Friday, December 31, 2010

15 Signs You Might Have Been in Oman for Too Long - LMFAO

You have to read this. Dear Omanis, please don't be offended. Thank you Baxter Jackson for brightening up my day.
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http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/15-signs-you-might-have-been-in-oman-too-long/

Friday, December 17, 2010

End of December

So you haven't been hearing from me as often as I would like, but what can I do? After the laze of summer, monsoon, Ramadhan and Eid Al Fitr, things got crazy at work and in my personal life. Everything was postponed till 'After Eid Al Fitr'. And so I've been killing myself trying to get my life (and my colleagues) back into shape. Just as things began to get organized, we were hit with yet more holidays and we have another week of holidays next week. I know holidays are great for everyone, but this is just insane. You do realize we'll be holiday-less all the way to July 23rd, right? (unless some GCC king or prince dies and we get 3 days to mourn of course!).
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(1) I've been helping one of my relatives through an ugly divorce these past couple of months (which means spending 3 or 4 hours with both sides of the marriage two or three times a week trying to figure stuff out). It's ugly, sad, and uncalled. He's only been married six months but his idea of marriage is totally screwed up. As much as I respect and love my cousin, I think he's crazy. If you're contemplating marriage, don't make mountains out of mole hill.
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(2) Everyone seems to be outraged about the 'most expensive Christmas tree in the world' that has been revealed in Abu Dhabi. Instead of raising hell about a symbol of the Christian holiday being up in a Muslim country, I suggest you raise hell about the cost instead. Evidently the total cost of the ornaments is 11 Million. WTF? Seriously WTF. Dear UAE, If you really wanted to do something to celebrate Christmas, why not do something useful with the 11 million? Like a Charity campaign in the spirit of Christmas or SOMETHING worthwhile.
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(3) If you've got a lot of negative energy and anger that needs to be released, I suggest you send it in the direction of the asshole I'm going to tell you about. A highly education Omani acquaintance of mine (actually, my brother's colleague) decided he wanted to get married. He's 32, so he figured it was time. He owns a house, a business, two cars, 2 degrees, and a cat. He cooks, cleans, and irons his own clothes. He's smart, relatively good looking, and not too short. To sum it up, he's a good catch (or so I thought). I would have considered him myself if it weren't for the fact that I'm .... .... anyway, so he searches high and low for a bride. My brother helps him of course. Finally, the perfect girl is found. She's 26, highly educated, 3 degrees, pretty, smart, independent, and from his hometown (Salalah). Everything is perfect. She is willing to meet him at her office before he comes to officially ask for her hand in marriage. Everything sounds ok up to know, right? So he decides to mess it all up because it's too perfect. He was supposed to visit her in early December. He 'postponed' the visit until mid-December because he claimed he was 'Still asking around about her'. I'm NOT KIDDING. He actually told her family that he couldn't come to ask for her hand in marriage yet because he was still asking around about their reputation. Oh. My. God. Loser. Alert.
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Adding insult to injury, a couple of weeks later he informs her brother-in-law (the initial mediator) that he is not longer interested in her because he discovered her great-grandfather was a slave. I am not kidding, I swear. He decided it was more important to him that his kids come out 'pure'. PURE. He believes if there's any history of slavery in the family, his kids will not live an honorable life. I sat staring at my brother with my mouth wide open as he told me the story. He was as shocked as I was. Has Mr. Asshole looked at a calendar recently? Does he realize WHAT YEAR WE LIVE IN?!!!
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I'm sorry to say I'm still in shock. I haven't fully digested the story yet and I can only hope the poor girl has a sense of humor and is able to laugh at his stupidity and arrogance. What a loser. I was so upset after I heard that story that I stayed awake all night thinking about it. When I finally fell asleep, I dreamed of murdering the guy. Thankfully, I know what he looks like so my dreams were realistic enough. My brother invited him over to the house once a few months ago and I ACTUALLY COOKED SOMETHING FOR HIM. Ugh. I'm outraged. Beyond outraged.
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What do you think?! Is it just me or can this guy be nominated for 'Jerk of the Year Award'?

Monday, December 6, 2010

NATIONAL DAY HOLIDAYS

December 25th to 29th for Oman!!! Thank you Baba Qaboos!! It's official.
http://www.mocs.gov.om/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=UQZp84q2JtY=&tabid=38

More Holiday Rumors

Dear Readers in Oman,
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It's official. Holiday for the public (and some of the private) sectors starts tomorrow Tuesday the 7th. Everyone resumes duty on Sunday the 12th. A nice 5-day break.
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However ........
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You may have noticed that all the official announcements do not mention the reason for the holiday at all. The newspaper just says 'public holiday' starting First of Muharram (new Islamic year) until December 11th. No mention of National Day.
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So ......
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Rumor has it that the actual 'National Day' holiday may be at the end of December according to my sources. Yes, you heard me, ... YET another holiday.
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Wait and see ......

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

National Day Holidays?

So we've celebrated, and celebrated some more, received kings and queens, cut thousands of red ribbons, danced and sang, blocked traffic, unblocked traffic, and the celebrations continue. But where is our holiday?
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I don't know exactly when the 40th National Day celebrations will end (or will they continue for a year?) but rumor has it that next Tuesday and Wednesday will be a National Holiday. As in the 7th and 8th. Some sources say it'll be a three day holiday (6th-8th).
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Anyone out there with some useful information to share? :)

Wow

Muscat Confidential says it all here. I'd heard about the leaks but wasn't able to access them until now.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rollin' in It

Check out our new 20 R.O note. Looks kinda ugly to me, but I guess we'll get used to it after a while.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Queen

And here she is .. in Oman after 30 years,.... looking elegant and preserved as always. What an honor having her here with us. I wonder what she and His Majesty have talked about? I'd LOVE to know what their conversations are like. Does he address her as 'Your Majesty' and vice versa? Have they had an actual conversation? Do you think they've talked about horses? Bagpipes? Perhaps he's asked her what she thinks of Prince William's engagement to Kate Middleton last week? The so called engagement the world has been waiting for (according to Hello magazine). Do they have their meals together? I wonder. . .
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I'd love to be a fly on their wall.
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Sigh.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HAPPY NATIONAL DAY!

