Friday, August 31, 2007

Am I Muttawa?

I like freedom. Oman may not be the world leader in freedom for the people, but I appreciate what freedoms we have here. Granted, that even if the government doesn't dictate all your freedoms, then your company, your family, or your friends may fill that gap through rules, guilt, and mockery. Anyway, I digress....

Take, for example, the freedom to wear pretty much anything we want. We have the freedom to wear bikini's to the swimming pool and hotel beaches. German tourists have the freedom to wear string bikinis and budgie smugglers to the public beach in qurum, where the guy hanging out then have the freedom to laugh at them. Women have the freedom to wear the hijab, or not. Men have the freedom to wear national dress or not, as they see fit. Fashion-wise we are a pretty free bunch of folks, and I think that's a great thing. I certainly don't want to see a bunch of acne scarred, short-dishdasha wearing, camel stick wielding, scraggly bearded government nut-jobs dictating my attire or questioning the company I keep.

Which is why the experience I had yesterday leaves me feelingrsomewhat conflicted. Maybe you guys could be kind enough to advise?

We were shopping at Sultan Center and in behind us walked a youngish couple of white folks. She was wearing daisy duke denim shorts so short that you could see the bottom of her butt cheeks hanging out from them, and a tight white tank top with sparkles across the tits. Attire that would be trashy in the US or Britain, and that is entirely inappropriate here in the Oman at a grocery store. Half an hour or so later we are riding down the escalator in the store, and I look down into the frozen foods section to see if our trolley is where we left it, and the couple is kissing. Like full on embrace, tongues intertwined, his right hand squeezing her left butt cheek. I know I should have looked away, but it was unreal. Right there next to the frozen beans, their image reflected in the polished front of the ice cream display.

That was the last I saw of the couple, we paid for our groceries and left. I pondered saying something to them, but didn't. Should I have;

  1. politely mentioned that their attire and behavior might be found offensive.
  2. Told them that when they do things like that it brings the freedom we have to wear what we want one step closer to extinction.
  3. Told them that as someone married to a white guy, they make his whole culture look stupid, uninformed, and insensitive.
  4. none of the above, you are a busy body. Who appointed you the Muscat Muttawa? If you don't wanna see that, don't look.
  5. none of the above you should have done / said _______________________
  6. Hey Suburban, freedom is freedom. TO even speak to them is the thin end of the wedge. Posting here is the thin end of the wedge, etc?

Let me know what you think here kids... I'm conflicted on this one.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Higher education: ‘Culture of e-admission’ catching up

Higher education: ‘Culture of e-admission’ catching up
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 12:49:44 AM Oman Time

MUSCAT — The Higher Education Admissions Centre (HEAC) is the brainchild of the Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), and one of a number of new initiatives designed to modernise the operations of the ministry in the interest of the public.

Gone are the days when students and their parents from all over the Sultanate, including the faraway regions of Dhofar and Musandam, had to make the journey to the capital to present their application documents to various public and private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Many students would go from one private college to another to seek admission.

Now all that students have to do is use their home computers or go to the computer lab at one of 500 local centres throughout the country where trained staff will help them apply online. While not everyone has a home computer, most people have access to a mobile phone; and, amazingly, students can also apply by SMS text on their mobile phones. Here is how it works. The student sends a text message to 90190, a special number registered by HEAC with Omantel, and accesses 22 different services – from information to the application process itself. In order to obtain information about these services, students can text a message to 90190 and receive an automatic reply from HEAC. The HEAC system, one of the first of its kind in the world, is fully automated and completely user-friendly.

This has virtually revolutionised the once cumbersome application process, streamlining it and making it highly efficient and effective. On August 9, HEAC had 14,151 seats on offer. Two days later, by August 11, more than 13,000 students had accepted their offers, using either the internet or SMS messaging.

Dr Said Al Adawi, director-general of the MoHE’s Higher Education Admissions Centre, explains that, with some 60,000 students graduating from Grade 12 this year alone, the aim is “to build a ‘culture of e-admission’ in every school. Staff are being trained to help students see e-access to Higher Education services as a way of life”. And they are finding that a surprising number of students are already very IT literate and others learn quickly.

