Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Photography Compeition: Win RO 1,000 with Muriya


Below please find details of Muriya's Photography competition, any of you budding photographers could have a go, and stand to win some nice cash prizes.....


Muriya's Photography Competition 2011
To encourage the artistic talents and to reach out to the community, Muriya Tourism
Development is pleased to host a photography competition to all residents in the Sultanate to provide them with the opportunity to showcase their artistic talent, meanwhile highlighting the beauty, nature, architecture of Oman and capturing the progress of our Developments in the Sultanate. The photography will be mainly focused in the area of "Jebel Sifah" project.

Themes of the competition:

Theme 1: Jebel Sifah Project
This theme is dedicated to capturing the company's project "Jebel Sifah" in the region of Muscat. The aim is to capture beautiful shots of the project in terms of architecture and the waterfront, walkways, Illuminations and all aesthetics elements linked to the mentioned project.

Theme 2: The natural beauty of Sifah
This theme is dedicated to highlighting the beauty of the landscape and nature of Sifah village, Muscat at various times and locations of marine and mountains. Hoping the photographer demonstrates his/her creative energies in capturing great views of the village of Sifah.

Terms of the competition:
-The competition is open to all photographers residing in the Sultanate.
- Participants need to fill out the entry form and submit it to the Photography Club located in Athaiba no later than Monday April 4, 2011.
- In collaboration with Muriya, we will inform the participants the set dates for photography. Photographs taken before or after the date specified will not be accepted.
- Photographers must submit their own work for the competition.
- Participants must submit photographs captured by a professional digital camera; we will not accept photos taken with compact camera phones.
- The participants are allowed to provide 5 five images within each theme of the contest.
- Participants are to submit photographs on a CD-ROM quality 300 OBI should not be less than 2000 pixels.
- Deadline for submitting is Thursday May 5, 2011 at the Photography Club in Athaiba, we will
not accept any submission after this date.
- Winning images to be owned by Muriya Tourism Development Company.
- Muriya has the right to use all images of the participants in the competition; however the owner of the photographs still has the right of their own work.
- A committee will be formed to judge the photograph and select the winners accordingly and the results of the competition will be announced at an honoring ceremony.

Competition Awards:
Theme 1:
First prize: 1,000 OMR
Second prize: 750 OMR
Third prize: 500 OMR
Two appreciation prizes value of each prize is 100 OMR

Theme 2:
First prize: 1,000 OMR
Second prize: 750 OMR
Third prize: 500 OMR
Two appreciation prizes value of each prize is 100 OMR

For inquiries about the competition please contact Mr. Ahmed AI Busaidi supervisor of
Photography Club: ahmed3138@gmail.com


Bon Chance!

le fin.

MRFC Family fun day & A fund raiser for New Zealand


This Thursday evening, there is an earthquake fund raiser being held at the Club for the victims of Christchurch, NZ. There will be a generous selection of raffles, and a an art auction as well. Its on Thursday night so why not come on down and help support a good cause. All door entry charges (RO 2 for non members) will be donated to NZ Red Cross earthquake appeal.




This Friday there is a family fun day being held at the Muscat Rugby Club's grounds from 1pm.

There will be multiple game stations set up around the field and teams will compete against each other to see who can score the most points. There will be a BBQ and soft drink refreshments available at the field, and stronger drinks available in the club house for those that want them. For more information please contact John Passmore at john.passmore@petrogas.com.om

le fin.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A little reminder for all the Brits reading this.


This coming Sunday, the 3rd of April is Mothers Day in the UK. Quite why it is held on a different day to Mothers Day in pretty much the rest of the world (on May 8th this year) is lost on me. But there we go. So, if you forgot to get your mum a gift, you've got just about enough time to get on the phone and order some flowers for delivery!

PS Don't forget to enter into the free ticket give away for Westlife!

le fin.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Another MM giveaway! Westlife

The very kind people at Hi FM have once again given me two tickets to give away to the next concert to be held here in Muscat: Westlife.




Here are the details:

One lucky winner will receive 2 VIP tickets (that's entry to the Golden Circle)!

And all you need to do to be in the draw for this is either leave a comment below, or email me (email address is on top right of this blog) before Wednesday 6th April, and I will announce the winner here on the blog on Thursday the 7th of April.

Bon chance!

le fin.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Help raise money for Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa, Somaliland

I recently learned about a trip due to depart shortly to Somaliland to help with the Edna Adan Hospital in Hargeisa city. Now, I realise that helping a hospital in a distant country might not be the top of your list for helping things out (Japan is definitely in need of help too right now), but the people raising money to help this hotel are based here in Muscat, and this is their facebook page - go check it out.



They have been very generously donated with a number of Onyz Boox 60 e-readers. These things regularly retail for RO 150 (US $399) but they are on sale for RO 60 to help raise funds for the hospital. If you are interested, you can email v_balboa@hotmail.com for more information, I understand that there are quite a few for sale.

