Sunday, September 30, 2007

Corruption on the rise?

2007 Report

2006 Report
Transparency International, the Berlin based organisation, has released its annual computation of corruption across the world. Oman has dropped down the order a bit. It is ranked 53rd among the 180 nations computed by Transparency International, against 39th among 163 nations last year. Accordingly, Oman’s integrity index has marginally dropped to 4.7 from 5.4 a year ago.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bloggers meeting (update)

This post is an update to my previous post about the Bloggers meeting. Since we agreed on the venue & timing of the meeting, here are the details & confirmation.

Venue: Cinnzeo Café - Al-Massa Mall
Date: October the 3rd, Wednesday
Time: 9.00pm to 11.00pm

Every blogger out there is more than welcome to attend the gathering. Hope to see as many bloggers as possible! :-)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Starbucks can’t handle the peak

For the first time in my life I get disappointed with Starbucks’s service at Muscat City Centre.

Yesterday my cousins and I went to Starbucks at Muscat City Centre and ordered three coffees, looking forward for the tasty flavoured coffee, after the first sip we got disappointed, as it was warm and closer to cold, one of my cousin returned it and asked to be warmed again but the result was the same, we all ended up to drink it vary fast and didn‘t enjoy the coffee. It seems that Starbucks can’t handle the peak at Muscat City Centre, specially at Ramadan season, by trying to serve the maximum number of customers that they started to mess up the coffee’s quality.

On the other hand, we saw that the mugs were cracked from the bottom, it just reminded me of Guno. They really need to replace those mugs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ramadhan Kareem?

I love Ramadhan. Without a doubt, it's my absolute favorite month, bar none. I love breaking bad habits, Iftar with friends and family, the peace and quiet in the early evening, and the bleary early morning breakfasts. The thing I love the most though, is the fact that everyone is genuinely trying to put thier best, kindest and most charitable foot forward.

Ramadhan is the month when everyone smiles back at me on the streets and in the stores. When we all make an effort to be more genuine in our enqueries about the welfare of another's family. When we try to give more to charity, and to do charitable things for others without being asked, or thanked. This month gives me hope that maybe everything is going to be all right when the oil is gone, and that we are truly a nation of generous, kind, team players.

BUT (you knew there was a but) I have to avoid driving during Ramadhan. Because the way we drive during this month makes me think that we're all a bunch of fakes, and that our truest nature (Local and expatriate alike) is one of absolute self interest and greed. The concept of a fair and egalitarian society goes right out the window the moment we hop in the car and crank up the AC.

I've driven in both New York and Los Angeles, New York being the place I learned to use the word Jackass with appropriate authourity and inflection. But our behavior on the roads during Ramadhan makes New Yorkers look like a bunch of soccer mommies queing for tickets to Celine Dion concert.

Take for example the Ministries road toward Seeb at about 14:45. I spent 45 minutes patiently queing there yesterday while ministry employees drove up the emergency lane on the right to cut in, or drove up the road on the side of opposing traffic to cut in. The bahavior may have saved each of them some time, but it caused even greater delays because the 5 lanes they had created had to merge into two at the round about.

Last Year, I was queing near AL SArooj / Shatti. I was at the time, 9 months pregnant, in my Non-airconditioned Abu Shenab, decked out in a BLACK abaya. Some guy in a white jeep with a three digit number platecomes flying up the emergency vehicle lane on the right overtaking a mile of traffic, hoping to cut in at the front of the cue. Except I'm half way over, taking up both lanes. He blares his horn, shakes his fist, curses me in four languages. I get out of the truck, waddle over, and ask him if there is some emergency. He's late, he says. So am I, I inform him. So curses me some more. Not what I would call exemplary behavior, on either of our parts.

What I'm wondering is, does Ramadhan not count when you are inside your car? Has there been a ruling that good bahavior and generosity are to be forgotten during the commute? I'd love it if Sk Khalfan could address this issue during his drive time show.

Ladies, Gentlemen, what do you think?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bloggers meeting

As suggested before by more than a blogger in the previous post, here is a separated post to see how many bloggers are interested in the idea of having a gathering sometime soon, probably after Eid.

