Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year Folks.

I'm 4 months new to Oman, & days new to blogging, so learning the ettiquette/ functions etc.

I've been enjoying the writings of many of you over the last wee while, so good to be here,

Have a great night,

JSM.

Happy New Year to all!

Here's wishing everyone a very happy and prosperous new year!





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Nawras and UK networks??!!!!


Hello,

Just a question…

Why does Nawras have contracts and dealings with some UK Mobile Networks/companies and don’t have with others?

I mean it makes hard to us who are in the UK and those who are having Nawras mobiles to send and received text messages!

For example, any one with Nawras can send texts to any network in UK but they cannot receive from any network from UK…its so annoying…which means its either us in here having to change the network sim card or the people in Oman changing to Oman mobile…

Anyone, knows any explanation to this kind of arrangements?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

No To Plastic Bags

Just thought of bringing this campaign by the Environment Society of Oman to the attention of all the readers of this blog.

Kudos to ESO on the great job.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Back To Basics

The Omani commentatorship webspaces have retaliated with admirable force to Majlis Al-Shura's recent recommendations regarding changing the weekend days from the current Thursday-Firday to a Friday-Saturday.

The idea was first introduced a couple of years back by royal decree, and little has been done to it's benefit since. A while back, the banking sector inaugrated the trial to the new system with less than satisfactory results. The frustration of the public is owed to the current 4 day banking week. This would not be the case if the entire country moved to the Friday-Saturday weekend, where the regular 5 day banking week is restored, but the trial shift had not in any way suggested that the transition would be smooth, seamless, or beneficial.

My argument is .. Why bother ? The benefits gained by the transition while valid, seem unattractive enough to make such irreverseible change. If anything, it's going to accelerate downloading more of the traumatized global economy to Oman.

This post, however is not about praising the merits of the transition, or griping it's faults, it's about the Omani web arena's very open contempt to Majils Al-Shura's initative which opposed the shift to grounds of social, economical, and religous technicalities.

It seems that a lot of people simply forgot that these people are elected officials. Electors voted for these representatives affliating themselves to the agendas presented to them during elections, rendering criticism to that very agenda a logical fallacy. Whether this was the way it happened or not, it does not negate the fact that these official are now morally obligated to push forward whatever they were elected for, and if that was absolutly nothing, then the fault is beared on the elector.

Collectively, Shura studied, and discussed, the banking trial and came to the conclusion that the shift is not to our benefit, and that business should proceed as it previously was. Their views are only influencive, and not decisive. It's now up to the case to justify itself, which it's not doing too well.

I think this is a very cowardly move. There's much to criticize about the way our government handles some things, but it remains the fact the public choses not to excercise and deliever this criticism for irrational fear of the concerned officials. I think it's cowardly, because the people who are criticizing Shura this vehemently would not as readily criticize unelected governmental officials who have more influence and blame to some of these shortcomings.

Not only is it cowardly, I think it's also stupid of us all. The Omani public, rightly so, assumes the problem of Shura being the fact that they do not have decisive power and that some of that power should be delegated to them from whomever has it, but we're too stupid to realise that no such powers will ever be delegated if there's no respect to the process itself. If the Omani people show that they strongly prefer, respect and encourage the contribuitive process of decision making, some of the decision making power will definetly be delegated to the Majlis. This is not an egg and chick question, so we should stop making it one.

My name is Mohammed, and I shall be here all week.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Growing Omani blogosphere?

Back in 2005 (I was still not a blogger back then, but I was a regular reader to many blogs), the Omani blogosphere had its own taste. There were many active Omani blogs, and blogging was just getting more and more popular in Oman. In 2005 there was even the Oman Blogs Award where The Muscatis got the first place. However, by the end of that year or maybe in mid-2006, these blogs suddenly became inactive for some unkown reasons. More and more blogs became inactive, and the hype of blogging was just lost and the Omani blogosphere became very dead. In 2007 and 2008 new blogs started appearing, especially in 2008. I think there is a very good number of Oman-based blogs today, especially blogs of expatriates who live in Oman and blogging about their experience in Oman. You might not agree with the "way" things are blogged in these blogs, but I think it's still good that the Omani blogosphere is growing again and now we have a fair number of active Omani blogs.

I have also seen a number of new Omani blogs in Arabic. In the Internet, there are only three major Omani forums in English and countless of Arabic ones. But for blogs, it's the other way around. About 15 months ago in our first bloggers gathering, Kishor asked me how does the blogging scene look like for Arabic Oman-based blogs, since he is a non-Arabic speaker and obviously will not know about Arabic blogs or forums. I told him that there were only a handful of Oman-based Arabic blogs, but countless of Arabic forums. Now, many Arabic blogs from Oman started appearing, and they're very active, to some extend. I think most of these bloggers used to be active writers in big Omani forums and they just saw that it was better to document their thoughts in their own blogs rather than forums! Either that's the case or not, it's very good to see a growing number of Arabic Oman-based blogs. Everyday I discover a new Arabic blog from Oman, and that's the very first reason why I'm typing this post.

Is the Omani blogosphere growing again? I think yes. And there's even a new flavor in the Omani blogosphere today, something that was not there back in 2005. Now we have expatriates blogging about their experiences in Oman, and we also have Arabic blogs that are very active. This is a new flavor, and a nice one if I may add. Below you will find links to some of the Arabic blogs from Oman. Since English blogs are easier to discover and they're pretty much known to almost everyone, I'm not including them in the list below. Whenever I discover a new Oman-based blog, I try adding it to the Blogroll of this community blog. But for the growing number of Arabic blogs which is a new thing to the Omani blogosphere, I'm creating this post for them. I hope we remain having these active blogs and have more active blogs in the Omani blogopshere so it becomes as effective as the blogosphere of neighboring countries in the Gulf region.

Links (in absolutely no particular order):

- Hamad Al-Ghaithi

- Muawiyah Al-Rawahi

- Oman name (عماني ممنوع من الكلام)

- Omani1970 (ليت لي جناح)

- Bin Mrhi

- Said Reviews (Said Al-Maskari)

- alwarda

- Fashkool2008

- Wahiba Sands

These are just the ones I discovered recently. Each day I discover more blogs, and someday I will try adding all these blogs to the blogroll here. I will even try separating the Arabic blogs from English ones, for those interested.

By the way, Blue-Chi blogged about a similar topic a couple of days ago, talking about his love with Arabic literature today due to the growing number of Arabic blogs from Oman. You can find it [here].

Saturday, December 20, 2008

ReBlog : On Publication & Media

At a very desperate attempt to reignite attention to the sad misanthropic episodes that my blog posts are, I am reblogging a post I wrote entitled "Under A Rock" which briefly discusses themes relevant to Publication in Oman, and New Media.

I haven't posted it here, only because it starts off being slightly personal.

For the faintly interested of you. The post can be found here. I will take comments both here and there.

Thanks.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dubai: Has the bubble burst?

Nov 27th 2008 | DUBAI
From The Economist print edition

As the sheen comes off glitzy Dubai, the other Gulf states are getting nervous too

http://www.economist.com/world/mideast-africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12684897


“THEY said you couldn’t create islands in the middle of a city,” shouts a property advertisement over a jammed Dubai motorway. “We said, what’s next?” The range of answers has become gloomier by the week, as the debate moves from whether the Dubai property bubble will burst to just how bad it is going to get. Some nervous bankers think property prices could fall by 80% or so in the next year or so. A few months ago, rich foreigners who had bought villas in Dubai were complaining about the quality of the sand on their artificial beaches or the difficulty of getting water to circulate around the twiddly fronds of the man-made island shaped like a palm. Now prices for some smart developments have been cut by 40% since September, shares in property firms have lost 80% of their value since June, and big developers are laying people off.