Doing some googling, I found a review of the device here and here. In short, the device works with all current formats of ebook (including .pdf) and has a wifi connection, mp3 player, internet browser and memory card slot.

So if you are looking for an ebook reader, you can get a nice one, for less than half the price, and also help out a hospital in Africa to boot.

le fin.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oman Forum back up

Just a small post to update those of you who are wondering what has happened to Oman Forum. A few days ago, the forum was hacked by an unknown person or group of people. Rather than your standard "ha ha we hacked you" bragging, it appears that the damage is much more significant, and so a lot of work has had to be done.


"Neo" the forum's chief administrator has been working over the weekend with his technician and the forum is now back up, pending a few further changes to the look and feel of the forum. Back to normal then!

le fin.


Today is Earth Hour, and paper waste here in Oman.






Firstly, this evening between 8.30 and 9.30 remember to turn off all electric appliances if you dont need them. Remember that TV's, phone chargers and hi-fi's still use a significant amount of power even when put on standby!

And secondly - a local blogger here in Oman has written a great article on recycling paper here in the Sultanate. Go and read all about it here. Maria Ocean is helping to spread the word about a paper recycling scheme, and she has some contact information for anyone with significant amounts of paper waste to call and have their paper picked up.

Finally - it seems the petrol situation is now resolved, Shell trucks appear to be delivering again.

le fin.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just a quickie: Fuel being rationed


Just a quick item to share with you all this afternoon. It appears that the fuel truck drivers that deliver the fuel to all of the petrol stations here in Oman are on strike. As a result of this, fuel stations have already started rationing drivers to a maximum of RO 5.000 per visit.

No word on when this will be rectified, but I'll share more news when I get it.

Update: It seems so far to be limited to Shell stations only.

le fin.

Single people of Muscat, read this!

This weekend, on Thursday night, there is a Traffic Light Party being held at the Rugby Club in Al Khuwair.

The concept is simple: Green sticker = looking; Yellow = not looking, but single, Red = Not interested in anything other than socializing!

Lots of single girls and guys will be there, will you be?

le fin.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Local spotlight: Animal Adoption & Fostering Group




Recently, it came to my attention that this local group, AAF, are participating in the PDO International Fayre being held this Friday 25th March. They will be selling baked goods to help raise money for their charitable cause, feel free to contact them to offer your baking services should you want to offer them!

Below is some information about AAF from Helen Ingram:

Animal Adoption and Fostering has been running for several years as a casual group of local and expatriate volunteers.  The main activity has always been rehoming as it is always the most pressing. We have rehomed over 700 dogs over the last 5 years and have paid for the treatment of many stray animals. All animals that are rehomed are neutered (a procedure to stop them breeding) and we have in the past run a program for the catch-neuter-release of stray cats.

AAF does not have premises and the long term aim is to become recognised as a Charity/Society allowing us to raise funds for an Animal Rescue Centre. We try to place as many animals as possible into foster families as this is often the best stepping stone for animals to be rehomed. They become house trained and people friendly and therefore far easier to integrate into a permanent home. Foster families are few and far between and we are constantly trying to recruit anyone that is willing.

We get so many calls from residents that have issues with dogs or cats in their neighbourhood but we are unable to help due to limited funds and places to care for the animals. It is very sad at the moment having to turn down all the calls that still come through to us.

A sanctuary is really essential as it serves as a focal point and will allow us to serve the immediate need of stray and injured animals and will help serve as an education centre as well. Reducing the number of strays will help the residential community hugely. There are so many issues with stray dogs and cats that ranging from a general nuisance such as from cats in bins, to danger from packs of wild dogs. Many of the wild dogs that we see are actually pets or descendents of pets that have been thrown out or dumped. Having an avenue for dealing with these animals and programs to control the numbers would have a huge positive impact on this problem. These programmes do take time but we are not trying to reinvent the wheel - most other countries in the world run such programmes very successfully. Getting the stray dog population under control using humane methods will benefit both the animals and the community.


Below, meet three of AAF's rescued dogs that are up for adoption, if you are interested please contact the AAF here.

Bronson

Sparky
Delilah

Monday, March 21, 2011

March 26th, 2011 8:30-9:30pm = Earth Hour

This Saturday, the 26th March is the next global Earth Hour. This is an event that everyone, business large and small and individuals are requested to conserve energy for just 1 hour to highlight environmental concerns.


With a slight twist this year: People are being asked to continue their energy saving habits past the 1 hour mark and for as long as they can. You can check out the website here for more information about Earth Hour, but here's the gist of it:

Turn off all your lights and electrical equipment that you can live without, for an hour or more to help highlight environmental concerns.

