Sunday, December 29, 2013


Well, I guess a little post won't do harm since I noticed there was a mention of this on Al Jazeera yesterday. The official line? Omani armed forces were taking all precautions to prevent Al Qaeda militants from crossing the Oman-Yemen border in Dhofar. The US embassy and UK embassy have issued warnings to their citizens to avoid all non-essential travel to Dhofar and to specifically avoid the Thumrait area. Whether we'll ever hear all the details is unlikely knowing how Oman functions, but those of us living in Salalah know there's something up. It would be polite though if the Omani government would warn its own citizens (I know someone who has to attend an event in Thumrait today and they haven't been warned of anything). A little transparency goes a long way especially if there's any threat to civilians. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013


All I can say is that there's some insane security stuff happening down south today. Seriously. It's probably best not to blog about it. Stay safe everyone! (re-read my previous post on the US Embassy alert) 

Friday, December 6, 2013

The World Mourns

I  woke up at 5 a.m. today  for no particular reason. I knew something was wrong; it was the same feeling I had when other people close to me had passed away in the night. I dragged myself out of bed and opened up Google News. I took a deep breath. There it was. Nelson Mandela had passed away. I sat there staring at the screen battling with my own thoughts and the feeling of emptiness that began to engulf me. Why was I so affected? My family was safe, the people close to me were ok, Oman was ok, Mandela was so far away. He was someone else's president, someone else's father, grandfather, husband,..... but no. Those thoughts didn't win. I went back to bed and stared at the ceiling for over an hour. Judging from my Facebook newsfeed, pretty much everyone I know was feeling exactly the same.
We all knew he was ill and old. It was inevitable. But even that didn’t prepare us for his death. For a few hours or days  the whole world is mourning the same person for the same reasons. Forgiveness, peace, humility, love, that’s what he stood for.  I remember in junior high in Salalah writing an essay about him for my “Amazing Leaders” project. I couldn’t think of anyone else in the world alive at the time that I would consider a true leader. Since then I have been fascinated by Mandela. I recommend you read some of his speeches and even his book “Long Walk to Freedom” if you are not familiar with his life.
Unfortunately, I was able to hear the Friday sermon at my local mosque today as well. The sermon was about selling our souls to the devil. It was one of the most negative horrible sermons I have ever heard.  The word 'devil, sin, punishment, hell' were repeated at least a dozen times each. In an ideal (but not unrealistic)  world the Imam would personalize the sermon. He would gather his congregation and talk about the passing of Nelson Mandela. He would discuss the ideals that Mandela stood for. Forgiveness, humility, love. and how they very much reflect the true message of Islam and all religions. In an ideal world, that would have been our Friday sermon. Instead, we got a load of negativity. I felt even sadder.
II spent the afternoon reading up on Mandela's life. It was a privilege being alive while he walked the earth. Despite spending 27 years in prison, he remained a symbol of everything good in this world.
Rest in Peace Madiba.
Yours from Salalah,
Dhofari Gucci

Dhofar Warning

The US Embassy in Oman has issued a warning to all American citizens effective today until January 1st. This is the message:
"The United States Embassy wants to alert US Citizens that it has deferred all non-essential travel for US Embassy employees to the Dhofar region in Oman due to threat reporting. This limitation on travel is effective immediately and will remain in place until January 1, 2014 unless more threat information develops at which time a new Consular message will be transmitted. US Embassy personnel based in Dhofar area have been reminded to be aware of their surroundings, to avoid large crowds, to vary their routes and times when traveling or commuting and to continually assess their personal security habits"
I can tell you it's pretty quiet in Salalah today. I'm assuming that warning is related to the Qaeda bombings in Yemen yesterday that killed 50+ people at the Ministry of Defence.
Stay safe.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

To Discuss or Not to Discuss?

A few days ago I just happened to be in an office with a few colleagues (male) after a meeting and one of them joked about Oman being ranked second in the Arab World  for women's rights, etc. Yes I can personally attest to the fact that Oman is an awesome place for women... BUT, that doesn't at all mean we can pretend problems don't exist (a technique we all know so very well). Since they brought it up, I started pointing out that there are definitely things that require improvement in Oman.. but that we're on the right track.
They casually told me that nothing requires improvement and that Oman and Islam have granted women every right they need. I started listing the things that I felt stood in the way of female empowerment in Oman (Examples: the right to marry/divorce, freedom of movement, the right to marry a non-Omani, and the huge societal pressures that block women from living the life they want... particularly in conservative areas of Oman like Dhofar).
These colleagues I was talking to are western-educated and spent a considerable amount of time abroad. They see themselves as 'open-minded' and 'liberal'. Both had girlfriends their 'abroad lives' and female friends, etc, etc. You know, the typical Omani scenario. But they came home to Oman, married their first cousin, and live completely traditional lives.
To my horror, they flipped and point-blank accused me of promoting 'Western ideologies' in Dhofar and warned me of how dangerous it is. To them, women in Dhofar shouldn't be working and mixing with men because "a little freedom will lead to huge corruption" (an exact quote). To them, a woman's place is at home because if she works, her children will be raised badly. To them, allowing women to drive means giving them the freedom to date and move around as they like (the horror!). To them, promoting women's right to divorce is absurd (currently an Omani man can divorce his wife in court without her knowing, and the court doesn't even bother to make sure she knows - same goes with marriage). To them, female empowerment will 'destroy society'.
So, yes Omani legislation may grant women their 'rights' (Oman ratified CEDAW in 2005 with reservations on several articles not in line with Islamic Sharia law) but in Oman, I've said it and I'll say it again "Society is more powerful than the law". If your brother or father or uncle or husband decides you can't work, then forget any dreams of working. If they decide you're not allowed to study, then forget about it. If they don't let you drive, then you don't drive. If they don't let you go anywhere without a chaperone, then you aren't going anywhere. The list is long, but this is how our girls in Salalah live. This is their reality.
These men told me that girls aren't 'trustworthy' or 'responsible' enough to be given freedom. THEY SAID THAT. I asked them why; they answered that this is how women are. I told them if they raised their daughters differently things will change. They said society will never change. I disagreed.
These men at work accused me of 'living in an unrealistic bubble' and 'promoting western ideologies'. Since when has making my own choices in life been a western and unrealistic ideology? I humor society by being timid and quiet in public, by wearing the black abaya, by attending the social gatherings required of me.... etc. Yet I still have the freedom (thanks to my family) to work, drive, travel, run my own errands, and make my own decisions. They raised me differently. I told my colleagues that this is possible for all girls. Change is possible, if slow.
The conversation took a turn for the worse when they told me that my ideas were un-Islamic and that Islam grants women full dignity 'within the four walls of her home'. I chose to end the conversation at that since I don't want to delve into any discussion of Islam with people who have mixed up cultural values with Islamic ones. My Islam is different. My faith in God is strong, but I am not afraid of using my head to challenge myself and the traditions I grew up with.
As you can see, the conversation with these colleagues upset me. It ruined my mood for the rest of the day and had me thinking. Deep inside me I know change is coming and that it's possible to live life to the fullest without giving up religious values. I don't agree with the current lives girls live in Salalah, a life dictated by 'society' and 'what will people say', and when the girls attempt to challenge society then religion is brought in as the final force to shut these girls up and keep them behind closed doors.
So.... no, things aren't all peaches and cream in Oman.
I'm sorry for sounding so negative, but that whole discussion left me with a sinking feeling in my stomach. It was a reminder of the society I live in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mozart and Missiles

