Saturday, December 15, 2012

Appeals Court Upholds 'Unnecessary Verdict'

Dhofari Gucci is disappointed. If you haven't been following the news (not sure if it's even on the news yet) but Wednesday's sessions at the appeals court in Muscat proved to be a disappointment. If you remember, in July a rather large group of citizens (some of them university students) were charged with defaming His Majesty, incitement, and unlawful gatherings (Don't come to Oman! Blocking roads can lead you to prison!) and were all sentenced to jail time and fines. Anyway, they were released on bail and the final appeal session was Wednesday December 12, 2012. Unfortunately, despite the pettiness of their so-called crimes, they will all complete their jail terms.

One year in jail and a fine for slander and defaming His Majesty & so-called 'negative' writing online:

1. Ali Hilal Al Maqbali
2. Hamad Abdullah Mubarak Al Kharusi
3. Mahmood Hamad Al Rawahi
4. Mohammed Khatir Al Badi
5. Mohammed Zayed Al Habsi
6. Abdullah Salim Al Siyabi
7. Talib Ali Al Abri
8. Abdullah Mohammed Al Araimi
9. Muna Suhail Said Hardan
10. Rashid Awadh Al Badi
11. Nabhan Salim Al Hanshi

Mohammed Al Badi and Muna Hardan will go to prison after their end of term exams at college (Muna goes to Dhofar Univesity and her crime apparently is a rather stupid Facebook status update insulting His Majesty). Do I think she deserves a year in prison? Absolutely not.

Six months in jail and a fine for slander and defamation:

1. Hamoud Hamdan Al Rashdi (whose crime was holding up a pathetic banner)

Six months in jail and a fine for 'illegal gathering' (i.e. protesting on the sidewalk outside the ROP headquarters in Qurum):

1. Said Al Hashmi (Activist: Government will be happy to have him locked away for six months!)
2. Basma Mubarak Al Kiyumi (Activist)
3.  Basma Sulaiman Al Rajhi (Activist)
4. Nasser Saleh Al Ghilani
5. Abdullah Mohammed Al Ghilani
6. Bader Nasser Al Jabri
7. Mahmood Hamad Al Rawahi
8. Khalid Saleh Al Noofli
9. Mukhtar Mohammed Al Hinai
10. Mohammed Khalifa Al Fazari
11. Mahmood Mohammed Al Gamoodi

Mohammed Al Fazari will start his sentence after end of semester exams in December.


Note: (this does NOT mean that Dhofari Gucci supports irresponsible online insults and rumors, because I don't. I just feel that one year in prison is ridiculous. Oman doesn't need this right now).

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Two Small Announcements

Ehem...

(1) Trygve Harris, (Enfluerage)otherwise known as Salalah's Frankincense Lady is hosting an Open House at her frankincense and myrrh distillery in South Saada (when you turn into Saada from Al Rabat road onto 18th of November Road, take your first right. She's the second house on the left. Practically the first house in Saada). Open House will be on Wednesday December 5 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. You will be able to try out her frankincense oil, frankincense water and her amazing ice creams (frankincense, Salalah milk banana, Darbat jasmine, Chai Hakim, Gardenia and Grandma's Christmas).  She also has local honeys, frankincense candles and myrrh water. Everyone is invited!

(2) A female American teacher is interested in offering private English lessons or tutoring sessions to kids (or adults) in Salalah in the morning until 3 p.m - or after 8 p.m. She is an experienced tutor. If you know of anyone who is looking for a tutor immediately, please send me an email and pass the word around. Teachers, pass this information onto your students! Tons of Omanis are looking for a native English speaker to help improve their English.

That's all for now folks! Enjoy the dusty weather (not)!

Friday, November 30, 2012

An Interesting Article...

It's been a couple of weeks, and as guilty as I may feel sometimes, I'd like you know that I do have a life/committments/deadlines/work crises just like you. Often I have to prioritize. These past few days have been a wonderful break from the continuous chaos in my life. I spent the holidays reading, Mirbat-ing it like everyone else in this town, chewing on abalone (end of season.. weep!), and stuffing my face at Siam Kitchen.
 
Anyway, before I forget I wanted to post the link to an interesting article I found online (that several of you also forwarded to me .. thanks!). Yet another piece about the political situation in Oman. This one is called "Qaboos can make mistakes like anyone else".  At first (naturally) the title made me furious because I am not accustomed to hearing anyone refer to our Sultan by his first name. However, I had to remind myself that I was being ridiculous.
 
Although much of what Valeri says makes perfect sense to me  (especially the first half), I have to agree with what someone said in the comments of the previous post. Marc Valeri seems to hold some little personal grudge against the Sultan. This is evident in his writings. I respect him as a scholar and I am familiar with his work (and Claire Beaudevin's work, whom he mentioned at the end of his piece). However, this articles takes a rather narrow view of the situation in Oman, and I don't think it paints an accurate picture of what is going on right now.
 
Yes, I agree His Majesty Sultan Qaboos is a human just like you or me, but he is an ENLIGHTENED human who has done a world of good for this country, and I admire him very much.  As an Omani citizen, small things irritate me occasionally; for example pardoning hundreds of prisoners every year by 'Royal blessing' on both Eids and on National Day doesn't speak well for our justice system, not being able to publicly discuss the question of succession, worrying about the 'elite circle' that Valeri refers to several times, etc, etc (the list is long). But, he is my Sultan, he is a wonderful person, and I will always be loyal to him.  
 
Have you read the piece? What did you think?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Why social media - not violence - could bring change to Oman

An interesting piece from the BBC by Matthew Teller "Why social media - not violence - could bring change to Oman". I'm sorry I missed his visit to Salalah last month. What are your thoughts on his piece?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Salma's Chocolates


If you thought Salma's Chocolates were so 'last Eid', you are mistaken. Let's just say I was rather bitter that Muscat Mutterings and Blu Chi received boxes of these heavenly chocolates, so a generous soul sent me two boxes with a very generous messenger. Thank you sender and messenger!

I waited for my choco-holic siblings to return from a trip abroad before I opened the boxes because I think it's un-ethical to eat fancy chocolates alone. The flavors are all Omani-inspired (except the cheesecake!). I really enjoyed the Halwa chocolate, coconut, ginger, and Omani coffee. To be honest, they taste just as good as the extremely over-priced Patchi brand.

As far as I know, Salma's Choclates are available at the Sultan Centre in Muscat. TLS gave directions to her boutique in a comment under this poist. Great gift idea for Eid!

So, have you tried Salma's chocolates? What did you think?
PS (my brother would like to be referred to as Ray Gabana)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Read before ....