I suggest doing one or more of the following activities during the hour:

1. Dinner by candle light
2. Going for a walk
3. Talking with friends
4. Take a nap!
5. Play hide in the dark!

Make sure you do your part!

le fin.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Westlife: Live in Muscat






The boys and girls at alive events have arranged another shin-dig! This time it's Westlife, on Wednesday 13th April, and it's an all age event. Tickets are RO 25 or RO 50 depending on how close to the stage you want to be. They go on sale at 6pm tomorrow, the 21st March at the usual outlets:

Bose Qurum, Al Ghazal Pub and the OUA store in MQ.

Enjoy!

le fin.

Just a quickie: RO 2 fee at UAE border now scrapped.

Just a quickie: It's now official - the RO 2.000 charge levied at the Wajajah border post for crossing into the UAE has now been removed as of yesterday - Saturday 19th March 2011. Regional news paper, Gulf News ran the story later yesterday afternoon.

The order was issued by Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Saeed, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, and was effective from yesterday. It's unclear whether expatriates will still be charged.

le fin.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Protesting about protesters.


So here we are, Saturday March 19th, 2011, and we are seeing the "rent a round about" crowd protesting everywhere.

Carillion Alawi, Al Ansari and Towell's are among the Contractors in town that have been hit with protests. Oman International Bank, PDO, InterCon, Al Bustan Palace, Shangri-la are among other local employers in town that have been hit by staff protesting for increased salaries. The list is long and I see no need to repeat it in full  here.

PDO made me smile, a lot of those guys make thousands of rials a month, I doubt many other nationals are going to have much sympathy for them.

As the Dragon over at Muscat Confidential blogged the other day, it is starting to smack of people throwing temper tantrums. No one is saying that the original protests were not well called for, but enough already - action has happened, the people protesting saying they want a RO 500/month minimum salary just simply do not know what they are asking for.

I for one am wondering when the Government are going to call time on all of these protests. On one hand I think the current tactic of waiting out the protesters holds water (the summer is, after all, knocking on our doors). But on the other side of things, people seem to have lost respect for due process (presumably because it was not working for them, or possibly because they feel this way gets results) and will possibly continue to ignore rules and regulations in other areas. It's a touchy subject I guess and one I'm glad I don't have to tackle.


So what is next? Does anyone care to guess what is going to happen? It apparently seems like it's open season here at the moment. Don't like your job? Fancy protesting instead of working? The nearest round about will do, lets go. I wonder when the ROP are going to start policing again, and how people here are going to react to that.

The real concern is of course - what if the blue suits start protesting? you know - those Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and so on - the ones that sweep the streets, wash the cars, deliver those goods to peoples houses, build the roads and buildings, keep the hotels running. We saw thousands of people protesting around the country demanding jobs. Except people don't just want any job, do they? Because if they did, they could be a maid, labourer, hotel cleaner, and so on. As these Omanized jobs filter into the population, the cost of doing business will rise, and so the cost of goods will rise, and those minimum wages will need to rise again - an endless cycle.

It does not get away from the core problem - people need to actually be educated properly, and graded properly in order to effect change. So my biggest question is this: When will we see an independent schools / college / university audit that has some real teeth so that when a teacher fails a student, the grade sticks, instead of being magically made into a pass, as I'm sure we all know happens far too often here. It is unfair to those students here who do actually study hard and earn their grades. There are many areas requiring change, but for me, this one is the single most important.

What do you think?

le fin.



Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's the day that everyone is Irish - Happy St Patricks Day!



And how convenient that it has fallen on a Thursday this year! Pretty much every single bar and club in town is doing something green-themed. The Irish Society ball was sold out ages ago, but for some Irish fun and games, you can check out Feeneys down at the Qurum Beach Resort which has no cover entrance, and I understand there is a raffle with proceeds going to charity.

Enjoy the weekend, more on the protests next week.

le fin.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Battle of the DJ's


Back to local entertainment events for a second, even though these protests seem to be getting a bit unreasonable at the moment. Local club Zouk are hosting the Battle of the DJ's event tomorrow night from 10pm.

I'm vaguely interested to find out what a Djane is, but here is the information, ripped from the facebook event page:

Are you a DJ / Djane ?

Then here is a chance for you.

Rhythm Event management brings 'BATTLE of the DJ’s' in a way never done before. The whole idea is to bring out all the raw talents that DJ’s of Muscat possess & take it to the stage for both introduction and competition.

A three Day Competition including Auditions, Semi-finals & Finals.

Winner takes home FIVE HUNDRED RIALS cash price & a chance to play at ZOUK for a night

VENUE - ZOUK

if u think u are the ONE, then what are you waiting for.

Dubai's Finest Dj Teddy Jam is the guest judge this tuesday and also performing live!!!!!!!!

For more information Contact -
92295515
95041764
96197290

le fin.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Some thoughts on the protests.








Up until now, I’ve not really commented on the protests that have sprung up all over Oman recently. That’s been partly because I’ve been too busy to take the time to write about it and have just been trying to share information with everyone, and partly because I’ve not really been too sure what to think.

These have truly been significant times here in the Sultanate. And who knows if the major changes are even over yet?