The HEAC is a branch or Directorate-General within the Ministry of Higher Education located in Azaiba and run by 16 professional Omani staff.

Dr Said mentions that, when the centre opened a year ago, crowds of students came in person, but the number of visitors has already declined by more than 300 per cent and keeps on declining, as more and more people come to understand how much easier it is to apply online than in person.

Fee paying students can apply to any of Oman’s 22 private colleges and universities through the HEAC website. Last year 4,000 students obtained their admissions in the private HEIs via the HEAC website; and this year 6,000 students did so. This summer, the MoHE allocated more than 250 scholarships for study abroad through the HEAC system, as well as 2,188 seats for low income and social welfare students.

Non-Omanis living outside the country may also use the HEAC website to apply for seats in the private HEIs in Oman. Students have applied from places such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and some African countries. The website has had more than a million visitors since it started just over a year ago.

Dr Said Al Adawi sums it up: “e-admission in Oman is a phenomenon which has really caught on. People are finding that the website is a tremendous resource. There are links with the overseas universities which are academic partners of Oman’s HEIs. Universities and colleges can post their details on the website; and so students can easily access good sources of information”.

Higher education is more important than ever before as Oman undergoes rapid development and strives for economic diversification within the global market. In these circumstances, and with competition for highly prized seats in higher education, HEAC is especially concerned about transparency and equity. In terms of transparency, courses and details of the HEIs are published in a handbook distributed free to all students. At the same time, students can obtain necessary information from the HEAC website. Also, as new scholarships become available, the information is posted on the website in order to spread the news as broadly as possible.

Deadlines for students to submit their applications, accept their offers and register at the HEIs are clearly posted. Any student who feels that he or she has not been treated fairly at any point in the application process may appeal. The Appeal Board consists of members not connected with the government who are able to consider cases objectively. The Appeal Board’s decisions are final and do not require the approval of HEAC or the Ministry of Higher Education. Last year the Appeal Board gave 3,000 students who did not apply, or who missed the deadline, another chance to access the system and obtain seats.

HEAC is now undertaking a new statistical database project in order to support the higher education planning process and to improve the quality and consistency of the information flow between the Ministry of Higher Education, the HEIs and various stakeholders including other ministries involved in higher education, the Oman Accreditation Board and the Oman Research Council.

All of this makes the Ministry of Higher Education a major player in the government’s overall thrust in e-communication and e-administration as the Sultanate secures its place in the knowledge era.


Article from Times of Oman; click on header to go to original article.

This certainly is good news; according to Gulf News, Oman is the first GCC country to adopt the e-admission system...Gulf News has THIS article on the matter.

As a side note, our friend Ali (sleepless) is unwell...please pray for his speedy recovery.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tele-Mess (1)

The telecommunications sector, alongside with the transportation sector, is one of the foundations to an economic and social prosper. The gateway to opening new financial horizons with the outside world and the birth of the milestone that will lead nations marching proudly up the ladder. From being third world countries to developing ones, and from developing ones to developed ones.

In Oman, that potential is bottlenecked by many difficulties. I firmly think that the telecommunications sector is one of the biggest challenges to that potential. I think We owe this amount of communicational retardation to two companies that are straightforwardly the main causes to this problem. OmanTel and Oman Mobile, sadly, the "leading" companies in the communications sector, but the only thing these companies are leading are us deeper in the mud pit.

For more than 10 years now, Omantel has been the sole internet service provider in the country, a position that has given it clear advantage, which instead of being used to improve their status, was used strictly to momentary financial success.

Omantel, despite it's flourishing ever-rising bank accounts, is no where near successful. Their lack of an investment policy is an extremely risky way to be in the market. They refused to invest in the public in a way that they would want to make Omantel their first choice instead of the only one. As soon as another Internet Service Provider company offers it's services, people will salvatorily gallop towards it because no matter how bad it could be, there's nothing worse than Omantel.

The dial up internet's tarriff has been anything but erratic. That 180Bz/Hour is so fortified that one would think it's taken a life of it's own and there's no way Omantel or anyone (TRA cough TRA) can do anything about it. Expensive I'd say, but I wouldn't be surprised if they decide to raise the price. I mean everyone knows that things lose price after they get outdated, but get explosively overpriced as soon as they become 'Classic'. Dial-up has definetly earned to be a classic, so a price raise for it's newly well-deserved status is only logical.

