Friday, January 13, 2012

123 Orion's Winter Bash this Thursday at Royal Flight

Local mega-band 123 Orion are doing our annual WINTER WARMER gig at the Royal Flight next Thursday - see the attached flyer! Super-star Jon G will be rockin' the place.

Muscat Confidential is a big fan of the band, and as always the proceeds go to a good cause - the charity this time is the Sindbad Mobile Library - which is a bus full of books that tours the villages of Oman in order to promote literacy for children.

UD has enjoyed many a 123 Orion gig at the Royal Flight with Ms Dragon. Cheep booze, great vibe, and only 6 rials. Ph Tess at 99525486 for tickets and info.

So Thursday night from 7:30pm at the Royal Flight in Seeb. Soup and snacks provided. Be there!

Please send photos!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dutch Queen visits. Iran keeps rattling swords. The Wave's parks are the coolest place to "hang around, leer, drink and stuff" say bored local teens.

Her Majesty the Queen of Holland visited after all - Officially this time & for 3 whole days - and it was simply lovely.

Photo: Their Majesties. Image Credit: Mohammed Mustafa, Gulf News

Later on, it was trebles! 'Gongs all Round!" at the Palace.

Before the banquet, the Sultan and Queen Beatrix exchanged orders. Sultan Qaboos conferred the Al Saeed Order on the Queen who conferred on the Lion of Holland Order on the Omani ruler.

Sultan Qaboos conferred the Renaissance Grand Order on Prince William Alexander, Dutch Crown Prince and Sultan Qaboos Order " First Class" to His wife Princess Maxima.

The Omani monarch also conferred Al Nu'man Order "first second and third Class" to a number of ministers and high ranking officials in the Dutch delegation. Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina conferred orders on Their Highnesses, ministers and senior officials in the Sultanate.

Jolly good. Carry On. Wonderful to see you. And while you're here do let's have a chat about that 'stable transition to Constitutional Monarchy' thing...

But say, What news of the rumbling from our distant Northern border with our great existential strategic Threat Friend, Iran?

Sire, in other news:
Iran is increasingly cornered by US and Europe who finally take away Iran's oil trading dosh. Recently purchased and self-modified Chinese toys threaten to exit bath-tub.

Photo's: Toys.

Yes, our great ally to the north, Iran, for some reason just held military exercises in the shared Straights of Hormuz, without us. After (insanely) threatening to try to block the movement of shipping through the Straights of Hormuz, Iran proceeded to have a military drill aimed at proving it could.

They backed away from that pretty quickly, luckily.

Iran's perhaps starting to finally learn what truly effective foreign/military policy when playing no-limit poker with the big boys achieves.


Iran does, it must be said, have the demonstrable capability to militarily try to stop oil flow through the Straights of Hormuz, via a combined attack of fixed and mobile missiles, mines, fast attack boats with torpedos, and tiny submarines.

Iran's threat of 'asymmetric warefare' would indeed spike oil prices for a week or few, spill some crude in a beautiful place, maybe even hit some American or ANOther warships.

Oh and would result inevitably in the immediate destruction of about every piece of coastline on the Gulf that Iran has, plus every military asset in the whole of South Iran. No more Navy lads. Those centrifuges would get hit damn hard too - multiple strikes of the new super buster; followed by fuel-air bombs. Centralised command and control taken out. Airbases. Critical oil installations. Air defense. Power stations. Pretty ugly.

Those pesky mines and submarines will take a while to get, fair enough. About 2 weeks.

And don't forget jolly-old RAFO! Tally-Ho!!!!

So it's going to be up to China and Russia to talk Iran down off the ledge. Joking with Chavez about nukes is pretty out there, in a Dr Strangelove kinda way. Little wonder the doomsday clock tick's a minute closer.

Who could mediate this? Who?

Perhaps defer the planned vacation to Musandam sire. But there's a phone call, urgent,...

Meanwhile, as Muscat suffers somewhat from an oversupply of semi-fancy housing and rents drop, the phrase "Tourism Enriches" really hits home. Those cute little local tykes who live near the wave and can drive [oh, I know you know the ones], have realised that a nice green grassy park in The Wave, with no cops, no Angry Uncles/Cousins or broken glass, is a perfect place to paaaaarty!