This article on His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ role in the Iran agreement is worth reading.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

National Day Holidays

Just after spending my coffee break complaining to my colleagues about the government's refusal to give people dates for public holidays in advance, the government announced the holiday for Oman's 43rd National Day. The holiday is on Wednesday November 27th and Thursday the 28th, attached onto the weekend of the 29th-30th. Overall, purely awesome.

At least now people can "plan" and make any travel arrangements.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Garbage Rant

This morning I cleared out some junk from my storage room. Old magazines, boxes, kitchen things, rolls of cloth that I never got around to sewing , you name it. The things that were usable I spread out on my front steps for the neighbourhood housemaids to come and choose from. They took almost everything. The real junk I put in the neighbourhood garbage bin... the big ugly metal bins that get emptied every day by municipality workers in orange. The end, right? Wrong.
Twenty minutes after my trip to the bin, I peer out the window and see four men on bicycles rummaging through the bin, pulling out my bags of garbage, ripping them up, and then picking through them. Naturally, I wanted to head down again and scream at them to piss off and leave my trash alone, but then again ... it's Salalah and these things are almost normal.
In Oman we don't really recycle things. Everything gets tossed into the big communal bins. Soon we'll have a garbage problem and the government will have to start thinking seriously about recycling, but until then the only recycling that takes place are the little bins in Shatti that someone decided to put up.
Well, and the little Asian men on their bikes in our neighbourhood and every neighbourhood who spend their days rummaging through bins with a metal pick trying to find empty soft drink cans that they crush with their feet then toss in a bag attached to their bike. Evidently they take it to the factory and get 1 or 2 Rials per sack of crushed tins. To them, it must be worth it.
But seriously, it's so annoying to not be able to throw out any trash without having it picked through by another person. They leave the trash spread around the bin for the world to see. I make a point of never throwing out anything personal (letter, photos, bank statements, anything....) without shredding them first. It's just not worth it.
Le fin.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Dreaded Maghboor

Only Dhofaris would understand what this post is about just by reading the title. A slight warning, this post is a mini-rant, not an objective analysis of social customs.
In Dhofar, the word 'Maghboor' مغبور or 'Maghbair' مغبير is a term that every man has to live with... every month from the moment his friends start to get married till the day he dies.
As many of you know from my previous posts about the south of Oman, Dhofari weddings are quite an event. A typical scenario will involve a young man telling his mother he wants to get married. She will turn on her 'bride radar' and get to work (along with all the aunts and sisters) to find a suitable bride. She will start visiting relatives with eligible daughters. She will attend more and more weddings of distant relatives just to see how the unmarried girls look like in dresses. Naturally, unmarried girls spend ages preparing for weddings anyway in order to catch the attention of future mothers-in-law.
Once the bride has been chosen, the mother and aunts will make contact with the prospective bride's mother and aunts. The women will work it all out between themselves and then the men will finally be informed. The groom's father or uncle (or the groom himself) will call the prospective bride's father to ask for his daughter's hand in marriage. The father will graciously tell him that he has to ask his daughter. Both parties pretend the women haven't figured out all the logistics beforehand. Father asks daughter, she agrees, a dowry and wedding date is set, then the son goes back to his father to figure out expenses.
Now ... this brings us to the Maghboor part. Assuming the girl's father asked for a dowry of OMR 6000, and it will cost the son perhaps OMR 10,000 to set up his 'room' and fix some things in the house(decoration, fancy hideous furniture, perfume cupboard stocked with the world's most expensive bukhoor, etc, etc). Add on the actual wedding expenses which usually involve renting a hotel ballroom  for 400 women ... that's around OMR 4000. Then the men's wedding involves slaughtering a handful of innocent cows, drinks, halwa, coffee, tent, rice .... (meh... another OMR 6000).
Do the math. It's about 26,000-30,000 Omani Rials. That's what it costs to build a small house, buy three cars, or four bachelor degrees at Dhofar University. All so you can live in a little bedroom with a girl you don't really know.
So how do they fund this? Well, .... that's where the Maghboor comes in.
On the actual men's wedding day (often a few days before the women's wedding when the bride actually gets to see his dolled up wife for the first time), men from far and wide will come to the tent to congratulate the groom and pay the 'maghboor'. Several hundred (or thousand) men will come to the men's tent and after greeting the groom and his family will head to the table where a man (usually a relative) sits with a big blue notebook and a box. A guest will pay anything from OMR 10 to two or three hundred rials, and the book-keeper will put the man's name down and the amount next to his name. By the end of the day, the groom sometimes ends up with anything from OMR 5000 to 20,000 cash paid by all his relatives and friends. That ends up covering most of the wedding costs. Distant relatives will pay around 20 rials. Close relatives will pay 100 each usually.
Awesome system, right?
Maybe not.
Sometimes I think it's a great social investment... but then again, you keep that darned blue book in your home forever and ever. Whenever any of the people who paid towards your wedding get married (or their sons or cousins or whoever), you have to go to their weddings and pay the same amount they paid towards you or more. It's all fine and dandy until you end up having to attend weddings every single month. It ends up being like a life-long loan towards society.
A friend of mine had to go to SIX WEDDINGS last week. He spent 400 rials in one day paying towards weddings. He's only 28. Is it fair? Is it worth it?
Even stranger, some town tribes do the same with women. Women hand money over to the mothers of the groom at the women's wedding.
All this money being passed around each month. Everyone in debt. Everyone struggling to keep up with these traditions. But stop for a minute and think about our friend the groom who spent all that money but all he has left is a little bedroom with a set of furniture and hideous décor (and a wife on the side). No everyone gets enough Maghboor to cover a large chunk of the weddings expenses. Someone I know spent 35,000 rials on his marriage but only got OMR 8000 out of the men on the wedding day.
Is this system logical anymore? If I were a man spending 26,000 on a wedding, I'd invest it in something that will last (like a home..... or a honeymoon?). Oh, I forgot the honeymoon. If a groom decides to take his wife to the usual spots (Thailand or Malaysia) then that adds even more expenses.
All the girl has to do is receive her dowry, spend it on things she doesn't need to impress people she doesn't even know. Thobes, abayas, gold, perfueme , bukhoor, etc. She then has to spend months oiling and dolling herself up for her 'husband'. That's all she does.
Somewhere in there is a lot of unfairness and a lot of  illogical expectations. If everyone in Salalah were to secretly vote on this, I'm willing to bet they're all ready to ditch these traditions. Times are hard, life is more expensive, and its just not feasible anymore to keep up with these traditions. Men spend an average of anything from 100 to 1000 a month on weddings. Surely that money could go somewhere better? Savings perhaps?
The reason I'm ranting is because I was made to pay towards a wedding of some distant relative because it was 'duty'. I've never even met this relative and never even went to the wedding.
Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Eid Al Adha

