Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
.MUSCAT: What has Pointillism, a neo-impressionist painting technique got to do with the Khareef? How many tiles were used in the Mihrab of the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Salalah? Which particular role do Dhofar women play in the traditional music of the region? Why is the camel, the ship of the desert, everywhere in Dhofar? What are the crying stones? Why is the Rub al Khali, the Empty Quarter also called the Valuable Quarter?
.All these answers and much more can be found in the ‘DNA of Salalah, Dhofar. A Tourist Guide’ written by Maria Dekeersmaeker and printed in Salalah. “Like DNA is a blueprint of living beings, this book tells in 191 pages, with 57 pictures and with particular maps, stories about the past, the present and the future of the southern part of the Sultanate,” says the author.
.As DNA influences most of the characteristics of living beings, every chapter in the guidebook contains a ‘main theme,’ a so-called cliffhanger. The particular information expressed in ‘Essentials’ can be interesting for new discoveries or for further explorations. The references to other publications and websites are the tools.
.With this book the Belgium author and journalist Maria Dekeersmaeker, based in Salalah, Dhofar, has fulfilled again another dream come true. In 2008, she wrote the novel The Earth has Fever her debut and first dream. ‘The DNA of Salalah, Dhofar. A Tourist Guide’ is available in bookshops in Muscat and Salalah.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The recent discovery of stone artefacts from the Dhofar region has challenged the long-held theory that modern humans expanded across the world from Africa. The new findings now point out that humankind ventured into the Arabian Peninsula instead of hugging its coasts, and did so thousands of years earlier than long thought. Lead researcher Jeffrey Rose, a paleolithic archaeologist at University of Birmingham in the UK, who has been in Oman since 2002 and runs the Dhofar Archaeological Project (DAP) in cooperation with the Ministry of Heritage and Culture, told Muscat Daily that the new findings provide irrefutable evidence of a population expansion from northeast Africa into Arabia.
So far the researchers have not discovered the remains of humans or any animals at the site. “The conditions are not very conducive to preservation, as all bone breaks down here. "However, Nubian Complex artefacts are associated with modern human remains in Egypt, so it's pretty safe to assume these toolmakers are the same species that was in Arabia,” said Rose.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Following a request from one of my readers, thinker & blogger Balqis, here's the transcript of what he said. It's a pretty short video (48 seconds).
If you're a conservative Muslim, don't read any further. It may upset you, but I think many younger Omanis share my sentiments. Let me get one thing straight; His Eminence has been around for as long as I can remember and is a very much loved and respected person in Oman. This isn't the only opinion he's voiced which has caused public debate. Earlier this year when Malik Al Mamari, former ROP chief was replaced, His Eminence expressed hope that the new chief would ban all bars in Oman. When cyclone Gonu struck Oman in 2007, he said it was because of our accumulated sins. He's allowed to express his opinions like everyone else. It's a free country.
On one hand, I truly respect him and feel his opinions are valid, but on the other hand sometimes I feel they're irrelevant for me.
The concept of the Royal Opera House is alien to many Omanis, especially ones living in rural areas and villages. In Salalah, most locals don't know what to think so they've chosen to ignore it altogether. According to the last newspaper column from fellow blogger here, a decent number of Omanis are boycotting the ROHM because they feel the money could have been spent on more useful ventures that would benefit Omanis.
Our problem with young Muslims these days is that we have a new generation of kids who are smart, worldly and able to think for themselves. Like me, they're not ready to be spoon-fed a version of Islam from a thousand years ago. For example, back to the question of music being a sin. Do I believe it's a sin? Not really. Do I believe listening to music non-stop is bad? Yes, because life's too short and I should be out in the world doing good. Do I believe rap music (it's not even music) with crappy language is good? Of course not. Why would I listen to something so negative? But I think I'm able to choose what kind of music I listen to and whether it contributes to me being a better person. It's a question of morals, ethics and independent reasoning. I don't need an Imam to tell me I'm sinning by listening to Tchaikovsky while I do housework.