It would really be nice if we had a bloggers gathering to get to know each other in real life and spend an hour or two with each other. So what about organizing one after Eid? Is anybody out there interested in this? This is definitely not limited only for the contributors of Oman Community Blog, but every blogger in Oman out there is more than welcome to attend the gathering if it took place...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

KOM seminar

The ‘Digital Media’ seminar organized by Knowledge Oasis Muscat a couple of days could have been made much better with the inclusion of local bloggers in the panel. The best part was a young blogger defending credibility of blogs versus traditional media, that too in front of a minister. That was truly heartening. There is one more seminar as part of the ‘Digital Nation’ series that will be held in December. Mark your calendars; worth attending for bloggers/new media enthusiasts.

PS: Overheard at the conference: Expect good news on VoIP services in Oman soon!

Ramadan bonanza

A report says:

MUSCAT –– The Council of Ministers yesterday decided that rent for properties should not be increased by more than 15 per cent of the current rent value during the next two years.

This will provide citizens the much-needed respite from mindless rent hikes happening for the last one year. The rent cap of 15 percent holds good for existing tenants, but what will happen for people who want to move/shift to new premises wherein a new lease agreement will come into effect? I am sure the landlords will find some loopholes to beat the system. It so happened that recently a person changed his flat from third floor to second floor in the same building with same dimensions, and got his rent jacked up by RO 35 in the new agreement!

Who will bell the cat?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Qalhat LNG clinches ‘Energy Company of the Year Award!

Qalhat LNG has yet again snatched in front of the world energy giants a magnificent international accolade of ‘Energy Company of the Year 2006’ at the highly acclaimed Petroleum Economist Awards conference in London recently. This prestigious award recognizes world energy organizations that have made significant contribution to the industry through demonstrable improvements and successes in multiple areas. These successes, driven by long-term vision and strategic planning, include expansion into new revenue-generating areas and overcoming challenges to maintain excellence and security and well-being of employees.

hmm thats impressive! so do you think we deserve such an award?

sours Oman Daily

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Basma Card

I am sure that all of you have seen the Basma Card campaign all over Bank Muscat, Oman Oil, Nawras, and Lulu hypermarket outlets. It is a very lame reward card scheme we have in this country, if you check their leaflets, their website, or any of their information packages anywhere, you never actually get to know what you can do with the points you collect using Basma. I've got my card when I applied for a credit card from Bank Muscat, which automatically credits me a Basma point for every Rial I pay using the credit card. I've been using my credit card for a while now and I was really curious to know what the hell I can do with these points I am collecting, I called up their helpline and was told that each Basma point I acquire is worth 1 Baisa at any of the partner shops.

This means that when I spend a 1000 Rials on my credit card.... I get 1 freaking rial to spend at Lulu. There are different point rates for different partners, but the majority of them are just as ridiculous as this one, if you buy jewelry worth 1000 Rials from Damas.... you get to spend 2 Rials at Lulu. There are a couple of better deals at Basma, but the majority of them are just as lame as these, even at Lulu itself, when you spend 1000 Rials at lulu, you get 5 rials in return, I remember that Al Jadeeda stores ages ago had a voucher scheme which was WAY more rewarding as this, Basma Card is such a waste of time, the physical effort to get it out of your wallet, swipp it, and the put in your PIN code is certainly not worth the 5 baisa's I get per rial at Lulu.

What do you guys think, am I the only ungrateful fool who does not appreciate the fact that getting 5 baisa's per rial is better than not getting anything at all?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

D-Day is nearing

Read the story here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

OmanMobile apologizes for the inconvenience caused yesterday

In response to the last post by muscati about OmanMobile's network being down yesterday night, here is an official apology from OmanMobile which was published in today's issue of Al-Watan newspaper:

عمان موبايل تعتذر عن عطل طارئ بأحد الانظمة

تعتذر الشركة العمانية للاتصالات المتنقلة (عمان موبايل) لمشتركيها الذين تأثروا جراء العطل الطارئ والذي أثر على أحد الأنظمة في الشبكة بسبب الضغط الشديد لحركة المكالمات الممررة عبر شبكتها مساء أمس.
وقد اتخذ الفريق الفني بالشركة اجراءات سريعة وفورية لتحويل حركة المكالمات للمشتركين المتأثرين الى النظام البديل مما أعاد الحركة على الشبكة الى طبيعتها.
واذ تؤكد عمان موبايل التزامها بجودة خدماتها فانها تعتذر للمشتركين المتأثرين عن اي ازعاج قد حدث جراء هذا العطل الطارئ والخارج عن ارادتها, ويسرها أن تبارك لمشتركيها قدوم شهر رمضان المبارك أعاده الله على الجميع بالخير والبركات