The region’s banks will suffer too. Gulf policymakers are still making cheery statements about the region’s limited exposure to subprime loans but are quieter about heavy investments in inflated local property markets by regional banks, particularly Islamic ones. But worried banks are sharply reining in their mortgage lending. A series of arrests of senior businessmen as part of a fraud investigation is also making people twitchy. There is even talk of a coming “Gulf Enron”.

While the stunning opacity of government economic data is increasing the air of uncertainty, Muhammad Alabbar, who heads Emaar, a giant state-controlled property developer, took the rare step of telling people how indebted the country is. Together, the government and state-owned enterprises owe $80 billion—148% of GDP. Dubai still has a far larger stock of assets, at least some of which are likely to be sold, to cover the debts, to Abu Dhabi or the federal sovereign-wealth fund of the seven-state United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the two richest.

The rest of the Gulf has met Dubai’s phenomenal boom with a mixture of envy and emulation. Now there are hints of pleasure at the idea that the epicentre of bullishness may be humbled. But there are worrying questions for the others, too. Could the Dubai property slump prove contagious? Will the Gulf Co-operation Council pull together to protect the region’s economy? Should its planned monetary union be set aside as governments focus on protecting their own currency?

Who do we listen to now?

Since everyone else has been trying to copy Dubai, it is unclear how economic policy should be reshaped if the model has to be rescued. Advisers who have been preaching free markets and foreign investment will have a tougher time as economic power shifts back to the more conservative, oil-rich governments such as Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Political stability may be affected too. A worsening economy may encourage political reform, on the assumption that people can be more easily bought off in times of plenty. At a recent BBC debate in Doha, Qatar’s capital, on whether Gulf Arabs value profit over people, young Qataris said critics of their countries’ poor treatment of foreign workers should look on the bright side; local citizens benefit from large gifts of land and free university education. Since the oil boom began in 2003, mega-rich Qatar has ramped up public spending by an average of 28% per year; the less well-endowed states have had to make do with annual rises of some 15-20%.

Several GCC economies will go into budget deficits next year for the first time since at least 2002, including Saudi Arabia, whose budget is based on oil at around $50 a barrel but excludes the cost of Saudi Aramco’s massive programme of capacity expansion. Unemployment will rise as thousands more young people, many of them graduates with high expectations, enter the job market. Social unrest is likely to brew. The question is whether governments will meet it with repression or political concessions.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama tells his kids.....on the day before election


Remember those unusual but wonderful letters to Mrs. Gandhi from Nehru? I was reminded of them when I read this online. This is apparently from Obama to his daughters: Malia and Natasha (aka Sasha).------------------

Tomorrow decides your future.

Daddy will head off tomorrow to a tiny little booth knowing this.

I have watched. I have consumed. I have weighed. I have analyzed (mommy would say I should add “obsessed” to this list as well).

But I have done all of this because every day I look at you both as two little humans capable of limitless goodness within and unlimited greatness in this world.

I want each of your dreams realized.I want your hopes fulfilled.I want you to look at the person leading our country and aspire to be like him or her, not someone you support because he’s (or she’s) “just like you.”

I know that tomorrow I hold in my index finger the power to push a button — along with millions of other mommies and daddies – that can help to make these hopes a reality.

But please know, regardless of the result, that little index finger of mine is guided solely by a vision of a better place for you.

You both are my world. 

And tomorrow, I hope that I can make your world a better one.

Love,Daddy

Watch a nice Family Movie.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Muscat Confedential Not Blocked

Updated. Muscat confidential Not blocked anymore. May I proffer my most profound Oppologies to you all.

It was blocked for at least an hour this morning, but comments indicate it's Omantel incompetence as opposed to a delibrate action.

The immedaite assumption that the bock is an incursion on our already limited freedoms, is pretty valid when one considers Omantel's habit of blocking websites they think we are too stupid to be exposed to.

Once again, Sorry for Jumping the gun!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Oman Mac Users Group

Any one here a Mac user?

Would you be interested in joining up with other Mac users in Oman to set up an Oman Mac Users Group?

The goal of the user group is to begin as an informal group where members can get together occasionally and share experiences and advice regarding Macintosh platform. Eventually the group should set up an online presence and expand its membership and promote increased Mac usage in Oman. The group can leverage membership with the official Apple distributors in Oman to gain discounts on purchases for its members as well.

If interested please reply here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

BLOGGER Meet in real world

Hello all Bloggers and Blog readers,

How about a casual meet?

All bloggers, blog readers, enthusiasts (even curious ones) are welcome. Hope to see some masquerade too!

Choose your dates: 17th / 18th / 19th December (just timing between eid hols and AGCC meet). Do make your response post here.

We are watching this space and taking a head count. Depending on the number location will be fixed and informed later.

You could also suggest what we can be in the Agenda. (Apart from refreshments :-0 )

Oman Blogosphere is calling you.............................

PS: Bloggers please post this news in your blogs too to widen the Net scourge. Tks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HM's speech in the opening of Majlis Oman

Part 1:


Part 2:


For those like me who missed His Majesty's speech in the annual opening of Majlis Oman (Council of Oman), it has already been uploaded on YouTube and you can see the full speech above. Beautiful speech.

May God bless His Majesty the Sultan and keep him for this great country. =)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

KOM's blogging seminar on November 10

MUSCAT: As part of Knowledge Oasis Muscat's (KOM) quarterly Digital Nation program and in partnership with Omania e-Commerce; Nawras; United Media Services; and Infocomm, KOM will host a free seminar on blogging scheduled for 7:30pm, Tuesday, 10 November at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel. (more)

The panelists for the seminar:

1. Abdullah Al Jufaili (Intilaaqah)

2. Raed Dawood (Nawras)

3. Haitham Al Busafi (Sultan Qaboos University)

4. Zaid Zabanoot (German University of Technology in Oman)

New era for Fixed-lines in Oman

Oman’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA) has finally awarded the second fixed-line license tender to PCCW - Awaser Oman Consortium, and it’s coming to an end of monopoly for the majority state-owned Omantel. Pacific Century Cyber Works (PCCW), an Hong Kong-based telecom company joint venture with a Omani partner and Nawras, the 2nd mobile company had lost the bid tender.

That's means new job will be created soon for the Omani Market beside the five mobile reseller companies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Representing Oman

Many represent Oman in something to be proud of, be it our national team, tennis players, musicians and the list goes on and on... but this way?

I seriously find this annoying and so downgrading, insulting and offending to Oman and its people..Pictures speak a thousand words..


What would your view be on an Omani who appears on TV modeling some Bikinis and other revealing dresses?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blogger Back!

Quick one, Updating to say that as of last night, blogger appears to be working again.

The outage was due to Omantel Incompetence, I assume.

"Accidentally" Blocking blogger (for, um, like four days!!!!) was not a particularly good move, because it looks like something sinister, no matter what the actual reasons.

Anyway, We can all rejoice now because for the moment at least, blogger is up and runing again in Oman.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blogger Blocked,

Either Deliberately, or through thier legendary incompetence Omantel has Blocked Blogger access. If you know me, you will already know what I think about this sort of behavior, but since this is a community blog, I'll leave it to your imagination.

I suspect the block will be a temporary, and extremely annoying experience. I am praying for the AP or Reuters to pick up on the story and rain hell down on whatever moron thought this would be a good idea. Accedental or deliberate, it makes Oman look backwards, and puts us in the same league as fabulous places like Saudi, China, North Korea. Oh, wait, we're already in the same league as them on issues like Human Trafficking, so why not freedom of speech as well?

