Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Morris Dance in Salalah (2)

Keep in mind that this is 'modern' Morris dance .... apparently it includes rappers and lots of young people (?!!!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Morris Dance in Salalah

The Ministry of Tourism is back with its winter performances in Salalah! I saw a brochure this morning. The first one is on Wednesday (the day after tomorrow):
Performance: Morris Dance
Country: England
Date: Wednesday February 29th, 2012.
Location: Salalah - Al Murooj Theatre in Ittin
Time: 8 p.m
Morris dance is spectacular to watch. I've never seen it live before so I'll try to make it (if I can escape yet another wedding). You can read more about this ancient dance here.
PS (if you're from the Ministry of Tourism and you're reading this, please bring Irish clogging next time ..... sincerely, Nadia)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

First Anniversary: Dhofar Protests

I can't believe a whole year has gone by since the Arab Spring reached Salalah. So much has happened. So much changed. I have changed. On February 25th, 2011 a group of men went out onto the streets demanding change. They set up a few tents in the Governor of Dhofar's parking lot and stayed there until May 12th when the army arrested them. Between February 25th and May 12th, people demanded jobs, better benefits for orphans and widows, consumer protection, a new university, an end to government corruption, the ousting of several ministers. And guess what? They got what they asked for. During those few months my sleep was interrupted every few nights by messages from the palace announcing yet another Royal Decree from His Majesty changing this, changing that, firing this person, appointing that person, .... it was truly amazing to be part of that and no matter what anyone says, the protests were good for all of us. God bless Oman.

PS (I heard a few young men were planning to go out into the streets today to stage an 'Anniversary Protests'. Nothing happened. Not that I'm aware of anyway. There were plenty of police checkpoints though....)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Major Power Outage in Dhofar

Yup. That's how we started our weekend. Around 5 p.m yesterday we suffered a complete blackout in Dhofar that lasted until after 10 p.m. More than five hours. No explanation. I received a badly spelled apology from Dhofar Power Company after the power came back on. We've also been suffering from bad dust storms and heavy wind in the past three days, so spending the evening outside also wasn't really an option. Furthermore, imagine traffic lights on the blink, no street lights at all, and gleeful young men doing insane wheelies on the highway knowing they'll get away with it in the darkness. I was short on candles and my cell phone died, so I spent much of hte blackout on my back in the middle of the living room floor meditating and scolding myself (and humanity) for being so helpless without electricity. Did you guys up north hear about this?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Camel Beauty Pageant

(no, this photo was not published in the newspaper)
The Oman Observer never fails to entertain.

Sun, 19 February 2012 - Oman Observer
The 9th Annual Camel Festival organised by Royal Camel Corps of the Royal Court Affairs’ kicked off yesterday in the Wilayat of Thamrait in Dhofar Governorate. The festival’s activities include milking competition, camel races and camel beauty pageant. The festival is the biggest gathering for owners of thoroughbred camels and camel enthusiasts in the Dhofar Governorate, and is considered as one of the most important events to showcase and preserve part of the Sultanate’s heritage. — ONA

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Omani Blogger Released

Muawiya Al Rawahi has been released. I'm not entirely sure what actually happened, but I know he's out after publishing a very odd (and slightly apologetic) letter from prison through a friend. Put down your weapons, international advocacy groups! (for background information on his arrest, read my post here)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

More Photos: Festival of the Negroes

Thank you Mahfaif, over at Tahyati Blog for these photos. And our dear friend The Dragon is back with a post on detained blogger Muawiyah Al Rawahi. Check it out here. (PS - I'm mourning Whitney)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

PHOTOS: Festival of the Negroes

Thanks to a reader (who wishes to remain anonymous), here are some photos from the festival yesterday. I received mixed reviews from my readers (read the comments on the previous post). I still find the whole festival bizarre.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Festival of Negroes this Friday!

Yes, there's actually a festival in Salalah called 'Festival of the Negroes' or مهرجان الزنوج. And it's happening this Friday. I hate the name and feel it's derogatory. Sometimes it happens once a year, other times twice a year. Sometimes years will go by without a festival. In all cases, it only takes place following a royal order from the palace. The festival basically is a gathering of hundreds of former slaves and their descendants in the centre of Salalah to perform traditional dances (influenced by their African heritage). I find the whole thing disturbing because it has 'slavery' written all over it. The dances are beautiful. It's absolutely fascinating to watch. That entire area will be extremely crowded, so if you want to watch, get there early.
. Location: The huge empty parking lot (at the intersection that joins Al Nahdha Street and Al Montazah Road). Keep driving past the Family Bookshop on Al Nahdha in the direction of the ocean, and the huge parking lot is on your left (opposite the Shell petrol station).
. Time: It starts after the afternoon prayers (4 p.m).
. Photography: allowed of course. Oman TV will be filming. If you're taking photos and want to send some to me with your name on the corner of the photos, I'll publish them on the blog. I'd love to see the dances, but it's definitely taboo for a Dhofari girl to go.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Blogger Arrested

Apparently controversial Omani blogger Muawiyah Al Rawahi was arrested two nights ago for criticizing 'authorities' (read between the lines) on his blog. The blog post no longer exists and according to a tweet last night from another controversial blogger, Ammar Al Mamari, he's still in prison. According to Global Voices Advocacy, he wrote about a number of things including being abused as a young teenager and other stuff I can't post here. You can read for yourself here. Over the years he's criticized Islam, the government, the Mufti, the 'high' authorities, and seemed to have gotten away with just about everything. Why now?

As for Ammar, his blog was also blocked in Oman since March 2011 after he posted death certificates of protesters from the protests in Sohar and other evidence that real bullets were used when authorities claimed rubber bullets were only used. What's surprising is that Ammar's blog seems to be open now. As for Muawiyah, he's rather eccentric. I've been following his blog since 2009.

I think this is going to get ugly. You can't silence people. I can't say anymore. Keep in mind that I did not read his post and am not aware of the details.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Treasure Hunt Oman?

Morning folks! How are you spending the last day of the holidays? I came across this website online and thought you might be interested in reading about the Treasure Hunt Oman - International Media Challenge. Their challenge starts today and ends on February 12th. They're spending the last day in Salalah (Nadia approves).