Happy 40th National Day Oman! Wow. Wow. WOW! More to come ...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eid Al Adha 2010

Eid Mubarak Everyone!
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I've spent all day tidying Majlis One (women) and Majlis Two (men) of our humble family home. Crystal glasses, dates, halwa, cookies, candies, etc. I also had the TV on all day hoping to see a couple of my close relatives in Mecca among the millions of pilgrims this year (no such luck!). I really do envy them sometimes. Some of my colleagues try to go to Mecca for Hajj or Omrah (the smaller pilgrimige that also has to be performed once in your life) every year! I've only been on the Omrah once and I got bad food poisoning so it wasn't the most beautiful of memories. I suppose I'll wait until I find a husband before going on the Hajj. That 'could' take forever. :)
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Tomorrow morning after sunrise the men will head to the mosque for Eid prayers then most men will immediately slaughter the Eid 'sacrifice'. My family is slaughtering a goat this year even though usually we slaughter a cow with my uncle's family, but they've gone to Thailand for the Eid (!) and we're left with a goat. The poor thing is tied up in the family farm and seem oblivious to the fact that tomorrow morning it will no longer be.
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I was out shopping with my teenage cousins a couple of days ago (bad bad bad idea - traffic was ... ugh), and for some reason we started talking about the slaughtering and the meaning of Eid. I was SHOCKED to discover that NONE OF THEM knew the history behind Eid al Adha. I'm still shocked. They had no idea why we celebrate and the religious significance. They just thought the purpose of Eid was to celebrate the end of Hajj. Whatever happened to Islamic education in schools?? I studied all this back in middle school, but it seems nowdays that the Islamic Studies books are shrinking every year. Soon, they may be eliminated from the national curriculum (why?!)
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Eid Al Adha (Festival of Sacrifice, or Greater Eid) is celebrated by Muslims worldwide to commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael as an act of obedience to God before God intervened to provide him with a ram to sacrifice instead. So, each Muslim family slaughters an animal on the morning of Eid to commemorate this. The meat is divided into three equal parts to be distributed to others. The family retains one third of the share, another is given to relatives, and the third to the poor and needy. Make sense?
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In Salalah most families freeze some of the meat and also make the famous 'Majeen' (too good to describe). One of my favorite dishes in the world is majeen meat with white rice and ghee. Sinful I know, but it's really really good.
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Off to do more cleaning and figure out my dress for tomorrow. You'll be glad to know I bought a new 'Second Head' for Eid. It has feathers and beads on it.
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What are you doing for Eid? Anyone going to send me some Shiwa from the North? (the meat cooked undergound - divine)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Eid Holidays Announced

Many grumbles and moans across the nation this morning! (insert cheerful sing-song voice). Eid holidays for the public sector as follows:
Monday November 15th-Thursday 18th. Back to work on the 20th. Now, if the government sector got 4 days, I wonder what the private sector will end up with? 1.5 days?
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However, despite all the moaning, I fully understand why we're getting a short holiday. The country has 100,000,000 National Day events to plan and accomplish over the next few weeks, so the government can't afford to have everyone off for a week. The Queen is coming on the 24th, we have National Day celebrations, etc, etc. It's going to be CRAZY.
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But .... we will be getting our National Day holidays after all the celebrations are over and the last of the red ribbons has been cut (early-mid December?). And I, Miss Dhofar Gucci, predict that instead of the usual 2-day holiday, His Majesty will be EXTRA NICE TO US (Right, Baba Qaboos?) and we'll get a beautiful holiday to compensate for our short Eid. Right?
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Fingers crossed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Salalah World

Yes... believe it or not, Salalah is FINALLY getting its own shopping mall (and don't tell me Isteqrar Hypermarket is a mall). Our new mall (the building is almost finished) is located on the main Rabat highway next to Centrepoint. The mall will include the following blessings:
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1. Kids' fashion
2. Women's fashion
3. Men's fashion
4. Beauty/Opticals/Watches/Jewellery stores.
5. Arabian Apparels (?)
6. A food court
7. High quality restaurants (Really? In Salalah?)
8. Cafes
9. Bakery
10. CINEMA (!!!! WOOHOO!!)
11. Bowling centre
12. Kids entertainment
13. Carrefour Hypermarket (yes)
14. Electronics
15. Home accessories (will we have Home Centre? I hope so)
16. Believe it or not, Home apartments
17. Underground parking
18. Inner courtyard with trees and grass
19. Lots more.
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It's going to be really interesting to see how it turns out. Thank you Kuwait for noticing that Salalah had no mall! (investors are from Kuwait). The building itself is huge and seems to get bigger everyday.
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Evidently, some parts of the mall will be open early 2011 and the rest will continue to open up slowly throughout 2011.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

National Day Reflections (1)

You know we're approaching National Day when:
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(1) the highways are decorated with Christmas lights.
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(2) poor labourers are touching up paint on the sidewalks at all hours of the day and night.
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(3) more poor labourers are putting up flags along the main streets at 3 a.m.
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(4) gardeners are taking extra care when trimming the bushes and trees in the centre of town.
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(5) every single event happening in the country ends up being dedicated to National Day (to celebrate 40 years, we're walking to spread diabetes awareness... to celebrate 40 years we're making the largest dishdasha in the world ... to celebrate 40 years we'll build more of this and more of that. I won't be surprised if Google ends up posting the national day logo on the main search page.
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(6) the (lazy?) Government sector gets double salary (or triple salary) this month but the private sector gets neglected as usual. (so much for encouraging people to move to the private sector!)
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(7) all ongoing projects (new roads, buildings, etc, etc) are expected to be completed by November 18!
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Sigh.
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Does anyone know when the holidays will be? I don't know how Oman plans to celebrate when, according to what I've heard, November 18th just happens to be the 2nd day of Eid al Adha. People will be too busy eating meat to celebrate 40 years.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bits & Pieces