Foreign Policy has published a rather interesting and somewhat balanced (in my opinion) piece called Insulting the Sultan in Oman. I highly recommend reading it before it is quietly removed off the Omani version of the world wide web. I'm not entirely sure whether the busy creatures monitoring the internet in Oman will appreciate reading the F-bomb and the Sultan in the same sentence.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Eid Al Adha Holidays Announced

One week holidays for the public sector....  and the private sector supposedly goes back to work on Wednesday the 31st.

YAY!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tribal Clashes

Excuse my French, but sometimes the things that happen in Dhofar make me want to stand on the edge of a cliff (preferrably in Dhalkut) and shout 'WHAT THE F*** PEOPLE???".

In  case you hadn't heard, there were clashes between two tribes in the mountains above Taqah on Wednesday. A friend of mine was there accidently and was reporting to me from the scene. I honestly don't know what to say or what to think. Groups of men from Al Mahri tribe and Al Awaid tribe were arguing for ages over land, grass, and where animals could graze. These arguments ended up in a planned brawl. They descended upon each other from the hills with their weapons (If you have kids, remember the four tribes scene from the movie Brave? Same thing)
Eight people at least were injured and the police/army had to get involved. We're talking hundreds of people here. It's INSANE. (it may have been hundreds of observers as well according to one of the comments below)

Other tribes got involved to try and stop the fight, and some tribes had the audacity to encourage one side to kill. YES KILL.
In the end tribal Sheikhs managed to negotiate peacefully and it all ended.
And you know what? No one got arrested as far as I know. The ROP knew about it in advance. Are they terrified of the tribes down south? Are we that dangerous? Are they afraid of a rebellion? I honestly don't understand. Everyone in town is talking about it. It just feels so medieval.
I have a photo of the police and army on the scene as groups of men attack each other but for some reason it doesn't want to upload. I'll try again in a little while. In the meantime, the Times of Oman actually published a little piece on the fight. I'm surprised they got away with it. Usually the government tries its best to pretend tribalism doesn't exist in Oman.

PS (It was purely tribal. Not a fight between two random groups of people according to a comment below)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Omani Women's Day 2012

Ah.... Women's Day. Three men actually congratulated me today on the achievements of women in Oman. Another two reminded me gently that the role of women lies in the home. I'm having a difficult week filled with sleepless nights, so I wasn't in the mood for arguing. I should have, but I couldn't.
 
To honour Omani Women's Day, I'd like to remind all of you that despite my rants about women's rights and discrimination, the situation in Oman for women has improved SO MUCH in recent years.
 
Another reminder... my fight for women these past three and a half years through this blog hasn't been against the government (there are very few laws discriminating against women in Oman). My fight is against how society perceives women. The culture here doesn't support female empowerment, especially in the south (Dhofar) where I live. My goal is to empower women (in my real life) to start believing they CAN be who they want to be.
 
If you're an Omani woman (or any woman!) and you're reading this, make this your Mantra:
 
1. I CAN be who I want to be.
2. I can drive if I  want to.
3. I can work if I want to.
4. I can choose the career that I WANT (be it an astronaut or a baker)
5. I can own a business.
6. I can travel without a chaperone because I HAVE THE RIGHT to see the world (right, D385?)
7. I can love who I want and marry who I want.
8. I can live a meaningful life.
9. I can step out of my front door and walk around my neighborhood if I want to.
10. I can sing and laugh and run and enjoy life.
11. I have the right to move and be healthy and practice sports.
12. I have an awesome leader (His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said) who BELIEVES in me and all the other women in this country.
13. I can be a Minister, a Lawyer, a teacher, a housewife, a chef ... I can be who I want to be.
14. I can own my own home and control my own funds because I earned them.
15. No one can stop me from achieving my dreams.
16. No one can stop me from achieving my goals.
17. I am beautiful, I am smart, I am talented, and I BELIEVE in myself.
 
Yes, you do. You are beautiful. Every single one of you.
 
Happy Women's day from Gucci, who is curled up in bed with her pink grill shades and a mug of Salalah  tea raised in your honour.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Grapevine

Living in Salalah has its advantages, but again it also has a wacky side. When smartphones landed in this town and people started using BBM and WhatsApp, such applications ended up becoming a virtual town hall. Wedding announcements, special offers, funeral announcements, and breaking local news. I'd receive the same damn message from 20 different people everyday. It can be highly amusing sometimes but also very annoying when it's an OBVIOUS rumor. For some reason, many people here believe anything and everything they receive on their phone (I mean, seriously, why would you question a story about Obama being Jewish or a local's housemaid being a witch? WhatsApp is the world's most accurate news agency!! (NOT).

Just this week:

WhatsApp @7 p.m: "Breaking News! Dar Al Arab restaurant in Salalalh serves dog meat in their shawarmas! Fifty dog heads were found in the house of the Bangladeshi chef"

WhatsAPp @ 7:45 p.m "Breaking news! Burj Dubai Restaurant in Salalah serves dog meat in their hamburgers! 100 dog heads found in the house of the Nepalese chef!"

See what I mean?

Yesterday, an unfortunate incident in Al Qouf (central Salalah) involved a little girl falling to her death from the balcony of her home on busy Al Salam street. I saw photos of the incident from different sources, and everyone's talking about it at work, so I assume it's true. Then again, no one can agree whether she was a 6-year-old Egyptian, a 5-year-old Jordanian, or a 9-year-old Moroccan. In all cases, send a little prayer to her family and keep an eye on your kids.

Last week someone murdered someone in Salalah. No one can agree whether the murderer was foreign or Omani, or whether the victim was foreign or Omani. They can't agree whether it was a stabbing or a shooting, honor or revenge. All we know is that someone was murdered.

And finally this morning, another sad case. Apparently, a bunch of drug addicts tossed the body of their friend just outside Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah. Apparently he died of a drug overdose. I know someone who knows his family, so I know this one isn't a rumor either. Our drug problem isn't being brought out into the open. Campaigning takes place in Muscat. I know there are plans to establish a rehab centre in Oman, but people in the regions need to know the reality of the situation. We want statistics, numbers, cases. Drugs are available in Salalah and combating them silently (hint: ROP) isn't going to work. Locals need to bring it out into the open. Fear of shame won't get us anywhere. Not now. We have real problems that need to be tackled. The first step to solving any problem is to talk about it.  

