Wednesday, February 17, 2010

News Round Up and Omani Bloggers' Interviews published in Times Of Oman

What a week! A few misc news updates for your weekend.

CAYC Update
The continued attempt by the Ministry of Tourism, commercial arm OMRAAN, their real estate developer friends, family and powerful well connected business oligarchs partners, plus rich GCC assistants, to take over the family friendly Capital Area Yacht Club rolls on. Despite having been gifted the deeds to their beautiful little bay (next door to Cat Island and Bar Al Jissa) by no less an individual than His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, and being totally harmless, they lost one of their recent court cases. This is a relatively low cost club where ordinary Omani and expat families can have a boat (with somewhere to go in it nearby), go fishing, have a safe beach for the kids, and offer a beer and a meal.

Photo: The CAYC - Still under threat.

But as the MoT want to make a buck, destroy yet more pristine beach environment, and do yet another high priced exclusive 'Integrated Tourist Development' for GCC foreigners. Oh, and those Omanis rich enough to get a piece of the pie. So apparently the regular Omanis have to get kicked out.

The first court date for the appeal is set for 28th February, according to my sources in the Ministry of Tourism, and the fix appears to be in. Go visit the CAYC, maybe even join (you don't even have to have a boat) and help them beat off the hyenas. More updates as they happen.

Oman hands over Al Qaeda operative to Saudi for a bit of a chat.
It seems that the journey from the caves of AFPAK to Yemen is not without its potholes. Newsweek and CNN reported that one Mr. al-Eidan was caught by Omani authorities with a bag full of Al Qaeda names, photos and telephone numbers. Interesting that we just handed him over to the Saudis to, ahem, 'assist with inquiries'. Sometimes a pragmatic system of law enforcement works. And the Taliban Civil Liberties Union is hardly a paragon of due process, so its a case of what goes around, comes around, I guess.

Washington (CNN) -- Some jihadist Web sites monitored by CNN are warning al Qaeda leaders that a recently captured field commander had more than 300 names and numbers plus important documents on him at the time of his arrest.

A U.S. counterterrorism official confirmed that Abdullah Saleh al-Eidan was captured in Oman in late January and is being held now in Saudi Arabia. The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record because of the sensitive nature of the information, would not comment on what intelligence has been gathered from al-Eidan.
But the official did say al-Eidan was caught as he was carrying information from al Qaeda "central" in the Pakistan/Afghanistan region to its affiliate in Yemen known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Frankincense cures Cancer?
Well, maybe. A nice story in the BBC and elsewhere about how the good quality stuff from Salalah might contain an active ingredient against certain cancers was good to read. BBC. Frankincense: Could it be a cure for cancer? It's always been regarded as a natural anti-bacterial, as well as smelling nice. But cancer? Maybe get a few kilos while you can!

Fame at last? Undercover Dragon's 15 column inches
The Times of Oman Blogger stories by promising journo Sandhya Menon were a big hit (at least with those of us who were interviewed), and in the end, a decent couple of fresh stories for the public too IMHO. I thought the interviews the effort generated were all damn good reads (see the blog roll if you're new). An added bonus DVD special feature, if you will, to the published story.

In a related topic, Wackos Emerge from the Swamp of Oman:
Some of the responses from the public triggered by the story reminded me of the real reason so many of us remain anonymous. It's not the ROP, or the Government, or the Internal Security.

It's the 'haters'.

There really are zombies in Oman after all.

Even relatively normal and obviously fundamentally nice people (such as Nadia of Dhofari Gucci, or Suburban of OtherOman) got a significant amount of really nasty and hate-dripping comments and emails. Me too (no surprise there I guess), although I think I actually get less than the ladies, even though I'd have said I tend to be far more generally offensive. This may be connected to my not being a girl, as these losers tend to prefer beating up women.

I don't mind the simply argumentative ones. Hey, I'm a free speech advocate after all. And occasionally the comments are on point.

But there are some real wackos out there. Generally they seem (by my reading of the runes) to be Omani, male, under 35, both homophobic* and misogynistic, passive aggressive, pretty poor English, draped in the flag, hate expats, and with a chip on their shoulder the size of Jebel Akhdar.

(*at least outwardly. Perhaps they doth protest too much? A bit of latent guilt about earlier experiences or current tendencies? Hmmm... More on that theme soon...)

These people are the real reason I'm glad to be anonymous. Some are just unbalanced. Some seem to think that hate, violence and ignorance are a feature of Islam. Most seem sexually frustrated.

So, a big FCUK YOU haters!

You'll be pleased to know I'm off for a nice night out on the town with the drop dead gorgeous Ms. Dragon in her finery, lashings of champagne included, followed by what is probably going to be the most mind blowingly great sex a human can probably experience.

Unlike you.

Hope that floats your boat.

Nice story this weekend too readers. Promise!


  1. Given that the Marina Bandar Rowdah hasn’t got enough berths for their existing boating gang, and cant organise the individual berthing to accommodate tourism craft where will all CAYC the boats go? Or is the one at Yiti on the move
    Omran currently operate the 12 room Ras al Jinz hotel whose previous choice of management lasted 6 months after they , how can one put it politely, well I cant so wont! (though its managed by the Ministry of Tourism it isn’t event listed on their own Web Site )
    And more recently the startlingly located Uwayfiyah Hotel (and don’t try and find it cause though its managed by the Ministry of Tourism it isn’t event listed on their own Web Site so presumably is also off the map for them )
    I gather that the escarpment overlooking the terraces in Jebel Akhdar is now the mountain equivalent of Muscat’s beaches. So presumably Omran will also be operating a few more well managed and superbly publicized hotels

  2. Nice! Loved the MM pic....

  3. Hmm, don't do it again, haters.


  4. TWIS
    Agree! Apparently the offer will be a patch of sand at Aviation Club near Seeb. Like there is anything near there worth driving a boat too.