I just want to note that I had no network till 1:00 after midnight. The network was actually not busy, but it was completely down. My phone kept giving me this message till 1.00am: "No access to network"

Raman Kareem from Oman Mobile

Oman Mobile celebrated the announcement of the beginning of the holy month of Ramadhan with a network blackout. Service was down on both my mobile phones from around 7.30pm till around 11pm. Others with me at home had their service return earlier, but on the whole for most of us there was no service at all for about 3 hours.

Way to go Oman Mobile. And thanks for not even putting up an explanation or apology on your website.

On the positive side: it must have cost you millions in lost revenue when your network went down just as over a million Oman Mobile users wanted to call or SMS their friends and loved ones to congratulate them and wish them well on the start of Ramadhan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Qurum beach is suffering

After a longtime, I went to Qurum beach last Friday only to find the place had lost most of its pristine glory at the hands of the devastating cyclone, Gonu. There are the usual crowds, children playing, families chit chatting, but you get a feeling that something, somewhere, is amiss. I shall let the pictures to talk for themselves.
The damaged main road. A small rivulet around the vicinity is making the re-building process tougher I guess.

Families enjoying their weekend.

The beach is littered with small stones and pebbles making it uncomfortable to walk.

This is how the Qurum beach looked in August 2006.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Car Shopping; The Test Drive

Back to cars this week, Because I just can't get enough of them.

We are still shopping for a replacement for the our beloved "beast" which bit the dust during the recent cyclone (or unusual weather, as the papers are spinning it). To say that I am having limited success in finding the perfect car would be an understatement. Some days, it feels like I am swimming an ocean of brainless, sleazy car salesmen, who circle around me like starving great white sharks, except they are starving great white sharks who are also pathological liars and chronically late. Oh yeah, and more aggressive.

Anyway, poor me right? Thank god we are fortunate enough to be able to buy a replacement car. I know there are some who can't. Two recent (and totally shark free) highlights form an otherwise boring week follow.

Car#1) 2007 Dodge Caliber, 2.4 litre engine. You can get one from Zubair Automotive for a mere 8,800 RO... Available in any color as long as it's metallic burnt sienna.

I would rather gnaw off an arm than buy a car from a dealership, but in the interests of fairness I thought I might stop by Zubair and see what they have on offer. Also, Zubair opens at 08:30 in the morning, which is a distinct advantage when you have a perky infant who has been up since 05:00 and a few hours to kill before nap time.

As someone who likes her cars big, old, and cheap, it didn't take too long to realise that I was in alien territory... The salesmen began to circle, proffering help in the form of pointing at things and mumbling. I was really there to see about a Dodge Charger, which I think is one of the sexiest pieces of machinery to roll out of Detroit in a long time. As I walked toward the object of my lust, I was distracted by a funny looking, orange colored, compact car that looked like something someone had made out of Lego's using a doodle from my highschool notebooks. It was... Amazing... It was The Dodge Caliber (insert Star wars theme song)

It may have the aerodynamics of a brick, but there was something about it that I really liked... The styling, the way the gear shift slots out of the console. The ground clearance looks good, and it has a sporty, wide stance that appeals. give it a turbo and all wheel drive and it would make an interesting rally car. Dodge has taken some risks with the styling, and I think it has paid off in dividends. It's not beautiful, or sleek, but it's.... weird. Not an unpleasant weird, but an eye catching weird that made me stop in my tracks, set the baby on the floor, and walk over and climb in.

Inside, the Lego theme continues, almost to the point of pain. It's all plastic. Even the doors slams so lightly I suspect they are made of plastic. the speaker covers are molded injected plastic, the dash is plastic, the console is plastic. The seats can be color coordinated to match your choice of interior.... Plastic. None the less, I am intrigued. I ask the sales guy if I can schedule a test drive.