I don't know what the purpose of this post is. Bits and pieces of news that I received on WhatsApp. Being a blogger, often I'm grateful for the local grapevine of news, and sometimes it annoys me to death because people believe everything. Oh, and in case you're wondering why I'm quiet these days, it's because I'm ill. Yup, the Salalah post-monsoon virus has reached the Gucci home (and not via WhatsApp either).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Note

I'm alive in case you were wondering. Just surviving the post-rain allergy season and more stressful Salalah goings-on (polygamists, more murder, deadly car accidents, tribal street fights, and scandal). In case you noticed all the action near Al Rawas mosque last night, apparently someone was stabbed to death. Yikes.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Protests

So there was a little protest in Salalah yesterday after Friday prayers and my pal Mahfaif was kind enough to let me use his photo.
I still think the whole situation is stupid and embarrassing for all Muslims. I pray it all stops very soon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Possible Friday Protests?

It's still raining in Salalah. Nice big puddles outside my front door this morning. Anyway, this post isn't about my love for rain. It's about a ridiculous situation. If you haven't been following the news, drag yourself out of your little shell and find out what's going on. International media has informed us that several countries in the Middle East have witnessed protests in front of US Embassies since the tragic attack on the US embassy in Libya that resulted in the death of its ambassador and other diplomats. Although media outlets claim the Libya attack was caused by the STUPID movie that one moron made about the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), I think that's highly doubtful. Many other elements were involved. Anyway, the Libya protests triggered a chain reaction (naturally, because that's how we roll in the ME).  
 
There 'may' have been a few ignorant protesters in front of the US embassy in Muscat yesterday. The embassy dutifully sent a warning email to all American citizens in Oman because they had to. The situation does not appear to be dangerous at all. Read more on Muscat Mutterings here.
 
As for Salalah, there were calls yesterday to protest in central Salalah after evening prayers, but I have not heard of anything and I assume ROP officers were informed beforehand and on the scene before anyone else got there. Today is Friday and I ASSUME the sermon inthe mosques in a couple of hours will be about this whole drama. I'm PRAYING that the sermon reminds people that one moron filmmaker is in no way related to their faith. I'm PRAYING that the sermon is positive and encourages people to follow Islam peacefully, and to hell with morons.
 
I condemn stupidity. I don't give a damn about some idiot and his film. The US government has nothing to do with this, nor do innocent embassy employees. Almost everyone I know thinks the protests are beyond stupid. Practice your faith, be peaceful, and be a GOOD EXAMPLE. All you protesters are just setting us back a thousand miles. Islam is peaceful. Your version is wacked.
 
"Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds" ~ B.M

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Horizon Fitness Salalah

Many of you may already know that the popular Horizon Fitness (25+ branches in Muscat?) arrived in Salalah last week. They opened a men's branch behind the salmon building and a female branch in the big salmon pink building on Al Nahdha street opposite the fountain roundabout. I'll refrain from calling it the ugly salmon pink building because some of my readers apparently live there, and you wouldn't want to call someone's home ugly now, would you? :)
SO, I'm not one for publishing offers... but I paid a visit to Horizon Fitness (the female branch) and their opening offers end on Thursday. They're pretty good so thought I'd share:
1. They have a well-equipped gym with plenty of equipment, so you don't have to fight over who gets the treadmill. They have a proper locker room, showers, etc (new for Salalah, I tell ya!)
2. They have well-trained staff who speak English and most of them are certified health professionals. The lead person there is called Cora I think and she's seems to know exactly what she's doing.
3. They have aerobics classes, Zumba classes, cardio jams, and other workouts with trainers. They look like fun. If they allow pink grill shades, I might be tempted by the Zumba classes. (oh and they have a belly dancing class too!!! Trust me, belly dancing is fun)
4. Prices: they have a special opening offer now that ends ON THURSDAY (as in 48 hours from now), so if you're interested, get moving. You can buy either gym memberships, aerobics memberships or a combinations of both. They also have one-on-one coaching packages if you want your own personal trainer.
GYM MEMBERSHIP: One month gym membership (including 4 personal trainer sessions + fitness test + diet book + registration and membership card) = 89 Rials. Two months is 108. Three months is 118. Four months is 123. Full year is 168. Trust me, that's a good offer. After Thursday it goes up to 140, 195, 205, 225, and 375 respectively.
AEROBICS CLASSES: One month aerobics package (includes registration and diet book) = 71 Rials. Three months is 146. Six months is 246. One year is 426. After that it goes up to 100, 190, 320, and 570 respectively.
AEROBICS & GYM: One month includes (gym, aerobics, personal trainer sessions, diet book, fitness test, registration) = 124. Two months is 167. Three months is 197. Four months is 212. One year is 458. After Thursday is goes up to 200, 295, 325, 465, and 790 respectively.
If you're interested, the staff are very friendly and helpful. They also have a weird slimming treatment called Ion Magnum, and plenty of hair removal treatments.
I was not asked by them to share this. I just thought I'd share because sharing is caring.
Gucci

 PS ( their phone number is 23291063)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Honor Killings Part 2

Remember my April post on honor killings? If you remember, the sentencing was postponed to September and the family of the deceased has refused to budge. Negotiations have been going on for more than a year. Less than an hour ago the judge handling the case sentenced the killer. He is to be executed. I have received this news from 17 different sources in the past half hour, non of them official. However, I assume it's correct. Many details have emerged about the chaos inside the courtroom. In all cases, I have mixed feelings. He murdererd a man, and even though he deserves punishment, my heart feels heavy. Today I will be praying for the families of both the victim and the criminal. I can't even begin to imagine what they must be going through. This case has been the talk of Salalah for the past year and a half. Please pray for them.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

September

 (my friend's farm in Dhalkut, west of Salalah - heaven)
24 Hours without rain. Is this the end of the monsoon? Should I go into mourning? But wait, I received a very very delicious gift from Muscat. Someone very nice decided that Dhofari Gucci deserved two boxes of heaven. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vet in Salalah?

Can anyone provide information to help answer this person's question?

Dear Ms.Gucci,

I've been offered a position in Salalah. I own a beautiful dog that I would intend to take with me. From my recruitment consultancy they insist that there are vet clinics in Salalah. From what I read in your useful blog and other comments elsewhere, you seem to imply that there are no "official" vets around (and that's what I also understood from other people's comments). I have read that once a week thare's a vet on-call from Muscat but that would not be enough for me. I am very attached to my dog and do care about its wellbeing. Taking into account that Salalah is 1000 kms from Muscat, I would definitely NOT take my pet if I had to resort to Muscat for help or an "occasional" vet on-call. What's your point of view on this? How safe do you think it is to have a dog in Salalah in case there's an emergency? Your answer will be highly appreciated as it's a crucial issue for me. Thanks a lot for your help.

