Tuesday, October 30, 2007



This country just went through an election and except for Um Qusai the day before the election, and Sleepless in Muscat the day after, no other Omani blogs that I know of wrote anything about it until today.

If this ain't apathy, then I don't know what is.

Update 31/10/07:

My views on the election are on my blog. [link]

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I need your help

A friend of mine is doing a research on the youth habits in GCC and in this respect he needs the following details:

1. Who in your opinion the youth in GCC see as “popular” in the media, entertainment and sports sectors of society?

2. What is the reason/source for the popularity of these people or groups?

Sorry to trespass with this post. I didn’t have any other option to get genuine data.

Thanks a ton!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oman Mobile sets new SMS, calls records during Eid days

MUSCAT — Subscribers of Oman Mobile set new records during the Eid Al Fitr days by sending 88 million SMSes and making 24 million voice-related services during October 12 and 13, 2007 only, without experiencing traffic congestion or failures. This clearly reflects the high performance of the Oman Mobile network and dedication of those who spent 24 hours observing the service in the interest of the valued customers.

- Times of Oman
The number of SMSes sent & phone calls made on those two days is indeed shocking. Though, I personally admit that I was impressed with not facing any network problems while making phone calls & sending SMSes during Eid days. I thought the service would at the very least be busy like hell, if not go down like what happened the night before Ramadhan. But, things went very smoothly instead. I admit that.

Oman Web Awards Scam 2007

ABS made a press release today via the Times of Oman newspaper to announce its acceptance of entries for the new scam Oman Web Awards of 2007. This is the third awards in which they make up random awards to give out to big companies in a big dance and music event held in a fancy hotel. There is no transparency in the judgment process and nobody knows on what basis anybody wins. This 'web' creativity, innovation, and excellence competition does not ever mention the names of the designers or developers who actually make these websites. It is a scam in which they take extortionate amounts for entry fees and get tens of sponsors to give out NO PRIZES. Don't waste your time or money on the Oman Web Awards, there is just no point.

  • Read how I fooled them last year to make me a validator and uncovered how their judges pick winners - (Link: Oman Web Awards).
  • Read what happened when I went to the ceremony of the first Oman Web Awards.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Interesting Stuff

Recurring in today's newspapers' front pages, is what appears to be a teaser-like news article titled "Internet In Oman". It definitely is NOT a newspaper headline considering the fact that it only goes on for a single paragraph talking about the benefits of the Internet, and it's growth here in the sultanate. All 'pinned' down by a red pin that says " I heart Internet ".

I've seen it in today's Shabiba, Al-Watan and Oman. Don't know if it's in any of these newspaper's English affliates, but to say the least, this definitely is very very "interesting stuff".

A new provider in the horizon ? .. Thoughts anyone ?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Oman's Arabian Oryx sanctuary becomes the first site to be removed from UNESCO's World Heritage list

Christchurch, New Zealand, 28 June - The World Heritage Committee on Thursday took the unprecedented decision of removing a site from UNESCO's World Heritage List. The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (Oman), home to the rare antelope, today became the first site to be deleted since UNESCO's 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage entered into force.

The World Heritage Committee deleted the property because of Oman's decision to reduce the size of the protected area by 90%, in contravention of the Operational Guidelines of the Convention. This was seen by the Committee as destroying the outstanding universal value of the site which was inscribed in 1994.

In 1996, the population of the Arabian Oryx in the site, was at 450 but it has since dwindled to 65 with only about four breeding pairs making its future viability uncertain. This decline is due to poaching and habitat degradation.

After extensive consultation with the State Party, the Committee felt that the unilateral reduction in the size of the Sanctuary and plans to proceed with hydrocarbon prospection would destroy the value and integrity of the property, which is also home to other endangered species including, the Arabian Gazelle and houbara bustard.

The Committee expressed regret that the State Party failed to fulfill its obligations regarding the conservation of the Sanctuary as defined by the World Heritage Convention. from the UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE web site

Arabian oryx were hunted out in Oman, but reintroduced in 1979
1994 - official sanctuary is set up and added to UNESCO's World Heritage list Population rises to 450 in 1996, drops to 65 in 2007.