In Dhofari Arabic I would say حد صرابنا
In other words, someone has given us the evil eye. Seriously. The entire country was expecting the entire week of October 13th to 17th to be a public holiday for Eid since we're  already required to take the 14th to 17th off for religious reasons. Why make Omanis work for that one day on Sunday?/
Yesterday afternoon the Oman News Agency announced that Eid Al Adha holidays would be Monday to Thursday only, with Sunday being a regular work day.
People read the message in shock. Then immediately started assuming His Majesty the Sultan would wait a little bit then surprise us with Sunday off as a 'Royal Gift'.
Twenty four hours later, and it still looks like holiday are only Monday to Thursday. Everyone who booked their tickets to go abroad for the once-expected nine-day holidays is dismayed. Every Omani who was going to drive back to his village today and spend the next nine days chillaxing with the tribe over meat is dismayed. People like me who needed to hibernate, bake, and study in peace for nine days are dismayed.
In other words, national-mourning.
Then again, how much longer are Omanis expecting to be spoon-fed holidays by His Majesty every year? The world is moving and we need to get moving with it. The number of holidays we get here in Oman is well...... a lot. We used to get a day or two for the Islamic new year, a day or two for the Prophet PBUH's birthday, a day or two for the Israa & Miraj, nine days for Eid Al Fitr, nine days for Eid al Adha, at least two days for National Day in November, an extra day for National Day in November, and a few days here and there if a GCC ruler happens to pass away.
We were in holiday heaven.
Holiday heaven no more, Oman.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Eid Al Adhha dates have been announced for Oman. Monday October 14th Yom Arafa, the day day before Eid when pilgrims head to Mount Arafa. This day is always a holiday in addition  to the three days of Eid. In this case it is guaranteed that we'll get the whole week off meaning Friday the 11th to Saturday the 19th. Just waiting for the Sultan to announce it!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Salalah Gardens Mall


So, Salalah officially has a mall. A decent shopping mall with good lighting and a nice layout. Interior in some parts is like MGM in Muscat. I'm not a huge fan of shopping malls (claustrophobia), but I did enjoy my 8 a.m. coffee last week when it was practically empty:
My thoughts on the mall:
1) I love the layout. The mall is built around a huge courtyard with fountains and a lovely seating area with plenty of tables and chairs that are packed in the evenings.
2) Around the courtyard are several entrances to the mall including a direct entrance to Home Centre and City Cinema
4) WE HAVE HOME CENTRE! Farewell gaudy hideous Salalah furniture. Hello, decent stuff.
5) Food court is pretty small right now.. there's a McDonald's, an ice cream shop or two, Subway, and I think Harvey's . Haven't been yet so can't confirm.
6) Cafes... ahhhh. Unlike malls in Muscat, the cafes at Salalah Gardens Mall are all lined up next to and opposite one another. There's Costa, Papparoti, Crystal Coffee, and Nestle Toll House (not available in Muscat!). I've been to Nestle twice. They have awesome cookies and bars, soft serve frozen yoghurt in various flavours,  and really good decaf coffee.
7) Restaurants: until now there's Pizza Inn (not recommended until they stock up on ingredients and train their waiters on serving) and Dalas Steak House (a little local eatery owned by someone obsessed with cowboys who can't spell Dallas).
8) Shops: plenty and some international brands that aren't even available in Muscat like Nose and Carpisa. Lots of shoe shops, watch shops, jewellery, makeup, Capital Stores, Smart Diet, abaya shop, fashion stores, pharmacy, hmmmm.
9) Services: several bankshave opened up branches at the mall and Omantel also has a branch. I'm not sure whether Nawras does too.
10) Carrefour.
11) Fun Land or Fun City for the kids.
12) Salalah Gardens Residences (the hotel above the mall)
13) One thing about this mall that I love is that there are plenty of benches inside the mall. I think it's the only mall in Oman with benches in the mall to take a break from shopping.
Overall it's a pretty decent selection for Salalah and there's more to come. I love the idea of the open courtyard in the middle of the mall with seating and fountains/trees. It's perfect for Salalah because we do have lovely weather.
So, it has earned Dhofari Gucci's stamp of approval. I don't see myself going there regularly but I'm glad Salalah has a mall. It's nice for the women and children who don't have places to go to. On my second visit to the mall I was pleasantly surprised to see Dhofari women sitting in the cafes. I thought they'd chicken away from that or their 'male relatives' wouldn't allow it. Apparently not.
Have you been to the mall? What do you think?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Black Widows: Ze Update

Well, thankfully the government issued a statement last night denying that they 'confirmed' the existence of black widows in Oman. They haven't denied the existence of the spiders (that would be stupid), but they haven't confirmed anything yet. So, no reason to panic quite yet :)
On another note, it RAINED for like 4 seconds this morning. Khareef is still very much here (the mountains are beautiful) and I found a slug in my backyard.
Back to baking ....