There are aspects of Islam that I feel have been altered. I'm uncomfortable with Islamic teachings related to killing and war. To me as a young Muslim in this day and age, it's irrelevant and disturbing. The Islam I want to follow is peaceful, spiritual and relevant. And I maintain the right to think for myself.
.Another issue that I choose to apply independent reasoning to is the whole chaperone idea for women. In Islam, women need chaperones when they leave their homes. According to Saudi clerics, women should never drive and should be chaperoned even when surfing the internet. To me, that makes no sense at all. Did I sin by spending five years abroad? I was raised well and my family trusted me. Did I get into trouble? No. Is it a sin to work with men? Apparently yes. But guess what? I don’t want to believe that. . . and I won't. If I apply independent reasoning to this, it just doesn't make sense to me that God would create men and women then condemn women to their homes. I'd like to think that men and women were put here on this earth to do good and work side by side to make this world a better place. Those are just some of the issues that have forced me to re-think the Islam I was taught in school here in Oman.
I was born with a mind of my own and I'm sure God intended for me to use it. I read a lot and think a lot and I truly believe the Quran is a beautiful and wonderful holy book and that Islam is a beautiful religion.... true Islam. However, original Islamic practices have mingled in with our Arab traditions over centuries and today we find ourselves with a version of Islam that isn't necessarily the one we were intended to follow. The pillars of Islam and the faraidh فرائض are clear, thank goodness, but so many other teachings leave me with a huge question marks above my head. I choose to apply my own independent reasoning to some teachings of Islam that were developed by men over a thousand years ago and that seem irrelevant to my reality.
Peace - Nadia
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Siam Kitchen: Authentic Thai Cuisine
Location: Dahariz (map available on website)- Al Montazah Road
Website: Siam Kitchen
Delivery: they deliver to the three Salalah colleges (SCT, Applied Sciences & Dhofar University) five days a week for lunch.
Menu: available on website.
Contact: 9331 4736
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Written by Uri Friedman for Foreign Policy Magazine - Nov 14th, 2011
Yes, it's Oman to the rescue yet again. Today we're learning that the Omani government helped negotiate the release of three French aid workers held by al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. A Yemeni tribal mediator tells the Associated Press that Oman and a Yemeni businessman paid an unspecified sum to the militants, who had been demanding $12 million in exchange for the hostages.
The state-run Oman News Agency reports that Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, directed officials to "provide all facilities" to help France in recognition of the "distinguished relations" between the two countries. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for his part, has "warmly" thanked the sultan for his "decisive help." The aid workers crossed the Yemeni-Omani border by car, flew to Muscat on an Omani military plane, and then left for France.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that's because it is. In 2010, Omani sources paid $500,000 bail to win the release of American hiker Sarah Shourd, who had been detained by Iran along with her fiancé Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal a year earlier for straying across the Iran-Iraq border. This fall, Oman shelled out close to $1 million for the release of Bauer and Fattal. A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks indicates that Oman helped secure the release of British sailors captured by Iranian forces in 2007 as well.
How did Oman become the Denzel Washington of Middle East hostage situations? The answer lies in Oman's pragmatic, Switzerland-esque approach to foreign policy. In 1970, Qaboos -- who maintains a tight grip on power and who Robert Kaplan has described as the "most worldly and best-informed leader in the Arab world" -- overthrew his father in a palace coup and set about transforming an isolated and unstable country into a nonaligned regional power. In the 1980s, for example, Oman somehow managed to maintain diplomatic relations with both sides in the Iran-Iraq war while backing U.N. Security Council calls to end the conflict.
This diplomatic balancing act has enabled Oman to enjoy good (but not excessively cozy) relations with both Iran and the U.S. and its Western allies. Qaboos, a supporter of the Shah before the Iranian revolution, has eschewed the hostile stance that Gulf neighbors like Saudi Arabia have adopted toward the Islamic regime. Instead, Oman and Iran cooperate to secure the Strait of Hormuz, which divides the two countries and transports 40 percent of the world's oil and gas.
