Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Grapevine

Living in Salalah has its advantages, but again it also has a wacky side. When smartphones landed in this town and people started using BBM and WhatsApp, such applications ended up becoming a virtual town hall. Wedding announcements, special offers, funeral announcements, and breaking local news. I'd receive the same damn message from 20 different people everyday. It can be highly amusing sometimes but also very annoying when it's an OBVIOUS rumor. For some reason, many people here believe anything and everything they receive on their phone (I mean, seriously, why would you question a story about Obama being Jewish or a local's housemaid being a witch? WhatsApp is the world's most accurate news agency!! (NOT).

Just this week:

WhatsApp @7 p.m: "Breaking News! Dar Al Arab restaurant in Salalalh serves dog meat in their shawarmas! Fifty dog heads were found in the house of the Bangladeshi chef"

WhatsAPp @ 7:45 p.m "Breaking news! Burj Dubai Restaurant in Salalah serves dog meat in their hamburgers! 100 dog heads found in the house of the Nepalese chef!"

See what I mean?

Yesterday, an unfortunate incident in Al Qouf (central Salalah) involved a little girl falling to her death from the balcony of her home on busy Al Salam street. I saw photos of the incident from different sources, and everyone's talking about it at work, so I assume it's true. Then again, no one can agree whether she was a 6-year-old Egyptian, a 5-year-old Jordanian, or a 9-year-old Moroccan. In all cases, send a little prayer to her family and keep an eye on your kids.

Last week someone murdered someone in Salalah. No one can agree whether the murderer was foreign or Omani, or whether the victim was foreign or Omani. They can't agree whether it was a stabbing or a shooting, honor or revenge. All we know is that someone was murdered.

And finally this morning, another sad case. Apparently, a bunch of drug addicts tossed the body of their friend just outside Sultan Qaboos Hospital in Salalah. Apparently he died of a drug overdose. I know someone who knows his family, so I know this one isn't a rumor either. Our drug problem isn't being brought out into the open. Campaigning takes place in Muscat. I know there are plans to establish a rehab centre in Oman, but people in the regions need to know the reality of the situation. We want statistics, numbers, cases. Drugs are available in Salalah and combating them silently (hint: ROP) isn't going to work. Locals need to bring it out into the open. Fear of shame won't get us anywhere. Not now. We have real problems that need to be tackled. The first step to solving any problem is to talk about it.  

I don't know what the purpose of this post is. Bits and pieces of news that I received on WhatsApp. Being a blogger, often I'm grateful for the local grapevine of news, and sometimes it annoys me to death because people believe everything. Oh, and in case you're wondering why I'm quiet these days, it's because I'm ill. Yup, the Salalah post-monsoon virus has reached the Gucci home (and not via WhatsApp either).


  1. There is a national strategy to combat abuse of narcotics and other prohibited substances in the sultanate. I understand, part of the strategy is to educate the public the dangerous of drug abuse via all media and is meant to cover the entire sultanate [obviously] including governorate of Dhofar.

    Yes we have a problem. Problem related to drug abuse. It is being dealt with. Furthermore the combating department has been elevated to a directorate in the ROP with more equipment and better trained staff. Therefore, I am sure the menace in your area will be dealt with soon thanks to the never tiring effort of all concerned departments.

    One thing though,How come you never wrote about, the affinity people have for QHAT in your region!


  2. "Within its follow-up of efforts to protect the society against various risks, the Council 1349199416884801600 approved that the respective department will revise the laws on anti-drugs and psychotropic and introduce more tough measures to ensure the required deterrence is achieved."


  3. Get well soon, Nadia. My best wishes. And ... switch this thing off. Even a blogger is entitled to a break, especially when she is not feeling well.


  4. I have a 4 year old daughter who loves to run without shoes. But in the last 2 months before khareef, we found 6 syringes, with needles on them. 2 on Dahariz beach, one behind our house next to al Baleed, 2 on the Corniche and one on the beach near the port...I don't remember seeing them 5 years ago when we arrived. I know there are posters in the colleges to discourage students from using drugs, but I m not sure how efficient posters are. THere should be a rehab centre, and it should become a public subject rather than a taboo one. True..Closing one s eyes doesn t make problems disappear.But in the meantime, what s wrong with throwing the serynges in the bins? Not that there are many of those, unfortunately...But please think of all these barefooted children running around when you throw your weapon on the ground. Suicide is one thing...Crime is another.And until then, I can only advise parents to put flipflops on their kids'feet.

    1. Am sorry to hear DG is unwell. I pray she gets well soon. Meanwhile, the following news item in today's newspaper has become a frequent occurrence lately. Can someone from Dhofar shade light?

      "2 held with 600 packets of khat

      Two people of Arab nationality were arrested with 600 packets of khat in the wilayat of Mirbat in the Dhofar governorate. Officials from the Directorate General for Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances arrested them while they were trying to smuggle the drugs into the country via sea."


  5. I've heard of the needles on the beach and saw one about a year ago. Maybe it's also time to start talking about STD's and in particular HIV/AIDS? From what I understand it's really bad here with many men going to Thailand for a "relaxing" holiday and coming back. Heard of one lady who only found out she had HIV/Aids when her husband and child died of it! He had contracted it on a holiday to Thailand!

    So, HIV is also contracted through dirty needles. Do we really want our kids to walk into one of these needles and get this disease?

    And, can you imagine what will happen to the tourist industry (one of the economic growth pillars of Oman) if tourists start finding these needles on the beaches????

    What if these drug abusers get into their cars after having had their shot. It's just as bad as drunk driving. I can only imagine the accidents that these people can cause!

    So, it's not only the person who uses the drugs that gets effected. It's also poor kids and their families, the economy and the image of a Salalah as a wonderfully cool holiday destination.

  6. We want statistics, numbers, cases. Drugs are available in Salalah and combating them silently (hint: ROP) isn't going to work. Locals need to bring it out into the open. Fear of shame won't get us anywhere. Not now. We have real problems that need to be tackled. The first step to solving any problem is to talk about it.