Mr. Worried

Monday, September 3, 2012

More Salalah Drama

(attempts to rescue victims at Mughsayl yesterday)
This has been a bad couple of weeks. Five more people were killed in a car accident a couple of days ago in Dhofar, and yesterday two people drowned in Mughsayl while three others were rescued at the same location. One person (a UAE national) died at the hospital, and the missing body is also a UAE national.
(tragedy watching - a hobby in this part of the world)
No offence to the dead, but seriously?! Swimming during monsoon?!!! There are signs everywhere on all beaches saying 'Swimming is dangerous from MAY to OCTOBER'. The undercurrents are just too dangerous. You've seen what the waves have done to the beach road in Salalah. You think they can't drag your body down as well? NEVER underestimate the strength of the ocean.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Depressing Tuesday

Another rainy day in Salalah. Kids happily playing in puddles, and others mourning their parents. Yes, more horrific accidents yesterday in this town. Our roads aren't ready for this kind of traffic and most so-called 'adults' out there aren't qualified enough to be sitting behind a wheel in my opinion. Omanis blame the Emiratis. Emiratis blame the Omanis. I blame everyone.  

The number of accidents in Oman this year is just horrific. From January 1st to August 24th, there were 5562 car accidents in Oman, resulting in 740 deaths. That doesn't include the dozen people (at least) who've died in Dhofar since August 24th with the insane tourist rush.

Yesterday a horrible accident near Al Mughsayl in Dhofar killed at least 9 people, 7 of whom were UAE nationals. From the photos, it appears that four vehicles were involved in the collision, a UAE car, an Omani car, and 2 trucks. How fast were these people going? Who was the one irresponsible idiot who caused it? (some say it was the truck drivers, others say it was the UAE driver - in either case the person who caused the death of all those people is either dead himself or will suffer the rest of his life from guilt I hope)

How many dead bodies do you need to see before you realize just how irresponsible and dangerous your driving is?

You being a good driver means NOTHING. It doesn't justify speeding, driving while talking on the phone, not wearing a seatbelt, zooming in and out of lanes without indicating. One TINY mistake and your life (along with the lives of others) is gone. Does life mean nothing to you?

"Inshallah everything will be fine" is complete BS. God is not going to help you if you dont' help yourself. Why should God care about you if you are unable to care about the wellbeing of your fellow humans? Every single time I leave my house, I prepare to die. I drive on the right lane and never go above 80 or 90 Km/per hour. I am constantly checking my mirrors and mentally bracing myself for a collision. Is the driver of that little silver Camry going to be my murderer? What about the young guy in the brand new Toyota Land Cruiser who is tailgating that poor old Indian man? Look! There's an ARMY officer in uniform driving without a seatbelt and holding two phones, each in one hand while trying to manage the wheel with one palm. Surely he's going to kill someone today.

Am I paranoid? No. I've just seen enough dead bodies to remind me that my life is in danger the minute I get on any road here in Oman. Shameful but true. If you are one of those animals who doesn't give a damn about the lives of others on the road, F*** you and your attitude. You are worthless.

Pissed off Gucci.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Invasion Part 2

Salalah is CRAZY. Traffic is insane. It's been raining everyday. Mud everywhere. Tourists everywhere. 94, 713 tourists arrived last week. NINETY FOUR FRIGGIN THOUSAND. (Reminder: Salalah is a SMALL town).

I'm moving to Alaska.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Invasion

Salalah has been invaded. I am not kidding. Ramadhan was quiet in this town and suddenly on the second day of Eid (for some odd reason), thousands of tourists from the UAE, Qatar, Saudi and the North of Oman decided to drive to Salalah for a holiday to enjoy the rainy weather.
 
Tourists are good, but this is just insane. It took me ONE AND A HALF HOURS to drive from Dahariz to Centrepoint. The traffic was backed up all the way to Saada and we were 'inching'. If anyone is concerned about the state of my right foot after keeping it on the brakes for 90 minutes, thank you.
 
UAE tourists are even worse drivers than Omani drivers because they're not used to the fact that Salalah doesn't really have a proper highway and speeding in the rain doesn't really work! The number of horrible accidents I've seen in the past five days is just frightening. Police are controlling traffic going into the mountains and other major areas. UAE license plates are everywhere. This isn't even taking into account all the Omanis who've driven down from the North.
 
 
The photo above shows what the road into the mountians looks like these days! ROP have been brought in to control the traffic (even in the mountains!)
 

The weather is cool and beautiful. It was raining all morning today. The beach road along the Corniche in Al Haffa is broken at the Husn end because of the monsoon waves.  
 
Salalah is out of rented cars, accomodation (people are renting out their living rooms to homeless tourists). And as for the commodities crisis, Salalah is out of milk, bread, barbecue equipment, coconuts and petrol (and was out of petrol at Haima). Rumor has it that 700 cars were stuck in Haima on the second day of Eid because the petrol stations were empty along the Muscat-Salalah route. For a photo of the amusing petrol lineup:
 
 
The UAE invasion is so hilarious that many Emirati cars have "We're Not Leaving" painted across their back windows.
 
Advice to anyone living in Salalah over the next two weeks? STAY HOME. And if you're thinking of coming to Salalah in the next couple of weeks, I advise you to re-think unless you're a fan of traffic and chaos. And for heaven's sake, book your car and accomodation in advance.
 
Flustered Gucci.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tribute to Bin Askar

Bin Askar بن عسكر passed away yesterday. Every single Dhofari knows who Bin Askar is, and every single expat as well who knows the old market area. A few decades ago (at least 40 years) a man named Abdulqawi Bin Askar started up a little shop in the old market area in Salalah to sell Dhofari 'necessities'. Slowly, the modern world came knocking at our door and brought with it electricity, television, trade, telephones, cars, etc .... but one thing remained the same; Bin Askar and his shop.

When you drive into the old market area at Al Husn, you'll notice a little shop on the right with pale green wooden doors and a bunch of old anchors out front. It hasn't changed for at least thirty years. One step into Bin Askar's shop takes you back in time. It smells like old Dhofar.

He sold anything and everything exclusively Dhofari. I used to visit his shop as a child. To me, he sold treasures. Lots of them. What are Dhofari necessities you may wonder? Well, traditional fabric for the wizar and for women's thobes and shawls. He sold our traditional indigo wraps that turn us purple in the monsoon. He sold shrouds and other funeral necessities. He sold white Hajj wraps for Mecca. He sold traditional old kohl. He sold frankincense, traditional old perfumes, leather, spices, trunks, locks, chains, rat traps (yes), lanterns, teapots, fishing equipment and tons of other treasures. He raised 16 children from the profits of his little shop. You can see him sitting happily in his shop in the photo above. He was content.  In a rare interview a few years ago he said his mission was to "Keep traditional Dhofar alive". Indeed he has.

I tip my hat to you, Bin Askar. Your legacy will forever live on. Rest in peace.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Tonight

HOLIDAY HERE I COME!

