour' to discuss issues we are facing and to give support to one another. Living in Salalah isn't easy for single women who want to do something with their lives. A lot of things are still taboo for young women. I mean, until two years ago the thought of girls driving was still taboo. Now take a look aroudn this town. Every fifth or sixth car is a girl. They're starting up businesses, volunteer groups, committees, and are helping others. They're so excited about this new-found freedom that they're really working hard to be successful, unlike young men here (sad to say). Thus, I've come to the conclusion that by the year 2015 this town will be run by women. Period. Young men don't seem to be doing anything with their lives (or at least the young men around me). It's sad but true.
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If you're a young woman reading this, go ahead and find your shooting star. You're beautiful. You're successful. You're powerful. And it's YOUR life, not anyone else's. If you're a man, go home and encourage the women in your life to find their dreams. Help them. Support them. Show them you'll stand by them. In the end, I think Oman will find a good balance between traditional and modern, and this can only happen with the support of the amazing women in this country. Kudos to you ladies out there. And kudos to all the men who encourage the women in their lives.
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The photo above symbolizes freedom. If I were a bird I'd spend all day flying. Have a great weekend!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Found it!

After endless searching on Google, I decided to type in every possible website that came to mind

http://www.y.om/
http://www.yoman.com/
http://www.yoman.net/
http://www.y-oman.com/

etc, etc...

And guess what? I FOUND IT!!

http://www.y-oman.com/

Check it out (i.e the more intelligent version that came out this year) can be downloaded off the website in PDF form. Someone told me there are some good articles written by Omanis in the magazine. I'm searching for those specific articles. I can't believe they've discussed Kanye West's stupid VMA moment in the new issue!! Like Oman needs to know?

Help!

Does anyone know if 'Y Magazine' have a website or where I can find some of their articles online?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Weekend!!!!

I'm deliriously happy that it's Wednesday. In three hours I'll be completing the world's LONGEST working week. It felt like forever. Just a quick note because I have no time to blog. The government wasted so much money setting up the traffic lights at Salalah's busiest roundabout (near the Royal Air Force base?) and they F.A.I.L.E.D miserably. They've switched them off now because they were causing so many traffic jams. Why wasn't it better planned? How are they going to solve the traffic problems in Salalah? Build bridges? What a mess.
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Meanwhile, a reader wrote to me asking for a photo of the famous Omani/Dhofari sandwich (described in my profile) and I felt obliged to post it on Dhofari Gucci. This is what most Dhofari families take on picnics and eat at home as a snack when there's nothing else in the kitchen. It may look plain disgusting but it's actually quite good. I haven't had one for a few years but I'm inspired to go out and find some Chips Oman if they still sell it.
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Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Divorce

