Thursday, November 03, 2005
First of all, eid mubarak everyone. Best wishes to all readers of this blog. Hope you're all having a great time.
Before I begin this semi-rant let me start by saying that most of what I'm about rant about isn't my own view. The eid holiday has brought some controversy and I'm just blogging about it.
The eid holiday as announced mid-week was a bit unusual. It was a conditional announcement: the holiday for the public sector was to begin on Wednesday and if eid fell on Thursday the go back to work on Monday, but if eid fell on Friday they take the whole next week off. As for the private sector their holiday starts on Thursday and they go back to work on Monday regardless what day eid was. This lead to a lot of ranting on behalf of private sector employees, particularly the lower paid ones who are already fuming at the "makruma samiya" (royal gesture/grant) that Sultan has ordered to government employees on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of his rule.
Come Wednesday night, Oman TV put on quite a show. They had tv crews in all corners of Oman including Jabal Shams and Musandam with astronomers live on the air with high powered telescopes and all sorts of high tech shit. We had all sorts of explanations about how the moon will only be visible for 8 to 12 minutes after sunset and how if no one can see it in that brief window then eid will be on Friday. So there you had it, a live presenter in the tv studio switching back and forth between a bunch of remote locations and no one has seen the moon. After an hour of all that it looked like they were about to throw in the towel. Switch to another tv presenter at the Ministry of Awqaf outside the minister's office and just as he goes on the air someone from the ministry hands him an official announcement to read. He starts reading in a subdued voice thinking he's that the moon was not sited in Oman, but next thing you know he's announcing that the moon was sighted in so many different locations. Hello, was it all a charade? You just explained in ever scientific way how no one could have seen the moon after 5.40something pm and now you're telling us all these people saw it? Oh, well I'm private sector so it makes no difference to me.
Was the eid deliberately announced for Thursday to shorten the holiday? Some people thought so. But conspiracy theorists didn't have much time to build on this because by 10pm the news suddenly came out that HM has announced another royal gesture: the holiday is extended till next Friday for the government but the priviate sector will go back to work on Monday as previously announced. Private sector employees cried foul. "Are we second class citizens in this country?", they said. How come we work two shifts a day, get only a one day weekend, get less annual leave every year, are paid less by our employers than the public sector, we are always short-changed in public holidays, etc. How come the Sultan's ordered a special bonus for all government employees but we get nothing, are we not Omanis? The Kuwaiti government last year paid a bonus to all citizens, it didn't discriminate by giving it to just the public sector, etc etc.
Of course you can't argue with a royal decision, but it appears this issue has widened the divide between the public and private sectors. It has lead to controversy in the middle of the celebration. This will probably die over soon, but since National Day is coming in two weeks it might be a while before we hear the end of it.
Anyhow, we're off to enjoy the holidays. Seeya in a couple days.