Blue Chi, or others who write for global voices, now would be a great time to update with this news. Please???

Some bloggers have already circumnavigated the block, others will figure it out soon enough.

Kishore has suggested sending emails to Omantel and the TRA, you can read his post here I have sent emails, and it would be great is everyone near and far could be kind enough to do the same.

I am ranting and raving about over on my blog, which you can read about Here

Muscato has also noticed that google services are acting a little funny.

The Undercover Dragon, in a psychic turn of events, posted a list of good ways to get around Omantel's rather feeble attempts to block our access to the outside world. Read it Here, before they decide to block the page entirely.

I would ask for your comments and feedback on the matter, except that they have also managed to block commenting functions on the blogs. SO even if somebody knows what is going on, they would have almost no way of sharing it.

If you want to keep updating your blog despite thier rather pathetic attempts to block access, check with Kishore, Read the Dargon't blog, or drop me an email OtherOman At Gmail dot Com and I"ll let you know a few easy ways to circumvent the block.

You could also migrate your blog to somewhere like wordpress, but then everybody will have to update thier bookmarks.

If you wish to allow commenting on your blog to continue, you can use a programme called Haloscan to replace your standard comments. www.haloscan.com

Good luck guys. And don't forget to email Omantel and the TRA.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eid Greeting to all!

Here's wishing everyone a very happy Eid Mubarak!





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May this joyous occassion bring for all happiness and prosperity!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blogging Problems

Do you guys face a problem when trying to publish a blog? It takes a few days to get an article published sometimes and others its on the spot. The only way to check if the blog is not erased / lost is to go the Dashboard area and look for it in the edit section. How do you fix this problem?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It is increasingly becoming difficult to get a house for rent in Muscat. In all the major news papers you will find more people looking for house, than the people looking for a job. Is this house hunt going to end at any point in time? Is there a workable solution for the same?

There has been a trend seen in charging an exorbitant amount as house rent, in addition to that one may have to pay 1 year / 6 months / 3 months advance. House owners even go up to taking post dated cheques for several months.

It makes me wonder if the situation is going to worsen…Is there an issue to shortage of houses? Its so unlikely, a long walk in the evening would make you realize, there are good many number of houses however very less takers, due to the challenges involved in taking a house for rent. When I think aloud “very less takers” may mean that there are houses that are bigger than you want and smaller than you wish…

Are people able to manage? Well, some may feel, yes – people are able to manage, and others may say otherwise. Whatever may be the thought, its going to be clearer day by day……

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ramadhan Greetings to all!

It's almost time again when we enter into the blessed month of Ramadhan...

In Melbourne, Ramadhan starts from 1-sep-08 (Monday) and should finish by the 30th of sep...(runs over the course of September)...I'm not sure about timings for Muscat, but estinates point to a start from either the 1st or 2nd of september...

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone Ramadhan Kareem...with a prayer that May the blessed month bring for all peace, tranquility and happiness... And May the Almighty accept out endeavours to gain his blessings and mercy. (Ameen)


Monday, August 25, 2008

Excerpts from Communities of Practice: Learning as a Social System

A recent trend in some of the private companies in Oman is “Communities of Practice”. Below are the excerpts regarding the same. Dr. Etienne Wenger is a globally recognized thought leader in the field of learning theory and its application to business.


You are an engineer working on two projects within your business unit. These are demanding projects and you give them your best. You respect your teammates and are accountable to your project managers. But when you face a problem that stretches your knowledge, you turn to people like Jake, Sylvia, and Robert. Even though they work on their own projects in other business units, they are your real colleagues. You all go back many years. They understand the issues you face and will explore new ideas with you. And even Julie, who now works for one of your suppliers, is only a phone call away. These are the people with whom you can discuss the latest developments in the field and troubleshoot each other's most difficult design challenges. If only you had more time for these kinds of interactions.


We all recognize knowledge as a key source of competitive advantage in the business world, but we still have little understanding of how to create and leverage it in practice. Traditional knowledge management approaches attempt to capture existing knowledge within formal systems, such as databases. Yet systematically addressing the kind of dynamic "knowing" that makes a difference in practice requires the participation of people who are fully engaged in the process of creating, refining, communicating, and using knowledge.


Even when people work for large organizations, they learn through their participation in more specific communities made up of people with whom they interact on a regular basis. These "communities of practice" are mostly informal and distinct from organizational units.


Defining Communities of Practice:
Communities of practice are everywhere. We all belong to a number of them—at work, at school, at home, in our hobbies. Some have a name, some don't. We are core members of some and we belong to others more peripherally. You may be a member of a band, or you may just come to rehearsals to hang around with the group. You may have just joined a community and are still trying to find your place in it or you may be a leader of a group in your company or college. Whatever form our participation takes, most of us are familiar with the experience of belonging to a community of practice.


Members of a community are informally bound by what they do together—from engaging in lunchtime discussions to solving difficult problems—and by what they have learned through their mutual engagement in these activities. A community of practice is thus different from a community of interest or a geographical community, neither of which implies a shared practice. A community of practice defines itself along three dimensions:
What it is about – its joint enterprise as understood and continually renegotiated by its members
How it functions – the relationships of mutual engagement that bind members together into a social entity
What capability it has produced - the shared repertoire of communal resources (routines, sensibilities, artifacts, vocabulary, styles, etc.) that members have developed over time.

Communities of practice develop around things that matter to people. As a result, their practices reflect the members' own understanding of what is important. Obviously, outside constraints or directives can influence this understanding, but even then, members develop practices that are their own response to these external influences. Even when a community's actions conform to an external mandate, it is the community—not the mandate—that produces the practice. In this sense, communities of practice are fundamentally self-organizing systems.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Day 1 @ Oman Community Blog

Dear All,

My Name is Vipin Kumar. This is my first day in Oman Community Blog and am very exited to be a part of the community...!!!

Its been a little over 2 months I am in Muscat, however I feel as if I share a strong bonding with the soil....I am sure there are many people who share the same feeling about the city and the country.

I have done my graduation in Computer Science and Electronics. I started my career in MphasiS BPO, as a trainee customer service executive. MphasiS has an exceptional character as a company and I gained a lot in my 3 years tenure, grew as Unit Manager within 2 years, expanded my horizons into services sector, learnt to lead teams into achieving goals, motivating them, the number game of the industry.

The opportunity knocked and I moved into consulting as a HR Manager, worked in Zygon, Focus Management Consultants at various positions. Interacted with clients like IBM, Accenture, SAIC, EDS, Genpact, Professional Access, Zensar, GE.

With my specialization in recruitment, I am here to test my skills and add value to my company and the country (I would be very happy if I can accomplish this).

Photography being my passion, Oman is the best suited place for me, as close to my heart as my home country...

Thank you all...



Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sultanate of Oman to embrace the Idol franchise

In few months time Radio Sultanate of Oman and Al Sawadi Beach Resort will lunch its first singing talent show ‘Oman Idol’ as part of Idol franchise such as American Idol and Super Star, for residence of Sultanate of Oman only. The Shabiba wrote an article about it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sheikh Saud Bahwan Passes Away

Al Mawaali, over at the Be in Oman Blog broke the story late yesterday.

The Arabic papers were sold out by the time I got to sultan center this morning, but the Times of Oman ( Here and Here) and the Tribune both had lovely eulogies, Far better than anything I could write here. In particular, the papers highlighted Sk Saud's many charitable endeavours. I think you all would agree, that he was a man of extrordinary generosity and business acumen.

