Monday, May 09, 2016

Did you see this story in the Times of Oman yet? It's garnering quite a lot of comments over on the facebook page and has spurred me to write something on this currently semi-neglected blog.

The gist of the story is that an Omani travelled to the USA to attend a seminar for which she would receive university credits (as stated in the story) and was denied entry because her visa was for "tourist/business" purposes. Which is not education (which was not explicitly stated in the article).

The undertones in the article written by the ToO journalist are quite obvious though:

Headline: Omani woman handcuffed after being denied entry into the US (conveniently neglecting to mention she had the wrong visa)

First line: After enduring a 16-hour flight from Muscat to the United States (because it was a hardship that she was put through, obviously being forced to fly there).

Further down the story: "I felt that I had been treated like a criminal". Err, that's because she was a criminal, having broken the law by attempting to enter the country with an incorrect visa.

The comment about a finger in the poor woman's back as she was pushed into the room is about the only thing I can see in the entire article that upsets me (about the actual story that is), because no one should have touched her and that is obviously unacceptable if proven true. Who wants to fly for the best part of a day only to turn around and fly back because you couldn't get into the country you were trying to. Having been turned away at the UAE border because of having a valid passport that expired 5 months later, I feel her pain. Border guards the world over can be difficult, but that is their job, to enforce the laws governing entry and exit from their countries.

I've noticed that the Times of Oman has been stirring the racial tension pot a bit lately (last 12 months or so in a more progressive manner) and again I'd say that this is the Times of Oman stirring up the racial pot once more. Remove the Headline and accurately describe it and it's not so scandalous, remove the fact the woman had to endure a flight to the USA and then highlight more clearly that she had the wrong type of visa and then all of a sudden you have what this "story" really is, which is nothing interesting and not worth reading. Add in a few small bits of pepper and we've got another anti Western article which is firing people up to post all sorts of ridiculous comments on the facebook page, and more sadly, discuss amongst themselves and in their social circles.

My personal favourite comment was, "This is why I hate Americans". The irony of that having been written on a computer (or phone) using software designed for the American market (perhaps even designed in America) on a website owned by a company that is based in America.

Why did that person comment that this was why they hated Americans? Because the journalist who wrote this, in my opinion, was looking to stir the pot to increase readership and didn't report the stories facts as clearly as he could have.

Am I right? I don't know. I just seem to be seeing more and more of these articles lately, and I'm picking on the Times of Oman more than anyone else because I only get the Muscat Daily (which I don't read because it is quite simply terrible) and the Times of Oman, which I do read because it's better than all the other English language dailies here (not counting the Gulf News, which I don't read regularly but always enjoy when I do).

Has anyone else noticed this as well or am I just losing my marbles?

le fin.


Anonymous said...

Idiots responding to an even more idiotic article, nothing more. "Woman tries to enter the US on wrong visa, gets refused entry". Wow, story of the year.

Anonymous said...

Well I see how they are probably trying to link it in to the current troubles Muslims are going through in traveling to and in the United States. The fact that it's an Omani is "Woah! We have so few stories of Omanis in such situations!" to them and they decided to make a click bait story for readership . I agree with you about the visa thing and her being in hand cuffs. Only thing to me is she said she had inquired beforehand if it was the correct visa and was informed that it was. Still a dumb story.
I'm an Omani male who's been strip searched by US border control with female officers in the room and left for 20 minutes in my boxers (for having two phones 😂). Doesn't mran I want to tell the news about it and cause a big curffufle when there is such racial and religious tensions these days all over the world. No need to add to the hype of a pointless situation.

Anonymous said...

Whoever is flying to the US they have to got to inform their travel agent the reason of travel so that the travel agent can ask her check her visa status and whether she has the appropriate visa for her purpose of travel... Maybe what she did was wrong and maybe the US airport security is justified for what they did but for a person to go through that feeling of being handcuffed and escorted to be return to COO after just getting off a long flight is still quite overwhelming and humiliating.

Anonymous said...

Since late i've notive times of oman news reporting has been terrible. no proper details even sometimes the news is the headline itself. They dont seem to get the facts right and just wanting to put a story out there. It sux and I dont see any quality news anymore.