(1) I'm depressed because my favorite English bloggers have all left. Muscat Confidential, Muscat Jet Driver, Other Oman, Reality in Oman, Sleepless in Salalah, etc. Why?! At least Andy , Sultanate Social , Muscat Mutterings and Angry in Oman are still around. Yes, it's official, Angry in Oman is back :)
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(2) Monsoon in Dhofar is officially gone. If you drive deep enough into the mountains you may spot a few tufts of lush green here and there, but rest assured they won't be there for long. I'd give it a couple of days before the camels find them. However, that doesn't mean tourist season is over! October marks the beginning of Salalah's more 'Western' tourist season. From October-February we get thousands of tourists from Europe who arrive by plane (direct from Sweden/Germany,etc) or on cruise ships. Yesterday I was in Al Haffa Souk buying bukhoor/frankincense (a task my mother has been nagging me about for the past week) when I was shoved to the side by what looked like a bulldog in a tank top wanting to get a look at the bukhoor display. An elderly German woman with very very very short hair, lots of rolls (as in stomach rolls) and a tiny tank top. Why on earth would you wear something like that when you're so overweight? She was loud, rude, smoking, and very inappropriately dressed. Just the kind of tourist I HATE seeing in Salalah.
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(3) Don't get me wrong, I love Oman and I love the Sultan, but something has been bothering me lately. National Day preparations. If you haven't already noticed, most schools in Salalah start the school day at 7 a.m and end at 11 a.m. Yes, eleven. For the ENTIRE semester. Why? Because they're busy in the afternoons practicing their dance routines for the 40th national day dance/event/operetta (?) which evidently they're being paid to do. Wtf? The 'event' is scheduled to be held in Salalah on November 28th or 29th. Furthermore, each kid participating will get 10 extra marks added to every single subject he/she is taking in school. So 10% of your total grade this semester is free if you dance for the Sultan on National Day. I'm an extremely loyal citizen but I just don't understand and I never will. Thousands of children are going to miss out on hundreds of hours of school this semester for a petty reason. Is education that unimportant? Last year they missed out on most of the first semester due to H1N1 and this year they didn't even START till late September because of Ramadhan/Eid. Furthermore, thousands of grown men are taking time off work to practice their traditional dances again for Nationanl Day, but that will be performed in Muscat for His Majesty (and the Queen?). What do you think?
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(4) His Majesty Sultan Qaboos left Salalah a couple of weeks ago after a few months here in the rain. He actually drove out of Salalah, so the roads were shut for most of the day and citizens lined up on both sides of the highway and slaughtered animals out of loyalty. I heard there were over 100 dead animals being slaughtered ON the highway for His Majesty as he drove by. Yikes. I pray that many poor families benefited from all that meat.
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(5) I went out to the Marriot in Mirbat on Friday morning for brunch. It was a nice (long) drive out and the food was nice, but we were practically the only people there. My nephews and brother had the pool all to themselves. It was wonderful being the only visible customers at the hotel, but it makes you wonder how they make their money?
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(6) I'll be flying up to Muscat for a week (finally, a break from this town) during mid-November for shall we say 'educational' purposes. I'm tempted to catch up with some bloggers while I'm there. I was priviledged to meet up with several of the bloggers mentioned in the first paragraph of this post for dinner a few moons ago and am beginning to think that blogger get-togethers may not be so bad after all. As long as there's a collective agreement to protect the identity of all bloggers present. Email me if you'd like to grab a cup of coffee, and I 'may' consider it :)
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(7) Tom Millward, a South African, is planning to bike around Oman (3000 km!) over the next three months to support local children with special needs. I'll tip my hat to you Sir for your efforts. Why aren't there more OMANIS out there doing stuff like this? If he's biking through your town, make sure to show some support. If you're a local business or are interested in donating money to the cause and sponsoring part of his trip, call him 00 968 9828 9916 or email him omanbycycle@hotmail.com
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(8) Does anyone know of any charitable organizations in Salalah that accept children's clothes/shoes/bags, etc? My nephews' have about 6 suitcases full of old clothes that are of good quality and should be given to people who need them. I have no idea how to get them to the right people. Help?
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(9) If you hear of any interesting bits of news/events from Salalah (or the rest of Oman), do send me an email at dhofari.gucci@gmail.com and I'll be more than hapy to blog about it. Thanks Shushue for the information about Tom Millward!
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Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What Oman Can Teach Us

Everyone's been talking about Nicholas Kristof's article 'What Oman Can Teach Us' that was published in the New York Times last week. I'm always ecstatic when I read something positive written about Oman by a non-Omani and I'm happy about the article. However, I felt that he was just banking on emotions to sell the story. The article lacks depth. What do you think?
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October 13, 2010
What Oman Can Teach Us

By Nicholas D. Kristof -
MUSCAT, Oman
As the United States relies on firepower to try to crush extremism in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, it might instead consider the lesson of the remarkable Arab country of Oman. Just 40 years ago, Oman was one of the most hidebound societies in the world. There was no television, and radios were banned as the work of the devil. There were no Omani diplomats abroad, and the sultan kept his country in almost complete isolation.
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Oman, a country about the size of Kansas, had just six miles of paved road, and the majority of the population was illiterate and fiercely tribal. The country had a measly three schools serving 909 pupils — all boys in primary grades. Not one girl in Oman was in school. Oman’s capital city, Muscat, nestled among rocky hills in the desert of the Arabian Peninsula, was surrounded by a traditional wall. At dusk, the authorities would fire a cannon and then close the city’s gates for the night. Anyone seen walking outside without a torch at night was subject to being shot.
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Oman was historically similar to its neighbor, Yemen, which now has become an incubator for Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists. But, in 1970, Oman left that fundamentalist track: the sultan’s son deposed his father and started a stunning modernization built around education for boys and girls alike. Visit Oman today, and it is a contemporary country with highways, sleek new airports, satellite TV dishes and a range of public and private universities. Children start studying English and computers in the first grade. Boys and girls alike are expected to finish high school at least.
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It’s peaceful and pro-Western, without the widespread fundamentalism and terrorism that afflict Yemen. Granted, Yemen may be the most beautiful country in the Arab world, but my hunch is that many of the young Westerners who study Arabic there will end up relocating to Oman because of the tranquility here. It’s particularly striking how the role of women has been transformed. One 18-year-old university student I spoke to, Rihab Ahmed al-Rhabi, told me (in fluent English) of her interest in entrepreneurship. She also told me, affectionately, about her grandmother who is illiterate, was married at age 9 and bore 10 children.
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As for Ms. Rhabi, she mentioned that she doesn’t want to bog herself down with a husband anytime soon. Otherwise, what if her husband didn’t want her to study abroad? And when she does eventually marry, she mused, one child would be about right. Ms. Rhabi was a member of the Omani all-girls team that won the gold medal in an entrepreneurship competition across the Arab world last year. The contest was organized by Injaz, a superb organization that goes into schools around the Arab world to train young people in starting and running small businesses.
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The stand-out young entrepreneurs in Oman today are mostly female: 9 of the 11 finalists in this year’s Oman entrepreneurship contest were all-girl teams. The winning team bowled me over. The members started as high school juniors by forming a company to publish children’s picture books in Arabic. They raised capital, conducted market research, designed and wrote the books and oversaw marketing and distribution. “We’re now looking at publishing e-books,” explained Ameera Tariq, a high school senior and a member of the board of directors of the team’s book company. Maybe one of the customers for a future electronic picture book will be her grandmother, who was married at the age of 12 and has never learned to read.
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In short, one of the lessons of Oman is that one of the best and most cost-effective ways to tame extremism is to promote education for all. Many researchers have found links between rising education and reduced conflict.
One study published in 2006, for example, suggested that a doubling of primary school enrollment in a poor country was associated with halving the risk of civil war. Another found that raising the average educational attainment in a country by a single grade could significantly reduce the risk of conflict.
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Sorry if this emphasis on education sounds like a cliché. It’s widely acknowledged in theory, and President Obama pledged as a candidate that he would start a $2 billion global education fund. But nothing has come of it. Instead, he’s spending 50 times as much this year alone on American troops in Afghanistan — even though military solutions don’t have as good a record in trouble spots as education does.
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The pattern seems widespread: Everybody gives lip service to education, but nobody funds it.
For me, the lesson of Oman has to do with my next stops on this trip: Afghanistan and Pakistan. If we want to see them recast as peaceful societies, then let’s try investing less in bombs and more in schools.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Note

Rania from Sleepless in Salalah is Ok. Do not panic. She may not be back for a while, but nevertheless, she's ok :)