Scatalogical internet memes on 'blond child abduction attempts' [Airport, PDO, The Wave, CCC shopping centre] not withstanding, it does appear the local lads have found a place to 'hang loose' at night. My source reports:

via Email:

Just wanted to share a disturbing story about the lack of security at the wave.


The Wave has become a haven for miscreants who cruise the streets and camp out in the parks at all hours. The residents are then greeted the morning after with all kinds of fascinating debris ranging from KFC packaging, Mountain Dew bottles, beer cans, alcohol bottles to condoms and vomit. Numerous stalking and harassment incidents have already taken place, but this is the first physical assault we have heard of.

With the high profile nature of this development, how can it not attract "visitors"? Why are residents subjected to leering gangs playing cards and getting intoxicated in parks they pay for? It's time for management at The Wave to wake up and provide the access control they promised. This bullshit has got to stop!

Heck. When you're in your 20's, unemployed, living with your parents, pretty much broke, & still a virgin (at least with a woman), this is probably about the only fun thing your can afford to do these days, i.e.

1/ Grab a friend with his Mom's car,
2/ Score some bootleg booze and or hash,
3/ Get some music [affected American black-style still preferred],
4/ Pick up a few buddies, and


5/ Find a nice public area in The Wave, dude!

Instant party man! A few Female joggers would make it almost too awesome.

Why doesn't someone at the Wave:
- pick a discreet area very close to the entrance for the local cruisers, and let them party;
- put up bright lighting and play loud classical muzac everywhere else, with patrols.

However, what I find even more shocking is how shocking this is to an Expat these days.

I remember the days when conservatively dressed Expat women would regularly be followed around in Public (say, in Sabco Center) in broad daylight, by some scruffy late-middle-aged Omani guy with a hand inside his dishdasha, quite obviously stroking away.

Now Oman has civilised itself to where its problems are more Western. Bored unemployed teenagers.

A shot in the Army might sharpen them up... I hear rumblings...

the real die-hards (see last post comments) will ask about Blue City Part 3. Hell, I figured you all knew anyhow. Biggest bankrupcy in Oman's history. Royal connections. Bail out by Oman Sovereign fund. As always predicted. Here.

Can some citizen journalists drive out to Al Sawady and send me some pics please? That's all I'm waiting for. [Oh, and RR, send me an email for an interview?]

Give me beach, 'hotels', 'golf course', 'marina', ... I need pictures. Email me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A new year begins with jail for journalists who insulted Minister, and more oil money for all!

Well, Happy New Year readers! Let's get straight to the news.

Azzaman Journos sent to jail (again)
The 2 journalists from Omani newspaper Azzaman, who were found guilty of insulting the Minister of Justice last October, had their convictions and draconian 5 month jail sentences upheld by the Omani Court of Appeal a couple of days ago.

This should not have come as a surprise, as in a legal sense they were clearly guilty - the law is so broad and is very easy to breach - plus, lets face it, when taking on the Ministry of Justice on a matter of law the odds are pretty stacked against you!

Arabian, by Claire Ferris-Lay Monday, 2 January 2012 Oman daily vows to appeal journalists’ jail terms.

Omani newspaper Azzaman has pledged to appeal a five-month jail sentence given to two of its journalists for insulting the Gulf state’s justice minister, it was reported Monday.

The court of appeal on Saturday confirmed the jail terms given to journalists Yusef al-Haj and editor-in-chief Ibrahim al-Maamaria for an article published in May alleging corruption in the justice ministry, newswire AP said.

The court initially ordered the newspaper suspend its operations for a month but decided not to enforce the ruling. Another justice ministry employee was also given five months in prison for telling the journalists that a ministry employee had been denied his salary and benefits by the justice minister without valid cause.

Azzaman’s board of directors in a statement complained against the court’s failure to respect an agreement to acquit the pair in exchange for apologizing to the minister, the newswire said.

I expect a royal pardon soon to get past this trivial issue. Having this case drag on means we get named in the company of really nasty places like Iran and other Middle East countries who are really imprisoning journalists by the bus load.

High Oil prices support Oman Economic 'Growth'
Meanwhile, Oman's Government continues to pump the extra cash from the high oil prices into the economy, with massive fiscal injections - Government spending is up by almost 20% in the last 10 months of 2011.