I’ve got a few things I wanted to talk about, and probably will attract some haters, but that’s fine by me. So, in no particular order of significance, just how it comes to my mind….

The riots in Sohar, and the death(s)(?) that occurred. I am going to side with the ROP on this one. Some people have made the comment that the ROP should have been in a higher state of preparedness due to other regional unrest – and yes, perhaps they should have been. Perhaps they already were? It’s not like Sohar was a known hot-bed of antidisestablishmentarians (I cant believe I actually just used that word in a sentence by the way) was it?

The protesters were breeching the peace, pure and simple, and were ultimately breaking the law. There had been damage to public property (street lights broken and a lot of graffiti), and so the ROP quite rightly went in and arrested a bunch of the perpetrators. Now this seemed to upset those that were not arrested, and in a show of solidarity they marched on the ROP station up there in Sohar. Up to this point, ok, I can understand the solidarity and the intentions of the march on the station to get their buddies released from jail. However, at this point, people turned violent, set fire to ROP vehicles, and more importantly, a gas truck – right outside the ROP station. They even started throwing rocks at the police station. Really – what on earth did these people think was going to happen? Did they think the police would come out and say, “Hey you know what? YEAH! We shouldn’t have arrested these people, hey don’t worry about burning down our police station, here’s your people back. Oh, and here, lets sit down and smoke some shisha too. Here at the ROP we’re full of sunshine and rainbows, and like to keep bunny rabbits in our cells”.

The ROP did what they were trained to do in a situation like that – disperse the crowds. They used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, and it worked. It is truly, truly a terrible thing that there was a loss of life (be it 1, 2 or 6), but calling for the resignation of the top guy at the ROP because of it, in my opinion is foolish. In the same vein of thinking, you might as well ask HM to resign because, after all, it was him that had appointed the head of the ROP to that position.

I also noticed that the “looters” of LuLu were not necessarily Omani, or Arab for that matter. I’ve seen a lot of pictures where the people running off with goods from the store were sporting big grins and bicycles fully laden with rice and other things. But that’s another matter.

The Royal Order to create 50,000 jobs. So the question being asked of course, is where are these jobs going to come from? Well as we have seen, the ROP are swelling their ranks and taking on 10,000 extra officers, and numerous other ministries have opened their doors and are posting jobs as well. Let’s not forget that there are a lot of major ITD’s in progress at the moment, and once those hotels, shops and support services are in place, there will be more jobs available then. To my complete surprise, I was amazed to hear people complaining that most of those jobs would be menial labour jobs, and not managerial positions. Of course they will be – everyone can not be a manager, it’s just not how life works. In my personal limited experience of life here (I’ve been living and working here for over 3 and a half years now), I’ve witnessed it twice in the company I work for: a junior Omani staff member joins the company, and within 2 or 3 months proclaims that they want a raise and promotion to a higher position. Yet the sad reality is, in both cases, these people were simply not as good as other expatriate staff at their jobs. Don’t misunderstand me here – there are most definitely extremely competent Omani’s here. Some of the smartest people I’ve met in my working life, I’ve met here and they are Omani. But that is not all, or, and my hand is on my heart here, the majority. It is my experience that these elite, smart and motivated Omanis are a very small minority of the general population.

Someone commented on Muscat Confidential’s blog post this:

Good blog - I am a regular reader.
With regard to this post, most of your ideas are spot on. However, taxes and other disincentives on business, applied broadly, are not the right way.
We are owners of a medium-sized establishment, and we have been here for years. We are earnest in our wish to employ Omani. However, most of them are not educated properly (for reasons you mentioned), plus they want to be managers immediately. Many also have a grudge against expatriate colleagues, even though the expats perform better.
To employ a competitively qualified Omani is expensive (relatively), and they are few and far between. Plus, they prefer to work for large corporations/semi-governmental.
The Omanisation policies have to be modified. Currently, they are like diktats - employ Omanis or else. There is no incentive for companies if they employ Omanis, e.g. lower tax, reduced fees, etc.
As a business owner, I would prefer to hire Omanis over expats, as they cost less in theory (no air ticket, less EOSB, etc.). But in reality, the expat is more productive. Disciplining an Omani is taboo and can land you in trouble with the Ministry (although it is legal to discipline Omani workers).
Just to give you an example: for the 40th national day, we were called by the Ministry of Manpower, and 'persuaded' to grant Omani staff a bonus for the 40th national day. We could have refused, but we would have exposed ourself to bullying by the MoM down the line. An Omani friend of our (business owner) told the MoM to buzz off. He can, because he is Omani.
And yes, many ministers and officials are extremely corrupt. But then again, many govt employees at lower levels need 'greasing' to facilitate things.
I love this country, and it has a lot of potential.

I totally agree with that persons comments. Omanisation is an essential process for the development of this nation – but it needs to go hand-in-hand with better employment laws and conditions for employers. A free market is, after all, what is required to keep the economy going – the government can’t keep up it’s bank-rolling of the state forever. The hydrocarbon dollars will eventually run out.