Interesting ... Omanis keep guessing over successor

By Peter Shaw-Smith
Published: October 5, 2010 04:36 - Financial Times
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Of all the Gulf states Oman is the most individualistic. Set outside the Straits of Hormuz, the country looks over the Indian Ocean to east Africa and beyond. Unlike its peers, the sultanate is not a member of the Opec oil cartel and has said explicitly that it will not join a single Gulf currency.
Nor does the sultanate have the same hydrocarbon reserves as its neighbours.
With a population of 3.1m, 1.5m of them expatriates, Oman’s reserves stand at only 5.5bn barrels, according to US Energy Information Administration. This is a fraction of the oil available to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Next month, the sultanate celebrates its 40th national day. The date marks the assumption of power of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who unseated his father in 1970.
With Qaboos now in his 70th year, thoughts are turning to who will eventually take his place. Here, too, the sultanate is following its own idiosyncratic path.
According to Article 5 of The White Book, Oman’s basic law, Qaboos’ successor must be a male descendant of Turki bin Said Sultan, sultan of Muscat and Oman from 1871-88. But it is unclear exactly who this will be.
In 1996, Qaboos, who has no children and is in good health, amended the constitution so that his Albusaidy family should choose a successor when he dies.
In the event of a family dispute, Qaboos has left a letter that names his preferred choice. One copy is lodged in Muscat, the capital, and a second rests in Salalah in Dhofar in the south.
“The succession is one of the great unknown questions of the day,” says a partner at an international law firm with offices in Muscat.
“There are stories that there is a name in the envelope. Whatever happens, there’s a vacuum – and questions about how smooth the transition will be.”
Qaboos, who in addition to being prime minister holds the portfolios of foreign affairs, defence and finance and is governor of the central bank, has deliberately obfuscated the succession issue and has little interest in showing his hand at this stage, court-watchers believe.
He is known to hate speculation about the succession on the grounds that he is in good health.
Michael Field, an author and Gulf specialist, says: “The trouble is that foreigners don’t know enough about the country, so they obsess about the succession. Locals are far less worried.”
Nonetheless, speculation focuses on the sons of Prince Tarik bin Taimur Al-Said, an uncle of Qaboos and a former prime minister who died in 1980.
JE Peterson, a US academic, identifies three of Tarik bin Taimur’s sons as the most likely candidates: Asa’ad, 56, Shihab, 55, and Haitham, 54. Asa’ad is the Sultan’s personal representative, while Shihab, a personal adviser, was head of the navy until 2004. Haitham is minister of heritage and culture.
Although no one in Muscat speaks about the family’s business affairs, Haitham bin Tarik’s involvement in the stalled Blue City project may be unfavourably perceived.
According to the project’s website, he owns 50 per cent of Cyclone LLC, the local partner in the botched $15bn real estate scheme.
Mr Peterson doubts this will ultimately mean very much. “I don’t think it does irreparable harm to his standing, which is based on his lineage and position more than commerce.
“His chances really depend, I think, on his relations with his brothers.”
There is, though, a fourth candidate. Fahd bin Mahmood, believed to be 66, is currently Oman’s deputy prime minister and is in effect number two in Oman’s existing power structure.
“Fahd bin Mahmood is very much a dark horse,” Mr Peterson says.
Joseph Kéchichian, fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, identifies the same four names as likely successors. “These four [cousins of Qaboos] are valid options [over] the next decade. With time, Fahd’s putative candidacy diminishes, as a consequence of age,” he says.
Then, Mr Kéchichian says, Qaboos may contemplate the next generation, led by Taimur bin Asa’ad bin Tarik, born in the 1980s, who married into a family from Dhofar, from where Qaboos’ mother came. (Note from Nadia: he married Salma, daughter of Sheikh Mustahil Al Mashani, the Sultan's Uncle on his mother's side - from Salalah)
The issue of Dhofar is sensitive, because it was the scene of a separatist uprising in the 1960s and 1970s and was also the target of a sustained campaign of communist agitprop and incursion from neighbouring Yemen.
For four years, Qaboos himself was kept under house arrest in Salalah by his own father.
Much of the disaffection of Dhofaris, which the communists were able to exploit, was attributed to severe neglect of the region by Qaboos’ father.
Since Qaboos took power the government has been acutely conscious of the need to provide education and healthcare for all.
“There were two kilometres of metalled roads when he (Qaboos) came to power,” says the manager of an Omani-European joint venture. “Omanis don’t benchmark themselves against other GCC states. They are independent-minded and very sovereign,” he says.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

His Majesty's Speech

Opening lines of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's speech in Salalah yesterday morning at the opening of the annual session of the Council of Oman.
"Dear Citizens ... our gathering in the city of Salalah today as we prepare to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Reniassance has undeniable symbolic significance because it was from Dhofar that Oman's modern Reniassance began and it was there that the first steps were taken towards the achievement of its hopes. And here we are today, in this splendid land, celebrating the 40th anniversary of its progress, during the course of which its achievements in many fields are plain for all to see and have changed the face of life in Oman, enabling it to assume a position of eminence at both regional and international levels" ~ October 4, 2010.
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The speech was nice, but predictable. No big news as many expected. Perhaps November 18?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Council of Oman Meeting 2010

Been too busy to write. More weddings. Monsoon is officially over but the mountains are still green. We had some rain this week, but only in the mountains. Salalah is crammed with police officers and army officers this week as His Majesty is conducting the 2010 Oman Council Meeting in Salalah this morning. Two hours from now.
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The Oman Council (Shura Council + State Council people) will discuss current issues in Oman. His Majesty will give his annual speech. Since it's his 40th year as Sultan, people are expecting a different speech this year. I took the day off work to watch Oman TV and hear what he'll say. Omanis are expecting big 'news' in this speech. However, I'm pretty sure if he had big news, he'd save it for 40th National Day on November 18th. We'll wait and see..
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Source: Oman - H.M the Sultan to Preside Tomorrow over the Annual Convening of the Council of Oman
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said will preside tomorrow (Monday) over the annual convening of the Council of Oman at Al Hisn Hall in Hay Al Shati in Salalah.During the convening of the Council of Oman, the Country's Monarch will deliver a Royal speech in which he will review the work and development progress in the Sultanate, it's features at present and it's wide horizons during the forthcoming period to achieve the objectives drawn by His Majesty for the Omani modern renaissance as a sustainable development solid tracks and steps, as well as, with growing achievements that accomplish welfare and enhance security and stability to this beloved country and it's faithful people.The annual convening of the Council of Oman will be attended by their highnesses, the chairmen of the State Council and Majlis A'Shura, ministers, advisers, commanders of the Sultan's Armed Forces and Royal Oman Police, honourable members of the State Council and members of the Majlis A'Shura, heads of diplomatic missions accredited to the Sultanate, Sheikhs, dignitaries editors-in-chief of Oman News Agency (ONA) and local newspapers, as well as, a number of editors-in-chief of newspapers and media representatives of the sisterly and friendly countries.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Only 256,984 this year!