According to the papers, Prayers will be performed at the Abu Bakr Mosque, Wattayah. His body will be carried to Al Amerat graveyard and condolences will be accepted at the mosque. In mourning, all the offices, divisions and branches of Saud Bahwan Group shall remain closed from August 20, and shall resume operations on Sunday August 24.

I counted 36 full pages of advertisements from various businesses in the English papers alone. I assume that these are being run instead of the regular adverts, and possibly at a discount. The rates for a full page b/w advert in Al Wattan are roughly 1,200 rials per day before any discount. Assuming a 40% discount, with six newspapers carrying 72 full pages of advertising , That's Maybe 51,000 Rials for Today's edition of the papers. I would expect just as many adverts in tomorow's edition . Call me a cynic, but I can't help wondering if the advertisement divisions of the newspapers high five one another every time someone important dies.

It seems to me that a better way to honor a man and family who gave so much to philanthropic endeavours would be to pull the advertisements for the day and instead donate, quietly, the amount that would have been spent on the advertisemsnts to one of the charities Sheikh Saud established. 100,000 rials in two days would improve the lives of countless disabled children, Diabetes patients, and the less fortunate famalies among us.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon--we belong to Allah and to Him do we return.

One Step Forward : Omantel

Another step towards the right direction from Omantel...according to this article in the Times of Oman, Omantel is revamping the tariff scale for local calls and lowering IDD rates...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bloggers gathering - August 2008

We had yet another small gathering this evening at D'arcy's Kitchen in MQ. This gathering was unique, though, because we had an honor guest; our fellow blogger MMK080 from Qatar. He was in Oman during the weekend for his first time in the Sultanate, and on his last day in Oman we thought of having a small gathering. It was indeed nice having him between us, and it was an honor meeting him in real life. Hope that he liked his stay in Oman and enjoyed the special Omani hospotality. :-)

Anyways, the gathering was all organized quickly and just via e-mail in the last couple of days, when MMK080 announced last Tuesday that he will be in Oman for the weekend. I quickly e-mailed the bloggers I thought would be interested in meeting up, and they all responded. Everyone came except Muscati who was really looking forward to coming but couldn't make it since he was in Dubai, as he explained to us from the beginning. The bloggers who attended the gathering are: Al-Maawali, Kishor, Blue-Chi, MMK080 from Qatar, our great chief Del_Yahi from the Omani Cuisine, Conceptoo from Oman3D and of course, myself.

And guess what? Blue-Chi and Conceptoo, the founders of Oman3D, gave away some free t-shirts in the gathering carrying Oman3D's logo. So it wasn't only a nice gathering, but we got free t-shirts as well! :-p ..

Again we hope that MMK080 had enjoyed his time in the Sultanate. :-) Wishing to see him again in the future.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

UAE Visa for non-GCC Nationals

Is it true that from August the 1st onwards the UAE visit visa for non-GCC nationals is going to cost 50 rials instead of 10 rials only?

We're planning on going to Dubai for a short trip by car sometime in mid-August. Even though we're Oman residents (not citizens) and traveling to Dubai by car, we need a UAE visa which is issued just at the UAE borders and cost 10 rials per person. But I've been hearing from different people that they're raising the fees to 50 rials, does anyone have any idea about this?

If it's true, then I think we're canceling our plans. Because we'd end up paying over 200 rials just for visas for a 4 ~ 5 days visit! Ridiculous.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Happy Renaissance Day

Happy 38th Renaissance Day :-)

Times of Oman is back online

Finally, after being slugged with warning messages on both Google and FireFox 3 for a number of weeks, Times of Oman is back Online...

There is no noticeable change in the content/layout of the website though...it still looks like a website made by a 12-year old in 2 hours (!)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two-wheeler Schumis


These teenage kids zip around the roads between Wadi Kabir, Ruwi and Muttrah areas in the evenings, and cause a great bit of inconvenience to car drivers. Most of the time, they trespass into the highway and cause a flutter by their helter-skelter riding skills. Not content with highway, they often stay into pavement next to the highway. Call it adrenaline rush or teen passion, they are surely putting their lives at risk. Where are the ROP guys?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sleepless in Muscat, RIP

I received the sad news late this evening of the passing of Ali Mehdi, known to most of you as Sleepless in Muscat. Ali was without a doubt, Oman's most prolific blogger. He was also an aspiring poet who self-published two books of poetry, and a frequent columnist in The Week and online on the Times of Oman website. He posted frequently on Oman Forum as well. As a blogger, he contributed to a dazzling number of blogs in addition to his own many blogs. He was also the founder of the Oman Community Blog.

Ali's last post on his blog was on May 3rd. It was a poem called Passion's Death.. He fell ill shortly after and was admitted to hospital into Intensive Care where he remained till his passing earlier today. He was 29.

Deepest condolences to his family; our prayers are with them in this difficult time.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tier three, again

For the second year running, Oman has earned a place amongst the fabulous glitterati of Tier three on the US Dept of State Human Trafficking report. The only entities surprised by this are the ministry in charge of fixing it, and perhaps the courts. The media coverage and press release from the Ministry of Foreign affairs was so shocking, that if I were in charge I would haul up the Minister and departmental heads of the ROP and Courts and demand an explanation.

You can read the report here. One can and should question if the US is a good country to be evaluating the human rights of other nations (Git-mo Abu Gharib, etc...) but the observations in the report are a totally accurate analysis of the current Human rights situation in Oman.

I, personally, am ashamed and embarrassed, because I thought Oman was actually going to DO SOMETHING about human trafficking, instead of throwing a few conferences, issuing a decree which was never enforced and distributing a printed leaflet to illiterate labourers. How hard would it be to actually run an aggressive sting programme to bust companies and individuals who deny their employees their basic human rights? Follow that up with some aggressive prosecutions, some crippling fines, and jail time for the CEO's and sponsors convicted of sexual trafficking, Physical abuse, Non payment of Wages, and withholding Passports. Then publish their pictures in the paper. Front page. Next, set up a small shelter for Victims of human rights violations, as well as local victims of marital violence.

Congratulations one and all. This is certainly a proud moment for our glorious nation.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Show ?! Training ?


I mistakenly come across this video on YouTube this morning. I'm not sure if it's real or it was just a show but for sure it was in SQU's campus. If it's for real then it's scary... and if it's just a show or whatever, then I don't understand why the shotguns and in a university campus?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

OmanTel announces new ADSL packages

So the pricing for the new ADSL packages are now announced and can be checked on OmanTel's official website. [Link]

As Muscati pointed out in my previous post, the 8 Mbps turned out to be close to 100 OR. 99 OR actually. It's crazy, even after considering the unlimited free downloads you get with that package. Nobody on his right mind will pay 99 OR on an Internet connection for personal usage.

The other four packages starting from 512 Kbps, 1 Mbps, 4 Mbps are reasonably priced I guess. You can check the packages in details [here].

And yeah.. according to the press release, your 384 Kb/s ADSL connection should automatically upgrade to 512 Kb/s with no charges.

So, what do you think of the pricing ?

Yet another interview with HM by a Kuwaiti newspaper...

(ONA)

The same Kuwaiti journalist Ahmed Al Jar Allah, editor-in-chief of Al Siyasa Kuwaiti newspaper, who interviewed His Majesty the Sultan two years ago, interviewed HM again on Saturday April the 26th, 2008.

