Thursday, April 19, 2012

Storms & Wadis

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

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

ROP updates:

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

2. Running wadis are DANGEROUS.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 18, 2012


1. Weather is crappy in Salalah (hot hot hot humid humid humid). You'd figure we'd get some rain along with everyone else?
2. Colleagues are shallow, irresponsible, naive humans. My colleague has been watching a Bollywood movie on their computer at work since 9 a.m today (4-hour movie). Why do I work my head off when I could easily be earning my full salary watching movies at work & doing the daily gossip rounds from office to office all morning? (Mr. Sythe knows what I'm talking about)
3. As far as I know, the honor killing case sentencing  (see post below) was postponed from April 17th to June. They think more time will help the 'powerful tribe' convince the family of the victim to accept the settlement. They've gone from male negotiations to female negotiations to try and convince the wife of the deceased.
4. BREAKING NEWS! Salalah airport to introduce paid parking by the end of this month. Finally.
5. Have a great weeknd

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dhofar & Honor Killings

Oh yes. Honor killings / tribal killings still happen in Oman and Dhofar in particular if I'm not mistaken. Tribal honor is a big deal down south. I remember hearing about tribal killings when I was younger. A guy from Tribe X would do something to a guy in Tribe Y (could include stealing animals, sleeping with his sister, etc) and so the guy from Tribe Y would go home and get his weapon and kill the guy from tribe X. (I'd say almost every household owns a weapon - things got a little crazy after the Dhofar Rebellion)  

Naturally, dude would go to prison. Then the tribes get together and negotiate for weeks or months to determine an appropriate settlement. The settlement could be anything from cash (we're talking 50,000 - 500,000 OMR) to camels and land. Once the settlement is agreed upon, the family of the deceased drops the charges and the murderer is released from prison.

Here's the part that drives me nuts: in most cases the entire tribe of the accused chips in FOREVER to pay the settlement. Each family is instructed to pay a certain amount every year to support the killer. It's called 'Tribal Support'. My family has been paying for the past ten years or more to support a similar case.  

Obviously killing a human on purpose is cold-blooded murder whether the word 'honor' is linked to it or not. Oman maintains the death penalty for murder and drug trafficking.

The reason I'm discussing this today is because nearly a year ago a man from a very very powerful tribe murdered another man in the middle of Salalah. Everyone believes it was an honor killing. I hate using these terms, but the victim was a black man. Naturally, the powerful tribe were sure that they'd be able to negotiate a settlement with the victim's family.

Salalah has been buzzing with this case for the past year. Most people were sure the victim's family would give in and accept a settlement. To everyone's shock the family refused. They will not take the millions (yes, millions) of rials worth of settlement money/bribe. They want justice.

 Tuesday April 17th (that's 48 hours from now) is the final sentencing. I think they're going to go ahead with the execution. The family has refused to budge. Approval for death penalty comes from His Majesty + The Grand Mufti. If you've been following the news, His Majesty left the country yesterday and will be touring Europe. Obviously a decision has been made.

Your daily dose of Dhofar. Are you familiar with any recent honor killings in Oman? If yes, what's your opinion?

Friday, April 13, 2012


And tsunami warnings were called off  around 6:30 p.m on Wednesday. Al Hamdulillah. That part of the world didn't need another tragedy. Not after the 2004 tsunami and the Japan earthquakes.

On a brighter note, Salalah Tourism Festival has been brought forward this year. It'll start on June 21st (the official start date of the monsoon season) and will end on July 19th as far as I know. Ramadhan - the holy month of fasting - is expected on July 20th. Rain and cooler temperatures will definitely make it easier to fast from sunrise to sunset.

Back to my Friday cooking ...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dhofar Tsunami Warning

As most of you know, 28 countries are expected to be affected by the earthquake/tsunami that hit Sumatra early this morning. An 8.7 magnitude earthquake struck about 200 miles off the coast of Sumatra. Another one just happened now with a magnitude of 8.2 according to Oman News Agency (ONA).

The coast of Dhofar & Al Wusta will probably be affected tonight starting at 7 p.m. ONA has advised all citizens to be prepared and to stay away from the ocean from 7 p.m tonight and until tomorrow morning. 

This probably means that tide will go out a few hundred meters. That's what happened in the 2004 tsunami. 