Only 256,984 tourists visited Salalah this year during the monsoon season (June 21-September 17). Down from 283,754 last year. Probably due to Ramadhan.
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Times of Oman
19,833 tourists visit Salalah during Eid holidays
September 2010
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MUSCAT: Khareef Salalah survey results show that 19,833 tourists visited Salalah from September 10th to 17. According to the survey, 41.6 per cent Omanis visited Salalah during the Eid Al Fitr holidays. The Khareef Salalah survey was kicked off on June 21 by the Ministry of National Economy in cooperation with Ministry of Tourism and Royal Oman Police (ROP). The field work of Khareef Salalah survey project will be concluded today. The results also indicate that 1,762 Emiratis from UAE; 12,219 from Saudi Arabia and 7,164 Asian expatriates visited Salalah. From June 21 to September 17, 256,984 tourists visited Salalah. In 2009, 283,754 tourists visited Salalah. 2010 witnessed an 8.4 per cent dip in the number of tourists visiting Salalah.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Back to Life ... Back to Reality!

If you don't know the 1980's song, you should educate yourself. It's Back to Life, by Soul II Soul. Hilarious music video. Anyway, .... Eid is over, Ramadhan is over, summer holidays are over, monsoon is almost over (sigh), and we're back to reality! Time to wake up and realize that the world doesn't wait for Oman to wake up from its extended nap and catch up. There are things to be done, projects that need to be completed, exams to be passed, and money to be made!
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Despite the fact that I worked all summer, I still felt like I'd pushed the snooze button on my life. I feel like I havent't been productive since .... early June? The only big thing I've done is attend two weddings. Yes .. that's about it.
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When I came back to work, the first thing I heard as I walked into the building was smooch..smooch..smooch. Loud kissing sounds. It took me a few moments to realize it was just your standard back-to-work-after-Eid greeting among men. I realize this must be the case all over the Middle East, but in Salalah they don't actually plant lips on the cheek. They just smack their cheeks against each other and make loud kissing sounds with their mouths. It's disgusting. They make pretend kissing sounds six or seven times while continuing to smack the cheeks. It's just ... ugh. I find it odd that this is the norm in a male-dominated society where manliness, muscles and moustaches are man's greatest virtues. What do you think?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eid Holidays Announced

Thank you Muscat Mutterings for the wonderful news. I'm glad it wasn't announced at 2 p.m on Wednesday as expected.
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For the public sector (government/higher education/etc) the holiday will be one week: Saturday 11/09/2010 - Wednesday 15/09/2010.
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Private sector companies from Saturday 11/09 to Tuesday 14/09. (for private sector companies that don't operate on Thursday, I'm pretty sure they'll get the whole week off too)
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All is well in our world. Come spend your holiday in Salalah. Happy Eid!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

WARNING!

Places to Avoid in Salalah from now until Eid:
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1. Al Salam Street
2. 23rd of July Street
3. Lulu Centre
4. Centrepoint
5. Al Isteqrar Hyper Market
6. All Abaya Shops
7. All Perfume Shops
8. All Women's Necessity shops
9. The whole of Salalah.
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Never again.
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Never again.
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Eid on Friday September 10th or Saturday September 11th. The fact that our big Muslim holiday may just land on September 11th isn't going to help Muslims in the US. Send a prayer out to them!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Oman's Royal Opera House

It's finally happening. Check out this article in today's Oman Observer. Sigh.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oman's female entrepreneurs mean business?

I received this link in my inbox from Google alerts this morning. It's a CNN interview with a Dhofari female entrepreneur, the one and only Mariam Belhaf. As a woman, I know exactly who she is because I'm a fan of her frankincense and bukhoor mixes. She makes a mean oud mix. No idea how CNN got hold of her, though.
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Anyway, just thought I'd highlight one issue here for you. Despite the fact that women in 'Oman' seem to be free, independent, active, strong, leaders, ambassadors, ministers, etc .. keep in mind that most of this progress is IN THE MUSCAT AREA.
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Do not forget that a thousand kilometres South (and in other parts of the interior) women are still (many of them, not all) forced to wear the burqa (face veil), stay at home, hide from the world. Simply because they're women. Although the number of working/driving females is increasing everyday in Salalah, this change has only happened in the past couple of years or so. Society is still heavily male-dominated and yes there is discrimination! Many of us young women are fighting for our rights on a daily basis. AND IT'S NOT EASY. If you live in Muscat, then you have no idea what we go through in other parts of Oman. Re-read my longest post in the world about discrimination against women here if you've got all the time in the world :)
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That's all for now!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Comment Issues!

Dear Readers,
(1) I am annoyed: for the past month I thought all my readers were busy and not commenting on my posts! Turns out I had forty eight comments to moderate when I went to my bloggers' dashboard! Why did blogger stop sending my notifications by email when a new comment awaits moderation?! And I thought you were all ignoring me :) Thanks Mr. Sythe for asking me about a missing comment. And please accept my apologies for the delay. I guess I'm going to have to check my dashboard from now on. I was counting on email!
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(2) For those of you still interested in helping flood victims in Pakistan, donation headquarters in Salalah are at Muadh Bin Jabal Mosque مسجد معاذ بن جبل near the hospital/Khawla high school. They accept clothes, blankets, shoes, etc. Not sure about money, but you can ask (and if you find out, let me know). Please spread the word. They will continue accepting help for the next few weeks. Pakistan needs it and I know all of you have accumulated old clothes and things you don't need. It's the least you can do.
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(3) We had a few dry days last week where we were worried the monsoon had stopped. However, a few of days ago it started raining again ... heavily. It's been raining almost non-stop since Saturday and it's actually (believe it or not) rather chilly. I'm even wearing socks at night (without the air conditioning!).
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(4) My family 'attempted' an Iftar picnic yesterday in the mountains. Bad idea. Bad bad idea. The Evil Airnoots did their very best to ensure we had a splendid time (not). See my post on Evil Airnoots from last Khareef.
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That's all for now folks! What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Witches on Main Street