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Black Widows: Fact or Fiction?

So.... anyone on social media will have seen the nation-wide panic these past couple of days concerning the possible sighting of the deadly black widow spiders in Oman.
Knowing how things work in Oman, it may be a complete rumor. However, the spider in the bottle looks a lot like a black widow, particularly the red marking on the back. I've been doing some Google-ing to find out more about black widows. Fortunately, I haven't had to think about them at  all since I'm not south American.
My Jebbali friends here in Dhofar tell me these aren't black widows and that they are seen regularly in our mountains after the monsoon. Every online forum has been discussing them these past 48 hours and the photos have been going around on people's phones.
So, my two cents (literally)... the government should issue a statement ASAP about the exact type of spider that has been located and how locals should handle it.
As for me, I'm terrified of all types of spiders so you won't find me anywhere near them.. red-backed or not.
Your thoughts?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Outsiders: Update 2

And..... as per an SMS received now from the Oman News Agency, the author and the editor of the article (see below) are being referred to public prosecution and will have to go to court. The Week's website has been shut down. Sigh. Oman, get over it and get a life.
After crackdowns around the world recently on LGBT individuals (Russia, anyone?), Oman is bound to hit headlines soon enough. We've already made it to the BBC twice this week and our human rights reputation has been tainted enough recently.
Fifteen years ago, people were up in arms about journalists even 'suggesting' Oman had an issue with drugs. Now look at the amount of media coverage is dedicated to drugs. We have a hard time being realistic about our issues here in Oman if they don't fit in with the "Peaches and Cream Renaissance" portrait of Oman that our government has been trying to maintain since 1970.
By sending that message out to the public, the government has chosen to make a big deal out of one petty article. Everyone I know is trying to get their hands on the piece. Is this really the right course of action?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Outsiders

A very interesting and controversial episode occurred on Thursday with the publication of an article titled 'The Outsiders' in the weekly magazine The Week.
The article briefly discussed Oman’s ‘gay community’ and how they are ‘findings ways to live life the way they want to’ or something to that effect.’ I looked at the cover page with bulging eyes and the first words that popped in my head were ‘ouch’.
The piece was a brave introduction of the word ‘gay’ to the Omani public in official print, but to be honest I found the piece to be poorly written. The Week can always be counted on to introduce controversial topics and I applaud them for that. However, the topic of LGBT issues is extremely sensitive.
If you’re going to introduce it to the public for the first time, it has to be done with great care and tact. The article failed to do that and it appears to have backfired. This morning I found a big apology on their website and the article appears to have disappeared.
As a Muslim, religious scholars and interpretations of religious texts tell me that homosexuality is a disease. As a human, I respect all humans regardless of their religion, race or sexual orientation. I have gay friends from my time abroad and they are some of the nicest people I know. Reconciling faith and my view of humanity is not an easy task, and I continue to think, struggle, accept, and question constantly.
Regardless of what I believe, I don’t think Oman was ready for the piece. It was a bit graphic and it’s worth noting that Omanis in general are not comfortable with discussing their personal lives in public, let alone their sexuality. When you ignore all this and introduce a piece on same-sex relationships, you can only expect readers to get offended. We are a tolerant country, but then again we are a Muslim one. To suggest that 6-10% of the Omani population is gay was pretty stupid, even if it’s simply a suggestion. Anyway, I hope the author of the piece is safe and that Apex publishing doesn’t suffer too much because of this. My overall view? Oman wasn’t ready.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

92,861 Visitors to Salalah During Eid

92,861 visitors came to Salalah during Eid holidays on Aug 9-12. Yes. I remind you the population of Salalah is around 190,000 ONLY (and a good chunk of them live in the mountains behind the town). The metropolitan area is probably only about 140,000. So you can imagine what a crowd of 92,861 would mean to our town. INVASION. (photo below shows four lanes of traffic on a narrow two-lane mountain road - chaos)

This is the statement from the Oman News Agency:

Salalah: The number of visitors to the Governorate of Dhofar during Eid Al Fitr holidays from August 9 to 12 this year stood at 92,861.

These figures were issued by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI), in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Royal Oman Police (ROP), which has been monitoring the Khareef Salalah visitors.

The Omanis constituted the bulk of visitors to the governorate with 55,965 visitors. The UAE visitors came second with 24,959. Visitors from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia totalled 4,199. Indian visitors came fourth with 3,978.

In terms of the country of residence, the statistics pointed out that 64.5 per cent of the visitors are residents in the Sultanate and 27.7 per cent of the visitors are residents in the UAE. The official statistics added that 94.2 per cent of the total visitors arrived in the Governorate of Dhofar via the road route.

The number of visitors to the governorate on the first day of Eid Al Fitr stood at 13,262, whereas it touched 26,014 on the second day and 23,392 on the third day. The fourth day of Eid Al Fitr witnessed the largest number of visitors to Dhofar as it reached 30,193.

It is worth mentioning that the total number of visitors to the Governorate of Dhofar in 2013 since the beginning of Khareef season from June 21, 2013 to August 12, 2013 stood at 184,910 compared to 134,437 during the same period last year, an increase of 37.5 per cent.
(Mughsayl Blowholes west of Salalah - insane)
Dhofari Gucci is hiding in her kitchen making bread until the visitors go home. I dare not venture out of my home.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

TEDx in Salalah

I don't think there's anyone out there who isn't familiar with TED talks and TEDx events, so I won't bother explaining what they are. Click on the link if you'd like to listen to ideas worth spreading. Dhofari Gucci is a huge fan of TED and for a little over a year, I've been hearing about TEDx in Salalah.  Finally, I received an email from one of the awesome organizers (a Dhofari female.... girl power!) informing me that the TEDx event is finally taking place on August 24th at Al Baleed archaeological site museum. It is in Arabic this time, and the list of speakers is up on their website. Registration is free, but seats are limited, so if you're interested go to their website and register.  The website will give you more information about the initiative and the speakers. I'm definitely tempted to register .......
Kudos Asma & Fadhila for organizing this. You make me proud.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Eid Al Fitr Holidays Announced

If Eid is on Thursday August 8th, then holidays will be Wednesday 7th to Saturday 10th. If Eid is on Friday August 9th then holidays will be Wednesday 7th to Monday the 12th with work resuming on Tuesday. It makes no sense whatsoever, but hopefully the moon will cooperate and give us Eid on Friday!!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Don't go to Rakhyut!

