Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Muscat is a funny old town, we seem to have a lot of local acronyms that we use to refer to certain places, or things, here. I don't really know why we're such an acronym rich city, but perhaps it's because a lot of the first expats here were here because of being in, or attached to, a military force. Perhaps I'm wrong, I simply don't know. What I do know though, is that there are a lot of acronyms used in everyday life here that might confuse a newcomer! For example, a typically acronym-rich sentence could go something like this:

Well I was down in the CBD with my PRO sorting out some paperwork in the morning. I got done with that so popped up to the PDO club for some lunch before I headed to C4 to do the shopping. The express-way was jammed so I took the SQH back up to my house in MQ. For dinner we headed over to the Dolphin club - you know, that place that's right next to the MPH?

Makes totally perfect sense to me, except for the fact that I am hugely allergic to Ruwi and will do almost anything to avoid going there.

Anyway, here is my list of locally used acronyms and their definitions... if you think of any I've forgotten here, let me know and I'll add them!

HM - His Majesty - a term of reference for His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said - the countries ruler.

HE - His Excellency - a term of reference for someone who holds a high office in Government here.

DG - Directorate General - a term of reference for someone who is in charge of a section of a ministry - eg the DG of Customs (in the ROP, in charge of customs and excise).

ROP - Royal Oman Police - The local police force that work here.

RAFO - Royal Airforce of Oman - They drive planes.

RAO - Royal Army of Oman - They drive tanks.

RNO - Royal Navy of Oman - They drive boats.

ISS - Internal Security Service - They are in charge of internal security of Oman, and they're very good at their job.

SAF - Sultan's Armed Forces - An older term to describe all of the forces mentioned above, and probably some others I've forgotten about.

PDO - Petroleum Development Oman. The countries money-maker, they generate about 70% of the countries oil and gas income. They have a nice recreation club, called PDO club, and some people refer to their accommodation camp as Disney Land... expat employees of PDO are generally very lucky people.

SQU - Sultan Qaboos University is the biggest university in the country and is located in Al Khoud. It first opened in 1986.

SQUH - Sultan Qaboos university Hospital is found at the university in Al Khoud and is also known for having a very good cancer treatment facility - there's also another hospital of the same name in Salalah. Some people refer to it as SQH.

SQH - The Sultan Qaboos Highway which is the main highway that starts in Ruwi and goes all the way to Shinas and beyond up towards the border with the UAE.

MPH - Muscat Private Hospital - a hospital based out in Bowsher that is an established and full service hospital available to those with private healthcare (Omani's get free government healthcare at government hospitals).

PRO - Public Relations Officer - this is a person that you need (as an expat) to do a number of things for you - handle your employment visa renewals, driving license stuff, help you if you get into trouble with the police. Basically a fixer (if they're any good that is).

CBD - Central Business District - a term I learned in geography class at school, but it refers to the banking sector in downtown Ruwi. Parking in the day there is not very easy.

MQ/MSQ - Medinat Sultan Qaboos is a neighbourhood found between Al Khuwair and Qurum which traditionally was a favoured location for European expats to live (no longer really the case) it's mostly populated by villa's, but there are a number of large apartment blocks that have now sprung up in the area. Rents are typically still quite high in this area.

WK - Wadi Kabir - An urban area next to "downtown" Ruwi that is generally home to a lot of car workshops. Generally avoid like the plague. 

C4 - Carrefour - a French supermarket chain that has 2 large supermarkets at the "city centre" malls (one in Seeb, the other Qurum) and an express version of it in Bowsher at the Muscat Grand Mall.

BHK - Bedroom, Hall, Kitchen - a phrase sometimes used by estate agents when advertising an apartment - usually targeting a people from India, where I understand the phrase is also used.

MCC - Muscat City Centre - a shopping mall which is actually situated in Seeb, not Muscat. It's a very big and popular mall.

QCC - Qurum City Centre - a shopping mall which is actually situated in Qurum, unlike MCC, just to make things confusing. It's not as big as MCC.

MGM - Muscat Grand Mall - a shopping mall in Bowsher (near Ghubra) that is famous for not having any parking spaces for customers.

CCC - Capital Commercial Centre - this is a shopping mall that isn't even called Capital Commercial Centre anymore, it was renamed Al Qurum Complex a few years ago. Used to be prone to being flooded. It's best feature for me is that it has a Nando's outside of it, and the very handy charity bookshop inside of it.

OK Centre - Oman Commercial Centre - Oman's first mall, near the SQH roundabout in Ruwi. I've only ever been in there to visit dubious perfume shops.

BSM - British School Muscat which is found in MQ.