It's a quite interesting interview. The highlights of the interview can be checked on Times of Oman newspaper by clicking here. And for Arabic readers, they can check the whole interview in details (Q&A) on the Kuwaiti newspaper: Al-Siyasa [Link].

I wonder why we don't have Omani journalists interviewing His Majesty as often? Or as a friend of mine said, maybe it is because we don't have such capable journalists in Oman?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

OmanTel's 8 Mbps ADSL

Does anyone have any idea about the new 8 Mbps and 16 Mbps ADSL packages OmanTel is offering?

The ad above was posted by someone on Sablat Oman (omania2.net), but unfortunately when I checked OmanTel's website it has nothing mentioned about these offers.

Any idea? information? recent news from OmanTel?

Monday, April 14, 2008

(YET) Another Inflation Record Smashed...(but is that all that is to the story?)

Just when some are beginning to think it cant get much worse, in an article published by ITP's ArabianBusiness (click HERE to go to the article in full), inflation in Oman is racking up record upon record ever since the US Dollar started it's fateful slide for the worse...since then, the Omani Rial has lost close to 20% of it's value against some currencies (as I compared here), prices for food and other essential commodites have shot up through the roof (possibly more than just a roof this year)...

According to the article, "Inflation in Oman rose for a ninth month to 11.11% in February, the highest in at least 18 years"...

further adding that "
Food, beverage and tobacco costs, which account for almost a third of the consumer price index, surged 19.6% in February, the Ministry of National Economy said on its website on Sunday. Food costs had jumped 17% in January"

And the response was just the usual rhetoric the Omani public has been hearing all along..."There is no quick fix," Omani Economy Minister Ahmad bin Abdul-Nabi Mekki told newswire Reuters on Sunday."We took measures of reducing imports and we also requested wholesalers to reduce prices. Inflation will take its natural course in 2008."

Oman's CPI is now at 120 points, up from 108 from the same point in time a year back. This is reportedly the highest level since 1990.

The final piece of data given is: "Inflation in Oman, which hit 10.12% in January, had risen by an average of 1% in the last 10 years.

Rents rose 14.1% in February, down slightly from 14.3% in January,"

The article then goes into the defensive statements we've been hearing all along...there is an implicit message again that Oman does not intend to depeg or revalue the ailing Rial anytime soon...

What is surprising is the fact that the article mentions a Central Bank official as saying that Oman needs to slow down economic expansion...I dont see how that can be done without raising interest rates and reducing the money supply and liquidity in the market...

That said, I have a few thoughts of my own to add...I dont think Oman is alone in facing rapidly inflating food prices...Prices for food items have been rapidly increasing all around...I've noticed food items in Australia going up as well (Australia faces inflationary pressures as well and annual inflation is at around 3-4% despite measures by RBS including relentless interest rate rises, but some food items like Indian rice have shot up by as much as 20% over a period of months).

prices for food items (such as rice, wheat and perhaps all essential grains) have been rising sharply all over the world since the last year or so...prices are expected to stabilise a bit this year (since Australia is coming out from drought and expects to produce a healthy wheat crop this year) but to what extent they stabilise remains to be seen.

Damn, now what am I going to do with that Free Tibet banner?

I was interested to read in yesterday's Times of Oman about the plans for today's Olympic torch relay. The media and the various ministries seem quite excited about it all, though I am slightly disappointed by the lack of enthusiasm shown by most of my friends and associates.

That's not what this post is about though. I laughed out loud when I read the following :

Oman announced yesterday that the nation is all geared up to host the most peaceful leg of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay tomorrow. The claim came from Oman Olympic Committee vice-chairman Habib bin Abdulnabi Macki, who addressed a large press gathering at the Crowne Plaza yesterday.

“Our security is tight and anyone trying to put a hurdle will be severely dealt with,” said Habib Macki. “The Royal Oman Police is ready to handle any such situations.”


Did you catch the pun? Hurdle! get it? Hurdle?

After I stopped laughing, I spent another twenty or thirty minutes marveling at his poor choice of words regarding how protesters will be treated. I can't believe that nobody prepped him for the question, or if they did that that was the quote he was supposed to give. That is textbook bad Public and Press Relations.

With the eyes of the world on us today, the OOC would have been well advised to trot out a someone more seasoned to deal with the media, or to have prepared statements that didn't quite present the plan for crowd control so bluntly.

That said, I think it's a real mark of distinction that Oman was chosen to host a leg of the relay. For those of you who want to attend, the relay starts off from the Dhow at the Al Bustan R/A at about 17:00 and continue along the coast through old muttrah, and up through the darsait heights area, then Past the refinery I think and down into Qurum. The relay is scheduled to finish amongst great fanfare and fireworks at around 20:30 tonight, in the floating theatre in Qurum park.

Be there or be square Hip Cats.

A slightly more Caustic version of this is Cross posted on my Blog, Other Oman

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Where did the traffic go?

According to an article published by Times of Oman, passenger traffic at Muscat International Airport saw a sharp decline towards the end of Feb-08 compared to the same period last year...

According to the article, "traffic fell by 23.9 per cent to 617,791 at the end of February 2008 against 812,600 passengers during the corresponding period in 2007,

The number of arriving passengers fell by 20.8 per cent...

The number of departing passengers via Muscat International Airport fell by 24.1 per cent "

Click here to read the full text.

The reasons cited by the article include withdrawal of Gulf Air and some airlines ceasing service to MCT.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Muscat Hils, Golf Country Club!!

So the projects name is changed but why the hell is called in Arabic Muscat Hills instead of beng called 'Tilal Muscat' we are in Oman and names should be in Arabic....... westren names are not for us... this is really pissing me off

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Another rant about inflation (or controlling the juggernaut)...and my own observations

Another one added to the tally of a bajillion articles on inflation and what the government is doing to combat it was published in the Times of Oman recently...Click here to read it (it's a bit long).

Apparently the import of fish has been allowed, which will somehow drive down inflation. (It should drive down prices of fish and seafood, provided the imports are comparable in price to local produce. That aside, it should also calm the markets by balancing out supply/demand to an extent).

In my observation over the last year or so, I have noticed that inflation in Oman is not necessarily due to supply/demand...it is due to excessive liquidity in the market. This is due to the GCC states (except Kuwait) having to shadow US Monetary policy...while the US Federal reserve has cut interest rates form 5.25% to 3% from september onwards trying to ward of recession, the GCC countries are riding on a growth spurt fuelled by oil prices smashing new records everyday. This is practically a case of two economies moving in opposite directions but following the same policies.

This disparity in economic policies has driven up inflation in several ways...on one hand it creates a situation where a rapidly expanding economy meets excessive liquidity, excess money supply and low interest rates...when these combine together, it can drive up inflation very quickly...

Secondly, due to the OMR being pegged with the USD (at 1 USD = 0.385 OMR) and Oman shadowing the US economic policies, the value of the OMR has been dragged down to record lows against the major currencies...I'll cite a few examples:

Currency, Value in OMR 15-Dec 2006 , Value in OMR at 6-Mar-2008, % change from 2006 value

AUD OMR 0.300 OMR 0.360 (up 20%)
CAD OMR 0.332 OMR 0.390 (up 17.4%) [1]
EUR OMR 0.504 OMR 0.584 (up 15.8%)
GBP OMR 0.752 OMR 0.770 (up 2.4%)
JPY* 306.04 268.53 (up 14%) [2]
SGD OMR 0.250 OMR 0.277 (up 10.8%)
NZD OMR 0.266 OMR 0.307 (up 15.4%) [3]
CHF OMR 0.315 OMR 0.373 (up 18.41%)

[1] Canadian dollar attained parity with the USD in early November 2007, peaking at OMR 0.410
[2] The rate against JPY is expressed as OMR 1 to JPY/. Other currencies are 1 unit of foreign currency to OMR
[3] NZD value was reduced by some amount after intervention by RBNZ


(All rates sourced from HERE)

As it is clearly visible, the OMR has lost significantly to all major currencies except the UK Sterling. This means that all imports (be it shoes from European brands, your favourite meats from AUS/NZ, and the Cars from Toyota APAC which is based in Australia and manufactures most of the Camry units for the GCC region) have become significantly more expensive.

