Tuesday, September 27, 2005

ESO Lecture October 1st

ESO Lecture October 1, 2005

The first lecture of the ESO's 2005/6 season will be held on October 1st at Majan College at 7pm. It will be an illustrated presentation on the Conservation of the Houbara Bustard. This bird is in danger of extinction within the next 20 years due to excess hunting, both by falconers in Arabia and trainers in Pakistan and Iran who use them to train falcons.

This lecture will be presented by Yasser Al Kharusi who is a biologist at Jaaluni (the Oryx project). Should be an interesting presentation which tells a story that stretches from Oman to the breeding grounds of migrant birds in Central Asia. The lecture will be in English.

Doors open at 7pm. Lecture will begin at 7.30pm.

As usual entry is open to the public, you don't have to be a member to come. Please email: membership@environment.org.om to confirm if you are coming so that we can get an idea of the number to prepare for.

More details about ESO (in both Arabic and English): www.environment.org.om

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Aiwa?

I spent about 15 minutes this morning trying to get someone on the phone at a certain ministry which shall remain unnamed. I must have talked with about 7 people as I dialled number after number from the ministry's phone list. Most of them picked up the phone with the extremely annoying greeting "aiwa?" though one or two had the only slightly more polite "na3am?". Not one of them identified which ministry or which department I had called. I had to spend about half a minute with each of them confirming that I had called a ministry, not a house. Hell even if I had called someone's house I'd expect a "salam 3alaikum" or even a "hello" not a stupid "aiwa?".



The man who took OD's change

I went to fill up my car today at the Oman Oil station in MQ. It cost RO 6.800. I gave him a tenner. He gave me back RO 3. Now, I'm no math genius, but, shouldn't the change be RO3.200? When he walked away from my window I thought he was going to get change, and I was going to tell him to keep it, but, he walked away quickly.And never came back!

I was looking at him in my rear view mirror, saw him look at me then quickly turn away and start filling up the car behind me.

He stole my money. Ok so he stole his tip, but he didn't know I was going to tip him, which means he stole my money! Just like that. In broad daylight! I was too shocked. I didn't know what to do. I just drove away.

Now I can't stop thinking about it. Its not the money, cause its nothing. Its the principle. What if he does this to other people? I thought about going back and talking to his manager, but I'd never forgive myself if he lost his job because of me. Plus I hate causing a commotion (hmmm, Madonna moment there..so 80s)..

What would you all have done?

Friday, September 23, 2005

The word on the Dana Gas IPO

Over the past week I've gotten quite a few calls from friends asking my view on the Dana Gas IPO, which is going to be one of the largest IPOs in UAE history. The reason this one's special is because this time subscription is open to all GCC citizens. Since UAE IPO shares tend to double and triple in value on the first day of listing everyone wants a piece of this one. The question is: how many shares can you get? The minimum application is 5000 shares and the company says they hope to give an allocation of about 3000 shares to each applicant. However if the oversubcription is high they will not be able to do that. People have a false comfort that UAE banks no longer give the crazy kind of leverage they used to give in past IPOs. However these same people who tell me that conveniently forget that even without the UAE leverage, the fact that it's open to all gulf citizens compensates for that in numbers. Another thing is that even though the IPO ends early next week, the listing might not happen till January and the IPO prospectus does not mention the refund and allocation period. If you're planning to subscribe you should be ready to lock-in your funds for a long period.

Finally, you might want to read this:
Riyadh : Thousands of Saudis want to go to the UAE to buy shares in Dana Gas, a natural gas resource company, leading to sold-out flights to Dubai.

The reservation department of Saudi Arabian Airlines said no seats were available on its flights to Dubai from Jeddah and Dammam before September 29 and from Riyadh before September 30. The airline, however, has no plan to operate additional flights to Dubai because it would affect services to other destinations, an airline official said. Saudi Arabian Airlines operates four flights to Dubai from Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam, carrying more than 1,000 passengers every day.

"During the last three days, we operated an additional flight daily carrying 300 passengers," the airline official said. "We operate flights to 86 domestic and international destinations. It is not fair to operate more flights to a particular city, ignoring other destinations."

The rush to catch flights to Dubai came after Dana Gas allowed all Gulf citizens to subscribe to its shares during the initial public offering, which opened on September 20. In the largest initial public offering ever in the UAE, Dana Gas is offering shares worth Dh2.06 billion, or 34.33 per cent of the company's capital.

Some of the subscribers told Gulf News that procedures were very easy. They said UAE banks allowed those who could not travel to the emirate to open their accounts with them on the basis of attested authorisation letters and Saudi passport copies. But many Saudis have requested the company to allow them to subscribe to its shares through Saudi banks or branches of UAE banks in the kingdom as Saudi businessmen figure prominently in the list of founders after UAE nationals.

As many as 1,688 Saudis have received investor numbers from Dubai in the past few days, taking the number of Saudi investors to 23,271 out of 268,364. [link]

Update:

saudis bum rush the bank

The picture above from Emirates Today newspaper:

Mass confusion surrounded the 8am opening of a branch of the Emirates Bank yesterday as about 500 Saudi Arabian men attempted to snap up subscriptions for one of the UAE’s largest initial public offering.

“When I came to work this morning at 7.30am, there were as many as 500 men lined up,” said a senior employee from the head office of Emirates Bank who had been assigned to the Mankhool Road branch.

Policemen were guarding the doors of the bank and only letting in a few customers at a time.

