Ministry of Tourism's ruling on live music starts to bite

As everyone knows by now, there's no live music in Muscat. Unless there is a special approval given for a concert... so far there's been 2 - Tom Jones at the Shang last weekend and Act of Congress rock band at the Intercon (which is on tomorrow night - for free). So, there's some sort of approvals process that is happening, but there have been some victims too (other than the seedy beadi bars, which I think was the point of the ruling).

Sohar's music festival was cancelled due to this ruling, and the Grand Hyatt's hugely popular Oktoberfest event has been cancelled this year. Why? Their application for the oompah band was rejected. Ree-donk-u-lous. And sad.

But alas, these are the rules, and what we must learn to live by. The reality is that it probably hasn't affected actual tourist numbers visiting the Sultanate, it's just affecting us ex-pats that live here. The bright side of this is perhaps I'll send even more money home and out of this country (and economy) because there's less avenues for me to spend here. Again, on a country-level, probably not a big issue anyway.

I read with interest the recent Y! magazine article in which the head of Media at the Ministry of Tourism states that any musicians brought to Oman to work should be "professional musicians". The definition of a professional is someone who follows an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain. EG a working musician who gets paid to play music. But I understand that the Ministry actually require working musicians to have a diploma in music, which isn't really the same as a professional.

Furthermore I still note that there is still no mention of this rather significant ruling from the Ministry of Tourism on their website. Perhaps it's there on the Arabic version, I don't know.

So, there's still no news on live bands at any of the bars around town, and there are rumours of all bars being required to close by midnight in the coming months as well, and that any restaurants not currently within a 4 or 5* hotel will lose their alcohol licenses when they expire. Further rumours around town at the moment are suggesting that hotels that are 3* or less will also lose their alcohol licenses. Perhaps this is why the Seeb Dream resort is currently fervently refurbishing itself to try and achieve 4* status. Who knows, it's the Muscat rumour mill that's doing overtime currently, the only thing I know for sure is that the original ruling stands and is being enforced.

Interestingly, I've heard reports of live music being played to guests staying at 2 different Wahiba Sands resorts lately - I wonder if the musicians have diplomas - I'm guessing not.

More soon.

le fin.
Ministry of Tourism's ruling on live music starts to bite Ministry of Tourism's ruling on live music starts to bite Reviewed by Sythe on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 Rating: 5


  1. Music also being played by bands at (paid for) private parties.. I guess that is ok? Live performance at a recent Dutch party with band of more than 3 non pros.. and 50 Degrees still touting themselves for private parties..

    I no longer go to Intercon Al Gazel.. it's just terribly dire now there's no music. It looks like a social club with just the regulars there - and 95% men.

    Yes.. people will move to Dubai. Same money, FAR more entertainment - am considering already now that this has become a reality. Up till now Muscat was my favorite for the outdoors / camping / beaches. But this is a deal breaker.

    No one wants to live in a place that has ZERO nightlife. Also my friend who came for a visit said he wouldn't be impressed if he was staying in one of the hotels. Word will spread - and the tourists will stay for less time. See the sights.. then out, rather than stay and enjoy.

  2. Progress?

    It's a joy that I hit the eject button on Oman a few years ago. It's this kind mind-numbing backwardness that left me repeating the mantra (in order to preserve sanity); Omani problems are not my problems... Omani problems are not my problems...

  3. The Sohar Music Festival will be missed. Très ridicule.

  4. Yay another step forward.. Very well written..

  5. I went to Safari last week on Sunday evening, interestingly not 95% men (per usual) but seemed like 95% "professionals" there if you get my drift. I suspect this is also a result of the ban - unintended consequence ?

  6. It is clear that the intention here was probably well meant. Those beadie bars or whatever they were were pretty disgusting. Sadly though the legislation was not thought through and has now had serious consequences for Muscat's residents and visitors.

    The problem is that even though the Ministry probably know they've made a mistake, they will not admit it by reversing the decision. Loss of face being a far worse alternative to actually doing what is right.

    Sadly, I fear that things like this are just the tip of the iceberg. There is more to come, mark my words.

  7. I bet it will stick about as long as Pavo Real's loss of licence did; it will pretty soon impinge on someone's business interests who has wasta and will "explain" how stupid the policy is and then - pow - instant change of policy. Usual "foot-aim-shoot", act first and think second "policy development" process. Shame as the target was obviously the strip joints in Seeb and elsewhere and all this is just collateral damage.

  8. What about live music in typical Omani weddings?! That's the norm in many weddings, hmmm

  9. Curious. Why can't they figure out the law before they enact it, so that 'normal' places like the Rock Bottom isn't affected.

    It won't change all the pro's who seem to be run by the R.O.P. anyway..after a certain hour the prostitutes come enmasse to the 5 star hotels the expat joints..and the lady boys come too....

    Rather seedy.

    And I doubt the lousy bands had anything to do with the prostitution popularity are the customers...right ?

    The lousy bands...and why wasn't Tom Jones prohibited...I Muscat the only gig that guy can get. RETIRE please.

    I never understood the lack of good bands from the West playing in Muscat. I am guessing it is money...and lack of promoters willing to pay for real talent.

    Can we ban all Indian music too, it's quite annoying..when they blare it out windows during their festivals....

    And can we ban the horrible radio stations that play one song ...over and over and over and over....

    And can we ban anyone with an opinion that isn't gov't sanctioned...oh they did that...THE WEEK.

    Can we ban...important things like texting and driving...and I mean ZERO tolerance ..and can we ban stupid driving and speeding...TAKE AWAY their cars, can we ban Arabic food, it is so boring, where is the spice ???
    Can we ban ...uh..bad internet....
    Can we ban...blogs that are written for drones by drones... Can we ban bad hairstyles and mustaches that have magnetic fields built into them and cause the owners to look ridiculous and ugly.

    Can we ban long effort there are all ladies

    Can we ban not eating and not drinking during is so contrary to healthy habits and sanity. So a dog can have water in public during Ramadan but a person can't that right?



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