A an example,If you were paying OMR 3 per kilo for a A$10/kilo meat from Australia, you'll simply have to pay OMR 3.6 per kilo for the same product...

Not only has this depreciation of the OMR hurt the consumer in Oman, it has also reduced the attractiveness of the GCC region to expatriates, particularly from South Asia. On top of the spiralling cost of living, leaving less money with people to remit back home ( a large chunk of south asians do that), the depreciating currency creates further hindrance. As another example, 1 OMR was equal to almost 120 INR (Indian rupees) in dec 2006...and the current value stands at 1 OMR equaling almost 102 INR. This change of 17% in currency rates, coupled with the rapidly growing economies in South Asia (particularly India) where salaries are on an upward trend, will make it all the more difficult to attract talented people from the region. (The sporadic protests by construction workers over wages is another indication).

Looking at the data, isn't it getting obvious that if not detachment from the USD, a revaluation of the OMR makes sense? It will make imports cheaper and reduce the "imported inflation" in food items...As such, there is nothing stopping the Central bank from revaluing later should the USD appreciate again...but for the short-term, another US interest rate cut of 75 basis points (0.75%) from 3% to 2.25% is expected soon... will definitely pinch the USD even more...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Good news: Darsait roundabout will be a signalised junction soon



MUSCAT -- Muscat Municipality is embarking on another phase of improvements to the city's road network, aimed at easing traffic flows, eliminating bottlenecks, and strengthening sections of the network that were damaged during last June's unusual weather conditions. The latest initiatives are targeted at improving the road network in Darsait, Qurum, Ghala and Seeb, among other areas of Muscat Governorate. In the biggest of these projects, Muscat Municipality will undertake a series of upgrades to the road network in the Darsait area at a total cost of around RO 2.9 million.

The improvements will help address perennial peak-hour congestion at the Bait Al Falaj (Darsait) roundabout, as well as streamline traffic flows into the surrounding residential neighbourhoods. Besides converting the Bait al Falaj (Darsait) roundabout into a signalised junction, Muscat Municipality is also constructing a new link road connecting the Qurum-Darsait carriageway to the Darsait road network. Consequently, vehicles bound for Darsait will no longer have to approach the soon-to-be signalised Darsait junction, but can instead use the new link road to directly gain access into Darsait.

The link road will start from near the popular picnic area adjoining the southbound section of the carriageway, and will feed into the Darsait road network. Additionally, a new service road will be constructed from the small roundabout at the entrance to Muscat Municipality in Darsait, and will lead up towards Pakistan School Muscat. The new road will help feed traffic into the Ruwi Church/Darsait Temple area, thereby easing the flow along the Darsait road. The Al Burj roundabout near Ruwi Church will also be converted into a signalised junction as part of the road improvements in the area.

Well-known construction firm Consolidated Contractors Company Oman (CCC) will undertake the road improvements at Darsait on behalf of Muscat Municipality on a 'Design and Construct' basis. Parsons have been named as design consultants in the project. CCC will also undertake repairs to a small section of Sultan Qaboos Street at Qurum that was swept away in flooding during the unusual weather conditions last June. The contractor will use micropiling to stabilise the slopes on either side of the carriageway that suffered a breach in the flooding, and was temporarily repaired soon thereafter.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Internet Subscribers in Oman grows...but what about the level of service?

This is my first post in the blog in a long long while...now that I'm back in Melbourne, I'm reading Times of Oman more keenly and that sorta keeps me updated...here goes...

In an article published by Times of Oman (Click on the header of the post to get to the original...I wont copy-paste anything but figures), it said that the subscriber base for internet services in Oman is now just over 100,000 (102,657 to be precise)...which is still only a small fraction of our neighbours (i.e. UAE)....

However, what nobody has pointed out yet is the level of service from OmanTel...which has been less than stellar in recent (or even before recent) times...the speed on the ADSL is redundant at 384 kbps, which hardly fits the definition for "broadband" anymore...the charges are pretty high as well at OMR 12 line rent + OMR 1 per GB....

Connection drop-outs, slow response times, and sometimes the ADSL line behaving slower than dial-up is not unusual..

If anyone from OmanTel reads the blog, get this stuffed into the heads of your technical department: We need more speed AND more reliability.

(The original article is here)

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oman Air Rebranded



Just like many others, I was not impressed with Oman Air's new brand identity, I did not understand what it meant at first, and I genuinely thought that all of their teasers that ran on the newspapers for the past week or so were made by the new Al Ahli Bank.

Oman Air, or whoever did the branding for them, clearly misunderstood what the problem is, there was nothing wrong with khanjar concept or with the choice of colours, why didn't they work with they had and remastered them instead of doing something totally random. Do they really think that using gold and silver will make them 'look' luxurious? And why in heaven's name didn't they change that ugly font?!

The brand is of course not only about the logo, but it is the image of the company within the consumers mind which is created by the quality of the service, the PR, and everything the company does. Changing the logo is the first step in telling all the consumers that Oman Air is changing, that is no longer that cheap-ass-service-company with old and dirty airplanes. But did this logo tell me anything such as that? I don't really know, I can' relate to it, I don't understand it, and I think that it looks ugly. I was discussing this with a friend earlier today, and he said that he really thinks that this logo suits Oman Air, it is a horrible logo for a horrible company.

A great number of Omani companies and institutions do not understand the importance of having a brand and the impact color and typography could have on consumers perception of their service. While new Omani companies such as Omran, Nawras, Oman Oil, and Bank Muscat, seem to know how to make the most effective use of the power of branding, the same cannot be said about Oman Mobile, OmanTel or Bank Sohar, and surely not Oman Air.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Muscat University ?

I'm sure that some of you heard before about the project of Muscat University, probably two years back or so. Wasn't it just a union of some private colleges in Muscat like the Modern College of Science and Business, Muscat College and some other colleges? Since we heard of that union, did anybody hear of the project being canceled or the colleges not agreeing on the union? All I know that the last statement from the Ministry of Higher Education showed that the ministry was aiming for that project to be done and unify those private colleges together. Though, I have never heard that the project was canceled a long time ago, till today.

Apparently, the private colleges didn't come to an agreement. So the Ministry of Higher Education just canceled the project and took back the license of the university. And according to this article on Al-Shabiba newspaper, the Oman Chamber of Commerce & Industry is willing to establish the Muscat University with a capital of 20 million Omani Rials. The project is still being studied and will most probably be announced during this year, 2008. The university will not have any of the private colleges in Muscat in it. It will be a new separated university with different majors (still not announced).

Surprisingly, the end of the article says that the Council of Higher Education has withdrawn the license of establishing Muscat University which was just a unity of some of the private colleges in Muscat, and the project was canceled because the colleges did not come to an agreement. That was surprising because we never got to know about that before. But it's not something strange anyways. A lot of things happening in the country are not reported hence we don't get to know about them...