The road in the direction of Rakhyut yesterday (past Mughsayl west of Salalah towards Al Hotha village in the Wilayat of Rakhyut). Our heavier-than-normal monsoon season this year has done some damage...... PS (thank you Amer whoever you are for the pictures) ....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Public Holiday

And we can officially say 'Public Holiday season is BACK'. Tuesday July 23rd marks Oman's 43rd Reniassance Day (to mark the day His Majesty overthrew his father in a bloodless coup in 1970 - yes Uncle Mti, you can comment and tell me power was handed over peacefully and lovingly as much as you like). Government has declared next Tuesday a public holiday for the private and public sectors. Yipee.

When I say 'public holiday season', I mean the following:
- Reniassance Day - July 23rd
- Eid Al Fitr - August 8-13 probably
- Eid Al Adha - October 14-18 probably
- National Day holiay in November
- Islamic new year holiday
- Ehem... a month of annual leave for me sometime in the next two months

etc, etc,

For the first half of the year we get nothing. Then suddenly all the holidays come piling on.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

People Gone Mad

Why the heck is everyone so obsessed with the Sohar story this morning? Apparently a mad blonde woman ran into a mosque, grabbed a Quran, ripped it a part and wrapped it around her feet. Judging from the photos, she looked a little mad. I've received at least ten WhatsApp messages today about the incident, each with different details. Some say it was Saham. Others say it was Sohar. Some say it was a mosque. Others say it was a bank. Then another weird photo appeared of the same woman inside a building wearing a Burqa. It's all very weird. ... but who cares?
Why is the whole of Oman up in arms about this? I saw some really disturbing messages on Facebook from people calling for her to be killed. Is this what we waste our time on in Ramadan? People have gone mad. The reason nothing changes in the Arab world is because we are completely illogical and defensive to the point where we can't see straight anymore. It's a shallow view of religion and Islam.
Minor rant. Back to my sit-ups.

Monday, July 8, 2013

More On Ze Mall

So .... the 'girls' and I went to inspect Salalah Gardens Mall a couple of days ago to see what there was to see. And there was a lot!

First and foremost, Costa is almost ready:

The arrival of Costa in Salalah marks the arrival of decent coffee in this town (and no Browniz doesn't count - their coffee is terrible). Remember, I said 'decent'. Costa isn't necessarily my favorite, but it'll do for the moment.

Several shops (including watch and jewellery shops) are already open. The banks appears to be open. Omantel's branch is opening today as far as I know. City Cinema opened last night according to my WhatsApp updates that I skimmed through at 5:59 a.m this morning when I stood at the coffee maker waiting for my espresso. McDonald's is also open (blah).

Carrefour has been open since May. Lulu appears to have succumbed to competition and are now selling STARBUCKS SUMATRA COFFEE BEANS (oh yes they are. Saw em with my own two eyes on Friday morning... packets cost a rial or so more than Muscat, but I don't mind. As long as I have my extra bold coffee beans).

Home Centre is a miracle. You can actually now buy decent furniture, duvets, sheets, kitchen stuff, and about everything else you need for your home. The overly-huge vase and 'decoration' section at the front baffles me but once you get past that and into the home section you'll be happy. Prices are actually decent (ever been to Cavallini? Don't). I was on the lookout for three things though that they did not have (French coffee press, frother, and wicker laundry basket). Oh, well.

So, that's my report on the mall for the moment. Things are looking up.

Now .. back to reading about British concentration camps in South Africa in the Second Boer War over my second cup of coffee. Damn you Wikipedia. All I wanted was information about typhoid symptoms and look where it got me.

Saturday, June 29, 2013


On a finer note, nothing makes me happier than waking up early on a weekend to the sound of birds and RAIN. There are six puddles in my garden. The best part is that it's likely to rain until September. Hooray. (and Home Centre is open! Finally some half-decent furniture in Salalah! And Carrefour is selling smoked salmon after Lulu stopped! And there are already UAE and Saudi license plates in Salalah when we weren't expecting the hordes of tourists until the end of Ramadan! And Ramadan is on July 10th! And desperate couples are getting married this week and the next (Ramadan fasting is going to make a happy honeymoon ... not) And our first proper cinema is opening on the 2nd day of Eid!) Overall, good signs everywhere. Have a happy Saturday wherever you are.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

British National in Nightmare Situation

Hi All,

Read the latest post from my pal Sythe over at Muscat Mutterings on a British man and his family who are in a nightmare situation with his employer and the Ministry of Manpower:

Unfortunately, there are many more who are in this type of situation and most of them are poor labourers who dont' know where to start in order to get help.


New Budget Airlines in Oman

I am staring at my computer screen wide-eyed. Today's newspapers tell me that new budget airlines in Oman are soon to become a reality!!!

From the Oman Observer
June 27, 2013

New budget airlines

Private players to be allowed to operate flights — By Kaushalendra Singh — SALALAH — Private players may soon be allowed to operate in the Sultanate’s low cost aviation sector as two to three companies along with the national carrier Oman Air are doing feasibility studies to explore the possibility. The Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) is also considering the issue positively keeping in mind huge potential for budget airlines in the Sultanate.

According to Salim al Aufy, Chief Executive Officer of PACA, investors are looking at launching low cost carriers in domestic as well as international destinations, while the Sultanate’s civil aviation authority is also positive about the move. “We are open to this option to help boost residents’ travel options by allowing suitable partners in this sector. It is like serving local interests with international backing,” said Al Aufy, who was Guest of Honour at the Arab Aviation and Media Summit 2013.

The two-day summit began yesterday at Hilton Salalah Resort with the participation of about 100 journalists from 10 Middle Eastern countries. He said the current share of low carrier airlines in Oman was about 7 per cent with likely growth potential of 10 per cent in coming years. “We don’t want to flood the low cost sector at the same time we don’t want to starve our own passengers. We are taking a balanced approach to ensure better results,” he said.

The final decision on operation of low cost airlines, according to Al Aufi, is likely by the end of this year or early next year. He also mooted the idea of launching helicopter and amphibious services, corporate and executive jet services as many other steps being taken by the PACA to ensure better aviation transport system in the Sultanate. Al Aufy gave an overview of developments on Muscat Internation Airport and other regional airports in the Sultanate. The new terminal at Muscat International Airport, according to him, would be completed by 2014 and will have the capacity to handle 12 million passengers annually.