(1) I wish you all a happy Eid and I also hope some of you are coming down to Salalah for part of the holiday. It's beautiful. It's been raining everyday for the past week.

(2)  I just found an email in my junkmail from a company that works with the Oman Football Association (damn Gmail for bringing junk into my inbox, and real mail into my junkmail ) and I remembered the friendly match between the Omani National Football team and Egypt TONIGHT in Salalah at Al Saada Sports Stadium at 9:30 p.m. Get there early if you want a good seat.

(3) More efforts by Saudi Arabia to pretend women don't exist. Saudi is building a women-only city. What do I think? It's shameful.

(4) It's official. Horizon Fitness is opening up a branch in Salalah in the new HUGE hideous salmon pink/orange building on Al Nahdha Street. This makes me very happy. Now if they'd only open a running track for women......  

(5) My favorite Halwa shop (Ahmed Safrar Halwa) opened up a new accessible branch on Al Najah Street. This also makes me very happy because their old branch is deep in the old market area and very hard to access by car.

(6) My thoughts exactly. Except I have to add that I'm not going to miss the insane afternoon drivers.

How are you spending Eid?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Holidays & More

Ahh... .let the holiday season begin! Eid Al Fitr next week (celebrating the end of Ramadhan), Eid Al Adha in ten weeks (celebrating the end of the Hajj in Mecca), National Day, Islamic New Year, etc, etc. His Majesty the Sultan has announced that the public sector get the whole week off whereas the private sector gets Saturday-Tuesday off.
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Wednesday evening saw 11 people convicted for what the government is referring to as "illegal gathering" and what sounds like the right to assemble peacefully to me. Anyhow, three of them are well-known activists who have been through enough hell already in the past 18 months (Saeed Al Hashmi, Basma Al Kiyumi and Basma Al Rajhi). One year in prison and a 1000/- fine for "illegal gathering and cutting the road" according to one local newspaper that needs a new translator. Complete BS.
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Naturally, we've also made international news. Yahoo News had the audacity to put His Majesty and Muammar Gaddafi in one sentence in their piece here. The Petition Site is calling for Oman to stop denying people their basic human rights here. The Arab Network for Human Rights Information report is here. The Washington Post published a piece on Thursday here. Legal news here.
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Overall, embarrassing.
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On a brighter note, I was really pleased to read this piece in Gulf News here. Take the time to read it.
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Oh, and somehow Dhofari Gucci ended up in The Week's piece "To Say or Not To Say" last week with Andy & BluChi (best known for his activity on Twitter, his food review site Omani Cuisine, and his column in Muscat Daily). I'm not entirely satisfied because my words were played around with a bit (when did I EVER write about domestic abuse? I was just listing topics that could create controversy).
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And finally, 11 reasons why you should never touch soft drinks ever again.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Even More Sentences!

Eight more people have been convicted for their 'negative and defamatory writings' (I believe that means lèse majesté). One year in prison and a fine of 1000/- OMR. Full names, photos in prison uniform, year of birth and place of employment or study were published. A ninth female detainee has been proven innocent and was released. Source: Oman News Agency.

"Justice is paramount, so, justice is taking its course. Does any one have a problem with that?" ~ Mti (one of my favorite readers ;)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday

Oh how I crave my morning cup of coffee at the office. Ramadhan, Day 17. Thirteen more to go! (or perhaps 12?).

Today's post is a mix of serious and no-so-serious. Humor me:

1. Do you realize Salalah Airport road (the busiest walking area for exercise nerds) now has exercise equipment? For all to use? I think it's hilarious and wonderful. Read the Times of Oman piece here. I'd love to know whose idea it was and whether any brave female is going to attempt using the equipment.

2. Movement on building the bridge over Al Rabat highway in Salalah towards Dahariz. Salalah's first bridge! More here. I hope it helps with the traffic problems we have. I remind you of the failed project to install traffic lights at the fountain roundabout in central Salalah. That was embarrassing.

3. I know plenty of people have been analyzing the blogger/arrests/crackdown/freedom of speech situation in Oman over the past couple of months.. and I've written bits and pieces about it before, but I'm still unhappy. I've been following trial and hearing updates and several things are bothering me.

First of all, in early June it was announced that a group of individuals had been arrested for their 'negative online writings' and that others would be prosecuted if they were caught spreading negative writings or rumors online. For a while back there it wasn't clear exactly what constitutes negative writing nor what triggered the announcement. Nevertheless, the online community was up in arms. Lots of bloggers were nervous and a handful even shut down their blogs!

Slowly it became apparent that most of the individuals arrested – poets, bloggers, writers, and a few naïve college students - were convicted of insulting our beloved head of state, a crime otherwise known as lèse majesté. Most of them were sentenced to between six and eighteen months in jail. Naturally, the writings that got them into trouble vanished off the internet before the public could judge whether the punishments were reasonable. Through the grapevine, I managed to read some of what was written including a particularly stupid Facebook status update by a naïve female college student from Salalah who got sentenced to 18 months in prison.

You all know her chain of derogatory insults had me fuming, and despite calls for freedom of speech, I think such insults deserve some form of warning. There is no complete freedom of speech anywhere in the world. In Oman, we're pretty lucky in many ways. However, despite wanting to murder anyone who insults His Majesty I still don't think a young student's rant on Facebook equals 18 months in prison and a fine. It's a little harsh. Another young writer was sentenced to six months in prison and a fine for holding up a poster that may have indirectly referred to His Majesty although no one can ever prove that. The ambiguity involving their arrests and the details of their crimes is unsettling.

Another incident that has caused fury across the Sultanate and Dhofar in particular is the rather unbelievable publication of the detainees' photographs in prison uniform in local newspapers as well as on television. After seeing those photographs make the rounds on social media platforms, I went from being horrified to being angry. You see, Oman has a history of pretending crimes never happen. On the rare occasion that a photograph of a criminal is published, it's usually for a minor crime and the eyes are almost always blotted out. Furthermore, full names are never mentioned. To our horror, clear photographs of the recent detainees were published in addition to full names, year of birth, hometown and place of employment or study. To most Omanis, this was completely unacceptable. Is it even legal? (a much wiser person than I said it is legal)

Looking back, dare I wonder why the identities of the Omanis involved in the UAE spy network not revealed a couple of years ago? Weren't they the real traitors? (the much wiser person than I said you can't question matters of national security) What about all the murderers and rapists and drug dealers? Why aren't their photos plastered across newspaper pages and broadcast on the evening news? Is it just me or is there something fundamentally wrong with this whole situation? Where are the real criminals? If it's legal to reveal the identities of criminals in Oman, then reveal them.