The dragon’s suggestion of compulsory National Service is a great idea. It’d teach young people some excellent life skills, and hopefully help grant those that serve some experience of life outside of the family, and a different social order to the one they are used to.

The RO 150 per month job seekers allowance. Again, this really needs tweaking to me. There is no personal taxation in this country, and I’d be very surprised if there is much monitoring of individuals income. It’s a problem that is rife in the “West” – benefits fraud. I will bet my hat that there will be people who claim this RO 150 a month, and yet have a job. How is this going to be monitored and controlled? How is it going to be funded eventually? Personal taxation is inevitable in this country. It just simply has to happen sooner or later. People can only have their cake and eat it for so long before they have to pay for it.

And finally, the protesters themselves. Well done – they have achieved some momentous changes within the country. But I’m scratching my head…. Why are they still protesting? To me it seems more of a social thing now. Sohar has a satellite tv projector going, Salalah has food stands and tents, and the only real gathering that I continue to understand is the people at the Majils A Shura who are having a speakers corner (and presumably a few people attempting to present themselves as possible runners for the next election). Just perhaps, maybe, it’s time to call it a day and go home?

le fin.

The 18th Annual Canadian Stampede WINNER!


Well, thank you to all of you who entered this weeks competition for free tickets :) I like giving stuff away, I'll have to have a think about the next thing. Perhaps those nice people at Craic Attack will finally give me some tickets to give away one of these days...!

Well, I guess I should announce the winner then shouldn't I?

Oh, before I do, I wanted to mention that LuLu's are selling cheap cowboy hats for a couple of rials if anyone is happening to be looking for one.


Congratulations go out to Sandhya!

A message is on it's way to you on how to claim the tickets. Well done!

There are a very small number of tickets remaining, and they are not for sale to the general public. However, if you would like to attend this great party, then please send me an email to mrsythe at gmail.com and I will put you in touch with the right people. Tickets are RO 20 each and are strictly for over 21's only.

As always, thank you for reading!

le fin.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Seriously big changes in Oman's Government.


UPDATE:

Below is a table detailing all of the Cabinet shuffles announced today. Click it to make it bigger.

This news is still breaking, and the Royal Decrees came so fast that it has not been possible to record everything that has just happened today, and the Oman News Agency website has not yet updated with the information.

However, some of the changes are as follows:

The Minister of the National Economy, Ahmed bin Abdul Nabi Macki, has not only been removed, but his entire Ministry has been eliminated. For those not following events too closely, Ahmed bin Abdul Nabi Macki was one of the 6 people that protesters have demanded removed from office. Presumably, those staffers that used to work for the MONE will now be absorbed into other ministries, perhaps the Ministry of Finance and possibly State Audit. As for the job that the MONE used to do, this will now be done by a committee instead.

Engineer Mohsin bin Mohammed bin Ali al Shaikh, who was recently appointed as the Minister of Tourism, is now an advisor to the Royal Court.

The new head of Tender Board is Dr. Rasheed Al Huraibi, who has now been made a minister.

There are many more changes but thats all I have for now.... all in all, 12 Ministers have been removed from office. I'll update later.

Update:

Here is the complete list of changes and the 8 Royal Decrees issued today:

Royal Decree No. 31/ 2011 Restructuring the Council of Ministers

Article One: Restructures the Council of Ministers under our Chairmanship as follows:

- Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers.
- Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said, Minister of Heritage and Culture.
- Sayyid Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud al Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court.
- Lt.Gen Sultan bin Mohammed al Nu'amani, Minister of the Royal Office.
- Sayyid Badr bin Saud bin Harib al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs.
- Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal bin Said al Busaidi, Minister of Interior.
- Yousef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs.
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Zaher al Hina'ei, Minister of Justice.
- Darwish bin Isma'eel bin Ali al Balushi, Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs.
- Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Abdullah al Salmi, Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs.
- Dr. Mohammed bin Hamad bin Saif al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas.
- Hamed bin Mohammed bin Mohsin al Rashdi, Minister of Information.
- Dr. Rawiyah bint Saud bin Ahmed al Busaidiyah, Minister of Higher Education.
- Eng. Ali bin Mas'oud bin Ali al Sunaidi, Minister of Sports Affairs.
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Marhoon bin Ali al Ma'amari, State Minister and Governor of Dhofar.
- Sheikh Saif bin Mohammed bin Saif al Shabibi, Minister of Housing.
- Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Abdullah al Bakri, Minister of Manpower.
- Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid al Sa'eedi, Minister of Health.
- Dr. Madiha bint Ahmed bin Nasser al Shibaniyah, Minister of Education.
- Ahmed bin Abdullah bin Mohammed al Shuhi, Minister of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources.
- Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Salim al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications.
- Sheikh Khalid bin Omar bin Said al Marhoon, Minister of Civil Service.
- Sheikh Sa'ad bin Mohammed bin Said al Mardhouf al Sa'adi, Minister of Commerce and Industry.
- Sayyid Saud bin Hilal bin Hamad al Busaidi, State Minister and Governor of Muscat.
- Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Said al Sa'eedi, Minister of Legal Affairs.
- Sheikh Abdulmalik bin Abdullah bin Ali al Khalili, Minister of Tourism.
- Dr. Fuad bin Ja'afar bin Mohammed al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.
- Mohammed bin Salim bin Said al Toobi, Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs.
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Said bin Saif al Kalbani, Minister of Social Development.