"Oman views Iran as the strategic threat to the region but has chosen to manage the threat by fostering strong working relations with Tehran," a 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable explained. Iran, for its part, may not view the small sultanate as much of a threat and may value the alliance as it grows increasingly isolated. Oman has pressed Iran to negotiate with the U.S. over its nuclear program and even offered to facilitate secret talks.
America's friendly relationship with Oman, meanwhile, dates back to at least 1841, when Oman became the first Arab nation to recognize the U.S. The sultanate has a free trade agreement with the U.S. and has permitted American forces to use its military bases in the past (in 2010, however, Omani officials strongly denied reports that they had discussed deploying U.S. missile defenses in the country).
Oman's role as a key interlocutor between Iran and the U.S. was underscored last month when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Qaboos following the revelation of an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. "We would expect that Omanis would use their relationship with Iran, as they have in the past, to help the Iranians understand the implications of what they're doing," a U.S. State Department official noted during the visit.
The hostage deals, then, may represent just one more weapon in Oman's arsenal for neutralizing threats to regional stability like the political paralysis in Yemen and deteriorating U.S.-Iranian relations.
In a 2009 diplomatic cable, the U.S. ambassador to Oman informed an Omani foreign affairs official that securing the release of the three American hikers in Iran would "remove an unhelpful irritant" between Washington and Tehran. When Bauer and Fattal arrived safely in Muscat two years later, an Omani foreign ministry statement expressed hope that the deal would promote a "rapprochement between both the Americans and the Iranians" and "stability in the region." Oman's millions have yet to accomplish those elusive goals, but they have purchased several people their freedom.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
As for Dhofar, it has been raining heavily in town and in the mountains. The road to the town of Sadah east of Salalah is blocked and the coast guard had to come to the rescue (same situation in Mahoot, where over 100 families had to be evacuated due to dangerous flooding). Apparently a girls' school has partially collapsed in Hadbeen, a tiny village east of Sadah. Rumor has it that six people have lost their lives (the info was given on an Arab channel but we have yet to hear an official statement from the ROP, and I doubt we'll ever hear one even if there were deaths). According to students in Salalah, a young man from Rustaq drowned in a wadi last night. They gave me his name, so I'm inclined to believe them.
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Eid Al Adha holidays for the public sector start on Saturday November 5th and end on Wednesday the 9th. We get the whole friggin week off!! WOOHOOOO!!!!!!!!!! .... as for those of you in the private sector, you get four days off and work resumes on Wednesday the 9th.
On another note, check out Muscat Muttering's post on the new labor law amendments. Very interesting.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
from his website:
Footsteps of Thesiger Expedition 2011
It's been an idea for nearly 20 years since I served on secondment to the Sultan of Oman"s Armed Forces in Salalah in the 90s; taken 2 years of detailed planning with infinate challenges; and I'll only believe it's 100% happening when I mount my camel in 3 weeks' time, but the "Footsteps of Thesiger" expedition and project has finally been officially announced. The expedition is a re-inaction of the journeys of late British Explorer Wilfred Thesiger, otherwise known as Mubarak Bin London, who crossed the Arabian Desert (Empty Quarter or Rub Al Khali) twice between 1945 and 1950 with his two Bedu companions, Salim bin Kabina and Salim bin Ghubaisha of the Rawashid tribe. Our expedition will also comprise of one Brit and 2 x bedu - myself together with Saeed Al Mesafry and Ghafan Al Jabri, who were selected from a trawl of nominations in June. We aim to closely follow the route of Thesiger's first crossing of the Empty Quarter,travellig by foot and camels from Salalah in Oman to Abu Dhabi in the UAE, via the Empty Quarter of Oman, Liwa and Al Ain - a distance of over 1500 kms, commencing 30th Oct 2011 and finishing approx 45 days later. The expedition and accompanying TVdocumentary, filmed by award winning documentary makers. TwoFour Productions from the UK, has 3 pillars as follows: * A historical look at Thesiger and his travels * The modern day re-inaction expedition journey and challenges * The culture, heritage and changing lives of the Bedu of the deserts of Oman and the UAE. There are no records, no longest, quickest, highest, furthest attempts on this journey and it's not even a first - Canadians Bruce Kirkby and Jamie and Leigh Clark admirably did this in 1999 with 3 Bedu guides and 12 camels for which I take my hat off for their even managing to even get to the start line! Our objective, not least mirrored in the make-up of the team, is to attempt the journey with a much smaller