ISM - Indian School Muscat which is found in Darsait.

ISG - Indian School Ghubra which is found in... Ghubra!

ABA - American British Academy which is found in Al Khuwair.

TAISM - The American International School, Muscat which is found in Ghala.

OUA - Oman United Agencies - a liquor shop that can sell to holders of a valid liquor permit.

A&E - African & Eastern - a liquor shop that can sell to holders of a valid liquor permit.

DTC - Desert Trading Company - a liquor shop that can sell to holders of a valid liquor permit.

MASE - Marketing & Services Company - a liquor shop that can sell to holders of a valid liquor permit.

GSS - Gulf Supply Services - a liquor shop that can sell to holders of a valid liquor permit.

WHMO - Whats Happening Muscat, Oman - a popular facebook group that has lots of local information.

MWCIF - Muscat Where Can I Find - a popular facebook group that people ask where they can find something (eg a dentist) and people usually reply with suggestions. They also have a website that you can search their database of questions and answers at www.muscatwhere.com.

WGO - Womens Guild of Oman - A popular group for ladies who lunch. And knit.

AWG - American Women's Group Oman - Like the WGO, but American.

GSM - Global System for Mobile communication - what a lot of people say when they want your phone number: can I have your GSM?

OIFC - Oman Investment & Finance Company - The people that handle your Electricity & Water bills, you can also pay your Omantel bills there too.

I've probably forgotten a bunch, but if you think of any please comment below and let me know! Also... why do you think we have so many acronyms for things here?!

le fin.


Heather Drake said...

Hi MM, the only one I would challenge is SQH. You said it's Sultan Qaboos University Hospital. Here at SQU, we refer to it as SQUH. SQH is what we use to refer to Sultan Qaboos Highway. Cheers!

Arun said...

Great article! Never read something of this sort before!
Although small pointer, Indian School Muscat is in Darsait, not Ruwi.

Anand Iyer said...

Another very popular acronym I can think of is MM (muscat mutterings) ;)

Neha said...

Neighbour to CBD is MBD which stands for Main Business District I guess...

Anonymous said...

SSF - Sultans Special Forces - wannabe SAS

OOC - Oman Oil Company - shareholder in PDO

OGC - Oman Gas Company

MEDC - Muscat Electricity Distribution Company

Plus about a billion more!

Anonymous said...

Most of the ministries seem to be referred to by their acronym more than their names:

MOFA - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
MOF - Ministry of Finance
MOH - Ministry of Housing
MECA - Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs
MOCI - Ministry of Commerce & Industry

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

MOH is more commonly the Ministry fo Health, than the housing Ministry;). Most people call the housing ministry by its Arabic name;)

and Heather Drake is right, SQUH is uni hospital, not SQH, which is the highway;).

.James Wren said...

What about MAM camp? It was a hive of expat activity when I was there from 85-88. I would love to see some photos of the officers messes, they used to have proper names like HQ Mess, Garrison and Jebel..now they have been turned into numbers...Officers Mess number 4...how soulless.Would love to connect with people out there in Muscat, especially with those associated with international schools.
So many great memories, they used to run this Car Park food event at the intercon, back then it looked like a huge building. We came back in 2012 for a holiday...the building is tiny!!
Cheers for now from an ex MAM camp boy!

.James Wren said...

We used to call Riyals "Rats" not sure if that still goes on?

Anonymous said...

MMD - My Mohammed's Different

Used when females think an Omani is actually going to do the right thing by them before coming back from work early to find him in bed with an air-hostess.

Example: 'No, he really loves me and said he wants to marry me but wants to live in my flat for a couple of years while he saves some money to pay for a big wedding and a nice house'

Anonymous said...

As always, a really awesome, well written article.

The Banking systems also uses some acrynms - NBO, HSBC (okay so that's not really a Muscat thing)
OXY is another one (occidental right?)

MOSD - Ministry of Social Development

There's also that Famous Law Firm who used to advertise in Al Khuwair - Mohammed Issac (I think) Law Firm... yeah your readers can work that one out... :)

Glad to see SQUH Cancer Dept got a shout out! 'Strue a really also Department!

Forgot my account Password - so I'm anon today!

Anonymous said...

yeah - typo Awesome department not also...

Anonymous said...

Apologies for being a pedant but the only acronyms I can see in that list are RAFO and TAISM, the rest are all abbrevations.

Saji P Varghese said...

Another acronym which was missed - PACDA (Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance).

Anonymous said...

Don't forget PASMED- Public Authority for Small Minded Enterprise Development.

Mr. Someone said...

My facourite is MILF.
Mohammed Ibrahim Law Firm.

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