Please pray for those affected. Let this not turn into another catastrophe.  

Fire in Salalah

A massive fire broke out in Salalah yesterday afternoon in the industrial area of town near the festival. According to my sources, it took over 3 hours to put out and one person may have died. I don't see anything in the newspaper yet. This photo is the only one I have at the moment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Iraq National Dance Troupe

Just a quickie! Iraq's National Dance Troupe will be performing in Salalah at Al Murooj Theatre in Ittin tomorrow night at 8:30. Entrance is free. It should be fun. Bring on the Dabka!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


The first two quarters of the year are always hectic for me. I know I should be blogging more, but I truly feel drained by the time the week is over and I've been trying to avoid using the computer on weekends because life is just too short. However, this morning I'm going to dust off my pink grill shades and write a post. I envy people who can write everyday. Sometimes words flow easily with me. Other times, I feel blank. I'm such an intense person, I feel I need to 'plan' my posts. Then I get stressed in the planning process and end up not writing at all. You'd be surprised to see the number of draft posts in my inbox. Can I just point out that I've really been enjoying daily posts from A Nomad in the Land of Nizwa lately? Thank you Catbird. You inspire me to write. I especially enjoyed your bucket list post.

I've been thinking a lot lately about friendship. Society here in Dhofar is still very conservative. Men & women still don't mix. Friendship itself with people from 'outside the tribe' is also a relatively new concept, even if it's men with men and women with women. I'm not talking about the guys you hang out with at the hookah (shisha) cafes or the girls you glue yourself to in college. I'm not talking about your sisters. Or your mothers. I'm talking about true friendship. Friends you can call at any time of the day or night when you're upset. Friends you can confide in. Friends you know will stand by you through thick or thin. Friends you can discuss your deepest fears with. Friends who can see your true colors. Friends who won't judge you. Friends who will be honest with you.

Sadly, many of us have never been able to experience that kind of friendship. Last week a colleague of mine came to my office here in Salalah at the end of the workday for something and he was clearly upset about something. I don't know him too well, so I helped him with whatever he was doing but towards the end of his visit, I told myself "to hell with customs & traditions" and decided to ask him if he was ok. He said 'fine, fine' without looking me in the eye. I've studied NLP, so I used my magic techniques to get him to talk. I told him he looked upset and even though we don't know each other too well, we're all humans and as a fellow human, it upset me to see him like that. You have to understand that in Dhofar, it's highly inappropriate for a female to ask a male those kinds of questions. Naturally, I don't give a damn how inappropriate it is.

After about 5 seconds, he made eye contact. Tears had gathered in the corners of his eyes and he started to tell me about the problem. It was a very personal family problem that was weighing heavily on his heart, but he wasn't able to tell anyone about it because people 'talk'. He said he realized he had no friends to confide in and no one he could talk to normally. He told me that men in Dhofar don't discuss personal problems with each other no matter how close they are. It's considered 'un-manly'. He called it 'The layers and layers of prestige & protocol'. After about 20 minutes, he'd let it all out and he leaned back in my guest chair and closed his eyes, then he thanked me for just listening and not judging him. I felt like crying myself but managed to remain calm and collected. I was humbled. How horrible it must be to not have someone to talk to. Bottling it all up inside must feel like crap.

Interestingly enough, we spent the next half hour or so discussing whether true friendship can exist between men & women in Dhofar. I think it can. He thinks it can't. I told him I didn't think God had created a world of men & women only to have them live in two parallel universes, as is the case in Dhofar. Humans need humans. Relegating men to the role of husband only would leave me mighty lonely. After having several very good platonic relationships, I feel qualified to say men and women can be friends. Very good friends. The problem is that there aren't many role models for these kinds of relationships (ESPECIALLY IN OMAN), so at times it's hard to navigate. Trust me, though, it's possible.

In Salalah, it's hard to maintain friendship with members of the opposite sex because of how society views relationships between men & women. The general feeling in this region is that any form of relationship between men & women outside of marriage = bad. This will change over time. 

This post may not make sense to many of you out there, but I'm sure at least a few of you will understand what I'm talking about. So, tell me, do you have a good friend of the opposite sex? If no, then why? If yes, how do you maintain the friendship and do you feel any kind of pressure?