That's how old and outdated our services are. Old enough that if they were people, they'd be stone statues in public parks. A token of our appreciation for their past contributions. Sadly in our case, the person lives, and is the primary option of connection to the International Network.

One would argue that Omantel has, thankfully, provided us approximately three years ago with the blessing with a 'broadband' mean of connection. PowerNet (more like Lack-of-PowerNet), Omantel's commercial name for ADSL 'broadband' internet connection with speeds -ideally- clocked at 384Kbps for home users. Non Ideally, it underpreforms in what already is an underperformance, because that's extremely slow in comparison with the current international internet offerings, and pathetic in comparison with the regional ones.

Either way. ADSL is better to live with, right ? .. Wrong. I bet you to go tomorrow to Omantel and apply for ADSL, and tell me after 4 weeks if you already have the connection. Hell make it, 8 weeks. Their list of excuses is limitless. Prepare to hear that in your location, the divisions for ADSl service are full, but they'll put you on the "waiting list". Or they'll tell you that they'll come in 3 weeks, because their technicians are 'busy', and come really in a little short of 3 months. I won't go too deep with ADSL, because I previously talked about it quite extensively here in my blog, and that doesn't end there, I'm intentionally not talking about the prices, or the 'Omantel' usage rounding system, which basically is a major sign to mathematical doomsday, because it's just too depressing.

Moving On.

I don't know how the 'share market' system works, and my knowledge is as shallow as they come, but I noticed this. By the end of the first half of this year, Omantel's profits rose about 17% percent from it's profits this time last year, recording 49,000,000 Omani Rials (123 Million USD) of tax-free profit. Now, it's my understanding that if a company's profits rises, it's market share would rise proportionally, contradictory to the, what some people call, slow and disappointing drops in Omantel's market shares.

The facts are %100 correct, but I'm not certain of my explanation and I'd be more than happy to be corrected. I'm however certain that it's not entirely clean. Not with Omantel. There has to be a lie somewhere.

A lie just like the lie they made up about allocating 7,000,000 Omani Rials (Approx. 18 Million USD) to "improve it's customer services". Yes, lie, because that price would only be credible if you tell me that those 7 mil were used to purchase new CDs to play while you hold on on their internet hotline. It's 1313. Call, and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

The question now is, What will the introduction of a new Internet Service Provider bring to the table ? Are the TRA playing Omantel favors by keeping their rules mellow and their standards low ? Do you ever think that Omantel at some point, whether competed with or not, will want to change it's policies ?

You tell me, and keep alert, soon we do Oman Mobile.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The need for a law capping rent increases?

Rising rents cause concern

By Ali Al Badi

MUSCAT Rents in the Sultanate are on an upswing. The rise has exceeded 200 per cent in Muscat, 300 per cent in Sohar and 100 per cent in Salalah.

Experts say this is due to absence of activation of laws governing rent practices. They say there is a need for laws to govern the process of raising prices and resolve disputes between owners and tenants.

The phenomenon of high prices of real estate rents, especially by greedy landlords at the expense of tenants, is turning from bad to worse.

This has made some landlords to exploit the situation leading to situations where tenants are either forced to accept the new rent or search for a new house. And most of the time the tenants end up in accepting the new rent grudgingly.

According to the public, there is no way to stop the landlords from hiking rents.

HE Younis Bin Sabeel Al Balushi, Chairman of the Economic Committee in the Shura Council, said the committee has prepared a study on the subject of high rents and concluded that the main causes for the hike in rents is due to hike in the value of land, some of which rose to over 500 per cent in some locations especially in Al Khuwair.

The rise in prices of building materials such as cement, iron, cables, sanitary materials and also labour wages has led to a surge in prices.

He said laws that specify a certain annual percentage of rent hike would limit the rise in an arbitrary manner.


Amid rising inflation due to various factors, this is the last thing tenants could hope for...lets hope the municipality does something...