Suburban: Would it be possible to schedule a test drive?
Sales Guy: No.... Not in this one. You can drive the 2 litre version. It has a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT). Very Nice
Suburban: Hmmm... Nothing personal, but I sort of dislike the CVT.
Sales Guy: 2 litre only comes with a CVT.
Suburban: You'll have to forgive me, but I don't see much point in test driving a different car than the one I am interested in buying.
Sales Guy: This car has a rechargeable flashlight built in!
Suburban: Okaaaay...
Sales Guy: This car has speakers that flip down when you open the boot, Like a party anywhere you go!
Suburban: Neat. So about the test drive?
Sales Guy: sorry madam, not possible.
Suburban: OK, Thanks anyway.

Car#2) 1995 GMC Safari, conversion van. V6, 4.5 litre engine, kitted out like a private jet on the inside. Yours for only RO 2,000. Black.

We saw this one parked next to the shell station in Qurum. Passers by on the street could hear me yelling at my husband to Stop! the! car! Right! Now! Because! look! Look! Look! It sat there like a 800 pound gorilla. Hulking, black, and making no excuses for it's presence. Ugly as hell, with blacked out windows and a for sale sign in the window, it was just begging me to take it home.

Let me be clear here, I honestly thought this might be the car of my dreams, the car that could fix the near suicidal sadness of not having my beast, and take away forever the ignominy of driving a borrowed BMW. We stood outside of the van, peering into the windows. Leather seats, cd player, TV, VCR, a bar, and a thousand other bell and whistles just begging to be played with. Oh! And a bed in the back that reclines at the touch of a button. Yeah, you heard me right... there is a bed in the back. How awesome is that?

So, we called the number, and arranged to meet the next day for a look and a test drive. Here is the Test Drive, with the seller's comments in parentheses:

  • The guy shows up 45 minutes late (was at prayers)
  • He fires it up, and oil blows out the tail pipe (has been sitting for six months)
  • the AC doesn't work (needs just a little gas, has been sitting for six months)
  • None of the electrics work inside (just fuses needed)
  • Brakes sound funny (no! they are supposed to be like that.... Very special car)
  • Engine has barely enough compression to get us to the top of Fahud street (very good engine!)
  • Pulls hard to the right
  • the odometer reads 45,000 miles, I suspect 1,045,000 miles. (yes, driven very carefully only 45,000 miles)
  • Here's the kicker... we're driving back down Fahud street, and I can smell something burning. we get out of the car, and the right front brake is smoking. Like, black, acrid brake smoke kind of smoking. Which explains the pull to the right, and the funny brakes... I guess.

So there is another car we won't be getting. The price really was too good to be true. I don't begrudge the guy for the car's condition, though I perhaps would have had it serviced before trying to sell it. The thing that drove me bonkers was that after we listed each thing that wasn't ok with the car, he would say

Al humdulilalh! this car is good! Al humdulilalh!

Far be it from me to dictate what God himself supervises, but I don't really know if a beat to hell 1995 GMC savannah is really on top of the Almighty's priority list. Also, If there has indeed been divine intervention in this particular van, I am rather disappointed with the results.

More from here next week.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Government changes

Big government changes in Oman today. His Majesty The Sultan has issued 9 royal decrees with the following changes:

The Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources has been split in two, a ministry for Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, and a Ministry for Environment and Climate.

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been split into separate ministries for agriculture and fisheries.

Al Sayyid Humoud bin Faisal, previously the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers is now the Minister of Environment and Climate.

Al Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal Al Busaidi takes his place in the Council of Ministers.

Sh. Salim bin Hilal Al Khalili remains Minister of Agriculture.

Sh. Mohd Al Qatabi, previously minister of state and governor of Dhofar, is now the Minister of Fisheries.

Sh. Mohd bin Marhoon Al Ma'mari, previously ambassador in the UAE, is now the minister and governor of Dhofar.

Sh. Mohd Al Harthy, previously Minister of Transport and Communication, now the minister of Civil Services.

Dr. Khamis Al Alawi, previously minister of Housing, Electricity and Water, is now the minster of Transport and Communication.

Sh. Hilal bin Khalid Al Ma'wali, previously the minister of Civil Services, now a member of Majlis A'Dawla.

Sh. Saif Al Shabibi, previously undersecretary of the ministry of housing, electricity and water, is now the Minister of Housing.

