Good afternoon folks from my quiet little corner of the world. Sometimes I just can't seem to get around to blogging, and at other times (like today), I find there is a lot to report. Anyway, no need to complain. I have a happy life and have learned not to feel guilty about not being able to blog so often. It's all about balance:
This post is a mix of pieces of news from Salalah that are of interest. Separate posts to follow:
1) THE AIRPORT! Destiny ensured that I was on the first flight out of the new airport by pure coincidence on June 15th. The night before I was due to travel, I received a notification by phone informing me that my flight would take off from our new airport. A NEW AIRPORT! I was thrilled beyond belief. The building is beautiful, it feels like a proper international airport. A lot of work needs to be done still but it was a fantastic beginning. I took pictures and will post them. But just imagine, when I was returning to Salalah from Muscat, I had to wait at the hideous gate, get on a bus in the heat, drive for ages, climb a staircase to the plane in 45 degrees celcius... then upon arrival in Salalah I stepped off the plane into an air-conditioned tube (what are they called anyway? Those tube things?). Service was efficient, minus the security team who were still struggling with the system and didn't even notice I had a pair of scissors in my bag.
2)THE BRIDGES! Bridges are coming along well. The one connecting Saada to the highway is progressing fast, whereas the one near Lulu's is as slow as a turtle. The roundabout that used to be the fountain roundabout has been flattened. Rumour has it they'll build a tunnel instead of the bridge because RAFO (Royal Airforce) don't want anyone looking at their base from the top of the bridge. Who knows.
3) THE MALL! No, not Salalah Gardens Mall, but the soon to be built Salalah Grande Mall (Sister to MGM in Muscat). The sign is officially up in Saada/Dahariz area very close to the Indian school and that sports complex. There's also a locally built mall in Saada that is about to open now called Salalah Galleries or Saada Galleries. It's huge, but I think the shops will be mostly
crappy local (i.e. no big international brands).
4) AL HAFFA is Al Haffa no more. It has been flattened and the last stubborn citizen who refused to leave his house was evicted and his house has been demolished as well. Haffa no more. Still no signs up explaining what the hell they plan to do with the waterfront area. I think it's stupid not to share with citizens. (Oh wait, this isn't a democracy... and we aren't responsible taxpayers... so why should they even consider what the locals feels? Bah)
5) AL BALEED! Al Baleed Resort/hotel appears to be almost finished. It's located on the beach between Haffa and the Crowne Plaza. It's huge. If my pal F.S. wants to give me a tour, don't hesitate. It looks fantastic;
6) ANOTHER HOTEL! So, at the moment, Salalah's decent hotels include Hilton, Crowne Plaza, Salalah Gardens, Juweira, and Rotana. (Marriott doesn't count because it's so far away). I was at the Rotana for Iftar the other night and we noticed the new Al Fanar Hotel is looking good. It's no-where near finished but the structure is mostly done. Again, huge.
7) KHAREEF! I know you all want to know. We had rain for two days on June 18th and 19th. Then it all went dry and humid again. I drove into the mountains yesterday and it's foggy up there, but no rain. So, don't get your hopes up yet. Within the next couple of weeks the rain should start properly.
8) EID HOLIDAYS! We're expecting a full week for Eid (i.e. July 19-23) because Eid will be either the 17th or 18th, and National Day will be the 23rd, so they're bound to give us a week off right? Surely they will right? Especially since there's no way in heaven we're getting a week off for Eid Al Adha since it falls on a weekend.
9) VISITING US! If you plan to visit Salalah during Eid holidays, I suggest you book your hotels ... a month a go! A friend of mind wants to come during Eid and she couldn't find any hotel rooms. It's insane. If you want to come, book now.
10) Actually, don't come. If you want my honest honest advice... and if you want to actually enjoy the monsoon and some peace and quiet, don't come anytime between July 18th and August 31st. I know it's peak tourist season, but it will be INSANE. Best time to visit is September. The clouds will have parted, the fog will have lifted, and we can actually have the city to ourselves again.
Nuff said for the moment. Time to fantasize about Iftar.
Stay tuned for posts on more news including Wasta woes, marriage insanity, and Whispers of Salalah......