party and authentic means of travel integral to Thesiger's journey's as much as physically possible. It is a totally different desert and World in 2011 than it was in the 1940s, of course and that is part of the objective of the documentary and book which I am presently writing. And finally, on the subject of integrity, I am not claiming to do this for any charity, the environment or any other cause. It's a commercial historical re-inaction through and through which I both love doing and is part of my job. My quest and work on economic, social and environmental sustainability continues unabated, but this expedition isn't directly part of that cause. Many thanks to Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage and Abu Dhabi Media Company for making this happen and to the Ministires of Tourism and Information Oman for their partnership on the project. More thanks and news to follow shortly
Back in 1999, 3 Canadians attempted the same adventure (and I had the honor of meeting them and their camels!). According to my sources Al Baleed road from Haffa to Dahariz is closed right now because Adrian and his companions are at Al Baleed Museum (official event). I'll update you if I get hold of more information. In the meantime, say a little prayer for them. You can follow their journey on their website 'In Thesiger's Footsteps'.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
(4) Tackiness: if you're in Muscat, check out Oman's latest movie "Search for the Impossible". Tacky title, tacky PHOTO. Salim Bahwan, you wrote the script, directed the movie, produced it AND get to hold the gun? Jeez. I have no faith in Omani television. Nuff Said. If you have better reviews, post a comment and I'll publish.
(5) Politics: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a visit to our tiny country (according to every single article on the visit). I'd link you to Muscat Confidential's analysis of her visit, but his blog appears to be blocked. (?)
Monday, October 17, 2011
On the occasion of Omani Women's Day, I will renew my determination to make change happen. If you're a woman, belive that you can do anything. Throw a pebble in the water and watch the ripples. Even the smallest person can make a change. I have faith in Oman and I have faith in Omani women. We can do SO MUCH if we just set our minds to it. Anything is possible. Do not give in to society's demands. You are beautiful, you are smart and with a little empowerment you can do anything. Believe in that.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
"His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has issued Royal Decree 95/2011 amending some provisions of the Publications and Publishing Law.
Article one: Article (26) of the said Publications and Publishing Law shall be replaced with the following;
Article (26) "It is prohibited to publish anything which may prejudice the safety of the state or its internal or external security, all that is related to military and security apparatuses, their bylaws and internal regulations, any documents, information, news or official secret communications whether the publication is through visual, audio or print means or through Internet or any of the information technology means unless permission is obtained from the respective authority. It is also prohibited to publish the text of agreements and treaties concluded by the government before they are published in the official gazette.”
Bad new for Al Zaman newspaper trial (see Muscat Confidential's post here) .... and I wonder whether this means we're allowed to continue blogging about Wikileaks concerning the Sultan or the government? At this rate, it looks like everything and anything is illegal. Were the photos of the army arrests during the protests illegal? What about spreading rumors about when Eid holidays will be? Is that considered confidential information? Jeez.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The three-year ban on abalone fishing in the country has been lifted. With the decision, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) has once again allowed harvesting, selling and exporting of abalone, a shellfish that commands good prices in the Far East.
Before the ban was enforced, abalone fishing was a strictly regulated activity and permitted only in November and December, when the mollusc was thought to be fully grown. But with the new rules, the fishing season has been restricted to less than a month. “The ban is over, but fishing is allowed only from October 20 to November 15,” said an MoAF official.
With the highest yield per kilo among all Omani fisheries products, abalone was targetted by local fishermen using free diving methods, leading to a sharp decline in catch. Over-exploitation of the species’ habitat was also reported, resulting in an overall decline in population.
To check over-exploitation and streamline fishing activity, the new rules prohibit catching abalone with a shell less than 90mm long. Catching the species from a depth of less than three metres is also not allowed. Other regulations include a prohibition on possessing, selling, purchasing, transporting or exporting abalone during the ban period. Fishermen and companies dealing in abalone need to register their catch with the ministry within 15 days of the end of the season.