Park struck off UNESCO list after being opened to oil prospectors. from the BBC News, Fact about Oman

Oman's Arabian Oryx sanctuary becomes the first site to be removed from UNESCO's World Heritage list after the rare species dwindled and the government cut the park size by 90%. from the BBC News, Fact about Oman


BBC - FACT(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/country_profiles/2448259.stm )

NATURE - WILDFACTS(http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/618.shtml)

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE (http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/362)


I know this news is few months old, but i only got to find out few hours ago, when i was reading through the update page of Fact about Oman on the BBC web site. The truth i was shocked when i read abou the removal of Oman site from the UNESCO list.

Because only a week ago i was talking about how conservative and sustainable Oman is towards animals and environement with my line manager and the director.

  • Did any one know about this removal?

  • What is the reaction of the Omani Environement Group/Organization in regards to this removal?

  • Is HM happy about what happend and the decision made behind securing the oil site and excluding 90% of the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary from the orginal 100%?

  • Is there any futures plans in regards bringing such treasure back to Oman?

If you have any other infromation about this, then post it in here.

I know i might sound paranoid and making a big issue about this, but the truth it is a big issue in my eye.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

OCB Template Errors

Have anyone else noticed the empty areas that take place whenever someone holds a post on the OCB? If you have no clue on what I’m talking about then have a look at those set of images that have been taking recently.

Those red boxes are placed to exhibit the error. However, that screen shot was taken while browsing through Firefox whereas on IE you get an error page mark.

Could it be a problem within the template itself?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Renewing the Omani Passport?


Can some one please update me with the process of renewing the Omani passport in the Immigration and Passport Royal Police Department?

I need to provide the information to some one who requires renewing their passport and they have been away from the country for sometime...

Thank you.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eid in Sohar

Here in Oman we decided to be cooler (?) than everybody else and fast one extra day just for the sake of it. Eid was celebrated today Saturday the 13th of October. I've gone back home for the holiday, we are getting a whole week off.

We had the regular program for Eid this year, prayed Eid prayer in the mosque near my grandfathers house, went to his house, had some '3irsiyah' (Arabic dish made up of rice finely mashed served with butter oil and and fine shreds of meat), then went around to greet friends and relatives.

I also went along to greet the Wali of Sohar (Omani term for the mayor of town), who interestingly set up a huge tent in the Fort of Sohar to receive the locals. The habit was that that he received people in one of the rooms of his office opposite the Fort from which many people complained saying that it is as small as a little storage room that got so crowded making people queue to get in. The new temporary tent was large and luxurious, the guards of the Fort played meeters and greeters and all the staff of the Wali Office attended as well. I think that everyone liked it for the space, the view from the fort as you leave the tent, and just the fact that you entered the Fort on Eid. They will probably start having this every single Eid from now on.

I also visited several of my relatives who still lived in little old houses right in front of the beach. You literally have to walk on the sand of the beach to enter one's house. Imagine yourself right on the beach every time you went out of your house, sounds amazing for a life, but I am sure that the people that live there do not find it special at all when they had it for their entire life.

The really sad thing is that many of these people, my grandfather included, will have to evacuate their houses and move to a new place as the Sea Road project will go over their property. It is true that they will be compensated, but the majority of those people lived by the sea in this neighbourhood for their entire life, and their parents before them lived in this same place for their entire lives as well, changing houses is a life changing event for many and money might never be a good enough compensation.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Etisalat wants a piece of Omantel

This is from MEED.com

Etisalat seeks Omantel stake
12 Oct 2007

The UAE's Etisalat is considering making a bid for a stake in Omantel, after Muscat announced plans to sell shares in the company.

"We would like to see the detail of that auction," says Jamal al-Jarwan, chief executive of Etisalat International Investments. "It is something that we would like to find out more about."

Oman's government will sell part of its 70 per cent controlling stake in the company, which is the country's largest mobile phone operator and the monopoly fixed-line operator.

However, the government will need to provide more details about the sale if it is to attract bids and avoid some of the pitfalls of other phone privatisations in the region. Algeria and Iran, the other governments in the region that have announced plans to sell stakes in their state-run telecoms operators, have been criticised for allowing bureaucracy to delay the privatisations. "Very little information has been disclosed so far," says Al-Jarwan.

A ministerial committee led by the minister of national economy, Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, is looking at what the government can do with its stake in Omantel. Up to 19 per cent of the company could be sold immediately.