Electricity and Water departments from MHEW are now split from the Ministry of Housing, and made into a Authority for Electricity and Water.

Sh. Abdulla Al Qatabi, previously president of Majlis A'Shura, is now a state advisor.

Sh. Ahmed Al Eissa'i, who was the minster of labour in the 90's, is now the president of Majlis A'Shura.

(all above translated from Arabic decrees. The official English names for all the ministries and posts will be in tomorrow's English papers).

Oman Air to launch daily flights to London from Nov.

Sorry for having two posts in a row just being copied/pasted from a daily newspaper, but this one is also an interesting news, and actually I'm expecting to hear similar news in the coming days; about Oman Air launching more daily flights to more destinations.

According to this article on Times of Oman newspaper, Oman Air will launch seven flights a week to London starting from November of this year.

MUSCAT — Oman’s national carrier, Oman Air, will launch its maiden flight to London this November. The daily non-stop — seven flights a week — scheduled between Muscat and London Gatwick will be a milestone in the history of Oman Air.

The carrier can now offer passengers seven flights a week between Muscat and London.

Full story

Since Oman has pulled out of Gulf Air ownership last May, I was expecting that Oman would add more airplanes to the fleet of its national carrier and will also have flights to more destinations. Waiting for the day they launch weekly flights between Muscat and Khartoum. I'm quite sure that many Sudanese expatriates in Oman would be delighted to fly to Sudan by the national carrier; Oman Air.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Nawras gets recognition for excellent service

From Times of Oman newspaper:

"... Nawras has bagged the prestigious Middle East Mobile Operator of the Year award at the CommsMEA Awards 2007 in Dubai recently.


Nawras was chosen out of 40 mobile operators from across the Middle East and Africa by a team of specialists and experts who judged the service providers on various parameters. Nawras was applauded for enriching the lives of people in Oman through better communication and at the same time being a catalyst for mobile growth, with the rapid development of its market share being one of the fastest recorded by any mobile operator in the entire Middle East... "

Full story
To be honest, I have no single idea about Nawras services and network, because simply I'm not a Nawras subscriber. However, I can tell that Nawras is doing pretty well because all of those whom I know using Nawras are quite happy with their provider. Having a Telecommunication company in Oman getting this recognition is something great I suppose. Maybe I will switch to Nawras soon! :-p

Friday, September 7, 2007

We were supposed to be smoke free by now

The following news item is from June 2004:

The health affairs department at Muscat Municipality has drafted a plan to ban smoking in commercial centres, shops and industrial establishments in various wilayats of Muscat governorate.

The plan was prepared in cooperation with the department of fighting non-communicable diseases at the Ministry of Health.

The plan will be implemented in two phases. The first phase, which covers first category restaurants, will continue until August.

The second phase, which covers all closed and public areas, will begin in September and continue until August 2006. � ONA

From the Oman Observer that same day:
The first phase, which began recently and continues till August this year, involves the implementation of a system whereby Grade A and First Class restaurants are required to devote 50 per cent of their areas to non-smokers and to put up boards indicating the same.

The second plan, from September 2004 to August 2006, implements a total ban on smoking in all closed public areas or total separation of smoking and non-smoking areas so that the air cannot mix between the two sections, added Al Kishri.

Closed areas with children's games and restaurants and other food outlets surrounding these and other areas where children gather should implement a total ban on smoking.
What happened?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Flavours comes to CBD

Flavours, the 24 hour "multi cuisine" restaurant, has opened a second branch in the CBD area. Flavours' new location is right next to Supa Save, on the corner opposing HSBC and the Ruwi post office. This location most recently had a Thai restaurant which went out of business in less than one year and prior to that had a restaurant called The Arabic Oven.

While the CBD is Muscat's financial district, home to the head offices of most of Oman's big banks as well as the Central Bank of Oman, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Oman Chamber of Commerce, and the Muscat Securities Market, it is not exactly a hotspot for restaurants and cafes. In fact most restaurants here go out of business. Even fast food. The last attempt to open a fast food franchise here was Subway which closed down 4 years ago. This is pure shawerma and rolled Arabic bread sandwich territory. And once the bankers and business people go home in the evening the area becomes depressingly quiet and deserted at night.

I haven't eaten at Flavours so I can't pass judgement. Read Amjad's review
on the Omani Cuisine blog.