Abundant in the Dhofar regi-on, mostly in Mirbat and Sadah, abalone sells for as much as RO60 a kilo when dried and exported to international markets. Most fishermen who depended largely on abalone because of the high returns had to turn to other avenues when the ban was put in place.
“The new regulations allot priority to fishermen from Mirbat, Sadah, Shalim and Halaniyat Islands, where abalone is concentrated. While new licences are available to fishermen from these areas, others interested in fishing abalone should have had a licence issued before the new regulations were passed,” said the official.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Regional media quoted Dr Aljoaib as stating that the project will be integrated with a 530-bed multispecialty hospital and a state of the art diagnostic centre, healthcare resort and healthcare educational complex. The massive development, which Dr Aljoaib said, has the backing of the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Health, will be established on an 800,000 sq metre plot overlooking the Arabian Sea.
According to AMG, Medical City Oman — as the project is dubbed — has the potential to have a major impact on the range and quality of medical and surgical services provided in the Middle East & North Africa. “We firmly believe that the Medical City Project will bring significant benefits not only to the healthcare sector in the region, but also to the economic and social development of GCC countries.
The Medical City Oman promises to be a world-class medical education, research and development facility with internationally recognised strategic partnerships will facilitate academic and service excellence in the Mena region. In addition, The Medical City will also have a Healthcare and Education Complex, Healthcare Resort with Upscale Hotel, Wellness & CAM Center, and several other support services establishments.
With a strong commitment to exceptional healthcare, the project’s AMG Endowment programme will also offer free medical and educational community support services to poor and needy families who would not otherwise be able to afford such services and treatment.
Dr Aljoaib also mentioned that the Academic Medical & Research Centre of this project would be managed and operated by a most renowned North American Hospital Group. Similarly the AMG will collaborate with the world’s best Transplant & Rehabilitation centre operators and managers for the operation of their world-class organ transplant and rehabilitation facility.
Dammam-headquartered Aljoaib Holding Aljoaib has business interests spanning: Oil and Gas, Healthcare, Project Management, Fabrication, Water Treatment and Environmental Services, Electro-Mechanical Components, Agriculture and Irrigation Systems, as well as QC, Geotechnical and Engineering Consultancy Services. The company also has branch and regional offices throughout Saudi Arabia, as well as in Dubai and USA.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Nearly 30 human rights activists held a demonstration before the Ministry of
Justice in Al Khuwayr on Sunday in protest against the court verdict in the
Azzaman newspaper case. The court had ordered closure of the newspaper and
sentenced its Editor in Chief and reporter to jail for five months for insulting
the Minister of Justice and his undersecretary.
“This is a complete violation of human rights. We are seeking freedom of expression and are protesting against misuse of power. We are also holding this demonstration to express our solidarity with the employee of the Ministry of Justice, Haroon Humaid al Muqaibli, who was also sentenced to five months in jail by the court,” said Habiba al Hinai, an activist.
“We want the government to understand our feelings as citizens. That is why we held this demonstration in front of the Ministry in Al Khuwayr,” added Said Sultan, another activist. “The media in Oman has been a silent spectator for years. Now, they have started reporting the actual events happening in the country. Jailing an editor and a reporter will send the wrong signal to the media community. ”
The appeal by the defendants will be heard in the Court of Appeal on October 15. Oman News Agency reported that an official source at the Public Prosecution said that the primary court judgment is not final and that the Court of Appeal has the authority to affirm or reverse the judgment in favour of the defendants. He added that the trial procedures have been according to the laws and legislations of Oman and in a way that secures the rights of all litigants.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Some of the speakers include Dr Abdullah bin Ali al Amri, Dr Ahmed bin Abdulrahman Balkhier, Dr Mohammed bin Said Draiby al Amri, Omar bin Abdullah Mahroos al Saiari and researchers Mohammed bin Mustahail al Shahri and Said bin Khalid al Amri.