Why did the colleges fail to come to an agreement after all this time? Did not His Majesty provide 17 million Omani Rials last July to support this project? Where did the 17 million Omani Rials go if the project is canceled? A lot of questions arose after reading that tiny bit information on Al-Shabiba newspaper which was mentioned in the very end of the article.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Identify the logos

Can you identify the following logos?



Friday, February 15, 2008

Free advertisements?

There are two things you need to perceive here, not only that they hinder those seeking a ride on the shores but also tourists with dogs. Frankly, no one pays attention as far as I can tell. You can spot a rover on the back; many other vehicles can be seen down the area too.

Now the interesting part is the advertisement that has been placed on the board itself. Well, click here to have a better view.

Who knows, we might have stop signs with ads too in the near future.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Grab it before it's gone

Whoever wants the dance that was performed for the kids in Muscat Festival, Grab it before it's gone.

RE: Muscat Festival's Embarrassing Show

Here's what Sheikh/Ahmed bin Hamad Al-Khalili, The Mufti of the Sultanate had to say about the dance everybody has been talking about during Muscat festival.

It starts from minute 2.50 if you're not bothered to hear it all.

Oman Tourism Hotline

An advert on the paper was made today to announce the Ministry of Tourism's new Tourism Call Centre which should answer all queries regarding tourism in Oman and will provide info on tourist attractions around the country. The Tourism Call Centre will have Arabic and English speaking staff should start operating on the 16th of Feb and can be reached on the free number 800 777 99. Lets all call them on the 16th and see well they do. :P

Sunday, February 10, 2008

HM's Royal Directives

MUSCAT — His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has issued royal orders to make available basic food commodities all over the Sultanate urgently, reduce the price of one tonne of flour by RO25, give the recommendations of the ministerial committee in charge of handling property rents hike at the nearest possible time, raise the salaries of employees of the state administrative apparatus units and social security families with effect from this month. The statement issued by the Diwan of Royal Court yesterday reads as follows:

Having reviewed the study prepared by the ministerial committee set up to alleviate the impact of price hike, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ordered the following:

- Make available basic food commodities all over the Sultanate urgently. The respective departments should devise a sound mechanism to ensure that retail traders do not raise the prices of these commodities, enhance market monitoring and combat monopoly.

- Reduce the price of one tonne of flour by RO25.

- The ministerial committee in charge of devising a mechanism to solve the issue of property rents hike should give its recommendations at the nearest possible time.

- The consumer protection department shall report directly to the minister of commerce and industry.

- Increase the salaries of the state administrative apparatus units of the ministries, government departments, organizations, public authorities, public establishments and other juristic personalities with effect from this month as follows:

A. The salary of employees on financial Grades 8, 9, 10 and its equivalent to be raised by 7 per cent of the basic.

B. The salary of employees on financial Grade 11 and its equivalent to be raised by 8 per cent of the basic.

C. The salary of employees on financial Grade 12 and its equivalent to be raised by 12 per cent of the basic.

D. The salary of employees on financial Grade 13 and its equivalent to be raised by 21 per cent of the basic.


E. The salary of employees on financial Grade 14 and its equivalent to be raised by 43 per cent of the basic.


F. The rest of the employees of the state administrative apparatus units from the ministries, governmental units, military and security units, organizations, public organizations, public authorities and other juristic personalities by 5 per cent of the basic salary.


G. Raise the social security families salaries by 10 per cent.


His Majesty the Sultan also ordered the respective authorities to conduct the actuary studies to improve the financial allocations for employees retired from the governmental sector also.
Source: Times of Oman
Pic Source: ONA

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

10 Kittens and a Lion

We all were excited for this match. It was a Do or Die for sure even if it was the first match of the group stage. I admit I was very optimistic about this match, I thought the team would be fueled up and pumped up for this encounter. What more do they want? A stadium which has a capacity of 65,000 was filled up for them. Everyone there for them and a match to prove themselves again, yet all we get as a nation from these so-called professionals is a bad start to the road to Johannesburg.

From the start of the match Bahrain were attacking our open defense, running around in our side of the pitch as if they were on an empty parking lot. Our passing was sure very bad, no pass accuracy at all.

We might ask ourselves what went wrong in the team. The thing is we wouldn't know that. Don't blame the referee like the commentator did in the match. Every tackle got the commentator
blaming the referee for anything that happened.

Our midfield was shattered, Fawzi Basheer who had an attacking role on the midfield was held way back in the midfield line. There was absolutely no way the ball could reach the strikers from the midfield. Any player gets the ball and has absolutely no one to pass it to as all the rest are marked.

Our left side of the defense was like an open road. I remember one strike were the Bahraini striker easily got past in between 3 of our defenders. Good thing it wasn't a goal.

I was disappointed by the performance of all the players except one, that is Ali Al-Habsi for sure. He saved a few definite goals and the goal that was scored was not his fault but the defenders fault. Whenever a corner is played there should be two defenders between the goalkeeper, each defender marking the area of each goal post. But only the left of our goalkeeper was protected and the right side was not.

This is our first defeat in Oman since 4 years now. There was no sense of patriotism in our players today. Only Ali Al-Habsi showed that, the rest were being outplayed and seemed lost in the pitch. If only they had that sense of patriotism they would've done something about the outcome of the match today.

Speaking of Patriotism, if only you guys watched UAE's match against Kuwait today. I watched it right after Oman's match finished. That was football, that was team-work and in that match I found what I call patriotism. All the players in UAE and Kuwait (despite being 2-0 down) were giving it their all. Sadly we don't have that in our football players.

The funny thing was watching our players diving after every tackle they got from the Bahraini players. Also another funny thing is, during the 1st half and a part of the 2nd half the referee was surely on our side.

Bahrain played a good match, even though they were a bit dirty and tried to waste a lot of time. Macala sure knew how to handle the game and Bravo to him for that. He closed all the flanks, locked down Oman's midfield and marked our key players.

I just hope this loss has a good impact on our players rather than put them down. Yes this was our chance but there is no use crying over spilled milk right now. We have to focus on our coming matches and try our best to snatch every point we can get. This is not over yet, Bahrain have a bad record when it comes to home matches, so let's hope for the best.

Congratulations to Bahrain for this win, they sure deserved it.

The 10 kittens are the rest of the players, The lion is Ali Al-Habsi.

The Road to South Africa: Oman x Bahrain

Date: 6/2/2008
Venue: Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex - Bowshar, Muscat.
Time: 18:30 (Oman timing)
Match: Oman x Bahrain





Oman:

I think by now our National team needs no introduction. It is now considered as one of the best in Asia. Our national team booked it's place in Asia's best since 2004 in the Asian Federations Cup which was held in China. Even though in that tournament we did not move further than the group stage due to referee favourism (what a coincidence? He was Bahraini). The road to success was continued in 2005 at Qatar when we were beaten only once in the group stage and topped the group. Then comes the Semi finals and we came with a wonderful come back against Bahrain and reached the finals against hosts Qatar. But it appears that the rule of thumb in the Gulf Cup is that the host has to win. Same scenario happened in Abu Dhabi last year. But let's not complain, that is football. Let me just add that in my opinion our squad was at it's peak in Doha back in 2005. That is my personal opinion and many will disagree. Then came the 2007 Asian Federations Cup last summer. We actually held Australia, a team that reached the last 16 stage in the world cup in Germany back in 2006 and was knocked out by world champions Italy who had a very hard time to knock them out (comes from a die-hard Azzurri fan). Somehow, we could not advance to the second stage of the Asian Federations Cup, how couldn't we snatch that? I still don't know. It was quite shocking.