[Oman Observer]....
Regarding the Public Finance, the State General Budget for the fiscal year 2011 was approved with a total expenditure amounting to RO 8,130 million and a deficit amounting to RO 850 million and was based on the assumption of the oil price at $58, note that the average price of the Oman oil in the year 2011 amounted to about $102.
During the year, additional financial allocations have been approved that amounted to RO 1.8 billion, most of which was concentrated on the current civil and security expenditures bringing the deficit of the budget to about RO 2.6 billion. However, and as a result of the stable global oil prices at a higher level, the actual budget is expected to achieve a financial surplus that may reach about RO 1 billion, where an amount of RO 700 million will be used as a part of the means of funding for covering the deficit of the budget of the year 2012, while the remaining surplus, if any, in light of the final closing for the accounts of the fiscal year will be used to strengthen the financial reserves of the State.

The windfall from high oil prices is helping Oman to protect the domestic economy from the ongoing crisis in the Global economy, and to pay for all those extra Government jobs needed to keep the peace in Sohar and Salalah following the protests. It doesn't do much to diversify the economy, but hey, it's better than nothing.

Oman is still totally dependent on oil and gas exports, directly as oil and LNG, and indirectly via exports of either refined gasoline or the highly subsidised energy heavy exports of aluminium & methanol. This is why the reports from the Ministries of 20% growth in 'non-oil exports' is very misleading.

The preliminary forecasts of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) suggest that the national economy in the year 2011 will achieve a growth of (7 per cent) exceeding the growth rate achieved in the previous year (2010) that amounted to (6 per cent). This growth in national economy is based on the added value of the non-oil activities that are projected to achieve a growth rate of (10 per cent) compared with (2 per cent) for the oil activities. This is also attributed to the increased domestic demand as well as the increased non-oil exports by (20 per cent) compared with the year 2010.

Oman still actually manufactures fuck all. Food imports are rising, and there is precious little to buy in the supermarkets that comes from within (as per the rest of the Middle East). Most non-Governmental services are provided by predominantly expat labour. Especially construction, which is perhaps the biggest real thing being made in Oman, GDP-wise.

Thus, the money from the extractive energy sector continues to hide the underlying malaise in Oman's 'real' economy, and job growth remains a matter of increased Government sector spending, either hiring directly (more ROP officiers) or indirectly from employment related to infrastructure projects funded by the State.

Eventually the Piper will need to be paid.

In Other News
We arrested and will deport 1,243 illegal workers around Seeb and Muscat, all doing nasty manual labour jobs Omanis don't want.

... "We caught 174 [all but one Bangladeshis] illegal workers from a single farmhouse in Baushar during one such raid," he said, and added that the Mawaleh Fruits and Vegetable Market was also raided by the teams to root out illegal workers from the wholesale market.

Al Badi pointed out that among the arrested there are 417 absconding workers, 525 released workers and 162 infiltrators.

According to him, most of the apprehended workers were mostly engaged in farm work, construction industry and restaurant businesses.

Killing ourselves by driving on the roads continue to be a real growth industry, with official deaths up 25% in 2011.

Muscat : Traffic accidents continue to be a big worry for Oman, with almost a 25 per cent increase in deaths during 2011, according to Lieutenant General Hassan Bin Mohsin Al Shraiqi, Inspector-General of Police and Customs.

Presiding over the second meeting of the National Committee for Road Safety at the Police Headquarters in Qurum on Saturday, the top police officer in the country said: "The 1,051 fatalities and 11,322 injuries in road accidents [last year] in Oman is a worrying trend, even though the Sultanate is not considered among the countries with high rates of road crashes."

"...not considered among the countries with high rates of road crashes". LMFAO. This is such typical Omani Government bullshit. As I reported earlier, these ROP stats only count those adults that die at the scene of the accident - to get a more representative number you can double the official one to take account of children and later deaths in hospital. With over 2100 road deaths a year in a population of ~2.5 million, we are killing close to 1 in a thousand, every year. Local blogger Muscat Mutterer posted about the reasons in an excellent rant.

At least the ROP border guards at Al Wajaja had an awesome New Year's eve, taking delivery of oops, I mean confiscating 35,000 rials worth of demon drink from a particularly unlucky 'Arab national'. I'm sure it was all properly disposed of... hic ... just like all the rest of the booze taken at the Oman border!

Cheers to that.

So here's to a good 2012. Feel free to recommend a facebook 'like' of Muscat Confidential to your friends!