Article Two: The decree come into force from its date of issue. 


Royal Decree No. 32/ 2011 Appointing Secretary General for the Council of Ministers

Article One: Appoints Sheikh al Fadhl bin Mohammed bin Ahmed al Harthy as a Secretary General of the Council of Ministers.

Article Two: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.


Royal Decree No. 33/ 2011 Appointing Chairman for the State Audit and Administrative Institution

Article One: Appoints Sheikh Nassir bin Hilal bin Nassir al Ma'awali as a Chairman of the State Audit and Administrative Institution with the rank of Minister.

Article Two: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.


Royal Decree No. 34/ 2011 Appointing Chairman of the Tender Board

Article One: Appoints Dr. Rasheed bin al Safi bin Khamis al Huraibi as a Chairman of the Tender Board with a rank of minister.

Article Two: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.


Royal Decree No. 35/ 2011 Appointing Advisor at the Diwan of Royal Court.

Article One: Appoints Eng. Mohsen bin Mohammed bin Ali al Sheikh as an Advisor at the Diwan of Royal Court with a rank of minister.

Article Two: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.


Royal Decree No. 36/2011 Appointing Advisor for the Finance Ministry.

Article One: Appoints Dr. Abdulmalik bin Abdullah bin Zahir al Hina'ei as an Advisor for the Finance Ministry with the same rank and financial allocations.

Article Two: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.


Royal Decree No. 37/ 2011 Appointing Undersecretaries for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries

Article One: Appoints Dr. Hamad bin Said bin Sulaiman al Ofi as an Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for Fisheries.

Article Two: Appoints Dr. Is'haq bin Ahmed bin Mohammed al Ruqaishi as an Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries for Agriculture.

Article Three: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.


Royal Decree No. 38/ 2011 Canceling the Ministry of National Economy

Article One: Cancels the Ministry of National Economy and a committee shall be formed by the Council of Ministers to manage distribution of its prerogatives, allocations, assets and employees.

Article Two: The decree comes into force from its date of issue.


le fin.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

HM issues more Royal Decrees as a result of protests in Oman, and the official lists of demands.


In Salalah, Sohar and Muscat there has been significant protests over the last week as we all know. There have been Royal Decrees issued all week. The picture above is from the very well written blog by Dan & Jillian Kearney, who are teachers based in Sohar. Go and read their blog, there are some excellent insights and images there. I hope they don't mind I pinched the picture above!

The main demands (10 in total) have been posted on the Al Harah web forum, and I've posted them here (as best as I can tell after Google Translate has had a go):

1. A formal and explicit apology from the Omani Government, in various media, to the families of martyrs, wounded, prisoners. And that there is just compensation for these people.

2. Removal of the Inspector General of the Royal Oman Police because he is responsible for deaths in sohar

3. The Resignation of the Attorney General because he used to report to IG of Police, and the new AG to be an selected from the Judges.

4.  Determination of a group of judges of the Supreme Court to oversee the Commission on the Truth The current problem of the public prosecutor on the events of Sohar, with an emphasis on the Committee's deliberations to be open and published in the media first hand.

5. The dismissal of cabinet ministers who said the people by refusing to, and not assigned to any position, official or ceremonial; Ali bin Majid Al Ma'amari, Ahmed bin Abdul Nabi Macki, Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan, Khamis bin Mubarak Al Alawi, Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Rashidi, and Chancellor Abdul Aziz Bin Mohammed Al Rawas.

6. The formation of the Government of competencies and a national at the earliest opportunity, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister appointed by the Sultan for a period of two years, so that you are the government - in addition to her duties - reviewed all of the popular demands that emerged from the demonstrations and sit-ins in various regions of the Sultanate, carried out the following priorities:
     1 - the formation of economic committee composed of experts Omani economists the task of putting packs economic urgency, to address the claims of economic made by the protesters, with a focus on the problems of unemployed workers and the poor classes in society, and the low salaries of public and private sectors, military, retirees, and to develop radical solutions to the national economy, particularly acquisitions and the crisis of economic monopoly.
     2 - to form a committee of experts from the field of education to review the various stages of the educational system, including higher education and its institutions.

7.  The formation of an independent judicial commission to investigate cases of corruption and financial security and administrative support.

8.  Establishing a National Council for the drafting of the Constitution of Oman, that the ends of his works, to present the draft constitution to a popular referendum in a maximum period of two years from the date of the establishment of the Council.