Here is the chance, we have to snatch it as this generation of players may never repeat itself. This is our golden generation but now we are suffering a problem, the same problem the best football national team is suffering as well, Brazil. As you can see, I guess 90% of our players are professionals outside Oman, yes it is great for them and we are all happy for them but here comes the problem, the club they play for is what feeds them and their families, so to continue that they have to be careful and try their best not to get injured. They might even snub the national team for the club they play for and that has happened in Brazil. The thing is, when all our players still played for Oman they all played from their hearts, they were all patriots. Now I want to ask you, do you see this patriotism in them after they all moved to Qatar and Bahrain? The only patriots I see in the pitch are: Ali Al-Habsi, Hussein Mudhafar and Ahmed Hadid who I guess all are professionals in other countries. Let us just hope that patriotism is back today on the pitch against Bahrain, months later against Japan and Thailand.

We might feel quite insecure about the national team since many changes have been made in the spine of the team and the thinking mind of the team such as the coach. But let's hope for the best. The question is, does this new coach have something new to offer for our national team?

Bahrain:

The Bahraini national team is one of the newcomers in Asian football. A team that was filled with surprises, they have preformed excellently in China's 2004 Asian Federations Cup and made it to the 4th position. even in Gulf Cup 17 and Gulf Cup 18 where they were knocked out by our national team on both occasions in the semi-finals. We all know that Bahrain was the closest Arabian team (after Saudi Arabia that is) to qualify to the World Cup 2006 in Germany as they reached the last stage of qualification but lost against Trinidad & Tobago.

Unlike us, Bahrain have more experience in the World Cup Qualifications as they have reached the final stage of qualifications. Let alone that they haven't changed anything in their team's spine, their coach hasn't been changed. I guess as Omani's we all know him, Milan Maccalla. Milan Maccalla has coached us for 5 years, he knows every single strength and weakness for sure. That would be an important factor.

The Coaches:

Ribas:
Julio Cesar Ribas, Uruguayan. This is his first match with the Omani national team (I'm not counting friendly matches). This is his first experience with national teams as he always coached club teams. This is his chance to shine. The coach sure is pumped up as he came to coach a national team like Oman. If he manages to take them to South Africa, then for sure oil-barons Saudi Arabia or sky-scrapers U.A.E will have their millions ready to lure this manage their football teams. Sure he is aware that his rival knows every weakness and strength of his team. So will he be able to lead the students (our footballers) to beat their professor(Maccalla)?

Maccalla:
Milan Maccalla, comes from Czech Republic. Our coach for 5 years until he got the sack. Maccalla still did not achieve the Bahraini dream. He disappointed them in 2007 Asian Cup and is looking forward to lift that heavy load off his shoulders. Again I am repeating he knows every single strength and weakness of his opponents. He knows the stadium pretty well, he knows the players pretty well and knows the fans pretty well. So will the Professor beat his students this time?

I expect a pretty intense match, a match where Bahrain would be defending mostly and rely on counter-attacks while our national team attacking and hold the ball possession with their fast passing.

Our national team should find the way to the Bahraini goal quite easily if they continued striking and giving too much pressure to the Bahraini defense. I also expect our defense tomorrow to be solid.

However, we will be suffering a major blow as one of the key-players in our national team will not be featuring in tomorrow's match due to injury. I guess he is just like Andrea Pirlo for Italy. Ahmed Hadid is the start of every strike and the first on the defense wall. Let's hope his replacement does the job today.

Other matches to keep an eye on tomorrow are:
Qatar x Australia
Iraq x China
Thailand x Japan
UAE x Kuwait

Good luck and may Oman win tomorrow. I would urge you all in Oman to go watch the match tomorrow. I just wish I was there for our national team, for Oman. If I could then I would certainly go to this match. Nothing will stop me from watching this match, it will be 14:30 here in England and I will go to my friends apartment to watch it.

May the best win.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Now open: 'Great Kabab Factory' and 'Mirchi'

The Great Kabab Factory has opened an outlet in Al Khuwair (Opposite to Radisson SAS hotel), and has on offer a range of delectable kababs, biriyani, Indian bread and desserts. The veg platter costs RO 6.9 and non-veg platter RO 7.9.

Mirchi, an Indian specialty restaurant, has opened at Ramee Guestline Hotel, Qurum (near Crown Plaza Hotel).










Sunday, February 3, 2008

HE Abdullah Abbas to Patronage Oman x Bahrain

Our national team's encounter against Bahrain on Wednesday the 6th of February will be held under the patronage of HE Abdullah Abbas, Head of Muscat Municipality. The match will be held at 18:30 in Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Bowshar. The match is considered as the 3rd round of the 2010 World Cup Qualification, the World Cup will be held in South Africa.

The F.A. has sent invitations to a number of officials who are interested in the Sport event and to presidents of Omani football clubs.

The gates will be open to our loyal fans to come and support their national team on this huge event for the country. As this is a very important event for Omani football especially at this generation of players the national team has at the moment. Winning this game would highly affect the players and motivate them. So they need the loyal fans' support. I would like to urge you all to be there for the team. Just like you were all there in 2004 against Japan.

It is now certain that key-player Ahmed Hadid will miss this encounter due to the injury he suffered in the friendly humiliating match against Kuwait last week. This injury will leave him off the football pitch for 3 weeks according to tests he underwent.

The coach has chosen 22 players for the squad against Bahrain and they are as follows:
Imad Ali Al-Hosani, Fawzi Bin Bashir, Ismail Al-Ajmy, Ahmed Hadid, Ahmed bin Mubarak Al-Muhaijri, Khalifa bin Ayel Al-Nofali, Bader Al-Maimani, Mohamed Rabi'a Al-Nobi (C), Hashim bin Saleh Al-Balushi, Nabil bin Aashoor, Talal bin Khalfan Al-Farsi, Mohamed bin Mubarak Al-Hinai, Issam bin Fayel, Hussein Mudhafar, Bader bin Juma'a Al-Alawi, Mohamed bin Huwaidi, Hani Al-Dhabit, Ali bin Sleyum Al-Farsi, Mohamed bin Abdullah Al-Sheba, Hussein bin Ali Fareh, Ali Al-Habsi and Juma'a Darwish.

Good luck to the team and Inshallah this event will have it's own coverage in OCB.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Way To Go, Muscat Municipality!

I was discussing Muscat Festival with a friend, and he brought this video up. I checked it out on YouTube and got the shock of my life.

I want to clear out that whenever someone criticizes Muscat Festival, I ask that person to give them a break, they are improving year by year. But this just proves me wrong. When will these people behind organizing the festival ever learn? Who is to blame?

The video you are about to see is just disgusting, to all. Let alone KIDS! This particular show is supposed to be for kids.

I'll let you guys judge this. As I really have absolutely no comment for this.

Where is our great "History" .. Where are our "Traditions" .. Is this a part of our "Heritage"?



Way to go, Muscat Municipality! Someone seriously has to complain!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Shah Rukh Khan to rock Muscat

According to our little birdie, Indian and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is most likely to perform in Muscat during the concluding day of the Muscat Festival celebrations on Feb. 15, 2008. For starters, Shah Rukh is known to have a huge Omani fan base.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saudi Law to control illegal online activity

Here is news about Saudi promoting new laws for controlling the use of technology for terrorism, fraud, pornography, defamation, violating religious values and disregarding public etiquette.

They had earlier arrested Fouad Al Farhan, a 32-year-old which was considered a the first of its type there. http://www.itp.net/news/507409

Now the law make its even more strict and The new law also covers the religious and social use of information and communications technology. Read more at http://www.itp.net/news/509250-saudi-tightens-grip-on-internet-use.