(Click on header to go to main article in Tribune)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Oman offers India gas in exchange for coal

Oman has made an offer to trade India natural gas in exchange for coal.

“We have received a very interesting proposal from the Oman government, which has been forwarded to the power ministry by the ministry of external affairs, about their interest in a coal and gas swap around a month back,” said a senior government official familiar with the matter. “We are studying the proposal, which will be very beneficial for our present and future gas-based (power) generation capacity,” added the official, who did not wish to be identified.

If the Indian government says yes, the two countries will enter into a long-term contract where Oman provides India natural gas in exchange for a steady supply of coal.

Indian coal has a high-ash content, one reason why some domestic coal-based power plants mix it with higher quality coal that is imported. However, Oman wants Indian coal for this very reason. Fly ash is a key component in the manufacture of cement and Oman, currently going through an infrastructure and construction boom, needs as much of the building material as it can get.

In return, India will get natural gas, currently in short supply across the world, to run its power plants. Gas is also a key input for fertilizer plants. Several power plants in India that run on gas have had to shut down because of scarcity of the fuel. [link]
Interesting, but isn't Oman short of gas itself and looking to get supplies from Qatar through the Dolphin project and from Iran through the proposed pipeline across Hormuz?

another OCB announcement...

Having read all the comments in the post "Hands up, please," - I have decided to go back on the set of rules that I had decided earlier to take into effect on the 1st of September, 2007.

You now have total freedom when to post.

I hope this is to your please.

Thanks again for your feedback..

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

called to challenge...

The UAE Community Blog folks seem to have an itch about us forming a bog of our own saying that we are buying off their success as the GCC's most reknowned community blog.

Check it out by clicking here.

Tell us what you think..

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hands up, please..

Regarding the last post on the OCB about the new amendments to the original blog rules, I have gone and revised each of your comments on the issue and found myself to be in frustration to see what it is that needs to be done next.

Therefore, I ask that everyone (including previous members of the blog) to join in by raising their hands to include suggestions on how the Oman Community Blog should be moderated in terms of rules & regulations and also the posts, the language, and topics assigned to the contributers of the blog.

This is your chance to be as honest as you want - but at the same time maintaining decency of language used - for you to voice your true opinion of how you think that the blog should be managed.

Awaiting your comments..

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another good news!

Seeb airport flyover, bridge to be completed in November

MUSCAT — Over 65 per cent of the work on the Seeb International Airport flyover and bridge project has been completed, according to Carillion Alawi LLC, the company executing the project.

All the work related to the project would be completed in November and the inauguration would take place during the 37th National Day celebrations, the manager of Carillion Alawi said.

The project is one of the vital plans executed by Muscat Municipality for smooth traffic on the main road.

The manager said over 600 employees, including engineers, technical workers and drivers, were working round the clock to complete the project on schedule.

He said the company had faced several challenges over the execution of the project such as shortage of key raw materials. The company had put in tremendous efforts to ensure completion of the project as planned, he added.

The bridge and the intersections of the project were designed according to international specifications and criteria in the field, he said.

The project included construction of three lanes along the Sultan Qaboos Street, a flyover, sub-roads, landscaping and lighting among other works.


(Click on header of title to go to actual article)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Is the omani consumer ready for the city center expansion just yet?

I saw muscati's post on the new shops opening in city center and i was like WOW, finally ill be able to get clothes from Oman.
But i couldnt help but think, will Omani's buy from these stores?
Most of these stores such as gap,zara etc will do pretty good since they sell quality products at moderate prices.
Lacoste and tommy hillfiger however are of a much higher caliber. There is im sure a market for it in the sultanate. How long will that last though?
I have noticed that most Omani's spend more than they used to 10 years ago.
But will the number of people purchasing from these stores be enough to keep these stores open?
Countless times we have seen shops and restaurants close in Oman and we think to ourselves , why?
You always thought you saw plenty of people there.
It is however a fact that the reason most of these places closed down is because of cash flow problems. Basically not enough cash inflow from revenue.
I dont work in market research. Heck i dont even work. I do know my country though, and it is questionable whether or not these shops will survive. Lets just hope for the best and pray to god that they stay open long enough for us to shop in them =D .