. I'm a little shocked. In fact, I'm really shocked. THREE people I know got a divorce this week. THREE. Why has marriage/divorce become so easy in Salalah/Oman nowdays? I was just talking to a friend on the phone half an hour ago and she gave me everyone's divorce news. As I was talking to her, I received a text message from another friend telling me 'Did you hear that so & so got a divorce? On the third day of Eid!'. Need I mention that all three cases were results of an arranged marriage? Two of the cases involve a very young baby (six months in one case, eight months in the other). The third couple didn't have kids, thank goodness. But, hey, seriously, if you have a six month old baby, are you seriously going to consider divorce? What's going to happen to the child? Obviously the kids live with their mothers, but what kind of a life is that? A young child needs 'parents'. Two.
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Another point worth mentioning is that both women got pregnant immediately after the wedding. Umm... hello? If you're marrying a stranger (i.e arranged marriage), wouldn't you want to wait a bit before getting pregnant? Wouldn't you want to figure out if you can really live with your partner and if it's safe to have kids? So many young people realize from the beginning that they have serious relationship problems and they dumbly assume that if they have a child, all their problems will be gone. Like magic.
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It saddens me to see how people of my generation see divorce as just another option. I get married, I get divorced, I get married again, I get divorced ... 3adi. So many young men especially threaten divorce if they have ANY small argument with their wives. I know so many young women who suffer from husbands who threaten divorce on a monthly basis. They use it as a weapon. Whether they mean it or not doesn't matter. All that matters is that the couple will never have stability in their marriage if the women is on her tiptoes 24/7 waiting for him to explode again and threaten divorce.
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Society in Salalah has real issues with choosing 'the right partner' for marriage. It's taboo to get to know members of the opposite sex before marriage, but how else are you supposed to know if the person is right for you or not? We CANNOT depend on parents' advice when choosing a partner anymore. My generation has different requirements and needs when it comes to marriage. As I mentioned in my Internet Dating post (see below), I have no respect for young men who go to their mothers and announce 'Mama, I'm ready for marriage. Find me a wife'. It just doesn't work anymore. Look around you. The divorce statistics are frightening in Dhofar. I can't remember exactly where I read this, but last year in Dhofar, 64% of new marriages ended in divorce during the first year. 64%. I will say no more.
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I don't have much time for blogging today. I'll have to write about this topic in depth some other time. Keep one thing in mind; divorce is frustrating, sad, and painful. It should be the last option; never the first.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eid - Part 2

Hey everyone. It was stupid of me to think I would find the time during Eid to blog, but hey,.. I'm doing my best! For those who have no idea what Eid is, it's the three-day holiday (in Muslim countries) to celebrate the end of Ramadan and a month of fasting. Eid is all about feasting, spending time with relatives and neighbors, sometimes exchanging gifts, and just having fun. Eid in Salalah basically involved visiting every single relative you have (that means hundreds of people). It also involves opening your house/majlis to every single relative and neighbor you have and being 'available' and dressed-up 24/7. It's funny that Dhofaris offer the exact same things in their majlis; three jugs of Tang artificial crap drink, Danish cookies, coffee, tea, nuts, toffees, Omani Halwa (a traditional sweet), and a bowl of fruit. This goes on for three or four days non-stop. Some families have become more creative and are actually baking their own cakes and cookies. I've visited about 12 homes in the past 48 hours and I'm only half-way through my list. Do you have ANY idea how exhausting that is? From house to house: 'Eid Mubarak, how are you? How is your mother? How is your father? How is your sister? How is your brother? What is new? What is goin' on? How're y'all doin?'. Listening to people's news for 12 hours a day is interesting but at the end of the day (i.e 1 a.m ) you collapse into bed and have the strangest dreams involving your neighbors being eaten up by bears and your great-aunt feeding you your 100th cookie. Sigh. What do you do during Eid? What are your family traditions? For those of you who do not live in a Muslim country, how do you celebrate Eid?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Eid - Part 1

Eid Mubarak Everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Quick Note

Busy busy busy ... I'm brainstorming my Eid post. Still shocked about the schools being postponed until November. I can't believe elementry school isn't starting until the end of November. Middle school early November. High school October. Wow. Muscat Festival cancelled. H1N1 still going strong. 18 official deaths.
I read an interesting article about a Dutch farmer (in Holland) who started up a camel farm and is busy selling camel milk all over Holland! I'm surprised the camels are surviving. Yes, there is no snow in Holland but its' rainy and chilly most of the year. I'm going to try and scan it so I can post it up here.
Tell me what your Eid preparations are?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Salalah Driving - Part (2)

My reader has said it all. This comment on my previous Ramadan Driving post was too good not to share.
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" Hey, as an expat here in Salalah I have to say that this place has the worst drivers of any I've ever seen, including Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Italy, West Africa and China. Well done! .
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WHY can't people here judge distances and speeds of oncoming cars when they pull out?