The number of veiled female beggar/wackos around Salalah has been on the rise recently. Many of them have GCC accents but claim to be Palestinian, etc. They accost you in supermarkets and start saying prayers very quickly and asking you for help. You're so annoyed by their fast praying that you immediately shove a couple of rials in their hand to get away from them. They then clutch your hand and thank you profusely. You notice their wrists are heavy with gold and they wear expensive perfume. Their faces are covered so you have no idea what they look like. They creep you out and you try to leave the store immediately.
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I've had to deal with them at least ten times in the past month. They usually hang out in expensive abaya or perfume stores. And they certainly lurk around bank machines.
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One of my colleagues claims they're witches and my other colleagues agree. I thought it was odd they should think that (they look like gold-wearing beggars to me!). Anyway, last week my cousin was getting into his car in front of the Isteqrar Hypermarket in Salalah. As he was loading groceries into his car, a woman approached him. She started praying and almost chanting under her breath. He couldn't exactly pinpoint the accent, but he figured a Saudi accent. He told her to shoo off and get away, but before he could do anything, she grabbed his hand and started rubbing her wrist into his palm. He started feeling dizzy and almost numb. He didn't know what was happening to him. He dropped a bag of groceries to the ground. She started telling him about himself. She knew his name, his family, problems in his current life, his wife, etc. She then told him she wants money. He said he didn't have any. She said he had 73 rials in his wallet (which he did) and if he didn't give it to her, she would put a curse on his wife. She continued praying and chanting until he pulled his wallet out and gave her the money. She she shoved a few strings tied to a shell, etc into his hand (curse bundle) and told him to go home and put it in the frankincense burner. She left. He got back into his car and sat there for half an hour trying to understand what had just happened. He felt tired, drugged, sleepy. He decided the best thing to do was to go to the nearest mosque and ask the Imam. The Imam told him she was playing around with black magic and that he needed to go home, wash and pray. He also said if my cousin's faith was strong there was nothing to be afraid of.
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I've heard several stories like this before, but none of these incidents had actually occured with someone I know until my cousin came home a nervous wreck. I myself am not a firm believer in magic or evil spirits, etc. As a Muslim I am required to believe in Jinn and other beings, etc, but I don't necessarily believe they can be used to assist witches and sorcerers in their black magic. However, having grown up in Dhofar (an area where people openly identify witches and where people dwell in the dark arts and claim to use Jinn as assistants) I'm exposed to this kind of stuff reguarly. Magic is against Islam yet many people continue to play around with it. I'm against all of it, but I can't deny the fact that it exists in Dhofar.
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As for the female witch beggars, they are not your typical Dhofari witch. They are not Omani but they've figured out a few magic tricks to help them get more money.
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So! Next time you're in town and an odd-looking woman approaching you and starts speaking fast, RUN IN THE OTHER DIRECTION! :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why I love Dhofar

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

I LOVE FEEDJIT!

I decided to upload the little sidebar to my blog where I can monitor incoming blog traffic. AMAZING. I'm not a technology person, so I'm terrified of uploading anything new to my blog because I'm afraid all my posts will disappear, but as a person who has always been fascinated with georgraphy, I'm thrilled. In the past 24 hours alone, I've had hits from New Zealand, Texas, California, Alaska, Minsk, Cape Town, Nepal, Russia, Germany, British Columbia, Quebec, Kentucky (!), Saudi Arabia, China, Malaysia, England, ... etc. WOW. WOW. WOW.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ramadhan 2010 - Part (1)

Hey everyone! As expected, there were no moon sightings yesterday. To those of you who are new to the Islamic world, this is how it works. If Ramadhan is expected on Wednesday or Thursday (depending on the moon and the Islamic calendar), Oman TV will set up studios around the country and all our bearded sheikhs in their white turbans will line up on the fancy gold and red sofas around sunset. Meanwhile, more bearded guys are out in the mountains with telescopes trying to spot the moon. Finally, an hour or so later, His Excellency the Minister of Religious Affairs announces that the moon has not been seen, and therefore, Ramadhan for Oman will not start the next say but the day after. Secretly, everyone knows we won't be fasting till Thursday because frankly speaking, I can't remember the last time we fasted 30 days. Oman's been doing the 29-day trend for years. We always end up fasting a day after Saudi, and we break the fast with Saudi. Is it deliberate? God only knows.
What does Ramadhan mean? Muslims go into a month of being spiritual and pious. We do not eat or drink or smoke, etc (see picture above) from sunrise to sunset. Everyone tries to read the entire Holy Quran (30 chapters) during Ramadhan and many people pray Taraweeh (long Ramadhan prayers) at the mosque in the evening after the fast has been broken. People give to the poor and try to do good. The purpose of Ramadhan is to continue with your normal routine and actually feel the hunger and count your blessings, thus become more spiritual. That's how Ramadhan is supposed to be. How we survive the month in Oman is another story!
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First of all, our eating habits are terrible. Instead of breaking the fast with something sensible like fruit or light food, Omanis dive into at least 10 dishes. (at once). Pretty much everything on the Ramadhan menu is deep-fried or greasy. The food deserves a post of its own. Stay tuned.
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Then, due to the terrible evening eating habits in Ramadhan, people spend all night up and sleep late with a full stomach, and end up waking up in the morning feeling awful and zombie-like. Sleep deprived, stomach issues, and unable to even drink water. They come to work like that. And cheerful people like me who combine food properly and get enough sleep have to deal with them. Not cool.
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Anyway, I do not 'expect' my colleagues to be super-productive during Ramadhan, but my intention is to keep them busy with things that don't require much brain-work like filing and organizing. However, for those of you who deal with the government sector during Ramadhan, my suggestion is to STAY AWAY and postpone all communication until after Eid. Same with any smoker you know. It's not worth it. To all non-Muslims reading this, be patient and just ... chill.
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On a more cheerful note, the monsoon rains continue in Dhofar and it's just simply breathtaking. Evidently, many of the tourists from the UAE and Saudim are staying for Ramadhan since it's much cooler and nicer than it is in other GCC countries. It makes total sense. They can sleep all day, wake up early afternoon, cook/buy their Iftar(breaking-fast-food) and drive their fancy land cruisers into the mountains for a sunset-picnic and a night of relaxation.
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As I mentioned last year, I AM BLESSED to be fasting in a Muslim country. Everything and everyone is on your side. Restaurants are closed, everyone is fasting, working hours are shorter, you pray with thousands of others and basically you're all in the same boat. When I was living abroad, it was h.e.l.l. Sunset was at 9 p.m. I fasted for 14-15 hours. No one understood. And very few people cared. Everywhere I went, there were distractions. As usual, I dedicate this post to all the Muslims living in non-Muslim countries who will be fasting this year. I am thinking of you and I wish you a blessed Ramadhan. It's not easy fasting. In the Muslim world, things slow down and you're given the chance to focus on religion and spirituality. In the non-Muslim world, not so much. Every Ramadhan, I prepare my list of resolutions and feel I have time to organize my life. No one is bugging me for appointments, meetings, social gatherings, etc. An entire month to myself. It's lovely.
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So, that's Part (1) for now. My colleagues are forcing me to pick up goodies for them. They've demanded chocoaltes, cake, baked goodies and sandwiches. Why do I humor them?
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Happy Ramadhan!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pakistan Flood Victims

NOTICE: evidently there is a drop-off point at the Port of Salalah where people can take clothes, blankets, etc for the flood victims of Pakistan. Time to unclutter your house and do some good. Remember over 4 Million people were affected by the floods and more than 1600 lives were lost. Say a prayer for Pakistan and spread the word.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Khareef-Snoozing