The hard facts on inflation in Oman

Annual inflation in Oman accelerated to 5.9% in June, the highest in at least two and a half years, as food costs and rents jumped, official data showed.

The consumer price index rose to 110.3 points compared with 104.2 points in the year-earlier, according to data published on the Ministry of National Economy website. Inflation was 4.3% in May.

The cost of food, beverages and tobacco, which account for around 30% of the index, rose 11.1% in June, compared with 9.1% in the previous month. (Link)

Cost of food went up 11.1% in one month. Add the 9.1% the previous month and that's a 20% increase in just May and June!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Seminar on rising prices of consumer items on Monday

Times of Oman:

SOHAR — A seminar on ‘The rising prices of consumer commodities, services and the scope of cooperation between consumers, traders and distributors’, will be organised on Monday at the Sohar branch of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry by the Omani Association for Consumer Protection. The opening ceremony will be presided over by Ahmed bin Sulaiman Al Maimani, undersecretary for administrative, financial and regional affairs at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The aim of this seminar is to highlight the major role played by the association in protecting consumers, raising the consumers’ awareness of their rights, protecting such rights and protecting consumers against price hike, profiteering, imitation and fraud. “It also aims at raising the consumer awareness of the scopes of cooperation between consumers, traders and distributors,” said Said bin Nasser Al Khusaibi, chairman of the Omani Association for Consumer Protection and spokesman for the seminar.

In a statement to ONA, Al Khusaibi said the keynote speaker at the seminar, Dr Mohammed bin Ibrahim Ebeidat, chairman of the Jordan-based Arab Union for Consumer Protection, will highlight the price hike in consumer commodities and services in addition to scopes of cooperation among consumers, traders and distributors.

It's high time the inflation issue was paid more attention...the Middle East is suffering from "imported inflation" as the weakening US Dollar drags down the value of the OMR, AED far Oman has resisted the calls to revalue the OMR...

Click on the header to go to the original post in Times of Oman.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Childhood Entertainment!

I remember when I went back to Oman in the age of 6, there were different things and places for kids to get entertained or enjoy our free time.

I remember that we used to go to Al-Riyam Park in Muscat/Mattrah & Wadi Al-Kabir Park an average of three times a week after the Asar prayer with my father [ May Mercy cover him], and when we are back we do our home work and have dinner then go to bed. We used to enjoy our short trip to that park a lot. Although at them days the park only had the normal play ground, the play grounds that did nit require any electricity or power supply. The games on the play ground used to be so simple yet you can have so much fun without having to feel bored. You get to play with other kids and enjoy your time till when you are called to go home or have a snack.

Another park that I used to enjoy going to is the Al-Naseem in Barka/Rummis. It’s a huge park and had all sorts of game starting with normal play grounds to the electrical or power supply games/rides to the steaming train that cruise you around the park in half an hour. It used to be fun to go there for a day picnic. I remember it used to be a big deal to go to that park especially on Eid days. We used to go in big number nearly most of my cousins, aunties and uncles from all age. We take food with us and we camp in a location that we consider it to be the centre or meeting point, we get to scatter across the park in groups and then we all go back to the one point to either have rest, or have a snack or get extra money for the games/rides. I don’t remember any one moaning or complaining about the trip, as by the end of it every one will be tried and exhausted, and will only want to have a shower and sleep with a big smile on their faces and feelings of enjoyment.

In the same period of time there was this place that I was always big fond of it, and every time I go there I feel that I was in a different world and when I come out of it I go back to my real world. I guess as a child we are ought to have our imaginary moments with the aid of the surroundings. Any way the place that I am referring to was located in 3rd floor of Oman Commercial Centre (OCC), it was called the Sindbad Centre. There were many rides in them and you keep on jumping from one ride to another and you queue for some and as you change your mind to play you will be next to ride! It used to make me laugh when ever this thing happens to me, its like my mind waits till when I want to change my mind then things do change to the way I want them to be. I used to love buying candy floss and the buttered popcorn, plus some sweets from the vending machine. As I said before once you get into that area you would feel to be in a different world and when you come out of it then you are back to reality. It used to get dead packed over the weekend and on Eid days. But more over the weekend, just because it used to be ONLY ONE DAY of weekend and that was Friday. I always wondered what happened to this place; and why was it closed? I always thought it used to make good money for as I said it was always full and you would wait for ages to get a ride…