WHY can't people use their indicators. Do they think that other drivers are psychic and can guess their intentions.
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WHY the hell would you over take on the left a vehicle which is turning to the left?
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WHAT IN THE WORLD makes the people here so addicted to using their mobile ohones while driving? Sure, people all over the world do this, but Dhofaris seem to wait until they get into a car to start phoning people. As a cautionary measure, they'll slow down. on a highway. In a 120km zone. That's safe.
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AND WHAT THE HELL IS IT WITH KIDS. People, your children are precious. They are not protected from car accidents by some magic voodoo. And they distract you. Put them in the back with seatbelts on, not on your lap while driving. And not, as I saw the other day, in the back of your sideless pick-up truck going round the clock roundabout at 60 k an hour. The two children in question here were both younger than 6, I'd say. Maybe their parents didn't want them any more?
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AS FOR THE COMMENTS ABOVE from an outsider's perspective, almost all the problems in this region stem from your menfolk. Women rock! This particularly applies to driving. Every single case of unbelievable stupidity behind the wheel has been a man in my experience. the few women drivers I encounter are cautious, sure, but not unsafe or idiotic or selfish or distracted.
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And I'm sure they didn't aquire their licenses out of a cornflakes packet, which is where I think the majority of Dhofari mens licences come from. Especially those belonging to 12 year old boys and ancient bearded mountain men in pick-up trucks who seem to exist in a parrallel trafic universe.....My rant for the day!! Thanks for the opportunity!"
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Dear Reader, thanks for your rant. You made my day. I was getting around to writing about driving in Salalah, but you've done it for me. However, you forgot to mention the people who flash their lights at you and speed like maniacs, yet you both end up at the roundabout or traffic lights at the SAME TIME. You also forgot to mention the people who pass you on a one-lane road that is no longer than 100 metres, just to get to the intersection before you do. Also, my last rant is about men who proceed to put on their turbans WHILE DRIVING during morning rush hour. They're controlling the steering wheel with their knees on a highway and first they get out their lime-green plastic combs and comb their hair, then they put on their turbans. Sometimes I wish I had ready-made signs in my car that I can wave at other drivers when needed. Examples:.

Sign (1) : would be"LOSER".
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Sign (2) would be "Flash all you like. I'm not moving".
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Sign (3) would be 'Life is precious you jerk".
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Sign (4): would be 'Just because you have a 35,000 Rial Lexus doesn't mean I'm going to let you pass'.
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Sign (5): would be "I.N.D.I.C.A.T.E'
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More suggestions?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ramadan Driving

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Do I really need to comment? Nah!
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Eid Hell

Shopping ... in ... Salalah ... Before ... Eid ... is .... HELL.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coffee

I'm craving a cup of coffee. C.R.A.V.I.N.G. Thus, I cannot write. How can I be creative without my dose of caffiene? Ahh.. Ramadan. I'm brainstorming ideas for my next post. How about 'Why We Need More Cafes in Salalah!'.... or 'Coffee in Oman' ... or ....... something to do with coffee. Maybe later on a little polygamy or 'the dowry problem' in Dhofar. I'll think about it.
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This photo was taken up past Zaik (ADG: Go Team Zaik) in the mountains. The fog has cleared and we can now see! I'm visiting Darbat valley tomorrow if I can get someone to take me (see photo on right). Have a great weekend. Peace.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dating in Oman - Part 2

For anyone interested in reading more about the subject from an Omani's point of view, I recommend reading the latest post in 'Keeping it Real in Oman'.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Attention Bloggers: Blogs by Omanis & Expats in Oman

To all interested bloggers, Oman Forums are trying to set up a forum for blogs by Omanis & Expats in Oman. If you're interested in adding your blog to the list, send an email with your blog to abufaisal@omanforum.com. I'm supporting this idea because I'm interested in finding other blogs in Oman. I recommend My Reservoir of Thoughs, Um3azzan's Thoughts, Keeping it Real in Oman, Sting's Vantage Point, Faith's blog, Muscat Confidential, Muscat Mutterings, A Muggle's Tale, Blue Chi, Sew Chic & Unique, etc. These are the blogs I follow regularly in English. The Arabic dudes are another list! Or, if you want your blog added to the forum but don't feel like emailing, just let me know you agree and I'll inform OmanForum.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Internet Dating - Oman