By the way are you aware that Muscat Municipality has recently renamed CBD to Hay Al Souqe?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Azzamn (their spelling, not mine), is a new daily Arabic newspaper that recently launched in Oman with very little fanfare. It quietly slipped onto the news stands without a publicity campaign on August 12th. I read the first issue because they came and gave out free issues in our office that day, but that was that. I haven't heard anyone talk about it since.

Has anyone here been reading it?

Childhood School Trips and Visits

I have published some of my childhood experience when I was still in Oman in my previous post; it was about Parks that I used to visit and some play centres that don’t exist any more. This time I will go back to how school visits and trips were arranged and where or which destination our trips used to be planned for.

In all schools that I have been to always planned nice visits or day trips to places that are considered to be useful and combines fun, enjoyments and education all in one. Our trips used to consists of us the pupils, the head-teacher and some teachers who didn’t mind take the responsibility of taking care of students and check on them all the time.

Our trips were divided into indoors and outdoors trips and sometimes a combination of both depending on where we went. Some schools didn’t mind us to bring along a relative with us in many cases only one was allowed and in they would prefer a student so they could benefit from the trips the same as us.

Indoor trips:

Visiting Museums and Exhibitions, they took place within the school hours for an hour or two and then go back to school.

The Science Museum (aka = Mot-haf Al-Tefyl): This museum had a big reputation when was launched over 15 years ago. It had a good number of visitors visiting it every single day, well this was to my knowledge at them days. We had the chance to visit it and it was awesome. We had the chance to try things in there such as the gravity experiment, the magnetic force, the current flow, the generating of energy, the solar system group, the Galaxy group…etc. at them days you will hear every one talking about it and everyone will make a big effort to try to get a chance to visit it or at least to have a glance. Again it was one of the things that every one of us would feel proud to have visited the place and it’s like it adds a credit in our list of “Where we have been!” again just another thing that our generation used to think in that way.

The Historic Natural Museum (aka = Mot-haf Al-Tareekh Al-Tabeey’e): This museum was and still is a place that attracts everyone despite their age. This place is about the flora and fauna that lived and still lives in Oman and their historic approach and changes within the years. Every time I visited this place makes me feel that I am visiting it for the first time; its just that it is so amazing that you can never feel bored to go around it as many times as you can. There was always an addition to the collection whenever I’ve been there. One of the most breaths taken things is the bone structure of the giant wheal, sea creature’s fossils, old plant and animal’s fossils that lived in the Omani sea and land over thousands of years ago. There are as well as numbed wild animals, insects and reptiles.

The Historic Omani Museum (aka = Mot-haf Al-Tareekh Al-Omani): This museum really takes you back to the old Oman and the current. If you ever wanted to know more or wondered about the Omani history including how did the Omanies ruled and managed to include Eastern coast lines of Africa and the Southern coast lines of near Asia to its empire then this museum is the best place to discover about all the events and the outcomes. Also this museum presents the old Omani life style that the Omanies adopted in the old days in relation to traditional clothing, house decorations, habits and attitudes especially when it came to hospitality. It also brings the secrecy of the handy crafts business in Oman and how big impacts it used to have on the economic including importing and exporting things from and to the world via the sea trade and the land trade.

The Book Exhibition was the most approached exhibition of the year by and always attracted every one from various age. Although it used to run for a whole week but was always packed! The exhibition presented all sorts of books, cassettes, CD’s, charts, posters, journals…etc despite the categorization of the books. Any thing that can be thought of or wanted can be found in these exhibitions. Plus they used to be cheap to buy books from such event. I used to save up a lot and my mother always encouraged us to read more books, so she did not have much restriction to how much I wanted to spend in buying books.

Outdoor trips:

Visiting Forts: These types of trips were always the best, because you get to hang out with your friends and classmates for a whole day out of the classroom restriction. Plus your teachers will be your friends and not the horrible teachers, not that they are always horrible but some tend to be serious in the class room and when they are in these trips they come out of their shell and appear in their norm.

The reason that they are done out of the school days and most of the time take place over the weekend, is that it takes a bit of the time to get to where we want to go and also it is always nice to take our time to discover and observe and learn rather than rushing up and to roam around and not getting the chance to learn a thing.