With years passed, Al-Khuwair Park was our centre place to meet and arrange a time to spend to meet up with our cousins and play with the rides, then when we are done we go and by Shawarma and go by the Sarooj beach and sit by the beach and have our dinner then we go home, with our mother’s company. We used to enjoy this allot and we never felt bored, infact it used to be a great thing for us to spend these precious time with our mother and the cousins and we set our own games by the beach until midnight and then drop every one home and we go home after that.

Al-Qurum Natural Park became our number ONE place for a good walk and nice time rowing the boats or the rowing water cars in the lakes. Seriously it was really BIG time for us. We used to spend hours in that place and sometime we used to bring our snacks and game with us and we sit somewhere and have our own circle and play with Uno cards, playing cards, Questions/quizzes cards …etc.

I don’t know why, but it used to be a big deal if we mentioned to our friends’ at school that we’ve been to the above places and other places over the weekend or even the week days. It used to built the reaction of “WOW, REALLY! I WISH I WENT WITH YOU!” this kind f reaction made you feel so special that you have gone to these places and other didn’t or they missed it on that certain week and makes you feel lucky somehow.

The current generation had changed its look and view in how to live their childhood or even how to have fun I mean “REAL” fun. Many of them don’t even know any of the parks above and some will know them just because they will use such places as a dating/meeting point and not look into these places to be the most pleasant places to have some fresh air and have nice entertainment with family members.

May be because this sort of entertainment is what was available at that time and our generation did not get into the deep of the modern technology and its brain wash and those we were not dragged into demanding or greediness to have more of the brain entertainment rather than physical entertainment. May be in our time we were looking into having fun more with other kids and enjoy our time with them playing on the same rides or games rather than having to spend hours on game boy or play stations or any of these known gadgets that only allows you to play with the computer/machine rather than with other people or kids.

I feel pity to our current generation and the once after them, that they will or already lost the real meaning of being a child and live their childhood in the genuine way with no stress or living in the machine bubble with one aim in their mind is to WIN over the machine in the games provide in the gadgets.

The truth I miss going to the above places and every time I say when I go to Oman this time I will make an effort to at least pass by and see how they look like but sadly I am always visiting Oman for a short period of time and I don’t even get the chance to say hello to my own family members.

May be there is at least one member in here who will know exactly what I mean by what I wrote above! [Well I hope there will be one at least] :s

Muscat City Center's new shops

A list I got in my email today of all the shops that will be opening in the new wing at Muscat City Center starting next month. It looks authentic.



Aldo Accessories

Art Café



Banana Republic


Bijoux Terner



Café Cotton



Club Monaco


Forever 21




Hugo Boss


Jane Shilton Shoes




Noodle House



Phat Phace


Reaction – Kenneth Cole




Sunglass Hut



Tommy Hilfiger

White Company


Zara Home

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oman's needs for expanding the hotel industry

This article has just been published by the Gulf News:

Muscat: Demand for hotel rooms in Oman far exceeds the current availability of around 4,000, according to a top executive in the hospitality industry.

"Currently about 4,000 rooms in different facilities are available across Oman and at the rate the tourism and hotel industries are growing, the demand could double in the next five years," D. Shekar, general manager Hotel Projects and Operations with the Safeer Tourism and Hotel Company, told Gulf News on the sidelines of formal opening of the group's new four-star facility - Safeer Plaza Hotel Suits - in Al Khuwair district.

"Al Khuwair is going to be what Deira is to Dubai due to its centralised location," said Shekar.

Fast developing

His company has already opened three properties in this fast developing district, which is close to the international airport as well as the central market of the capital, Muscat.

He also said that the recent tropical cyclone Gonu did not affect any hotels in the Al Khuwair area as it was landlocked and out of the path of any wadi.

"There's a potential in developing hospitality properties in areas off the coastal areas too," he said.

Shekar said that the general tourism boom in Asia and the Oman government's efforts to lure visitors had fuelled growth in the recent times.

