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.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Temptations lead to havoc

While some of us enjoy new releases such as Blackberry and the 3G phones with Nawras networks, we can't seem to relax.

Just hear this news about a yet to be controlled mobile worm infecting Symbian S60 operating system devices, including Nokia 6600, 6630, 6680, 7610, N70 and N72 phones.

If sorting your infection is not enough, it is alarming to think of these worms self-spreading them to every contact in the address book. Some how I feel vulnerable with technology no matter how much I read or do for precaution: there is always a new danger round the corner and I pay dearly for the comfort I want.

For those interested in reading more about worms, their history an their morphing versions for various modes of online communications click online to my blog post http://digitaloman.blogspot.com/2008/01/computer-worms-are-more-malicious.html

Monday, January 21, 2008

New and Improved Penalties for Driving Like an Ass.

Arabic readers will see in the above photos the latest and greatest driving improvment measures from our beloved ROP.
Following, for the benefit of the non arabic readers, is an appalingly translated summary courtesy of me. Please, if someone could provide a more detailed translation I would be so, so, so, thrilled.
The one on the right is the official report / circular issued by attourney general, from back in November. It kind of highlights some undesirable driving behaviors. Red light runing, cutting in / overtaking on the yellow lane, Drifting or stunts ??? It pretty much says that these offenses are serious, dangerous, and waaaay impolite, reccomending much stronger penalties for offenders.
The one on the left is the follow up decision taken by the Attourney general, (I am pleased to not that it's the first decision of the year!!!) that states that due to the problems and accidents caused buy people driving in an impolite way on the yellow lines and running red lights and Drifting? Racing? Cruising (help?) ? that offenders who are caught doing these things will be put in jail for up to 48 hours and thier car will be taken away until the case comes to prosecution. If the car is borrowed the owner can petition for the release of the car, and the driver has to give his lisence up. I don't see a maditory fine specified anywhere.
Azzam daily carried the article today, you can read it here.

I am especially excited to see that overtaking in the yellow lane is among the offenses. ROP, if you are reading this, you could take away 75% of the vehicles belonging to Ministry employees if you set up a shakedown on ministry street around 14:15 each afternoon.

I hope the ROP agresssively enforces this, with stings, speed traps, and checkpoints. If they can do this with speeding and reckless driving I think it would have an impact on next year's road accident fatalities.

* Updated, thanks to Amjad for the PDF and the link. *

How many Omanias are there?

I'm really confused. Since Saeed Al-Rashdi (founder of Sablat Al-Arab - omania.net) decided to close down the forum after the famous incident of Sablat Al-Arab, other people started opening forums with similar domains to the original Sabla and some of them even with similar themes to the original Arabic sabla. However, day by day, they are really increasing. So far, these are the Omanias I came across:





Any more omanias?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dead Whale in Darsait Beach

Members of the Royal Navy of Oman try to pull a dead whale out of the sea along the coast of Darsait village in Muscat, January 16, 2008.

According to Oman's Ministry of Environment, the whale was killed after a collision with an oil tanker and DNA samples will be taken before it is buried.

Anybody heard of/witnessed this?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Three Rials for a bottle of water?

I am currently working on a review of the restaurant at the chedi, but for today, I will share one major grievance with you. Bottled water.

Our recent visits the The restaurant in the Chedi Muscat, started off on the wrong foot with something as simple as water. They used to serve locally bottled Arwa or Tanuf, in big or small bottles, for a 200% mark up over the cost anywhere else. Fair enough, this is the Chedi.

Now, they sell 750 ml glass bottles of still water, imported from Scotland, for a whopping 2.8 rials, which is slightly more than Seven US dollars. It's just water. It's not particularly great water, but it's fancy, pretentious, expensive water that required many tonnes of fossil fuels to extract, bottle, and ship it here.

Additionally, they won't sell any other type of water, nothing local, nothing cheap, and our requests for a pitcher of tap water were initially refused. They have a good scheme here, knowing full well that tourists are terrified of drinking tap water, and so will pay the extortionate rates for bottled water.

The attitude from the staff was that the Chedi is too good to serve water from plastic bottles, or to offer filtered tap water. Thus, I was rather surprised to see that the complementary water inside the suite for which we had paid RO 350 per night ( 900 USD!!!) was Arwa, in plastic bottles. So it's ok to serve water in plastic bottles in a 350 rial suite, but not in the restaurant...because in the restaurant, you can charge the guests an arm and a leg for it. It's a rip off, pure and simple, not to mention an absolute waste of resources.

If the Chedi wanted to get serious about being an environmentally conscious hotel, they would serve filtered tap water, for 100bz a glass, with the money collected going to the Environmental society of Oman, or some other charity. They could offer the guests the option of buying the premium water, and quite a few would go for it, for the snob factor.

Kids, when you go to the Chedi, do me a favor and complain long and loud about the bottled water issue. Demand tap water. I think if they get enough complaints, they might be willing to change the policy when their contract expires with the Scottish company next year. Maybe.

This is also Cross Posted over at my blog, Other Oman

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

For real?

I'm totally lovin' the new "middle road" which was opened this week and takes you from a new intersection in Al Khuwair where the Zakher roundabout used to be right down the center of Al Khuwair and then through the sand dunes of what used to be 3urooq until you stop at a new intersection in Bausher close to the sports stadium without having to go through the traffic of the highway. The road is still not entirely ready. They're still building some flyovers which will connect the newly opened road and extend it all the way to Hawasna filling station in Death Valley road. When construction ends later this year, the road will run from Madinat Qaboos all the way to Bausher without any stops.

However while driving there today I noticed that they had changed all the speed signs from 80 to 50. For real?!! I tried to slow down to 50 and just couldn't. How can you drive 50 km/h on a two lane road?!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Black Helicopters. Blaaaack helicopters!

Has anybody noticed an increase in helicopters over the capital the last few days? Any thoughts?

I think It's either an increase in routine training of RAFO pilots, or GW Bush is going to be stopping through Muscat during his upcoming middle east junket.

Either that or a giant government spying conspiracy, where they are using the helicopters to read our minds and predict future crimes. I, for one, am lining my cap with tinfoil right now.

Just kidding. Do you guys think Bush wil be stopping here?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

171 baisas

As far as I know Oman's smallest currency denomination is the 5 baisa. What's up with this pricing?

Gulf Common Market

Hot on news is the formation of the Common market among the 6 GCC countries, of which Omna is a member.

This will have economic, social and financial impact within these economies. For example it will be easy for GCC residents can buy property and start business within any of the GCC countries. The member countries will benefit from free trade relations among each other which will be a great boost for several industries. Even the corporate tax within these countries can become equal and thus cutting competion between the members.

Any ideas as to what will be other effects of this?