It always great had to visit places and forts where battles had taken place or where they used to be houses for people and you could still see some remarks and evidences left behind them. Though in some moments they used to be spooky places to be in, especially if you were left behind by your group or some one decides to play some naughty tricks on you.

We always combined our fort visits with other activities such as having lunch by the beach, or in the parks, or visiting the hot water or spring water spots/location and we land there for some lunch and then continue with our visits to other forts.

Some examples of forts/ locations that I have visited in the past are Barka,Nakhal, Rustaq, Sohar, Nizwa, Saham and Muscat [ The Twin Forts]. Some examples of hot water/ spring water are Al-Kasfa and Al-Thawara.

One time we were taken to Widam Al-Sahel and it’s where the Marine headquarter of the navy force is based. It was the most enjoyable trip I ever had and was full of learning. We learnt a lot about our navy force and how things do work, especially with the missiles and the sub-marines. The Navigators or the navies made us proud to be Omanies and the effort that is taken on board to protect the country and represents Oman to the world as a great force to our country.

Nakhal Fort

Barka Fort

Nizwa Fort

Rustaq Fort

Ayen Al-Kasfah

Ayen Al-Thwara

Has any one visited the above places? What did you think of them?

If you’ve been to more places can you please list them down and tell us what you thought about such trips?

Overheard in Muscat, now in two convenient locations!!!

This is also cross posted over at my blog as well because I lack the creativity today to post both places. Enjoy, and send anything funny that you have overheard to me at Otheroman (at)

Careful mate, he might take you up on that.

Australian guy waiting in line, to Indian guy crowding him from behind: Look, If you get much closer mate, I'm going to have to ask you to use a condom.

What I want to know, is where did he learn the word Photogenic?

At the ROP labor / driving licence card place in Seeb
Officer who barley speaks English: Sit. Sit. You! Sit. gestures to chair facing camera
Lady getting her photo taken: Should I take my glasses off?
Officer who barley speaks English: Sit... Now, looking this. gestures to camera
Lady getting her photo taken: fluffs hair, smiles.
Camera: takes picture
Officer who barley speaks English: looking at photo, not good...blease, one more
Camera: takes picture
Officer who barley speaks English: looking at photo, not good.., one more
Camera: takes picture
Officer who barely speaks English: looking at computer screen, then at woman, then back at computer screen, You are not photogenic.

We have a lot of Acronyms around here.

Guy #1 : Reading from paper "... was Signed by PDO general manager blah blah, and a Representative from the MOG, Sheikh blah bin blah..."
Guy #2: What does MOG stand for?
Guy #3: That's the Ministry of Obfuscation and Gratuities...
Guy #2: You're kidding, Right?
Guy #3: Um. Sort of.

At the vet's office.

Telephone Ringing....
Receptionist: Good afternoon, Blah Blah vet's office?
Receptionist: I'm afraid the doctor is unavailable, can I help you?
Receptionist: I understand it's urgent, is there anything I can do to help you?
Receptionist: Covering Mouthpiece, to vet. this guy wants to know if he needs to take his kid to the hospital.... Because the kid drank from a glass after the cat did.
VET: rolls eyes, shakes head. Muffled laughter from other clients.
Receptionist: into telephone No sir, that's no problem, your child will be just fine. .... Yes, I'm sure....

Monday, September 3, 2007

Banning Smoking in Oman!!

Many countries worldwide have gone through banning smoking in public and are within the category of “Smoke Free” Countries. This action came out as a result of the increase of people dying either as first hand smokers or as second hand smokers. Also with the increase of cancer cases that are caused mainly by smoking.

I know that England did add her self to the list of Smoke Free countries from the 1st of July of this year. But I was wondering if Oman going to be within that list or where she ever joins it in the future?

Every year there are more people who smoke in Oman and they are mainly as young as 10-11 years to 40-45 years. Infact I don’t have a solid statistics to support my claim, but this is only done out of observation that I have been observing around me when ever I visit home over the holiday period of time. Also I have noticed that the increase in the smoking population is not only within the male gender but as well as the female and it could be more within the female than male; especially in smoking Shisha!