Do you have ANY IDEA how hard it is to blog when:
(1): It's 23 degrees (celcius) outside
(2): the rain and drizzle goes on for days on end
(3): the mountains are a dark emerald green
(4): the chilled coconuts by the side of the road are TO DIE FOR
(5): wild flowers are growing everywhere (including on the pavement)
(6): camels and cows are wet and happy
(7): EVERYONE is out on picnics
(8): the Salalah Tourism Festival 2010 provides daily entertainment
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How on earth do you expect me to write? I'm too relaxed. I'm a-chill-in! And no I haven't given up on the blog like so many others. I'll get back in gear once the weather gets boring again.
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Anyway, few updates here and there to keep you happy before I jump into the big puddle outside my office:
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(1) evidently the march on July 23rd to celebrate Oman's 40th Reniassance Day was successful and I've heard my collleagues say over 20,000 people showed up (I highly doubt that). It started at the Grand Mosque and ended at Al Husn Palace. His Majesty did not make an appearance so that was a little disappointing. I spent that afternoon up in the mountains with hot thyme tea and a couple of cousins.
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(2) His Majesty has been in Salalah for the past few weeks at his palace on the outskirts of town. There were major renovations going on in the past year or so and everytime I flew to Muscat I'd get a peak of the gardens. Very beautiful. I'm really glad he's spending time down here.
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(3) I've been to the Salalah Tourism Festival grounds twice already and it's not bad. My favorite Arabian style tent-restaurant is gone as well as Browniz Cafe on the hill (taken over by Omantel for unknown reasons) but it's still going strong. The photography exhibition was great and I LOVED THE ABAYA FASHION SHOW LAST NIGHT! The book fair isn't too wonderful but still semi-acceptable. I took my young nephews to the festival once and they had lots of fun.
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(4) the concerts weren't as impressive as previous years. I mean seriously, ONE big name only? (Nabil Sha'ail). Whatever happened to the good old days of constant concerts and huge names like Abu Bakr Salim and Asalah Nasri?
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(5) the weddings I attended deserve a post of their own.
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(6) check out the new UAE shit-of-a-decision here at Muscat Jet Driver. How the heck can they just suddenly decide to ban blackberry services???????
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(7) Ramadhan is next week. Oh. My. God. How are you preparing?
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(8) Have any of you been down here for a visit in the past few weeks? How was it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

23rd of July Celebration!

I can't believe it's been 40 years since His Majesty overthrew his father (in a bloodless coup) and turned Oman into a modern country. Look how far we've come! I will not join the thousands who will be marching down 23rd of July street today in celebration. I will sit in my favorite spot at the top of the mountains and say a prayer for His Majesty and this wonderful country. Happy Birthday Oman!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Queen

After THIRTY YEARS the Queen is finally coming to Oman to celebrate the 40th national day with us. What fun. I wonder whether she will be pulled through HOT Muscat in a carriage with His Majesty :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Funerals

I am back from the dead and I apologize for leaving my loyal (and not so loyal) readers hanging for the past ten days. I'm afraid it's been slightly crazy at my end of town, with wedding preparations for this coming Thursday (shivers) and sadly ... a funeral. One of my elder relatives passed away. She wasn't old and wasn't sick. I believe she may have been in her early fifties (but it's hard to tell in Oman really). She was sitting in the mountains drinking tea with her family and then she fainted and that was it! Declared dead upon arrival by the doctors on duty at Sultan Qaboos Hospital's emergency room.
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It was a great shock to the family and to everyone who knew her. Coming from a Muslim society that doesn't believe in autopsies, she was buried immediately after sunrise the next day and we will never know what killed her. I suppose in some ways it's good, but in others it means no closure, especially for her grieving children and husband.
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In Dhofar, people tend to deal with death differently than other societies. We do not encourage breaking down or crying or depression. It's an event thagt the entire community gets involved in and you can be sure that if you've lost someone you love, you will never be left alone to grieve. Within hours the entire tribe knows about the death and it 's common that the close men (for men) and women (for women) wash the body of the deceased and wrap it in white cloth. Often the body is buried before the next prayer. So, if a person died at 2 p.m, they'll try to bury him/her before sunset. This is why it is of extreme importance to spread the word when a person has died so as many people as possible attend the funeral. Thank God for cell phones!
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In my case, the woman passed away around 11 p.m so it was impossible to bury her by sunrise since nothing was open and it would be hard to find people, so they buried her at the noon prayers. Women don't go to the graveyard in Oman; not on the funeral day. Funerals last for three days in Salalah (some mountain tribes make it shorter) but the purpose of the three days is to read the entire Quran from cover to cover. On the final day, called the 'khatam' or the end, it marks the last chapter of the Quran and the end of the funeral. Life must go back to normal after that.
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I went to the funeral for the entire three days. I wore my brightest thobe buthail (as it's taboo to wear black to a funeral here) and joined the hundreds of other women in the house of the deceased. I sat with her daughters and comforted them. I helped serve tea and fruit to women. It was all very peaceful and quiet except for the bloody funeral wailing.
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I'm ashamed to say that some families here still practice funeral wailing when someone dies. A group of women (who hardly even know the deceased) will sit in the middle of the funeral gathering and wail like banshees for an hour or two then leave. It's an ancient pagan way of mourning and is anti-Islamic but these women aren't educated enough to know that. I personally found it very disturbing and so did the children of the woman who passed away, poor souls. Anyway, I don't have much time to write but I'm interested to know what funerals are like in your families (if you're from Salalah), your village/country/culture? How do you mourn the dead? What are your rituals? Do you feel it's taboo to discuss the dead person at their own funeral like they do here? TELL ME!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Khareef Update

Sleep-deprived Nadia on a Wednesday morning isn't something you want to see. I have no idea how I managed to keep track of all four soccer matches yesterday, but I did. And no Rania, I don't hang out at Shisha cafes to watch the games. I gather my female relatives in front of a 52 inch plazma TV in our outdoor majlis with tawa bread, red tea, and Chips Oman.
(1) Coming to think of it, my daring friends have suggested that a group of us girls walk up to a Shisha cafe on the Haffa Corniche and just pull up chairs and see what happens. Will the world fall apart? Will someone call my father immediately? Will the police come? What WOULD happen? Oh the unwritten rules in this town... I'm sure any Dhofari male reading this now is cringing and probably drafting an email to me advising me to take care of my reputation.
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(2) I'm pleased to announce that Khareef (monsoon season) OFFICIALLY started on June 21st. Yes, it was announced in the local newspapers as usual. However, it did start raining before the official start-date. I don't know whether those clouds were related to a possible storm or just the khareef. Anyway, it rained for a couple of hours this morning and I SWEAR everyone's in a good mood. I don't know what it is, but this season makes everyone happy. Us Dhofaris associate khareef with holidays, weddings, celebration, festival, rain, cool weather, picnics, tourists, etc.
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(3) Has anyone noticed the post-midnight military trucks (guarded by army & ROP vehicles) heading to the (US/British/Omani) army bases in Thumrait? Hmmmm....
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(4) If you remember my trip to Dubai a few weeks ago, my relative's wedding is in a couple of weeks, and everyone in my immediate family and extended tribe is in panic mode. Weddings are such a hassle in Dhofar.
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(5) On a lighter note, I drove to the grounds of the Dhofar Khareef/Tourist festival this week or work-purposes (don't try guessing). What I witnessed was beyond amusing. Omani officials from every possible government agency screaming and ready to kill one another. Why is it that Omanis leave everything to the last minute? The festival starts in two weeks and NOTHING is ready (I'm exaggerating). They're STILL building an entire theatre and setting up basic electricity, phone lines, etc. WHY?
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(6) In the meantime, Salalah World (Dhofar's first EVERY shopping mall) seems to get bigger everyday. Those poor laborers must be working all night as well. It's just HUGE. And it's two storeys high? Or getting higher? We're finally going to have Costa and Starbucks in Salalah. OH YES. Rumor has it that our very own mall will host designer brands not available in Muscat. I find that hard to believe, but you never know. It's owned by a Kuwaiti firm, so all is possible.
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(7) Beware! According to ROP chief Malik Suleiman Al Mamari (our friendly face on Oman TV during all national crises), the ROP will now launch the secret police campaign (not really secret, is it?), where plain-clothes policemen in regular cars will be wandering the streets of Oman looking for offenders. So, make sure to wear your seatbelt, keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, AND don't answer calls while driving! Oh, and renew your insurance. Evidently according to the Cheif Malik, there are over 175,000 cars in Oman with expired insurance/ownership cards. Not good.
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(8) Finally, to keep you all entertained my fellow blogger Sleepless in Salalah and another couple of people I know have noticed a new trend at Dhofari weddings. Evidently the men's huge outdoor tents now sport laser light and a disco ball in the tent. Yes, you heard me, a DISCO BALL. What has the world come to?
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Cheers...... Nadia

