Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What the hell happened to freedom of expression?

WTF, Ministry of Justice? What the hell. Shutting down an entire newspaper and sending an editor and journalist to jail for 5 months doesn't speak well for Oman's justice system or its reputation as a 'peace-making' nation. I can't say more than that. If they can shut down a newspaper for a pathetic little article, goodness knows what would happen to a humble little blog. It's as if our protests earlier this year never happened! Back to the same old crap.

Taken from Muscat Daily (yesterday's issue):

Nearly 30 human rights activists held a demonstration before the Ministry of
Justice in Al Khuwayr on Sunday in protest against the court verdict in the
Azzaman newspaper case. The court had ordered closure of the newspaper and
sentenced its Editor in Chief and reporter to jail for five months for insulting
the Minister of Justice and his undersecretary.
“This is a complete violation of human rights. We are seeking freedom of expression and are protesting against misuse of power. We are also holding this demonstration to express our solidarity with the employee of the Ministry of Justice, Haroon Humaid al Muqaibli, who was also sentenced to five months in jail by the court,” said Habiba al Hinai, an activist.
“We want the government to understand our feelings as citizens. That is why we held this demonstration in front of the Ministry in Al Khuwayr,” added Said Sultan, another activist. “The media in Oman has been a silent spectator for years. Now, they have started reporting the actual events happening in the country. Jailing an editor and a reporter will send the wrong signal to the media community. ”
The appeal by the defendants will be heard in the Court of Appeal on October 15. Oman News Agency reported that an official source at the Public Prosecution said that the primary court judgment is not final and that the Court of Appeal has the authority to affirm or reverse the judgment in favour of the defendants. He added that the trial procedures have been according to the laws and legislations of Oman and in a way that secures the rights of all litigants.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shura Council Candidates - Salalah 2011

Hey everyone... here are the entertaining characters who want to represent Salalah in Majlis Al Shura (the closest we'll ever get to having a parliament). You can look at the Ministry of Interior link here for candidates from the rest of Oman. Only 2 of these ambitious 32 people will be elected. As far as I know, elections are on October 15th.

1. Ahmed Aufit Abdullah Al Shanfari

2. Ahmed Mohammed Moqbil Al Aamri

3. Amna Khadim Said Al Awadi (female!)

4. Amira Mohammed Al Hakim Al Shanfari (also female - danger alert!)

5. Hamid Ahmed Ali Al Haddad

6. Hussein Abdullah Ahmed Al Haddad

7. Hafidh Abdullah Ahmed BaOmar

8. Khalid Al Safi Khamis Al Haribi (I voted for his brother last time)

9. Khalid Mohammed Awadh Al Shanfari

10. Ramis Mohammed Al Mashali Al Kathiri

11. Zakaria Al Ghassani (NOOOOOOOOO.... he's on every billboard)

12. Salim Said Ahmed Bahaid

13. Salim Suhail Al Sum Bait Said

14. Salim Ali Ahmed Al Kathiri

15. Salim Ali Salim Al Turk Al Kathiri

16. Salim Mohammed Musallam Al Kathiri

17. Suad Fail Mubarak Bait Mighrab (Female!)

18. Said Ahmed Saad Al Shahri

19. Said Saad Faraj Al Shahri (a former Shura member and is running again)

20. Said Awadh Ashoor Al Shajibi

21. Said Mohammed Said Al Shahri

22. Suhail Ajham Ali Bait Said

23. Abdullah Salim Said Al Shanfari

24. Ali Mohammed Al Mardoof Al Kathiri

25. Mohammed Ahmed Faraj Al Ghassani

26. Mohammed Ali Ahmed Al Rawas

27. Mohammed Ali Said Bait Ali Sulaiman (our friend in the photo :)

28. Mohammed Mubarak Gahnoon Al Hadhry

29. Maryam Ahmed Ati Balhaf (female!)

30. Nasser Said Mohammed Safrar

31. Nasser Ali Musallam Bait Said

32. Naif Omar Awadh Al Rawas

Worth noting that you can't click on the resume for any of them through the website. There's a link but it doesn't work. So much for getting to know your candidates! If you know anything about any of these people, post a comment with the candidate number. May the best man/woman win!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Please Explain

Forgive the crappy photography, but seriously guys .... I've been highly amused with all the billboards popping up around Salalah this week for the Majlis Al Shura elections coming up in October. The same crap. The same lines ("everyone has a right to vote!" , "women are half of society!", "youth are the heart of society!") ... come up with something original, will ya? As for dude in the photo up there, I have no idea who he is but I just had to point out that he's smiling in one photo and looking bored in the other. Hilarious. Good luck whoever your are!