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

I agree with 2nd anonymous from the top... the US is particularly crap if you are Muslim (I mean UK and Amsterdam, Germany, France, etc, just as hard line but somehow, so much more... polite about being so that you just end up liking them better in general;)). I mean I was strip searched in Amsterdam, but they made sure it was 2 women... and they were apologetic for the time, and explained the policy. the States was like, don't come here if you don't like it, and sure, asking me if I have been circumcised is really relevant to my stay in the country as a tourist who doesn't even require a visa ;D.

Omanis in general are treated pretty well travelling, beyond being Muslim at times. I had Saudi English students who disappeared from the airport in Canada and arrived two days later to their homestays after being held for questioning without charges of any kind.... so this is obviously an attempt to liken Oman to that overall situation even though it is no way related;).

I bet the US peeps were super rude about it though, they weren't like, oh regrettably your visa is not for education purposes, so you cannot be admitted. That really sucks and we hope to see you next time on the proper visa. We wish we could let you in but the law is the law. They are probably ass holes about it. I mean, handcuffs? Was she trying to escape;)? I doubt it. I rarely see Omani women running for anything:P.

Anonymous said...

The Times of Oman is like Gulf News sometimes. Or maybe they're both like Fox News. The girl who was handcuffed actually wrote a few columns for the Times of Oman, so that's why she got their attention. In all cases, it's not news. And yes, they've been stirring the pot lately.


Anonymous said...

Dear MM,

Two years ago, we had a Times of Oman subscription at home for a year. I am not sure if my timing for the subscription was bad or if the paper has been always so, but the headlines were screaming clickbaits twice a week or so. It got so bad that the entire angle of their story could be made out from their headlines. The only content worth reading was the syndicated stuff. Towards the end of the subscription, we never got around to even opening the paper. And quite obviously, we didn't renew. The deliberate focus on creating sensationalism, fear and chaos by headlining topics that divide the nation rather unite (it is not limited to TOO too) made my blood boil and put me off any news subscription.

Anonymous said...

Put it simple - TOO reporting is pathetic. It is sensationalism to the core. It strives hard to sell the packaged product. It strives to garner heap of comments and traffic on their social media; probably than any other local communication channel in Oman.

Despite being national of subcontinent, I feel disgusted with the amount of emphasis they lay on reporting anything about subcontinent. In my honest views this is disproportionate considering that we live in Oman.

This NOC, Expat Vs Omani, Ban, Remittance Tax etc stuff has been chewed over years and years and they keep on coming with some baseless news (or views) of an "top official" on the "sidelines" of some conference or over a cup of tea.

Just read today's front page of - "Innocent" is the heading where entire family photograph of the unfortunate nurse (who was murdered recently in Salalah) is printed. Does the media have right to intrude on privacy of other family members, who no way are connected with this incident? What is the purpose of printing photographs of the nurse and her husband, even for that matter, again and again? Apart from that photo, there are some 2 statements from her parents and that's it. Does it provide you a national level substance?

Just a week back, as per their practice on FB page, they took a rewind of news that so called "dominated " the week. Incidentally, it was HM who presided over a high level meeting and discussed about diversification, economy and key issues in that week. Imagine, the news that "dominated" according to TOO that week was "Isra Wal Miraj" holiday being declared !!! Sighhh...

jim morrison said...

If anybody tries to enter Oman with an incorrect visa they are HANDCUFFED JAILED sometimes BEATEN. But that is ok because it is a foreigner. She got the same treatment her government affords others ,karma.

Anonymous said...

Jim morrison what you said is a load of bullshit, if you have any evidence of your false claims then provide them. Omani immigration officers are very friendly and if you have a visa then you enter the country not mentioning the visa on arrival for many countries available at the airport.

B said...

@Jim Morrison
I have once been held at the border for questioning, my photo was when i was 17 and I don't look typically Omani.
Having said that, they were very polite throughout the questioning, even though they were stern.

I don't blame the US customs for that, after all. Law is Law. She came under a wrong visa and when people here are found under wrong visas they are deported. she wasn't allowed entry... It may well not be her fault at all as she may have been poorly advised. it is a sucky position to be in but shit happens.

Point being is that this has happened before with the same idea that a female was handcuffed and sent back, and the point was to sell more papers.

Anonymous said...

Aren't American visas to Omanis only given once they have had in interview at the embassy? Surely the visa type would have been ascertained then and she wouldn't have had to get advice from anyone else. If not, then where did she ask advice about the visa?

Popular Posts