Drumroll, the post is finally here! This post is dedicated to Zain because she was the first to choose my next topic. I'm writing about internet dating/secret relationships in Dhofar, because I can only write about things I'm 100% sure of. I cannot speak for the rest of Oman because who knows? Don't attack me here; I'm just writing about what I've experienced and seen and what I know. Where do I start? How about the relationships between men and women in Dhofar? That sounds right.
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Society in Salalah is extremely conservative, and by conservative I mean that until very recently (10 years?) men almost never saw any women who weren't very close relatives. When girls turned 10 or 11, they were told 'Enough playing with boys. You're grown up now'. Girls never go anywhere without an escort. Women stay at home, and whenever any woman (over the age of about 18) goes out, she has the burqa *face veil* on. Girls and boys go to seperate schools, and even when they go to college it's hard to interact with members of the opposite sex! Has anyone been to Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat? Until very recently there were seperate halls for boys and girls! Any young woman caught talking to a guy outside class was sent a warning note. I saw it with my own two eyes. I went to SQU with a team (consisting of men and women) and an administrator approached me (thinking I was a student) and told me to not walk around with guys and didn't I know the rules? I was completely shocked. I was there on business! She didn't even check if I was a student! I assume things are a little different now, but that was a shocker for me. That was four years ago.
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So, let's thinking logically here. When you're told 'No, you can't do this', what's the first thing you do? Of course, you start telling yourself ' I must do this!'. الممنوع مرغوب Relationships between unmarried/unrelated men and women are so taboo that most young Omanis want to try it. I'm not talking about getting into bed with them; what I mean is that females and males are curious to know what it's like to befriend members of the opposite sex. Especially the age group (15-25) .. and yes those are my own statistics. But how is that possible when they're never left alone? How are they supposed to meet guys? The answer is: They Don't. From an Islamic point of view, young people aren't even allowed to think about members of the opposite sex until they get married. Well, welcome to the real world where girls as young as 13 and 14 are watching Desperate Housewives, Friends, and romantic Western movies. You think they're all watching this crap and not thinking about guys? You think young people are virtuous individuals who refuse contact with members of the opposite sex? Of course not. How about the young YOUNG guys who get their hands on porn at the tender age of 12 or 13? Yes, in Salalah. Our modern world does not encourage virtue, sadly. Yet, Salalah does not encourage such relationships. Many parents in Salalah monitor their daughters' phones, to ensure they're not carrying on a relationship with a guy/several guys. So how do they do it? *drumroll* ... The I.N.T.E.R.N.E.T.
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With all due respect to Dhofaris, we've got to face the fact that most parents (the ones over the age of 40-50) are uneducated. There were no schools when they were young, so they're almost forgiven. Parents are not educated enough to know that having a television and computer in a teenager's bedroom is dangerous. Meanwhile, the generation of current teenagers/young people are so technologically advanced that they have one two even three cell phones, a television set with every channel in the book, a laptop, a secret internet modem, etc, etc. They're all wired up and ready to take on the world. The difference between my generation and my parents' generation is beyond scary.
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My friends who went to colleges in Oman said that during their years at university, the main event was 'chatrooms'. For example, guys and girls from the Salalah College of Technology would log on to certain chatrooms (ever tried Ali Baba?) and spend 4, 5, 6 hours a day chatting with one another. Of course, their parents don't know (they just thought their kids were doing homework on the PC), and hey, it was fun because they were talking to guys in a virtual world. But these were real guys who went to class with them! Of course, they never used their real names. The game was to figure out who went by which nickname in chatrooms. They wasted so much time, but it was exciting for them. Their only real contact with guys. Of course, through these chatrooms, there was attraction. Guys and girls would branch off into private chatrooms and spend hours getting to know one another without even exchanging names. Finally, the guy would say 'I love you', and the dumb naive girl would