Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cyclone Chapala - Update

No major updates. Oman TV confirmed (at 10:00 am on Saturday) that the cyclone is 500 km away from the coast. They're still expecting rain to start today and the major effects to happen starting Sunday evening. They've evacuated Al Halaniyat Islands (officially reported on TV) and Rakhyout (word of mouth). Stay safe, stay home. Even if it moves towards Yemen in the next 24 hours, wer're still going to get major rainfall. Salalah is not equipped for major rainfall. Prepare yourself to have water in your home (especially if you live in a low area). Move important belongings upstairs. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tropical Cyclone Chapala: Eight Years of Rain Expected in Two Days

As you all know, Dhofar is about to be hit with Cyclone Chapala. There's a lot of information going around on social media, WhatsApp and the news. Lots of leaked memos from civil defense, police, schools etc. The government doesn't want people to panic, so they're not being informative about precautions except for the usual "stay away from wadis"  Here's what you should know:

1) It's around 800 km off the coast of Dhofar. Rain already started in Shuwaymia and Halaniyat Islands 
2) The cyclone is supposed to start "officially" tomorrow (Saturday afternoon/evening). 
3) They are expecting up to 60 ml of rain. 
4) It is expected to continue until Tuesday. 

A leaked memo from civil defense likened this cyclone to the one we had in 2002. Meaning? It's bad. 2002 was bad, not necessarily because of the cyclone, but because the rain had nowhere to go and Salalah pretty much drowned (highway was cut off), wadis running, trees fallen, cars floating around, dead animals, etc. Some lives were lost as well. Mostly people who were in or near wadis. 

I remember looking out the window and seeing trees bent over backwards and satellite dishes floating around (ones that had fallen OFF roofs). 

So my advice?

1) Stock up on packaged food, candles
2) charge your batteries
3) If you're anywhere near a wadi, move your vehicle/animals, etc to higher ground
4) Don't go NEAR Wadis. Flash floods are REAL, people. 
5) Even though Dhofar Power Company and Rural Areas Eelctricity company are working non-stop to ensure there is no power cut during the cyclone, keep in mind that you may have no power. These cyclones are powerful.
6) Omantel is also working hard to keep everything under control, but keep in mind that the 2002 cyclone led to zero communication for a couple of days. Make a plan in case there are no phones.
7) Stay indoors (and put towels near your windows just in case) 
8) AVOID THE BRIDGES. There are plenty of temporary steel structures around the two new bridges. THEY MIGHT COLLAPSE. 

Just stay indoors if the storm starts, and stay safe. 

Will update if any important info comes along.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Festival of the Negroes 2015

Although I find the name of this festival quite offensive, this is what it's called in Salalah whether I like it or not. The festival, otherwise known as "Mahrajan Al Zunooj" is a gathering of all former black slaves and their families to perform dances and displays of loyalty for His Majesty. The date is this event is never known in advance. An order comes from the palace, Oman TV is informed to come record it, it's never on TV but as far as I know is recorded for the party mentioned above. The event I believe starts with a visit to a grave, followed by rituals, following by this gathering of thousands of people. They all wear purple indigo wraps and go crazy for a couple of hours. 

Today the festival took place (as usual, on a random date at a moment's notice. I was privileged enough to be able to go and enjoy it up close. The history of this event is ambiguous and even creepy (hint: involvement of djinn? magic?). I don't have time at the moment to post photos but I'm re-posting photos from 2012. Same exact scene.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Upcoming elections and other tidbits...

Hello everyone. Greetings from my freezing office on this very hot day. I'll never understand why men need to have the central air-conditioning in our office building at freezing level. I suffer. 

Alrighty, so referring to the post below on the upcoming Majlis Al Shura (parliament) elections, take note of the following:

1) I'm still amazed about the Salalah Alliance selection criteria

2) I'm happy that this election season has featured fewer hideous bulletin board campaigns with        people promising to deliver the world (when we all know they have very little authority)

3) Elections will take place on Sunday October 25th.

Even though voting takes five minutes, and the polls are open until evening, don't expect to see many Omanis at work. For some reason, people feel the need to take the whole day off work to hang around feeling important. This will be my third time to vote. Every single time, I've worked a full day (normally alone in a big empty office) then went to vote after 5 pm. That's what normal people with job accountability should do right? Or take off say... an hour off from work to go vote? Does the country really need to come to a complete halt? 

On the topic of voting, congratulations to my Canadian readers (assuming they're not conservatives) on your new hot Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. I'd vote for him any day.

And finally, rumor has it that the Oman navy are going to ruin occupy one of Mirbat's most treasured beaches.  Do you have any details about this?