9.  The establishment of a constitutional court separate and apart from the Supreme Court.

10. Expanding the powers of the Shura Council in Legislature and Regulatory matters, and held accountable to the Council of Ministers until the adoption of the Constitution of Oman.

And today, in what is been seen as really big news, HM has acted and removed the following people from office:

Ali bin Majid Al Ma'amari, minister of Royal Office, oman's security apparatus. He's been replaced by General Sultan Al Nu'mani, presently head of Royal Court Affairs.

Nasr bin Humood Al Kindi takes place of Sultan Al Nu'mani at Royal Court Affairs

Ali bin Humood Al Busaidi, minister of Diwan has been replaced by Khalid bin Hilal Al Busaidi

Now that is quite some news - and perhaps a sign of things to come.

In a some-what related story, the insurers for LuLu's in Sohar are saying they wont be paying out for it because they don't cover 'Political Unrest'. Thanks to Jaidev Majumdar of the Muscat Daily for this news.

Local twitter users in Sohar have also reported that since the LuLu's has been out of action, there has been a huge boom in business for other supermarkets in the town, and most noticeably the Safeer mall. I understand that there will be a Carrefour express opening in the Safeer Mall on April 1st. I suspect this has been in the works for some time, because Majid Al Futtaim (the people that own the City Centre mall brand) pulled out of their investment for Sohar City Centre (of which Carrefour was a planned anchor store).

And lastly, on a completely unrelated note, I'm giving away 2 tickets to the Canadian Stampede on March 10th - I'll be drawing the winner on Tuesday evening.

le fin.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sohar: Thursday evening.

6pm- The r/a is closed, less than 1000 people, its peaceful.

More later.

le fin.

The 18th Annual Canadian Stampede party


It is that time of year again.... it's Stampede time again!

Every year for the last 18 years, a group of Canadians have put on a party to celebrate the Calgary Stampede (officially that is, unofficially it's a party thrown by Canadians to show everyone else how to actually party). This party is big, really big. It will be attended by over 800 people, and there are less than 75 tickets remaining.

Thursday March 10th, from 7pm will see the latest instalment of the Canadian Stampede kick off to yet another stampede party. With special Canadian import DJ Hurricane from Calgary working the crowd, you can be assured that everyone will have a great time.

Personally I'm looking forward to the Golder Garter Saloon shooter bar, which never fails to disappoint.

And because those Canadians are so nice, they've given me 2 tickets to give away to you right here on Muscat Mutterings. If you want to come to the best party in town, leave a comment (with a method of me contacting you) or send me an email you must be aged 21 or over to attend this event. I'll draw the tickets on Tuesday the 8th in the evening.

Bon chance!


le fin.

30 Seconds to Mars WINNER!


Under the watchful eyes of Mrs Sythe, we have drawn the winner.....

Congratulations to Faaa6! You won the 2 free tickets! A message is on it's way to you already about how to claim the tickets!

Thanks everyone for entering.... Next week I'm giving away tickets to a different event, so stay tuned!


le fin.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A little update about Sohar

Just a quick note to you all in case you were thinking about going to the UAE this weekend by road. Sohar is passable, the Army have setup some diversions around Sohar, adding time to your journey, but at least allowing it to happen.

The border at Wajajah (Hatta) is now open.

le fin.

Well now thats all over, how about some football?



Well, now that things appear to have settled down up the road in Sohar, and the "peace march" that occurred in Ghubra yesterday has been done, it's time to look at something else for a moment.

Rather unfortunately for Oman, the Sohar event took the spotlight away from FIFA's beach football worldcup Asia qualifier round which is taking place up in Mussanah's infamous sports village this week. On Monday night, the Oman side thumped Iraq 11-3 and have now gone through the quarter finals, and will be facing Syria today (this afternoon at 5pm).

The semi finals will be on Thursday, and the Finals on Friday afternoon from 3:45pm. You can get all the information here on www.beachsoccer.com.

 So why not spend the weekend watching a great game and cheering on Oman?

:)

Just for fun, and because I seem to have reported about other fast food joints opening previously... Hardees in Al Khoudh has opened.

Dont forget to enter into the prize draw for 2 free tickets to the 30 Seconds to Mars concert on March 10th.

More soon.


le fin.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An update.


Update: The road border at Wajajah (commonly referred to as the UAE side, Hatta, is currently closed - no road traffic in or out at the moment.

Another Update: The British Ambassador and Vice Consul are travelling to Sohar today to meet members of the British and un-represented Commonwealth community.  Our travel advice remains in effect stating that 'you should maintain a high level of security awareness, particularly in public places. You should avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.'  

Traffic jams are occurring around the Port area and Globe roundabout.  No western interests are being targeted by demonstrators.

If you are in the Sohar area and wish to meet with the British Ambassador and Vice Consul they will be at the Sohar Beach hotel by 18:00 (6pm) tonight. 