Further expansions planned in three subsequent phases will ultimately boost the airport’ capacity to 24, 36 and 48 million passengers when the demand is required. The new terminal at Salalah Airport envisages an expansion of capacity to 1 million passengers annually by 2014. The airport has been designed to allow for further expansions to cater for future demand growth to 2 and 6 million passengers annually when the demand is required.

“Salalah Airport may get operational earlier than Muscat Airport,” he said. Al Aufy expressed satisfaction over works on Sohar, Ras al Hadd and Duqm airports and said: “We have done flight test in Sohar and runways in Ras al Hadd and Duqm have been finalised. All the airports are of international standards by design.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Reply from Oman Air

Date      : 24th June 2013
Ref         : TC_18174
Dear Ms. Nadia,
Subject: Your travel experience on WY911 on 20th June from Muscat to Salalah
This has reference to your complaint addressed to our Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Wayne Pearce, highlighting your concerns and giving a candid description of your travel experience on the above flight. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share your experience with us.
We sincerely regret to learn about the inconvenience caused to you due to the delay of the above flight. Please be assured that this issue had our CEO’s utmost concern and is currently being reviewed by all concerned. We would appreciate your patience and understanding while we gather necessary information in order to revert to you conclusively.
We believe that it is the feedback from our valued customers that help us to identify areas that need improvement and enhancement as expected by our valued customers.
Oman Air assures you of its care and concern always.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Letter to the CEO of Oman Air

Dear Wayne Pearce,
I am told that you are the CEO of Oman Air, our national carrier. I have never written to a CEO before so I hope you don’t mind my honesty.  Someone told me that you are a good listener, so I hope you have time to read my letter.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Nadia and I am a blogger from Dhofar.  You may have even heard of my blog. It’s called Dhofari Gucci. I live in Salalah and often travel to Muscat for work and pleasure. You are the only airline that flies between Salalah and Muscat. There are several flights a day between the two cities and I thank you for that. It really is a great help to those of us living in the south.   
Last year I took 38 flights between Salalah and Muscat. I am a Silver Sindbad Member. I always book online, check in early, label my luggage, don’t complain, and am very polite to your sometimes incompetent staff.

Over the past three years I have flown Oman Air to Europe. The experience was always wonderful. The Air Bus planes are state of the art, there’s internet on board, my phone works, plenty of leg-room, great entertainment system, delicious food, and flights always arrive early. Oh, and the bathroom is even big enough to let you turn around in. I can actually sit down without my knees hitting the door. What a bonus!  I’m using Oman Air more and more to go abroad because compared to KLM, Lufthansa, British Airways, Swiss, my experience on Oman Air’s international flights has been much better.
There, I’ve gotten over the good part.

Now, I beg you to listen to me while I spew forth. I have been silent for years. When domestic Oman Air flights get on my nerves, I write letters to you on napkins on the plane. Then I throw the napkin out and tell myself to be patient because life is too short.
 Last February I wrote a three page letter to you when I flew in from Europe and waited patiently for my Salalah flight. After three hours of waiting at the gate, I was finally informed that the flight was ‘delayed’ (as if we didn’t know already?!). When the door to the gate opened, your poor passengers rushed to the bus … eager to just get on the flight. Unfortunately, the bus did not move for twenty five entire minutes. Yes, you read me correctly. Twenty five minutes. The doors were open. We exchanged desperate looks. We were hot and helpless.

By the time I got on the flight and settled down, I was beyond exhausted (remember, I had just flown in from Europe).  Within two minutes, the distressed looking cabin crew approached me to tell me to change seats because a woman at the back refused to sit next to a man. I begged them not to move me. The senior flight supervisor was brought over to convince me to move. In the end I had to. I was sent to the back of the plane and sandwiched between two women after I had originally selected a window seat. During that flight, I decided to vent by writing a letter to you. I never sent it.

Out of every four flights between Muscat and Salalah for me, at least one is delayed. Mr Pearce, this is not normal. It shouldn’t be acceptable.

As I type this now, I am sitting at (Gate 1) in Muscat Airport. You know, the ugly little gate on the ground floor where you send the Salalah passengers? That one. The one with the peeling metal seats that are designed to ruin people’s backs.

Well, my flight to Salalah was supposed to take off at 6:40. I have been at the airport since 3pm. After waiting in line at the Silver Sindbad queue for 25 minutes, someone finally paid attention to me. I smiled and said nothing. I want to be a good human.

At 6:00 I made my way to the gate like a good passenger and settled down to wait for the boarding call. 6:40 came and went, 7:40 came and went. Passengers started to get restless , children started crying, some people settled in for a nap. The Oman Air employee at the desk said ‘we will update you!’. Well, at 7:56 we finally got our first announcement:

 “Dear Passengers, we apologize for the delay. The new flight time is 8:30”.

That’s it. No explanation.  Despite the two hours delay and lack of professionalism and tact, I was thrilled to finally have a set time for departure.

It is now. 8:33. I am still at the gate.

The Oman air guys at the counter are chatting. Our flight has disappeared off the screen entirely. Some people are royally pissed off. No one has bothered to offer us an apology. People are lining up at the desk to beg for their boarding passes to go to the bathroom.

There are 17 Omani women on this flight. By the time they finally get us to the plane, it’s going to take at least ten minutes to re-shuffle passengers so every woman doesn’t have to sit next to a man. Where are your security measures? Why can’t your people just book women in to dedicated female rows? What’s so wrong with that?

By the time we take off and the food service comes around, you will toss a drink onto my table and a soggy sandwich. I will look up and ask for water but you will have already moved on to the second row. Never mind, I’ll think. I can survive without water.

 I will try to get the sandwich out of its box but the soggy dough will be glued to the side of the carton. It will take me two minutes to attempt to unpeel it without losing half the tasteless chicken mushroom sandwich. By the time I have successfully unpeeled it and taken my first bite, your crew will be back again to take my trash. It’s ok, the sandwich wasn’t edible anyway. Take my half-eaten soggy sandwich.

8:50 and I’m still at the gate. I remind you I’ve been here since 3:00. My back is aching. Someone else’s child has fallen asleep on my feet.

I am fantasizing about my flight. I booked a window seat. Once your staff remove my soggy sandwich I will pull out the inflight magazine, Wings of Oman. I am too tired to do work, so a little light reading is in order even if it’s full of grammar mistakes (hire an editor who speaks English, will ya?)