totally fall for it and think she'd found the love of her life (don't laugh, it's real). They would email and chat for a while, then he'd ask for her number. She'd refuse several times then she'd agree and give it to him (thinking he was the love of her life). He'd play around for a while and they'd talk on the phone to the early hours of the morning. Finally, he'd dump her OR he'd go telling his pals that he was 'talking' to the daughter of so and so. That's Salalah's worst nightmare; ruining a girl's reputation. Any girl who has 'talked' to a guy is socially considered a slut. Excuse my French but welcome to Salalah. Hey, did someone forget to mention that over 80% of girls in this town have had at least one 'secret' relationship? In fact, arranged marriage is becoming extinct. Girls and guys have decided to find their own life partner. Someone they like, and someone they want to share their life with. It's their right, yeah? Not in Salalah it ain't. It's so taboo that young people are forced to make it 'secret'. It's a daily struggle in our town, and something we cannot deny.
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I know of an American researcher who studied the concept of phone/internet dating in Oman. Most of his research was done in Muscat, but a friend of mine helped him study Salalah. I think he held about 80 anonymous questionnaire interviews in Dhofar, and the results were a little astonishing. Only 2 out of the 80 stated that they had never spoken to a guy/girl before on the phone, etc. He targeted young people in the age group (18-25). No kidding.
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Enlightening Anecdotes:
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Note: I've changed a couple of details to conceal the identity of the victims (!):
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(1) Girl falls in love with guy through Al Sabla forum. They watched each other's comments for a while then he asked for her email address, and she agreed of course. Soon, they exchanged phone numbers and thought they were in love. He wanted to marry here, but they both knew their families would never agree because she was in Salalah and he was from another part of Oman (yes, that's taboo too). He convinced her to run away from home and come with him. She ... AGREED. Did I forget to mention that she was only 19 years old? She started planning her escape. It was all perfect. Thank goodness, dude dumped her a week before the planned escape. This story is true.
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(2) My fifteen year-old cousin, I discovered, has a very active internet life. Want to know how I discovered this? She asked me about a colleague of mine at work (29-year-old man). I was like 'Why the hell are you asking about him?'. Her answer was 'Oh, he hasn't appeared on chat for a few days and I was beginning to worry about him'. She said is so normally. As if there was nothing wrong with what she was saying. Hello! This girl is FIFTEEN! And my colleague is a 29-year-old married man with two kids. It's not his fault, he probably doesn't know how old she is and I'm not going to discuss the fact that he may be cheating on his wife. It's not my cousin's fault. She's a dumb teenager. I personally think that it's her parents' fault. Why does she have a laptop in her bedroom? Do they not understand how dangerous that is for teenagers? I spoke to her older sister and told her to deal with it. I wasn't ready to get involved, nor was I ready to ignore it. I don't want to see that kid get hurt.
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(3) My friend discovered that her 17-year-old sister was carrying on a relationship with a guy she saw once at the Salalah Tourism Festival. He was working at one of the booths and gave her his email address. They emailed and chatted for a couple of months, then exchanged phone numbers. Furthermore, my friend discovered that her sister was sending him photographs of herself via MMS. Do I need to mention that these photographs were without her hijab on? Hello? Again, where are the parents?? I gave my friend a long talk about not allowing teenagers to spend too much time alone and to watch their behaviour. My friend was so upset and didn't know what to do; whether to tell her parents or talk to her sister or confront the guy.
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(4) A girl I knew very well in high school dropped out of college for a whole semester in her third year. Are you ready for the reason? Her parents discovered that she was in love with a guy at college and they were talking on the phone. So, they pulled her out of college and locked her up at home for a semester hoping that'll teach her a lesson. Furthermore, they took her cell phone away. Is that the way to deal with it, mom and dad? Sounds like a recipe for trouble.
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(5) I'm not even going to start discussing the Dhofari Facebook Phenomenum. That's going to need a seperate post.