"With Oman Air becoming the sole national carrier, they are expanding at a rapid pace and that reflects in growing inbound traffic of tourists. Consequently the demand of rooms keeps rising," Ali Al Hadi, group general manager, Oman Commercial Agencies, said.

Talking about his company's latest addition, Safeer Plaza Hotel suits, Sekhar said it was children-friendly. "Probable for the first time in the region, we have added children's room, complete with toys, children's bed sheets, cartoon wall hangings and other paraphernalia," he said.

In reply to a question on the funds pumped in by the group, he said,: "We would not like to reveal the amount of money we have or we would invest in our properties."

Clicking on the post title will take you directly to the posted article on the newspaper's website.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

People & Parkings

Last week I published a post on my blog about a picture I've taken of two cars which were parked improperly. I was supposed to publish that post here on OCB but I didn't because the quality of the picture was a very bad one. Today I noticed the same thing in a different place and took quite a decent picture to share it here on OCB. I know that this is so common and is not only seen in Oman but I really wonder when will people stop being selfish and bother to park their cars properly.

omanforum , english sabla or oman serv. which one is for you

Recently i had kind of a love triangle with all three.
Each one had its own identity.
With english sabla. I felt uneasy , unrelaxed, dictated.
I found comfort at oman serv.
Being a long time member with omanforum. I will always view it as the best and most comfortable of them all.
What i liked about english sabla, was the fact that their are loads of members online all the time.
Thus ensuring looooong topics. Not really focusing on quality but rather quantity .
The majority of members in omanforum however are of an older age, and are commited to work.
So less members online but the quality of the post does kind of turn you on .
The thing i liked most about omanserv was the fact that everyone is laid back . Easy going.
Even though most of them were members on both ES and OS.
I guess that last point goes down to the admin.
All in all. Its good to know that the omani online community is live and vibrant.
With three popular forums. Each for a different type of personality.
English sabla for the young and the vibrant.
Oman forum for the more sophisticated.
And Omanserv a nice blend of the two.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Oman to conduct fish species census

Oman to conduct fish species census

(Khaleej Times)

9 August 2007

MUSCAT — In a bid to boost the fishing sector and help the local fishermen, the government of Oman has launched a comprehensive survey to take stock of available fishing species in its territorial waters.

This is the fourth such survey being conducted by Oman's Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the present one coming after a gap of 17 years and will provide a database for live water wealth. The earlier surveys were carried out in 1975, 1983 and 1990.The results of the surveys have contributed to drafting the national fishing policies and strategies to increase production.

The number of fishermen and the produced fish quantities have witnessed a remarkable increase and Omani fish products are now sold at a number of foreign markets.

The Sultanate's fish production last year grew by 9 per cent to hit 150,000 tonnes.

The OMR2.6 million survey, to be conducted in association with a New Zealand-based company, will help the ministry to ensure better management of fish wealth with the help of the accurate data which will be gathered during the survey.

This survey is expected to enable the ministry to augment the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), increase the number of Omani fishermen and raise the volume of fisheries stocks, eventually increasing Omani products for exports.

The project will run through 26 months covering all the seasons and includes surveying of the surface and deep sea resources in addition to the fish resources in the Sultanate's territorial waters from the area of southern Masirah island to the Sultanate's border with Yemen at a depth that ranges between 20 metres to 250 metres.

More than 25 Omanis will be trained to work on board the survey vessel which will use modern and state-of-the-art technologies, sensors and special equipment designed for exploring sea beds.

Good News for the fishing industry!

Oman Waste Water's phantom contractor

Is this Muscat Wastewater Project billboard's declaration of "بداية جديدة" (A New Start) an admission from the Oman Wastewater Services Company of the rumors that the project's contractor, China's Sino Hydro Corporation, has indeed withdrawn from the project and left town leaving the project in limbo?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Shaheen Resumes flights to Muscat

Good news for people travelling between Muscat and Pakistan...According to Times of Oman:

MUSCAT — Shaheen Air, Pakistan’s private airline, has announced its decision to restart operations to Muscat. It will launch two direct flights to Lahore from August 10.

