(photo taken in Taqah Castle)
Good Morning Everyone! Only one more day until we hit a much-needed weekend. Going back to work after Eid Al Adha holidays was ... blah. Here are some bits and pieces from this week:
1. I did not write a Eid Al Adha post because this Eid was truly uneventful. Men went to prayers, animals were slaughtered, meat was distributed, several family visits took place, and the pilgrims came back from Mecca. That's about it. I think because Eid Al Fitr was only eight weeks ago, the atmosphere wasn't too exciting. The Eid that follows Ramadhan is big because we really feel we earned it ... and unlike other parts of Oman, Dhofaris don't have specific Eid Al Adha traditions like Shuwa although sometimes I wish we did :)
2. MORE HOLIDAYS! Since National Day is November 18th and the Islamic New Year is on November 26th, rumor has it that both holidays will be merged into one long weekend at the end of November. Makes sense since His Majesty can postpone National Day holidays, but he can't change an Islamic holiday. So, Dhofari Gucci is predicting a holiday from the 23rd to the 27th. If that's the case, I might catch a plane to Muscat and do some much-needed therapy shopping.
3. I know I'm late and other bloggers such as Andy have blogged about it, but can I mention how stoked (happy) I am about Muscat being voted 2nd best city to visit in 2012 by Lonely Planet? Makes me so proud of Oman. I think the Royal Opera House just took tourism in Oman to a whole new level.
4. Speaking of tourism, I'm not a huge fan of medical tourism since I prefer to be treated at home, but apparently there's a huge market. (if you have at least 10 relatives who've been to Thailand for treatment and tourism raise your hand!) I blogged about this before, but it keeps popping up in the news everyday, so I'm just reminding you that Salalah is going to host a HUGE medical complex worth ONE BILLION dollars (Saudi investors). The project - covering 800,000 sq m- will include a 530 bed hospital as well as a regional organ trasnplant and rehabilitation centre. The thought of having an organ transplant centre here in Salalah totally creeps me out, but that's just me. I'm just wondering what kind of people this project will attract .... (to read more, here's an article from Arabian Business) .... any idea where the project is being built?
5. Yesterday, three French aid workers were freed from Yemen after being 'lost' for several months. The official Oman News Agency kept sending messages out saying they were 'lost' in Yemen (in Arabic مفقودين) ... so I googled it and as it turns out, they were held hostage by Al Qaeda militants. Why couldn't ONA just say that? And is the Sultan going to continue rescuring hostage westerners on a regular basis? I wonder how much these three cost. The three American hikers whom he freed recently from Iran cost us $1.5 million. So, yeah, Sarkozy called last night to thank him. Dear Western hikers/aidworkers/volunteers ... please stay away from dangerous Middle Eastern countries.
6. This article on empowering women in Oman was published yesterday. If you have the patience for Oman Observer lingo, read it. (lingo? Example: "the realisation of the proposals have started to gain momentum as a result of holistic approach of addressing the concept"..... who writes stuff like that?!)
7. Our papaya woes may soon be over here in Salalah! As you know, Salalah is famous for papayas and bananas, but unfortunately about a year ago, over 400 papaya farms were attacked by the evil mealybugs who ruined our papaya crops. For a year, it's been hard to find papaya and when you do buy some, it's usually very expensive and not very good. I haven't eaten papaya for a whole year, and I live next door to several papaya farms. Apparently, international scientists have been brought in to look for a solution and they will be distributing 100,000 new papaya seedlings to farmers in Salalah in the coming weeks. Folks, we may have our farms back a year or so from now! Read more here.
8. Only five more days to go before abalone fishing season is over! As you may already know, Dhofar is famous for abalone. After a 3 year ban (to renew reserves), this year over 5600 divers (Yes, all in Dhofar) fished for abalone. The cyclone warnings and angry sea slowed the divers down last week, but they're back in full force. Read more here.
9. Lulu Salalah is out of Onken. Sad day for me.
10. There's an Arabic calligraphy exhibition taking place this week at the Oman Society for Fine Arts (next to KFC on the highway). The exhibition is on till November 25th. Check it out if it tickles your fancy.
11. Last but not least, the sweetest piece of news.... Trygve Harris makes me happier everyday. After her success with selling frankincense ice cream in Al Haffa Souq in Salalah during the monsoon festival, she's starting up a business in Oman and will be producing frankincense ice cream (and candy) on a large scale by February. This is so damn exciting!!!!!!!!! My frankincense creativity has been limited to a drop of frankincense water in my tea, but ice cream? Oh yeah! Can't WAIT to try it. I'll let you know when I hear more. Read the Times of Oman article here.