Rumors are the Kuwait's MTC (AKA Zain) are the most likely takers.

Hi FM on 95.9

Hi FM, a new private FM station began test transmission on the 95.9 frequency. It's Oman's first English private station following on the launch of Hala FM earlier this year. Both stations, as you can tell from the name, are owned by the OHI group.

I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I'm happy to finally have an alternative to the horrible Oman FM.

Have you had a chance to listen? Tell us what you think.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

No lunar vision this Eid!

Surprisingly, it has just been announced that Eid Al-Fitr in Oman will be on Saturday the 13th of October, inshallah. It's the first time they announce the Eid's day on the 28th of Ramadhan. The lunar vision committee usually holds a meeting on the 29th of Ramadhan and then declares if the next day will be the 30th of Ramadhan or the 1st of Shawal (Eid). However, this year, it's a bit different. The committee has just announced that this year they are not holding a meeting on the 29th of Ramadhan (tomorrow) and they are not going to receive any statements from citizens regarding the lunar vision. Why? Because some astronomers said that the new moon of Shawal will disappear before sunset on the 29th of Ramadhan and as a result, it will 100% be invisible & impossible to see. Hence, the committee of lunar vision will not receive any statements regarding this so that they don't get any statements contradicting with what the astronomers have stated. That's a bit weird & unusual.

In short, tomorrow after Iftar don't wait for the committee's final statement on Oman TV like every year, because this year the statement has already been announced a day earlier than usual, and even without holding the usual meeting they hold before Ramadhan & the two Eids. Happy Eid everyone!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bloggers meet coverage on ‘The Week’

(Click on the image for better readability)

For me, “turn-out poor” in the headline is a bit harsh. Nobody claimed 50 bloggers would attend the meet!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Are you on Facebook?

Its amazing how many people are on Facebook. I got to meet people I have not seen since my childhood.

Just wanted to know who is on facebook here? I bet everyone.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

With new buildings springing up every other day…

…it looks like safety measures are disappearing into thin air. Seen below are workers working in Ruwi without protective helmets/headgear.
A new building under construction in Ruwi.

A portion of the building zoomed-in.

Oman Buy Local Survey (Omani Products)

The Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) is carrying out a survey on buying local products. It's pretty short and won't take you 5 minutes. Please download the word file here, and send it to mulkie@kom.om when you are done.

My biggest problem with Omani products is their quality, what is yours?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Election Day...

hi comunity...
I would like to know more about election day (election of parlament members) in the Sultanate... can u help me in somehow?
P.S. ...this is a call for a post about opinions, facts&figures, news, stories, remarks comments... ;P

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Road permit for UAE

While reading this week's issue of TheWeek, I found a letter from a reader in the "Letters to the editor" section inquiring about the necessity for expatriates to get a road permit in order to travel to UAE.

The reader mentioned in his letter that he has been hearing from different people that he doesn't need a road permit to travel to UAE, while other people tell him that he DOES need a road permit to travel to UAE. So he was asking if is a road permit really needed for expatriates to travel to UAE?

The editor's reply was so simple, which is yes, you do need a road permit to travel to UAE and that you can request your employer to get one for you. Well, I have a better answer than the one given by TheWeek's editor.

Needing a road permit to travel to UAE depends on your "job title". If you are a lawyer, doctor, engineer, or in other words a professional, you do not need a road permit to travel to UAE by car/bus. My father heard of this law that expatriates with certain job titles can travel to UAE without needing to get a road permit from ROP, so he thought of asking his employer - SQU - if he falls under those "certain jobs". My father's employer informed him that he can travel to UAE without a road permit. However, his wife & children cannot do so. A road permit has to be issued to his family. If he is going himself without his children, he can travel without a road permit issued by ROP.

In short, expatriate Lawyers, Doctors and Engineers can travel to UAE without a road permit. However, their families cannot. If you aren't a lawyer or doctor or an engineer, and you are not sure if you can travel to UAE without a road permit or not, the best thing to do is to ask your employer whether you need a road permit to travel to UAE or not.

Bloggers meet

After a couple of posts and dozens of comments, finally, three of us made it to the Oman bloggers meeting yesterday night. Al-Maawali dropped in first, I was next, and Amjad followed suit. A couple of guys, who had promised, did not turn up. We discussed some issues on blogging in Oman, forums being more popular than blogs, etc, over some delectable cinnamon rolls and coffees.