Shaheen Air will operate Boeing 737 aircraft, full economy class with 121-seat capacity on Mondays and Fridays. The departure from Muscat is scheduled at 0930 hours on Monday and at 1600 hours on Fridays.

National Travel & Tourism is the GSA for Shaheen Air from Oman offering total travel services through a professional service team.

Shaheen Air used to fly to Muscat regularly, but suspended operations a while back...National Travels even removed the signage of the airline from their offices...

This announcement would appeal to people travelling to Pakistan from Oman, both Omanis and expats, as Shaheen offers relatively lower airfares than other airlines...

City Centre, Muscat - news update

City Centre, Muscat's new bridge has finally been finished and can now be used by motorists coming from Muscat to head straight into the new 3-level car parking unit that has been established by the commercial centre with a budget of over 2 million Omani Rials.

As for the new stores, I had been informed that all the new stores in the second phase are now on schedule to be opened on 15th September, 2007.

So it would seem everything is going according to plan in the development of City Centre, Muscat.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

OCB announcement

I would like to inform all the bloggers that starting from the 1st of September, 2007; there would be an implementation of a new rule on the Oman Community Blog.

This rule basically is all about the amount of posts that are blogged in a month and a week and the bloggers that post them.

In short, the system would be that from now on, each blogger would have to at least blog some 2 posts per week - whether they are long or short is up to the blogger in name. Secondly, if a specific blogger does not post for one month they get a warning message. If the same blogger does not post for another month, they get a second warning message. With a third month of non-posting, the blogger is then scrapped off the contributer's list and will no longer be able to post anything apart from comments on the OCB.

I have thought about this over and over again before coming to this decision, but I have no other solution since we have a lot of bloggers who have been accepted into the contributer's list but have not blogged once since that time. There are others who have also accepted the fact that only one post from them is acceptable for the time being.

If we are to keep this blog alive and running, I would then strongly urge everyone to follow the rules that have been given out to them prior to their acceptance into the contributer's list and the above amendment.

There will be another amendment following up soon on the topics that everyone can participate in for the sake of the OCB sometime soon.

If you have any questions or queries, please, do not hesitate to leave your comments in this post to address them or even email me on pennedthoughts[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thanking your kind attention..

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Al Maha Souk

What's happening with the Souk convenience stores at Al Maha filling stations? They never were my choice of stores to stop at but lately circumstances had me going to a bunch of them, both here in Muscat and on the drive back from Dubai yesterday. The stores are a mess. In some, the shelves are empty. In most the fridges are not stocked with many popular drinks. None of them have Coca Cola products (my wife is a Diet Coke addict). One of them they didn't even have small bottles of water. The staff were unprofessional. They don't wear a uniform or anything that identifies them. Not even a name tag. If it weren't for the fact that they were standing behind the counter you wouldn't even know they work there. Most were dressed in dishdashas without anything covering their heads. In every single store the clerk was talking on his mobile phone the whole time I was there, even while punching my purchases through.

Shopping at a convenience store isn't exactly about having an outstanding time shopping, but what these stores offer is pathetic. It's almost as if they are deliberately being run down.


Thursday, August 2, 2007

Be In Oman blog

A couple of days ago I discovered a new Omani blog (actually not really new) through this blog. The blog is called Be In Oman and has been there since last April. Run individually by an Omani youth called Al-Maawali. However, as his last post says, he has contributors on the way to join him on his blog.

The owner of that blog leaves some comments here on OCB from time to time and that's how I knew about his blog. Although his blog is not that active I honestly think that he's doing a good job. Supposedly, the idea of his blog is similar to ours, about our experiences with Oman and anything related to Oman. Maybe weirdgoat considers him a competitor, lol. Here you go weirdgoat, another competitor! :-p. No really, the guy is doing a good job and he sounds young - my age - which is also great.

Although we wanted to gather as many Omani bloggers as possible to contribute with us on this site with their stories, experiences and information, I don't see anything wrong with having a couple of other blogs with our same purpose. Maybe there we can find stuff we can't find here on OCB. That doesn't matter. We wish all Omani bloggers success.

Anyways, I just wanted to feature that blog here on OCB just in case some of you didn't know about it. Click here to check Be In Oman blog.