PS (my friend's theory is that he wants us to know he's good looking regardless of whether he's smiling or not)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

History of Mirbat

I was pleasantly surprised to see an article this morning in Muscat Daily on a forum that will be held on September 26th and 27th in Dhofar titled "Mirbat Throughout History". According to the article (which included several spelling mistakes....)"the programme compliments the national project to identify Omani cities and wilayats and explore their history and their scientific, intellectual and civilisational achievements. During the seminar, working papers on intellectual and scientific life, historic statues, geography, archeological landmarks, heritage and renaissance era will be presented".
Some of the speakers include Dr Abdullah bin Ali al Amri, Dr Ahmed bin Abdulrahman Balkhier, Dr Mohammed bin Said Draiby al Amri, Omar bin Abdullah Mahroos al Saiari and researchers Mohammed bin Mustahail al Shahri and Said bin Khalid al Amri.

Back in the days, Mirbat was commercial marina, and quite famous for Arabian horses. If you drive into Mirbat (an hour's drive east of Salalah), you'll notice two statues of Arabian horses by the side of the road. On the way to Mirbat, just before Mamoura Roundabout (the huge one with fountains and plastic animals), you'll notice the Royal Cavalry to your right. Usually there are about 20-30 beautiful Arabian horses chilling in the sun.

Anyway, Mirbat is a magical place, rich with culture, camping spots, beautiful beaches, white sand dunes, witches, hyenas, music, Jinn, abandoned old houses, and all that good stuff.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 .... Ten Years Later.

It's 8 a.m. Dhofari Gucci is sipping her morning cup of coffee and looking out at the end of the monsoon drizzle in Salalah. I live thousands of miles away from the United States, and it should be a normal morning for someone like me, but it's not. Ten years ago, a series of coordinated suicide attacks killed 2977 human beings and led to the collapse of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Will the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed 230,000 people remain stuck in my memory forever? What about the Japan earthquakes that killed 16,000 people and wiped out entire villages and towns? Yes and no. I believe it's easier to 'accept' natural disasters and mourn the death of victims because natural disasters are exactly that. There is more closure because it ws an act of God. As for incidents like the Holocaust or 9/11 or the 2011 Norway murderer that killed mostly teenagers, I find them hard to even begin to accept or forget because they were acts of hate. Humans killing humans is something I will never understand.

9/11 was definitely a tragedy and the whole world watched it happen live on TV. I was sitting in the living room with my family watching in horror as the second plane appeared and the twin towers collapsed. It is something I will never ever forget. The aftermath ... the shock, the sadness, the anger, the 'very few' sick terrorists who chose to celebrate (and who do not represent the rest of us peaceful Muslims),.... it went on for months. However, it happened ten years ago, and it's over.
Do we know all the facts about what really happened? I don't know. Did 9/11 deserve all the media coverage it got? No, I don't think so. Why did the famine in Somalia that has killed TENS OF THOUSANDS of people this year disappear from headlines, hmm? Or add up the number of peaceful Israelis and Palestinians who've lost their lives over the years... or the number of innocent civilians murdered in Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, etc..... and just compare.

Like many people out there, I do not agree with the US policies and I have no respect for government decisions, especially those that involve 'going to war' with this nation or that nation to 'fight' terrorism (WTF), but I spent a good chunk of my life in the US and I'm asking you not to generalize. Most Americans are wonderful, sweet and friendly people who probably hate their government more than we do. The 10th anniversary of 9/11 is going to bring back a lot of bad feelings and may even open up a can of unwanted worms.

As a Muslim, 9/11 has affected me of course, and has mostly affected Muslims in the US. When I was abroad, I got the usual hate comments when walking down the street, ... in airports I was treated like an invalid, with securty guards even taking the small pin that keeps my hijab in place (yeah, like I could totally do damage with a scarf pin, right?). Instead of getting pissed off and creating a fuss, I've learned to wear scarves that stay in place without a pin when I travel. I don't know where I'm going with this post. My brain is a mess, but one thought is crystal clear: if we all followed the golden rule and treated others as we ourselves want to be treated, the world would be a better place.

