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.