 I flip to the front page and there you are with your winning smile and confident pose. Wayne Peace, CEO of Oman Air. CEO of our national carrier.

You refer to Oman Air as one of the world’s leading luxury airlines. I agree. The WORLD’s leading luxury airlines. Unfortunately, Oman is not the WORLD. We are your trash. Your leftovers. Your ignorant citizens. The people you don’t give a shit about.

It’s 9:00 pm. I have been here for six hours, Mr. Pearce. Six hours. No explanation. No apology.

OH WAIT! There’s some action. An angry passenger is arguing with the Oman Air employee. He is now getting up on to a chair. He has called our attention. We all listen:

“Ladies and Gentlemen! I am an Omani citizen and I am a passenger on this flight! Listen up! We’re not taking off till after 10:00, you hear? TEN! Not an apology, not an explanation, no water, no food, nothing. I want you all to know that Oman Air doesn’t care about you. Doesn’t care about your babies or your sleeping children. Doesn’t care about even giving us an apology. All they care about is their money. Worthless fools Not even an explanation or an apology and this is our national carrier!!!”

A feeble cheer erupts form the crowd.

It’s 9:00.

An Oman Air employee comes to the middle of us and says ‘We’re offering you dinner upstairs. Come back here at 9:45”.

Thank you angry Omani passenger for getting us free dinner. However, I’m not interested.

If we come back to the gate at 9:45, I wouldn’t dream of taking off before 10:30.

No explanation, no apology.

People start to shuffle out slowly. Women with sleeping children remain. There are several angry passengers shouting at the employee. It’s not his fault. He’s taking the crap on behalf of top officials.


Mr. Pearce, I am tired. If I’m lucky, we’ll land a midnight. If we’re extremely lucky, we’ll get an apology.

Rumor is going around our gate that your staff are on strike. At this moment, I don’t blame them. If your passengers are treated like this, I can’t imagine how your staff are treated.

What are you thinking?

This isn’t a first time incident. This has happened to me again…. And again….. and again, Mr. Pearce.

What have I done to you to deserve this kind of treatment? I’m a loyal passenger.

The ironic part is that when you board domestic Oman Air flights, the senior flight supervisor cheerfully tells us “Thank you for choosing Oman Air”. As if we have another choice? As a favour, could you ask your staff to stop saying that on domestic flights? It sounds ridiculous and you know that everyone makes fun of Oman Air for continuing to say that.

Mr. Peace, I’m tired of being treated like a worthless object.

Yours Truly from Gate 1

Dhofari Gucci 
Update: we finally took off at 10:45. I asked the cabin crew what happened and they said 'operations problems!'. I was indeed shuffled from my window seat because they totally screw up the seating for a woman with three young children. I was thrown next to a woman who was sick. She asked for a blanket. The crew promised her one. They never brought it. My sandwich was indeed soggy and glued to the side of the carton. The male Omani cabin crew member was being rude to a Filipino woman who refused to move (her right!). He told me 'That stupid Asian woman.. she should cooperate!'. I gave him my coldest look and told him she was tired and had every right to sit in the seat she chose. He said 'we're all tired!!!!'. I told him 'It's your job to be polite to passengers even if you're tired!'. He stormed away. THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING OMAN AIR!


An article in the BBC three days ago indicated that Qatar's Emir and Prime Minister are putting together a succession plan that is to become public. To read the article click here. Do you realize what this means? A GCC ruler is actually planning to step down and peacefully hand the reins to someone younger. A GCC RULER! AN EMIR!
GCC Rulers have a history of super-glue-ing themselves to their thrones for decades and decades until they die. Unfortunately, in this day and age I'm not entirely sure this strategy is feasible anymore. (hint: Arab Spring)
What does this mean for Oman? If Qatar takes the first step and shows that it's not taboo to talk about an ordered succession plan, then maybe there's hope for Oman because we do not have a succession plan. The tale of two boxes containing a name (one at each end of the country) can't even convince a 5-year-old. Oman's succession strategy is not convincing. There is no obvious person being groomed to take over. And as pointed out in this Muscat Daily piece on Tuesday, Omani officials are basically unknown to the people.
For the past 43 years we have been loyal to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Him alone. We are not familiar with members of the Royal Family. We have never heard them speak. They do not mingle with locals (in Dhofar at least!) and it's worrying because the next Sultan supposedly has to be a member of the royal family of full Omani blood (that narrows it down because many of them have married foreigners).
If Omanis were to vote on this, they'd all just wish His Majesty will live forever and ever because whenever the moment comes that he is no longer here, it will be chaos.
The visit of His Excellency Yousuf bin Alawi Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs to Salalah on Friday was worrying (in my opinion). Change is in the air but I'll save his visit for my next post.
Your thoughts?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It's HERE!

Mother Nature proved me wrong. It started raining at 2:05 a.m yesterday. Khareef is officially here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Khareef on the horizon....

So in case you haven't noticed, Salalah is DEAD HUMID. My energy starts to drain the moment I step out of my house in the morning. My glasses fog up and my mascara starts to melt. I spend an extra two or three hours at work in the afternoon simply to avoid having to go out into the heat and humidity. Leaving work at 6 pm when the sun is disappearing is more attractive these days than leaving work at 3. That's how much I dislike this kind of weather. I avoid going out in the evening, I avoid errands, I avoid socializing.... it's just too hot.
Nevertheless, the horrid humidity in June is the build-up to the monsoon (Khareef). The ocean is in full monsoon swing already and we're all counting the days until the skies open up and the first drop of rain lands on the tip of my nose, probably at 7:30 am on June 21st. I'm willing to bet.
This year, the holy month of fasting (Ramadhan) is expected around July 9th depending on the moon. It will last probably until August 7th or 8th (again - depending on the moon). The Salalah Tourism Festival is set to start on the 2nd day of Eid Al Fitr (probably August 9th) and will end 25 days later (depending on the moon! If we depended on the moon a little more, the world would be a better place).
The invasion of tourists will probably start in the last days of Ramadhan. The government has promised there will be no fuel shortage this year (remember last year?) and I'm yet to see results of the 15 million rials that have been set aside to improve 'efficiency' during Dhofar tourist season.
On another note, there's a CNN video on Oman's First Chocolatiers (Salma's chocolates if you remember my post) . I've always been fascinated with how chocolates are made. The video answered my question.
Finally, I noticed the sign up for Home Centre at Salalah Gardens Mall (our new monster of a mall across from Lulu). I look forward to tasteful furniture and home items at last in Salalah. The current selection we have in town is nothing short of horrid.
And last but not least, I'm craving Pad Thai and Tom Yum Soup. Oh, Siam Kitchen, why did you close?
Yours Truly from in front of the air conditioner,
Dhofari Gucci


Monday, June 3, 2013

Washington Post Humor

So, the US didn't fail to pick up on our humorous (and sometimes obsessive and ridiculous attempts to re-write Omani history). I'm not entirely sure why we can't just admit that His Majesty overthrew his father in a semi-bloodless coup in 1970. We're happy he did because he did a world of good for this country. To read the Washington Post article on this, click here.