“If each man or woman could understand that every other human life is as full of sorrows, or joys, or base temptations, of heartaches and of remorse as his own . . . how much kinder, how much gentler he would be.” .... Amen.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

39% Increase in Salalah Visitors during Monsoon 2011

From Muscat Daily:

After a decline in Ramadan, the number of visitors to Salalah surged during the Eid holidays, taking the total figure beyond the 300,000 mark. Recording a total of 328,687 tourists till September 5, the city saw such a rush after a gap of two years. In 2009 and 2010, the visitor numbers dwindled to 293,043 and 262,203 respectively. However, this year, volumes were robust since the beginning of the Salalah Tourism Festival on June 21.
According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of National Economy (MoNE) in co-operation with the Ministry of Transport and Communications and ROP, there as an increase of 38.6 per cent in the number of tourists visiting the Dhofar region till September 5, compared to the same period last year. In 2010, only 237,131 tourist arrivals were recorded.
Although the number of visitors declined sharply with the start of Ramadan, with only 8,534 tourists between August 1 and 17, the numbers rose significantly during the extended Eid holidays. For the next 20 days, from August 18 to September 5, the numbers soared to 44,232. The largest number of tourists - 10,627 – was recorded arriving on August 31, and 8,204 on September 1. However, the highest number for the entire season was recorded on July 21, with 19,906 visitors.
With a total of 221,800 visitors, Omanis formed the majority of those travelling to Salalah, followed by GCC residents (75,023). The rest constituted Arabs (4,085), Asians (25,679), Europeans (1,393), Americans (399), Africans (133), Oceanians (174) and one of unknown nationality. The survey also found that the majority of people (299,781) travelled to the Dhofar region by road while 28,906 chose to travel by air. An official from the MoNE's survey department said that a good turnout had been expected this year. “The rains came in at the right time, and then there was the Ramadan factor, which was a positive.” Also, with many other destinations in the region witnessing political turmoil, Salalah proved to be an ideal place for many to spend their summer vacations at,” he said.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Little Somethin on the Side

Forgive me. This is in no way related to Salalah or life in Dhofar. I came across this video just now. Apparently it was only uploaded a few hours ago and I'm viewer number 28. It will become an Omani YouTube sensation I'm sure. In the meantime, this had me on the floor laughing. If you're not familiar with Rebecca Black's song "Friday" (voted the worst video/song of all time - but surprisingly enough it became a HUGE YouTube sensation). Watch it BEFORE you watch the Omani parody of the song. Original song is here. Omani HILARIOUS parody here. Azzan & Moe, you guys rock! Dhofari Gucci is now officially a fan. I tip my Qamboo3a to you in appreciation :)

Post-Eid jetlag

Dear Readers,

Eid was a wonderful break from life, internet, work, and all the other petty things that occupy my time :)

. (1) Salalah is beautiful today. Come and visit us. It was raining this morning and we had a couple of thunder and lightening episodes (unusual) during Eid. During Eid Salalah witnessed a stampede (my way of discribing it) of UAE and Saudi tourists. They're still here and will probably stay until Friday. Traffic is crazy, but they're boosting our economy so I won't complain. (not today anyhow).

. (2) Interesting post from our sleepy dragon Muscat Confidential. Curious comment regarding the hijab though in His Majesty's interview. You should check it out.

. (3) An exhibition (our version of an international market sale) is taking place at Samahram Tourist Village (before Hilton) from September 5th until the 31st. If you're looking for cheap Chinese products, cotton candy, Yemeni spices and jewellry, Pakistani wood, rolls of cloth, underwear adorned with pink and blue and green feathers (I kid you not), or fancy vegetable cutting tools, that is the place to go. It's always fun to just roam the stalls and you're bound to find something you like

(4) Schools started today in most parts of Oman. Traffic was crazy this morning but it was fun seeing all the kids in their crisp new uniforms and brand new backpacks.
(5) Now that Ramadhan is over, wedding season is back. Three people I knew got married last Thursday and a dozen more are getting married this week on Thursday as well.
How was your Eid?