An interesting detail that may have been overlooked is that a prominent member of the Oman National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) requested to be relieved from her duties because she publicly disagreed with the commission's policy on several issues and referred to the statement made by the NHRC on June 19 justifying the arrests as 'the straw that broke the camel's back'. I tip my hat to you, Dina.

Yet another issue that is bothering me is how the government is referring to all detainees as 'instigators'. I'd like to point out that among the detainees were indeed some activists who were arrested on their way to the oil field strikes to interview workers. How can you compare them to creators of offensive online content? On the other hand, international human rights agencies are referring to all the detainees as 'human rights activists' or 'online activists'. Again, not everyone who posts offensive content online and gets arrested for it is an activist. Beware of labeling. I found Saturday's article by Dhofari columnist Awadh Baqweer rather interesting. It's called "Human Rights Organizations with Hidden Agendas". I'm not saying I agree with everything he says, but I think there is some truth in it.

Naturally, human rights agencies are keeping tabs on all Arab Spring countries and their occasionally biased reports make Oman looks like the next Syria when it’s not. Some of the reports on Oman in the past two months have been downright embarrassing. But who is the international media community going to believe? Not us. Oman has worked so hard to build its reputation as a peaceful and stable nation. It’s sad to see that hard work go to waste because the government couldn't handle a group of outspoken individuals. I'm not a fan of offensive writing but I think the heavy handed approach by the government has triggered the opposite effect. Your thoughts?



4. The US State Department's International Human Rights Report is out. Click here for the report on Oman.

5. Linoleum Surfer is back.

6. I'm still not quite sure what to think about this. Oman never fails to baffle me. Dhofar robbers given 90 year sentences?!!!!

7. I was rather amused yesterday when I received two different reports from SABQ (Oman News Agency SMS Breaking News Service). The first message came at 11:38 a.m "Researchers at Loyola Chicago have proven that drinking iced tea can lead to permanent kidney stones". The second set of frantic messages arrived at 5:25 p.m assuring citizens that Omani meat is safe after Saudi banned it after a Foot in Mouth Disease scare. For more on the meat situation, read lazy Linoleum Surfer's post here.

And finally, come to Salalah. The weather in Muscat wasn't meant for humans. It's cool, breezy, green and even occasionally rainy here!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ramadhan: Day 2

Good Morning Everyone & Ramadhan Kareem to all my readers, regardless of what you believe in. Today is day two of the holy month of fasting and I'm feeling great. The first few days of Ramadhan are usually a little rough because it takes time for the body to get used to having no food or drink from sunrise to sunset, but so far it's been good for me, Al Hamdulillah. I've been preparing myself mentally and physically for a week.

Ramadhan is my favorite time of the year. I had a discussion with a Christian friend of mine recently who still couldn't get his head around the idea of fasting and why we 'chose' to torture our bodies for a month. He didn't see how anyone could possibly gain from fasting for a month. I don't see it as torture. It's a form of discipline and spiritual cleansing provided you do it the right way. The first few days are a little rough then slowly you feel lighter and your thoughts are clearer and you feel happier. It's like going to a meditation retreat in an ashram. (sleeping half the day and then stuffing your face all night isn't really fasting in my opinion. You're not going to feel any difference. In fact, you'll just feel ill and heavy most of the time).

Fasting in a Muslim community is also a wonderful thing. When the entire region is fasting together, it makes a huge difference. It feels special. People make an extra effort to go to the mosque for all prayers, to spend time with the family, to pray and read the Quran, etc. It's hard to describe.

Many of the tourists left Salalah over the weekend and the Salalah Tourism Festival ended with a bang on Wednesday. The mountains are looking beautiful. Now it's time for the locals to enjoy Khareef!

Anyway, a little update on the online activists (new label) situation.... here's the Human Rights Watch report from July 21st, and Amnesty International's Report from July 17th. How embarassing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reflection

Referring to my post from July 16th, I've calmed down a little bit and am not so furious. I still think it's pretty stupid to insult His Majesty in public in Oman at this time. However, after seeing the photos of the detainees on the evening news and in the newspaper and after watching half the population of Salalah exchange Muna's photo, I feel ill. Was it really necessary to publish her photo? Why should a young college student who was a little naive on her Facebook page be treated like a drug dealer or murderer? (those are the only cases when Oman will publish a photo as far as I know). Her poor family.  

And something else.... His Majesty the Sultan has been out of the country since late April on his Euro-tour and he returned safely this afternoon as far as I know via Qatar. This is just me thinking out loud, but do you think he's aware of all that's been going on? I'm referring to all the 'details'. I don't feel this is his personal battle against all who insult him. In fact, I don't think he cares personally. He is loved and respected by everyone. I keep comparing him in my head to the Queen Elizabeth. She is loved by many many many people worldwide, not just in England. If some idiot chose to exercise his freedom of expression by insulting her, I don't think it would be a big deal. Why is Oman so uptight about this? 

Why is this a big deal? Why has this become a big deal? Having foolishly published photos of all these detained poets and writers and university students in local newspapers and on television, I feel locals have gone from being furious at the detainees to being furious at the government. ESPECIALLY in Salalah. Things are going to get messy. I feel it. I see it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

More Jail Sentences. More stupidity.

So, to update you on the latest campaign against bloggers in Oman, I just received an SMS update (SABQ Service) from the government with the following info: "Mohammed Al Badi, Mohammed Al Habsi, Abdullah Al Siyabi, Talib Al Abri, Abdullah Al Arimi and Muna Hardan are handed one-year prison sentences and a fine of 1000 OMR for defamation and violating the laws of information technology".
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It's official. A Dhofari girl is involved and her sentence is not just one year, but 18 months. Before activists and human rights organizations get all excited and start calling for the release of these so-called  'human rights defenders', surely the government should reveal what exactly were their crimes? If they're going to publish full names and photos (tomorrow's newspaper), surely a little detail would be useful?  As far as I know, Muna was continuously defaming and insulting His Majesty and the Omani people online under the nickname "Dhofari Rose". As much as I love freedom of speech, I think she was pretty stupid given the current circumstances of freedom of expression in Oman. (in my head: WHAT WAS SHE THINKING, DAMMIT?!)  
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Every person who publicly and continuously defames His Majesty is asking for trouble. Regardless of what she thinks (and thinking out loud in Oman can get you into serious trouble), she knows what the current situation is in Oman, and she knew what was coming. I'm not saying I like the current situation, but I believe in being sensible and choosing your battles wisely.
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Defaming for the sake of defaming isn't going to help anyone. What was her cause? Did she have one? Were her accusations based on fact? What's going to happen now? She's the first woman ever in Dhofar to be publicly sentenced. Is her tribe going to interfere? Is Wasta going to play a vital role in getting her bailed out? She's a naive little university student, not an activist.
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My only criticism of the government in this case would be the exaggerated unnecessary prison sentences (six months for holding a poster that sort-of criticizes the Sultan?!), publishing photos of the detainees in prison uniform, and withholding information. If you're trying to teach people a lesson, share details. What rules did these bloggers break? What are the new limitations? The rest of us would like to know. His Majesty is off limits, but what else? I'm not interested in being plucked out of my home in the middle of the night for a post I wrote two years ago. Must I go through every single blog post and review? I don't want to see more people end up in jail for speaking their minds.
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Choose your battles wisely. Oman is not a free country.. Dhofari Gucci is not happy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Uh....