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Waka Waka


BUSY WITH THE WORLD CUP. More coming. Be patient. Watch the world cup songs here and here. Shakira's is awful.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oman Hereditary Blood Disorder Association

Dear Readers,
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Many of you are aware that a LARGE number of Omanis suffer from hereditary blood disorders; namely G6PD (25% of males - 10% of females) , خلايا الدم المنجلية Sickle Cell Disease (6% of Omanis - mostly in Al Sharqiya region), and Thalasimia (2% of Omanis - mostly in Al Batinah and Muscat).
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Sadly, awareness levels are low and the Omani health system (and society) does not encourage pre-marital testing. Given that these diseases are so widely spread in Oman, IT IS OF EXTREME importance that couples have blood tests done before they even consider getting married. It is also important to learn more about these diseases and how to deal with them.
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Recently, the Omani Hereditary Blood Disorder Association was launched with the aim of spreading awareness on how to deal with these disorders and how to avoid spreading these hereditary diseases. The association also hopes to provide counselling for families with infants who were screened positive by the state labratory.
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To association will be observing the world's first Annual Sickle Cell Day on June 19 and 20 at Muscat City Centre. If you check our their website, you can find their bank account if you'd like to donate. Otherwise, if you live in the Muscat area and if you want to help or know someone with a blood disorder, GO AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Every small step counts. They need your support.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Blogger Enters the Scene

Hey everyone! Another expat married to an Omani on the block! I'd like to welcome new blogger, Sultanate Social, to the Omani blogging scene! I should have welcomed her earlier when I first read her blog, but with the storm chaos and all ........ :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tropical Storm Update (7) - The Aftermath


More poorly constructed Omani roads ...







And of course, McDonalds as usual :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tropical Storm Update (6)

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the 16 victims of Cyclone Phet. The newspaper reports this morning are sad. Evidently the ROP (see above image if you can read Arabic - was published in today's newspapers) will be questioning people who put themselves and others in danger by going into wadis or even going to 'stare' (the ultimate Omani hobby). According to my fellow blogger Reality, an ROP officer drowned trying to save a kid who was 'swimming' in a wadi. I SALUTE THE ROP FOR DOING THIS.
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And finally a kind reminder to the childish readers who go out of their way to type up long sarcastic responses to my posts .... I apply comment moderation and will not publish them. So, don't bother yourselves.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Tropical Storm Update (5)


The storm has passed. Half of Oman is under water, but all is well in our world. Salalah also witnessed some rain this morning, so it's safe to say that Cyclone Phet affected the whole of Oman. The television footage of all the running wadis is horrifying. I've been tuned in to Oman TV all day. What a mess. The hard part is trying to get things back to normal. What are we going to do with all this water?!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tropical Storm Update (4)

Storm is still passing through Oman. Heavy rains in Sharqia region and light-ish rains in Muscat. Expect heavy wind and rain in Muscat this evening as the eye of the storm passes through. The wadi-scenes from Mahoot and Sharqia are horrifying. So much water.
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Two dead so far. Allah Yer7amhuh. STAY AWAY FROM WADIS!
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Exams for schools and many colleges are being postponed until June 12. Yay for grade 12 students.
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Stay tuned to Oman TV to get your dose of live footage from all the affected areas. The Phet studio went on air at 11 p.m last night and will be the only program on air until the storm passes.
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The danger has NOT passed yet. DO NOT go out exploring. The wadis are extremely dangerous and some of the dams are overflowing, including Sur Dam which was full by 11 p.m last night even before the storm hit!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tropical Storm Update (3) - Public Holiday

Raining in Masira. Heavy wind. Saturday has been declared a public holiday by His Majesty.
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Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tropical Storm Update (2)

Oh dear ... the storm has completely changed course and is heading towards Oman. It will hit Masira tomorrow evening and then move up through Oman and will affect Muscat. Stormy weather expected until Sunday. People, this is MUCH stronger than Gonu. It's going up to grade 5 - super cyclonic storm tomorrow (purple! - the worst) when it hits land. Gonu was only barely orange when it hit Oman. This one has moved from yellow to orange to red, and tomorrow at purple (windspeed of 250 km/hr).Masira and Ras Al Hadd are being evacuated at this very moment and people are going crazy buying supplies in Musat and Sur. WHY AREN'T THERE SERIOUS WARNINGS ON TV?

Tropical Storm Update

Wednesday at 6:25 p.m - predictions are worsening. It's getting stronger and not expecting to turn as quickly. Masirah Island is being evacuated now. Thanks Muscat Confidential!
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The cyclone, name Phet, has its own Facebook page believe it or not. Stay tuned and keep Oman in your thoughts and prayers!

Tropical Storm Risk

Not the kind of news you want to hear on a weekend; especially since next week will mark three years since Gonu hit Oman. It looks like we're barely out of the danger zone. The storm is moving from Category 3 to Category 4 (intense hurricane) within the next 24 hours with windspeed of 250 km/hr. Let's pray it changes direction today.

Extra Note on Slavery

Back to everyone's comments on slavery, I'm no expert but as far as I know, the Zanzibari population in Oman at the moment is in no way related to the slaves we had in Dhofar pre-1970. I think the slaves were brought from poorer countries in Africa. Zanzibaris are another story. They helped build this country in the early days! Yes, they're African but they were not brought here as slaves and they have different features; paler skin, different bones. So, do keep in mind that we have two sets of Africans in Oman; the Zanzibaris (in the North) and the former African slaves (mostly in Sur and Salalah). Our African-Omanis are as black as the night and very African looking. Zanzibaris are more Arab-looking.