On another note, Carrefour was a true disappointment. There are about four or five products that I would drop in for every once in a while, but nothing with the 'wow' factor.  Lulu is ten times better, more organized and clean (there were flies sitting on the peaches at Carrefour). The live calf in a cage on opening night was HORRIBLE and bad taste.

And finally, despite all the rain and storm warnings for the weekend, Salalah got about 2 minutes of drizzle on Thursday night. That was it!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Public Holiday!

Thursday June 6th has been declared a public holiday for both the private and public sectors to mark the Israa wal Miraj, an Islamic holiday to celebrate the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) spiritual/physical journey to the heavens on one night in the year 621 as is commonly believed. The night of the Miraj is one of the most significant events in the Islamic calendar.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Family Bookshop Moved

NOW... something I AM excited about is the Family Bookshop. Those of you living in Salalah know that the Family Bookshop (used to be on Al Nahdha street) is the pretty much the only store in town selling English books, newspapers, magazines, cards, etc. It's been around for decades and I practically grew up there (the loyal store manager Abdulkhaliq is an idol).

So, a couple of weeks ago I was driving past the old bookshop location and was horrified by a sign on the boarded up storefront. For a moment I thought "ok, this is the end, they've closed, I'm doomed". Then I stopped the car to get a better look at the sign. It said they'd moved to a bigger and better location. YAY!

New Location: Al Saffa building next to Haffa House facing the highway, not on the Max side. For more about the opening, look at Maria's Dekeersmaeker's post here.

Carrefour in Salalah

Not that I'm dying of excitement or anything (I'm not), but Carrefour opened in Salalah this morning. Then again, I have nothing against Carrefour. I'm just not a let's-get-totally-hyped-about-a-new-supermarket kind of person. In all cases, I find it weird that it's right across the street from Lulu Hypermarket. When is someone going to open a really good hypermarket in Saada, the main residential area of town?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Disturbing Propaganda in our Schools

Recently, I walked into Lulu Hypermarket in Dhofar only to see this huge banner hanging between the two escalators. It goes something along the lines of:

 "A Muslim woman's dress is not something to fool around with. It is not something for designers to play with. It is religion and it is identity. It is a woman's way to God. As the Prophet's (PBUH) said, the scantily dressed do not go to heaven and won't come anywhere near it".  How can we lose heaven over a piece of clothing?".

There were other posters as well. As a Muslim woman who covers from head to toe and whose abaya is baggy enough for an army, I found the posters extremely offensive. In fact, referring to these posters as 'Islamist propaganda' isn't far fetched. I refer here to 'Islamism', not 'Islam'. Islamism has several definitions but it can be defined as a set of ideologies holding that "Islam should guide social and political as well as personal life". 

I had intended to blog about this earlier but decided against it. However, yesterday I was speaking to a concerned teacher at a local high school who claims this 'Covering-up-is-the-only-way-to-God' campaign (officially called "Be a Queen" campaign) has reached her school. The infiltration of the school system by these people (whoever they are - Salalah Men's Sports Club is one of the sponsors) telling young girls that following a certain dress code is the only way to God is DISTURBING. Surely parents/families are responsible for their own child's religious education and spiritual upbringing. The campaign has been endorsed by the Ministry of Education since it's being publicly discussed on their forum.

Their intentions are probably very good and they think they're paving their own way to heaven by promoting their campaign. However, instead of telling young girls to live in fear of hell and punishment and telling them they're 'wanted' by all men therefore they must cover up, and telling them dressing in BLACK (which is in NO WAY Islamic and only appeared in Dhofar in the 70s from the Iranian revolution and influence from Saudi Wahhabism)... instead of telling our girls to hide, be demure and not interact with the other half of humanity, what happened to raising strong girls who KNOW what's right? Girls who believe in being a good person? Girls who aren't shy to be out in society doing good? Girls who are proud of their religion and identity? Proactive girls? Why must it always be a fear factor?
This form of control, brainwash, and this focus on shallow shallow shallow aspect of one's personal life in the name of religion has NO PLACE in my Islam. (By shallow I refer to all the petty discussions of whether dying one's hair is haram, and whether wearing colours are acceptable, and whether it's against God to pluck one's eyebrows or wear heels or go shopping for heaven's sake. In fact, I was told by a male cousin that I should cover my face when going to the mosque because someone 'saw me' getting out of my car and walking into the grand mosque in broad daylight and that as a Muslim woman I should be humble and demure!!!!!!!!). Why the obsession with women?


Tuesday, April 16, 2013


A 7.8 magnitude earthquake (8 according to Oman news) hit Iran this afternoon and tremors were felt in Oman (North of Oman in particular). Several buildings in Muscat were evacuated and there were rumors spreading of possible tsunami dangers. The Omantel headquarters in Mawaleh were evacuated completely at 2:45 p.m. The Government of Oman has issued a message to all citizens (as of five minutes ago) saying they were only tremors and there is no danger of tsunami waves. Nothing was felt in Dhofar ... knock on wood. The government confirms that life shall not be disrupted and if you think there's no school tomorrow, keep dreaming.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Omani Sorcerer Jailed

Oman NEVER fails to baffle me. Real this article here by the one and only Sunil Vaidya over at Gulf News. Omani sorcerer caused the death of two people during one of his rituals in Muscat. I haven't heard of any 'death by black magic' incidents in Dhofar in recent years, but witchcraft is still quite popular down south where we are. In fact, just yesterday the house of someone I know had to be evacuated and 'cured' of any hex since several bundles of horrible things (animal bones, herbs, verses from the Quran written backwards, names of people, skin, etc) were found in the house. You can see from this piece by a local newspaper columnist that the use of black magic is still quite prevalent in Dhofar. Not a pleasant thought.