    Thanks. Pick a nickname


  5. About the AQ arrest. Its one of the reasons why Pakistani guys were in Muscat and having a chat with HM. Intel sharing is needed to nab more guys leaving Karachi into areas near Salalah. Americans asked Omani guys to step up surveillance of Omani coast for these AF-PAK guys coming back to the peninsula.

  6. There's a hotel in Uwayfiyah ? Is it nice ?

  7. Hotels in Uwayfiyah - probably as nice as you will get under the circs -
    and frankly if there is spare beach next to the Airport / Wave give it to the hotel so that the guests can gaze out to sea as thats all they need
    and pleeeease let the residents of Muscat have a bit of something worthwhile with character - in town ;
    if London can have Hyde Park, New York - Central Park , Paris - Bois de Boulogne, Berlin - Großer Tiergarten – all public parks in the centre of some of the worlds major cities – Muscat needs a few scattered beaches for its less wealthy residents to enjoy .

  8. Have patience, TWI, Muscat is going to have its own Botanic Garden soon. Not really 'in town' I think, but close enough and hopefully afordable for Omani residents too.

  9. The Botanic Garden apparent raisin d’être is to attempt to provide a secure environment for under pressure plant species in Oman from area such as Jebel Akhdar (where the many hundred year old Juniper Tress are used for firewood by unknown visitors according to a talk given by Dr Patzelt ) rather than protect the original natural areas !
    Will it provide casual leisure facilities for an Omani cashier ( and the like for example) who earns less than Rial Omani 200 within Oman’s capital in a similar way as those vast parks do for residents and visitors to London, New York, Paris etc . Family picnics, beach football, jogging, swimming, snorkelling – or easy to use venues for municipality organised events . Or even simply a view that is uninterrupted by buildings (look at the changes around the outlet of Wadi Adai at Qurm – not only the bridged road and is it now 5 restaurants? – but on the other side buildings that are several stories height – the Mangrove swamp will be unseen by all except the occupants of those buildings or the population in Muscat who can afford a Rial Omani 2/- coffee ).

  10. Sorry I should have commented sooner, but better late than never.
    It is very unfortunate that the organizations that should be preserving the beautiful and natural resources in Oman are the very ones destroying it. How blinded by power can the MoT be, how money hungry will their “development arm” OMRAN be? Who ever heard of a Ministry entering the private sector to rake in money at the expense of its people?
    It is the free public and clean beaches of Oman that attracts truism. Expats don’t want to see a concrete jungle, they get that back in their cities, they come here for the peace quiet natural beauty of sea and mountains, the friendly Oman people and to experience a different “Middle East”. MoT should know this and try to build on it. I agree with many of the other comments that many of the 5 star hotels have very little to do with Oman and employ to fee Omanies.

    I am very disappointed with the MoT which is doing more harm to tourism in Oman than good. I think they should concentrate on improving tourism and advertising vs mega million projects that target making money through sale of overly priced property at the expense of the Omani people. Shame on MoT for taking public beaches and properties only to line certain people’s pockets with money. The future of Oman tourism looks very bleak and we are being lead in the wrong direction.

    Oman tourism will only improve with change in strategy and most importantly MoT leadership. Does the MoT really know what its real job or has it been over taken by power and money hungry individuals? I think this subject alone warrants its own blog (hint to all you hard working bloggers).

    As mentioned in other comments, the environment and residence seems to be taking the beating here. Where is the ministry of environment with all of this? How can they be sitting quietly while another ministry pillages the lands and destroys the natural beauty Oman has been known for? What about the Muscat Municipality that building a dual carriage way between the residences and the beach? Who wants a major roadwork separating the beach from the beach goers? I heard that inhabitants living between Seeb and Sohar have been relocated and beach lands seized in the name of “beach conservation” only for a road to be built. Is the MoT planning to build hotels there too? Or beach huts to rent to Starbucks? Hmm this too could be a blog on its own (second hint).

    Enough ranting for today, I leave the rest to you blogging warriors to take up the good fight. I look forward to reading more (maybe the two hinted blog subjects above.
    PEACE – “Grey Sheep”

  11. Another blow for the future of quality-tourism and progress in important areas such as environment and sustainability in Oman: the expat Diwan-advisor in charge of this development has just been kicked out. Apparently certain Omani officials could not bear the idea that this important position on such prestigious project was held by a well-paid expat who seemed to be well on his way to make this project a real success, even measured against international standards. So they joined forces, used their wasta... and off went Mr. Expat. No doubt one of these sly, jealous local officials will now take over and soon this project can also be added to the fast growing list of failed develpments in Oman. How sad!

  12. Oh, by the way, I was talking about the Oman Botanic Garden project...

  13. Interesting news today. The law courts of Oman have saved CAYC on the basis that they will smarten it up and invest in the club. Congratulations to one lady in particular who has worked extremely hard on this.

    Just as well, it might have gone the same way as SAF club. Now that's something worth exposing, one man took an entire beach for himself on the basis that the club was never used, got everyone kicked out and then he never used it. A big win for nepotism and corruption and a loss for the local people of Oman


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