Am not sure but I guess smoking had become a habit that is wide spread across our Omani community as well as worldwide. Although in many places smoking is treated as a habit that is treated to vanish and yet in our communities is the contrary. Although smoking is an old habit that many were on it for a very long time but was also done in secrecy in many occasions, for one normal reason that it was an unacceptable habit by many but in the current life this habit is more or less taken to be as a trend that is introduced in public places such as in Shisha places, smoking in restaurants and shopping malls and selling cigarettes to under age persons despites that requirements of the International Law against serving to under age persons.

Also with the government allowing such places to provide such services to any of their costumers it allows the increase of smokers’ population in the country despite the health advertisements and information provided by the Ministry of Health in regards to the consequences that can lead by smoking!

Sometimes I doubt that our country will really go through banning smoking in public especially that the National Economic does depend on the import of tobacco and the relevant. Although it is not a direct dependency but it has an impact within the economy, and you can evident that by noticing the wide spread of Shisha Licences within the country and how the Legislation changed in the past 3 years from not allowing any place serving Shisha to every where is allowed to serve Shisha.

Another evidence is the cigarettes prices had dropped down and are cheap to buy them, not that I buy any or smoke any but I was told that it is the case, though am not sure how genuine is this information and if its still valid to this moment! Someone can correct me if I am wrong in this, but I will still base my argument on what I have been told.

So, by dropping the prices of cigarettes it’s another way of encouraging people to buy more of them and again this means more sell and more money in the economy baskets.

Its like what UK had had in their economy baskets, they depend on the selling of various things especially the imported stuff, but their main sell depends on selling cigarettes & tobacco and alcohol. Yet, they managed to extract themselves of the 100% demand on selling tobaccos and find other sources to cover their loss; and that’s for the sake of people’s health and trying to encourage their people to quit smoking and providing them with free services to help them quitting.

AND the question still remains, are we ever to follow other countries in bringing the health foot forward and ban smoking in public or ignore the health foot and bring the economies foot forward and step hard on it for the sake of the investors interests?!

P.S. I’ve typed the above based on knowledge that I’ve been picking up from the surroundings from my visits to Oman and not based on solid statistics or evidence. However, I will be grateful if any one of you has any solid information in regards to this topic that could be of use and benefits to us all and that can enlighten our thoughts.

Muscat Electronics loses Sony agency

Posted by ShoZu


I was testing to post directly from my phone using Shozu. After signing up and installing the software on your phone you can just take a picture, add a heading and a caption and send it directly to a blog. It worked well, but I wasn't aware it was going to add such a big logo below it.

As for the Muscat Electronics/Jumbo story, they've been fighting for a while it's been reported a few times in the UAE press but never mentioned in our papers - as usual. Jumbo Electronics is the agent for Sony in the UAE. Now they will have a direct presence in Oman, I suppose. I don't see how this will make a difference to us here. Jumbo was a partner in Muscat Electronics and yet their prices were always much higher than Dubai. In the UAE they've invested millions in having showrooms all over the place while here in Oman they've always been in the worst locations with the worst salespeople, and prices for Sony are so high that it doesn't make sense how it's the same company as Dubai.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

NO means NO

I'll admit I have been really rough on the group of contributors in the past due to my 'vision' of how I want the Oman Community Blog to turn out in the near future. But this is just a huge no-no for me; and I will not stand down from it.

As you may well remember, I reported a few days ago about how one of our own 'people' tell-taled on us and told the UAE Community Blog members that we were copying their idea. But that was only they knew themselves about it since our blog button had been there since the beginning of this community blog with the help of one of their members/moderators.

On that particular post, that certain person turned out with a spamming strategy that not only disgusted me but got to my nerves. And if there's one thing I hate more than anything - it's a spammer.

So I gave the green light to Amjad to delete his irriatating posts, his blog link from the sidebar, and anything else for that matter for one whole week to give the guy a reason to rethink what he is really doing.

Apparently, it got to one of the members that he was 'banned' and I had confirmed it and the reasons why. I won't go into much details.

Let there be no mockery that I take such issues very seriously. Anyone caught so, will face the same consequence. If you have a disagreement about such a matter, please post it in the appropriate manner.

This is a community blog - meaning we have to respect one another's rights of what we say herein, but that does not mean that our freedom of speech goes beyond the borders of rationality.

You wouldn't like someone farting in your face now would you? So what of a spammer.