Nonetheless, this was a new concept in this market, and I hope many will turn up for the next meets. It was nice knowing Amjad and Al-Maawali from close quarters or rather one-on-one. One surprising element though was the presence of a reporter from an English weekly. Like they say in journo parlance, his ‘nose-for-news’ trait had brought him to the meet. On the whole, it was a nice experience for me personally, and I wish we meet at regular intervals henceforth at a much quieter place next time.

Amjad, are you listening?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Omantel - In Play

Omantel issued a disclosure statement to the market earlier today containing the following:

  • The government has agreed to reduce the royalties the company pays from 10% on fixed line and 12% on mobile revenues to a flat 7% effective on 2007 revenues.
  • Omantel and Oman Mobile will be merged.
  • The government is planning to sell part of its stake in the company to a "strategic shareholder with vast experience in the field of telecommunications." While the exact percentage hasn't been announced, it could be as high as 70% of the government's share in the company, giving the new strategic shareholder just under 50% of the company.
The royalty reduction is a huge deal for the company. It would result in a significant increase in the company's net profit. The royalty is taken on the company's gross profit. In other words, the company gave 10% and 12% of gross fixed line and mobile revenue respectively to the government. This is taken right off the top before the company deducts its expenses. Of course, this change in royalty will also have a positive effect on Nawras, which had not reached break even yet. The recalculation of Nawras' income for 2007 based on this lower royalty rate will probably result in an earlier break even. (They had announced last month that October might be their first month to achieve break even). Royalty is not the same as tax. Royalty is paid from gross revenues, and tax is paid from net profit.

The decision to sell part of the government's stake to "strategic investor" is a biggie. The big question here is who this mystery investor is. Are we talking someone with global experience? The are rumors of a big European operator being interest, I can't recall if it's O2 or Orange. Plus Omantel had initially entered the bid for Qatar's second mobile license with Belgacom, so it too could be a possible partner. Other possibilities include regional companies like Etisalat, Kuwait's Zain (previously MTC Vodafone), Oger, or even Egypt's Orascom which is already heavily investing in tourism projects in Oman. Question is why anyone would want Omantel and how much would they want to pay for it?

Don't get your hopes up too high. With our luck in Oman, we'll end up selling our second rate telecom company to a second rate operator.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

‘Borders’ opens at City Centre

Voice Over IP (VOIP) Banned in Oman

A piece of news that not many have taken note of is the recent Ministerial Decision issued by the Telecommunications Regulation Authority regulating the provision of Internet service in public commercial venues. While it has been rumoured for long that Skype and similar services are banned in Oman, this is the first time I come across an actual piece of legislation that explicitly prohibits the Voip and renders it illegal.

The Decision was issued on 12th of September and has only been published in the latest issue of the Official Gazette that came out yesterday. Article one of the Decision defines (in Arabic) Voip as a service for delivering audio conversations via the Internet using Internet Protocol instead of the Public Switch Telephone Network (PSTN).

Article 9 later prohibits an internet service provider in public and commercial venues from offering VOIP services or offering any help or guidance on how to use this illegal service. Punishment for violating this Decision include the right to close the internet cafe for a month and revoking its license if the breach is persistently repeated.

I think that the definition of Voip is lose, any audio conversation on the internet is carried over IP protocol and it is done instead of PSTN. When you have a voice chat over MSN you are using Voip, when you talk over Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, and all those services you are using Voip. It is clear that they are targeting services such as Skype which let you call regular phones using Voip, but that definition goes way beyond that.

The TRA does not understand that there are loads of Voip services out there, it is possible to use an instant messenger on a mobile device to make an audio conversation with another using the same instant messenger using another mobile device, so that we are using Internet voice chat but on a mobile device with no Skype-out like functionality.

I think that banning Voip services is unfair, we as consumers should have the right to use the Internet that we pay for in whatever way we choose. We do not care if it is bad for the business of Omantel, Oman Mobile, or Nawras. All of those three companies offer data services (whether cabled or otherwise) and promoting Voip is a promotion for using their services.

The use of Skype is rumoured to be unofficially crippled by Omantel to stop home users from making use of its service.