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(6) I'm telling you honestly that about 75% of the girls I know have had a 'secret' boyfriend at some point over the past couple of years. This would sound perfectly normal if we were in ... Chicago. But, hey, we're in S.a.l.a.l.a.h. We're trying to hold on to the traditions and values we grew up with. I hate it when teenagers throw these values away.
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And hey, don't accuse me of being 'against' guys and girls talking. I'm totally with it, if both parties are mature enough to handle it. I studied with guys abroad and got used to them as 'human beings'. I don't feel the need to carry on a secret relationship. I work with men, and I enjoy it. Furthermore, I'm against arranged marriages and believe that young people in Salalah should have the chance to get to know people in order to find their life partner. I would never trust anyone else with that decision. I can never understand young men who go to their mother and say 'Mamma, I'm ready for marriage. Find me a wife'. It happens here a lot, but I think it's crazy (and yes, that is my own personal point of view).
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Of course, not all of this is negative. Many of my friends fell in love with colleagues at work or from college and talked to them for months/years using a secret phone number that their parents didn't know about (girls are smart). I'll give the example of one of my close friends who did the exact same thing with the colleague at work and secret phone number, etc. When the guy was ready financially for marriage and had discussed it with his parents, he proposed to the girl's father claiming he heard about his daughter and her family and maybe had seen her once or twice. Of course, his speech was perfect because the girl had given him pointers on what her dad likes to hear. Father agrees, wedding date is set, they got married, and are living happily with two young kids. They're perfect for one another, and I love seeing them together. Is what they did bad? Of course not. Not in my point of view anyway.
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So, I'm not here to complain. I need some sort of conclusion. I think parents need to wake up and realize that no matter what they do, their teenagers and older kids are going to want to talk to members of the opposite sex, secretly or openly. Nothing they do can stop them unless they tie them to the bed with chains. This is reality. It hurts, but let's face it. Why not educate teenagers about dealing with members of the opposite sex? How are young girls supposed to know when a guy is playing around with them and when he's serious? Parents still haven't figured out that they need to talk to their kids about dealing with the opposite sex, about relationships, dating, love, marriage, where Islam stands, etc. Otherwise, the kids are going to go out and do it anyway without being educated. Let's avoid all the hurt, pain, and problems and try some preventive treatments. Instead of ignoring the situation, we have to deal with it.
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Finally, I beg of you, help me spread the word and get those computers out of teenagers' bedrooms. Also, why not toss the TV out too? Keep an eye on what your kids/siblings are watching. There is no need for a 16-year-old Omani Muslim girl to worry about who's sleeping with who on Desperate Housewives. It's breaking up society and causing serious problems in families. If you haven't educated your kids about all these things, then don't blame them later when they screw up. Parents are responsible. Furthermore, I think anyone over the age of 21 is old enough to decide what they want to do in life, so let them be, but keep an eye on the teenagers. The more you educate them, the less they'll suffer in the future. I keep on telling my friends 'Talk to your younger siblings. If your parents are too shy to do it, then it's your responsibility!". And yes, some of them have done it, and were astonished to discover that their siblings (girls especially) were relieved to have somone to talk to about these things. Build trust. Teach them about the beauty of Islam and why these things are forbidden. Explain the logic.
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I'm interested to know what your comments are. Remember, this post is about what I've seen, what I feel, and the stories are real. Don't attack me. I'm an honest writer, and my goal is to discuss real issues. Tell me what you think, and if you've figured out any unique methods of dealing with this situation, let me know. Readers' feedback is what keeps me going. Post your comments below, and if you feel more comfortable, email me: dhofari.gucci@gmail.com Any interesting suggestions may lead to more posts. Many of my post ideas come from readers.
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Thanks for surviving the world's longest post. Peace.