Well it seems like there was another night of antics up in Sohar, but nothing on the same scale as before - the picture above is actually from the night before, Sunday night.

Many people have received a text message from the following number: +968 9400 4048. The message is below in both Arabic, and Google Translate's best attempt at English. Note that this is not an official message from the Government and is not to be taken as such. This is just a speculative rumour at this point.

Arabic:
لا يا شباب ندائي لكم جميعا لا تنخدعوا مثلما انخدعت و انخدع غيري بأن المظاهرة في صحار ليست بريئة فهي مدفوعة من الخارج و إلا لما يصرون على تقطيع أوصال اقتصادنا باستهداف الميناء و المنطقة الصناعية و قطع الطرق ، الحذر الحذر. نعم نختلف في بعض الأمور مع الحكومة و لكن لا يمكن المساس بالمقومات و إلا سندفع الثمن غاليا، نعم هذه المظاهرة مدفوعة من الإماراتيين، أقول بعض الجهات الرسمية فيها و ليس الشعب، شعب الإمارا يتألم ما يحصل في عمان من تخريب

English:
No, my appeal to all of you young people do not be fooled just as deceived and deceived others that the demonstration in Sohar is not innocent they are paid from abroad and only to insist on the dismemberment of our economy by targeting the port and industrial area and cut off roads, so beware. Yes we disagree on some things with the government, but can not be jeopardizing and only pay the price dearly, Yes, this demonstration was driven from UAE, I would say some of the official and not the people, the people of Ar suffer what is happening in Amman from sabotage


---
An Anonymous commenter (at 8:35pm last night) on the previous blog post, they described their journey from Dubai to Muscat via Hatta, its well worth a read, I've pasted it here:
Anonymous said...

I returned to Oman from the UAE (via the Hatta border) and came through Shinas roundabout at exactly 12noon today (monday). I really had to ring around when I was in the UAE to see if I could make it back safe with my wife and two toddlers in the car. We were very concerned, but HAD to get back to Muscat ASAP, so we made the decision to proceed. Speaking to a car dealership representative in Sohar, he suggested I get to the Safeer well before the Globe, and hook left at that roundabout, run parallel to the highway and get back on just before the Sohar gate.

As we entered Shinas, the roundabout was on fire - tyres in a pile being burnt in two spots.
 

What we were not prepared for was the roundabout before the Safeer! The road leading to the port was blocked, and all entry and exits into the R/A were blocked by trucks (with bricks chocking their tyres). There were at least 500 people, most wearing balaclavas and head scarfs shielding their faces/identities. It was extremely frightening. They tried to stop us, and we ploughed through. I managed to squeeze past a hilux that was blocking the entry, and drove straight up to a truck blocking our exit. I mounted the curb to exit the roundabout on the sidewalk, heading towards muscat.
 

There was ABSOLUTELY NO police presence ANYWHERE! We got to the Safeer, hooked into the inside road, and Military were everywhere - especially in front of the ministry buildings behind the university. All of the petrol stations were closing, but we managed to refuel with a black-smoke-belching Lulu in the near distance.
 

Once we made it onto the highway (near the Sohar gate) at approximately 1:30pm we saw at least 50 armoured vehicles traveling from Muscat towards Sohar. No police, just military. Fire trucks, water trucks - water canons? big guns and about 20 buses with riot police. Then what looked like a delegation and more armoured vehicles. It was endless.
 

We made it back, but their seem to be so many conflicting reports. Some saying stone throwing at expats etc.. All we had was what I described above. We are clearly expats, and we were not attacked. We were, however, very very scared trying to get through to Muscat.
 

There is a serious military presence at the Hatta border.
February 28, 2011 8:35 PM 


However, this morning things seem to be much calmer. There are conflicting reports coming from Sohar this morning, and so it's hard to say what is actually going on. Here are the facts (few at the moment!):


  • Regular commuter traffic is virtually non-existent this morning in Sohar.
  • It appears that some roundabouts (or just the round about by the Sohar Port) is still blocked.
  • Today at 4pm a Pro Sultan parade of support is planned at the Sulatan Qaboos Mosque.
  • The Minister of Health, Ahmed Al Saidi, reports only 1 death, un-named hospital workers report 6 deaths.
  • It is business as usual here in Muscat so far.
I'd like to comment on something now.... The Omani Rial is pegged to the US $. As the US $ has been declining in the world market, the cost of consumables has increased, which has increased the cost of living here in Oman through no fault of the Government here. So what $1 could buy 2 years ago, you now need more than $1. This increase is tracked as inflation and we're seeing it reported in the 5-10% range. Something that I've yet to see discussed on any of the news outlets. 


In other news, Oman thrashed Iraq 11-3 in their group match at the FIFA beach soccer World Cup Asia Qualifier - well done boys! Also, if you havent already, please feel free to enter my competition to win 2 free tickets to the 30 Seconds to Mars concert on March 10th.


le fin.