So... two guys get sentenced to jail for 'insulting' His Majesty the Sultan. The first guy, Hamoud Al Rashdi (a writer) was sentenced to six months and a fine of 200 OMR). The second guy, Hamad Al Kharousi (a poet) apparently wrote a poem insulting the character of His Majesty and was sentenced to ONE FRIGGIN YEAR in jail and a fine of 200 OMR. Given the current situation in Oman, that was pretty stupid in my opinion (writing the poem, not the court ruling to any confused readers) Both are out on bail. Another group of 'activists' are awaiting their trial.

Question: both are being referred to by international human rights organizations as 'Human rights defenders'. I'm not familiar with either of them. If you know anything about their human rights activism (?), do share. I'm interested.

To be honest guys, there's plenty to write about from Salalah these days. I should be doing some festival coverage and updating you on all the interesting events, lectures, conferences and concerts. Unfortunately, the campaign of intimidation against anyone with an opinion in Oman has me feeling rather low. There is no such thing as 'complete freedom of speech' but we can get close. Oman is definitely nowhere near there. And to be honest, I think it's the wrong time to pick on bloggers and activists in Oman. The situation in the Middle East is unstable and all eyes are on the Arab states that have not flipped. Oman is pretty stable but we're not immune to anything.

I am deeply loyal to His Majesty but I also believe in basic human rights. I'm trying to understand this whole situation from the government's point of view and then from the perspective of all the activists and who want a different Oman. I can almost understand both sides. Unfortunately, I don't think the recent chain of events is going to work.

So, onto a little Salalah news: apparently two or three young women were also detained briefly for their 'negative' writings online? FROM SALALAH? HOLY SHIT. Not sure how this one will play out. I know who they are.

Frankincense Ice Cream obsession: you may now taste Trygve's wonderful ice creams at Ittina Cafe in Iteen. Drive past the festival in the direction of the mountains and once you get to the roundabout with all the small restaurants and barbecue stands, turn right and drive up the hill. The restaurant is at the top of that hill. It has a nice family section and you can get yourself a good hookah fix there as well.

Rain: it rained for a couple of days then dried up for about a week, then started raining again a couple of days ago. That's probably added to my depression.

Late night reading:  herehere, here, and Amnesty International's semi-biased action plan here.

Gucci is not happy.

Adios.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Note

I will blog in a day or two. I'm a little stressed and worried about the recent arrests/freedom of speech issues. Some developments on that front in Salalah involving females. I've received a few threatening hints from random anonymous individuals and through my family as well, so I'm laying a little low. Sucks to be opinionated in Oman right now! (not that I've ever said anything that would jeopardize national security I don't think ....?).

Sigh - Gucci

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brewing ....

Dhofari Gucci is trying to decide whether it's safe enough to publish my thoughts on the recent Public Prosecution attack on bloggers and online activists. I just feel uneasy about the whole thing. I've been reading others' thoughts with interest. some condemn the attacks. Others are just .... meh. Read this BS and this BS. The reaction in the Arabic blogosphere is rather mild. People are afraid. Fear is a bad thing. The End. Oh, and if you read Arabic, Majlis Al Dawla has condemned the prison sentence for journalists. and my favorite Arabic blogger and friend Mahfaif has some valid opinions over here. Sigh. It's been raining everyday now for the past four days. Monsoon is here, folks. The sun is gone. Come on over!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Frankincense Ice Cream!


Morning Folks! I have not one, but TWO exciting pieces of news from Salalah for you this morning: First of all: *drumroll* .... IT'S RAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (in fact, in rained all night.... is monsoon/khareef really five days early? There were real puddles in my garden this morning)

And.... Last year I blogged about  Trygve Harris who has become something of a celebrity here in Salalah and for good reason too! During the Khareef Festival 2011 she set up a kiosk in Al Haffa Souq and sold her infamous frankincense ice cream. She has been distilling frankincense in Salalah for the past five years or so for her essential oils and aromatics shop in New York City . She then started experimenting with ice cream and now she's become quite a sensation. She was featured in CN Traveler this week as well. (photo above from the CNT piece). So, ..... are you in Salalah this week? Are you interested in trying out her local Dhofari ice creams? If your answer is yes, read the following:

A Japanese TV film crew has been in Salalah for a month to film a documentary about frankincense. As part of the documentary, Trygve is hosting an ice cream tasting event that they'll be filming  in Al Haffa Souq on Monday June 18th (that's tomorrow) at 6:00 p.m . Frankincense ice cream will be available for everyone. You may be filmed and asked what you think of the ice cream. New flavors will be available as well including Chai Hakim, Darbat Jasmine, and Salalah milk banana. I have tried all four flavors and can tell you they're DIVINE. I highly recommend dropping by the Souq tomorrow at 6:00 p.m for some ice cream.

She'll also be selling ice cream from now until Ramadhan (pickup or delivery available). Call her at 959 23 772 . She also sells coffee ice cream, chocolate ice cream, frankincense oil, frankincense water, and myrrh water. (adding a few drops of frankincense water to Dhofari red tea is amazing)

And no, I'm not her marketing agent. I'm just a fan who's obsessed with her ice cream. Do drop by tomorrow evening at 6:00 p.m at Haffa Souq! Should be fun (rumor has it that some members of the Japanese film crew speak fluent Arabic .... ) ... Keep your eyes peeled for a pair of pink grill shades :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Public Holiday!

Woohoooo! Public Holiday to mark the anniversary of the Isra & Miraj (Prophet Mohammed's Ascension PBUH) on Saturday June 16th and Sunday June 17th for the public sector, and Saturday June 16th for the private sector. O.H.Y.E.S!

