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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LGBT: Anyone noticed that all the gay dudes who worked at Centrepoint disappeared? Wonder why...
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.
That's all for today folks. I'm exhausted and over-worked. Coffee.


  1. good piece of wrinting, keep it up!!!

  2. * Weather: I hope no one got injured with all this wind and dust. Nice description though.

    * Traffic: I think it has been a huge problem since a long long time. I really wish that something could be done about it so death's would cease. May they rest in peace.

    * Missing Bride: Creepy and I feel sorry for those girls who have a tiny bit of an idea who/what/etc the man is, unless they're fine with it then it's none of my business ^^

    * Business & Whatnot: Sad.

    * Proposal: SUPER CREEPY! If that happened to me I'd run out of the office (possibly crying) and go home and not show up to work for a couple of days! But I like how your friend handled the situation. Pfft (could use a stronger word) at men who think that they can marry women by buying them with money or materialistic stuff. He got nerve!

    * LGBT: I just got here =P

    * Behavior: hmmmm ^o)

  3. LOL @ your friend's marraige proposal! He he he. In Muscat a few years ago a 50 yr old man proposed to my mother for me (I was 18) offering to pay for houses for myself, my sister, AND my father back in our Western country. LOL. We were expats and none of us were Muslim so this was REALLY funny. He also seemed to think I was going to be TOOOOOOOooo old to get married soon. LOL.

    I think this is only the older generation though.

  4. As for hand shaking, pretend to sneeze on your hand. ALWAYS works.

  5. Nadia, I haven't had anyone extend their hand while being here (relief!). I remember running into this problem nearly on a daily basis back home. I'd awkwardly stand there, put my hand on my chest and nod my head to kindly refuse. Most men understood, some took offense and others were puzzled.

  6. Weather: pros:it is the probably the only time of year when Salalah is less humid than Muscat.

    Traffic: This is a serious issue, we need better roads in Salalah and a serious campaign for better driving not just a sign board!

    Missing Bride: I guess, arranged marriages are here to sty for at least another decade or may be more..

    Business & Whatnot: I think you should warn others or may be even write about this in Arabic Sablah.

    Proposals: Wow this man is filthy rich but stupid coz he went to an emplyed lady. Why would a young, working lady would want an old, married man!

    LGBT: I know that some people complained to the managment about the gay dudes , and one time I actually saw one of the gay staff getting emotional after a rude customor made a rude comment about him and his country of origin (south east asian country)

    Behavior: I think you should have been more given him a lecture about islamic behaviour since we are in Salalah, Oman not in NewYork, I think that even Newyorkers will respct your choice.

  7. Nadia, the missing bride is absolutely hilarious!! I don't believe these things still happen in Oman. Thanks for posting :)

  8. That proposal is kinda scary. If I were in her place I'd just cry.

  9. One of the solutions you didn't mention to lower the high accident rate in Salalah could be to lower the maximum speed!

    To me it's bizarre that the speed limit on these congested roads with so many Roundabouts, Traffic lights and such a diversity in Road-users (Cars (big, small, very old, new), Trucks (sometimes filled to the brim either with cargo or with people), Bicycles(riding on the "wrong" side of the road) and last but not least Pedestrians, camels, goats etc etc etc ) is sometimes 100 km/h or even more.

    A good option would be to bring down the speed limit to 60 km/h within the city limits and 100 km/h on the less busy roads close to the towns.

  10. I am Omani but i still don't get this hand shaking issue we have here..

    My sister did it once and i went bananas.. I mean isn't it just a shake?


  11. I have read all your posts in one day -
    you could write a book with that style of
    writing - dhofari culture interests me.
    Could we please have some more posts on these, maybe some facts abt jebbali folks,
    I would like to hear their dialect in perhaps a video if it already exists..
    you also mentioned somewhere funeral wailing but I guess you never got down to writing about it.

  12. Happu new year guyz,

    start shakin hand with the men of salalah

  13. .... Nadia, do you know why muslims in Europe DO shake hands? (but don't kiss each other on the cheek (m/f)? I'm really confused here.
    Also, in Europe we don't have many women covering up completely (in many countries in the European union this is actually forbidden - all face-covering attire such as helmets with dark tinted glass and balaclavas are prohibited), only some cover their neck/ throat but most Muslim women only have a (colorful) head cover of some sorts.
    I've asked some of them what the difference is about and most of them say that the koran say that the way they dress is as stipulated in the Holy Koran.
    To make matters even more confusing I heard that in Turkey wearing a headscarf is/ was banned.

    Do you think that it is maybe due to translation of the Koran that there is such a diversity in dress-code? Or is it that the way women dress is a combination of stipulations in the Koran/ variations within the Muslim religion and local practice?