Sunday

April, May & June are the busiest months of the year for me, hence the blog-snooze. Anyway, here are some bits and pieces from the past few weeks that I found interesting:
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   1. According to one of my anonymous readers, Carrefour is set to open on July 15th here in Salalah at Salalah Grand Mall (it's actually called Salalah World, but I keep referring to it as the grand mall). The Carrefour part of the building looks almost done. The rest of the monstrosity will be done by next year I think? It's absolutely huge. I'll try to get some photos of the site next time I'm at Centrepoint (its tiny neighbor)
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    2. The weather in Salalah has been unbearably hot these past few weeks. It used to NEVER go up past 35 Celcius in Salalah in the hot months of the year. This week I've seen 39, but we haven't yet hit 40. It feels hotter though because the humidity is impossible. Usually this means we'll have a good monsoon. First official day of the monsoon (khareef) season is next Thursday June 21st. Last year the rains started at 10 a.m on June 21st, right on schedule. I hope this year is the same. I could do with a couple of months of rain! The ocean is already wild and most of Haffa Beach is gone already. Water is already up on the sidewalk and road. Monsoon is in the air!
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     3. Khareef Festival starts also on June 21st and will last for 28 days.
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    4. Phase One of Salalah Beach (another Muriya project - the other is Jebel Sifah) is done. Juwaira Hotel (a 5-star 65 room boutique hotel) is now open to the public. The marina is pretty and the restaurant is lovely. The official opening is in August but the hotel is fully functioning now. It's between Salalah and Taqah.
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    5. Our dear friend and passionate reader/commentator/national defender Mti reminded me that I hadn't published the new Public Prosecution announcement. Here goes:

MUSCAT: The Public Prosecution on Monday warned it will act against perpetrators of offensive writings or statements under the pretext of free expression that harm national interests and violates the sanctity of people's life. The statement said "Public Prosecution recently noticed the growing of offensive writings and inciting calls by some individuals under the pretext of free expression of opinion. This is a blatand violation of the sanctity of the personal life of individuals. It is also a libel against them either in their individual or job capacity. It has been noticed that rumors and provoking others to carry out negative acts that may eventually harm the homeland, individuals and national interests are growing".
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"these statements or acts are contrary to our elite religious teachings, rich traditions and noble morals that are deeply integrated in the Omani society and contrary to the values on which its sons are being raised upon.

"They are also creating a reality that is against public law and order and morals. Morever, they are legally criminilized regardless of the audio, print, visual, telecommunications, and IT means used in this. These means include e-forums and social networking websites. Henceforth, the Public Prosecution advises all citizens and residents that is will take the necessary legal actions against all perpetrators of such staements or acts, as well as those who promote or provoke or assist them through any means " - Oman News Agency (June 2012)
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Well, all I can say is .... meh. Live in fear, suckers!
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    6. Rumor has it that the Frankincense Lady is going to be selling her famous frankincense ice cream at Haffa Souq this khareef as well. I hope that's true. I've been craving it since July 2011.
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    7. I agree. I have about 80.
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    8. Paid Parking at Salalah airport was supposed to start on May 1st. Who was I kidding? still nothing...
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   9. Beware. A violent feminist post is brewing in my brain.
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10. Finally, this video "Tell Us Your Story" (part of Ali Al Habsi's road safety campaign - he's our best goalkeeper) is really moving. If you don't recognize the faces, most of them are prominent Omani figures, celebrities, and businessmen. I recognized most of them. It's true, too many of us know someone who has lost their life in a car accident. Please watch and spread the word.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Succession Question Fuels Uncertainty in Oman

Interesting article by Martin Dokoupil from Reuters. Read it here ... but make haste! I predict the article will be blocked in Oman within the next 48 hours.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Carrefour in Salalah

I heard the sign was up, so I drove by yesterday afternoon to see for myself. Salalah's first shopping mall is beginning to look like a mall! They've painted it a weird shade of salmon (or that's what it looked like at sunset). More information on the project at Salalah World.

Monday, May 14, 2012

ROP Denies 10-day Jail Sentence

I am royally confused. Yesterday the Times of Oman reported a 10-day jail sentence for anyone caught using their cell phones while driving. This morning the ROP denies it. Can someone explain?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Jail, anyone?

As someone who has had enough near-death experiences to last me a lifetime (all on Oman's insane roads), I was VERY pleased to read in today's Times of Oman that you can spend up to 10 days in jail if you're caught talking on the phone while driving. Last year I was driving through a quiet neighborhood at 20 km/h trying to find my friend's house. I was inching over a speed bump and eyeing the houses trying to find the right one when she called me to tell me I was outside her house. I picked up the phone and she shouted 'I can see you! Stop at the blue gate!" within 2 seconds I noticed a police car beside me. He gave me a ticket for using the phone while inching driving. I was so pleased, I thanked him. Now if there were more policemen on the HIGHWAY at rush hour instead of in quiet little neighborhoods, our world would be a better place. Please please please ROP, start enforcing. Ten days in jail won't hurt anyone. Take my brothers!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Storms & Wadis

When are Omanis ever going to learn to stay away from wadis (dry riverbeds) after heavy rain? The weather this week has been a little crazy in most areas up north with heavy wind, rain, hail, and of course ... running wadis.

I was just watching the news a little while ago and to be honest, I had NO IDEA how bad it was. The footage was dramatic, but the number of people who tried to cross wadis is just ... meh.

ROP updates:

1. The weather is expected to start calming down in the next 24 hours. Rain & hail still expected in some areas up north. The ocean is wild along the entire coast of Oman (including Dhofar). People are advised to stay out of the ocean until tomorrow night.

2. Running wadis are DANGEROUS.

3. Many vehicles (people in them) was caught in running wadis. Some people lost thier lives. Others are missing.

4. Several families were rescued by helicopter from the roofs of their homes after being surrounded by water.

5. A few people were airlifted out of Rustaq and to hospitals because the roads were blocked.

6. In North Sharqiya six people went missing in a wadi. Two were pulled out alive. The other four are still missing and it does not look hopeful.

7. Another vehicle in Sinao with a family of four was pulled into a wadi and the ROP are trying to rescue them now. Another four vehicles were pulled into Wadi Al Batha in Sinao with families. Helicopters are on the move to find them.

8. Nine people were rescued from Wadi Abu Dhalma in Al Qabil.

9. ROP helicopters are looking for the body of a 4 year-old in Al Batinah who fell into a wadi while playing nearby. WHERE THE HELL WERE HIS PARENTS AND WHAT THE HELL WAS HE DOING NEAR A RUNNING WADI?

10. In Al Dahira 3 bodies were pulled out of Wadi Al Fatah . One is Omani. Ther other two are from the UAE.

11. In Al Seeb a family got stuck in a wadi in their car. They were rescued and are doing well.

12. Nine light posts & a couple of electricity poles fell over due to heavy winds near Bait Al Baraka roundabout.

13. A truck full of people is stuck at Wadi Hotum in Bidiya.

14. Wadis in Al Khoudh are running like mad. ROP are trying to block roads there to keep people away.

STAY. AWAY. FROM. WADIS.