“Yesterday we did not guard the doors and the whole bank was filled with people,” said Nabeela Al Shehhi, a female customer service employee who was processing applications.

“Some customers were shouting and pushing our desks. If there had been no men with us, we would not have been able to deal with the situation.” A senior branch employee said: “We had people swearing at us and fighting among themselves yesterday before we were forced to call the police.

“It has been like this for the past three days, but because of the weekend, today is the busiest day we have seen so far. We expect the same amount of traffic until October 3, when the IPO closes,” he said.

It was confirmed that the branch ran out of application forms two hours after opening for business yesterday. [edited]


And in the middle of all this frenzy no one's talking about the negative rumors that the IPO itself might be in trouble. The press mentioned it just once and after that no further coverage.
some fears and questions remain about the IPO launch with the recent disagreement that erupted between Crescent Petroleum Company, one of the major investors in Dana Gas, and the Iranian gas supplier, Iranian National Gas Company.

Dana Gas' newly acquired assets and facilities will initially be supplied with gas by Crescent Petroleum, which is importing substantial gas volumes from Iran to supplement and underpin domestic gas resources. According to MEES, significant volume will be imported from Iran under a 25-year supply contract.

The Iranian National Gas Company recently demanded from Crescent Petroleum Company to increase the previously set and agreed upon prices due to the big hike in the prices of global energy sources.

An informed source, who asked not to be identified, said Crescent Petroleum Company refused in a written response any possible adjustments to the previously agreed prices; therefore, Iranian company threatened to resort to arbitration.

The source pointed that any price hike will be a major dilemma for Dana Gas in fulfilling its previously signed agreements with UAE end users.

Mohammad Bin Dha'en Al Hamili, UAE Minister of Energy, has sent a letter to Crescent Petroleum to inquire about the company's ability to fulfill its commitments to end-uses and provide gas to Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA). However, Crescent Petroleum did not provide a reply so far, which increases suspicion about the situation inside the company.

Sorry I don't have a source for the above, it was emailed to me earlier this week.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-dissisdents


Blogs get people excited. Or else they disturb
and worry them. Some people distrust them. Others
see them as the vanguard of a new information
revolution. Because they allow and encourage
ordinary people to speak up, they're tremendous
tools of freedom of expression.

Bloggers are often the only real journalists in
countries where the mainstream media is censored
or under pressure. Only they provide independent
news, at the risk of displeasing the government
and sometimes courting arrest.

Reporters Without Borders has produced this
handbook to help them, with handy tips and
technical advice on how to remain anonymous and
to get round censorship, by choosing the most
suitable method for each situation. It also
explains how to set up and make the most of a
blog, to publicise it (getting it picked up
efficiently by search-engines) and to establish
its credibility through observing basic ethical
and journalistic principles.

Available in five
languages (English, French, Chinese, Arabic and
Persian) from the Reporters Without Borders website: www.rsf.org.

Ear popper


The hand-held, battery-operated EarPopper(TM) delivers a constant, controlled stream of air pressure and flow into the nasal cavity, diverting air up the Eustachian tube when the patient swallows. This action clears and ventilates the middle ear and restores hearing immediately...
Far as I'm concerned this is a miracle invention. I've had ear problems almost all my life, but in the past three years my main ear problem is that my ear keeps getting blocked because of pressure not equalizing. When that happens I often can't just pop my ears and sometimes my ear remains blocked for days before it pops open again on its own. This has lead to some hearing loss in my right ear. Can't wait till I can get one of these EarPopper thinggies.

Unfortunately for the time being it's available by perscription only. [link]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The product sells itself

Exhibit 1. ESO is in final prepartions for opening an office. We've found a location and we're working on fixing the place up, etc. I've been asked to take care of the equipment: computers, printer, fax, copier, etc. I spent a couple days going to every office automation showroom in town giving them a list of requirements and requesting their quotations. After that I waited 3 or 4 days but other than one computer shop, no one had sent anything. I had to call companies and chase them for quotations. It took over a week. It was frustrating as hell. "Do you guys want to sell stuff, or do you just have showrooms for show?". Once we had the quotations, except for the guy from Xerox, none of the salesmen bothered to give me any follow-up calls. I had to call them and tell them what I liked and what I didn't about their offers. I had to tell them what they needed to change. And of course I had to chase them again till I got the revised quotations. If I wasn't time-bound by a schedule to get the office ready I wouldn't have done any of the chasing. Anyhow, we went through all the quotations and chose the equipment and ended up buying the most expensive item from the salesman who had done the least amount of work. The poor guy from Xerox who was the most active salesman of the bunch, ended up getting just a small order. It didn't feel good at all giving the biggest sale to the guy who did the least work. Unfortunately the product he offered met our requirements more than the others. His product more or less sold itself.



Exhibit 2. A salesman showed up at our house around 7pm a couple weeks ago and said my brother had asked him to come. I called my brother to tell him that there's a guy waiting for him. He said he had told the guy to confirm to him if he can come at 7pm. Since the guy hadn't confirmed, he didn't come to wait for him. I told that to the guy and asked him why he hadn't confirmed. He said he was out of credit on his phone and couldn't call. Anyhow, I found out he works for LG airconditioners, so I thought I'd take advantage and find out more about them for my house. Turned out he only deals in central A/Cs and I need split or cassette type for my house. He promised he'll get someone from that other department to call me. I'm still waiting for a call. He never will, of course. But unfortunately, when the time comes to buy A/Cs for my house next year I will probably call LG for a quotation. After all, they're the world's largest manufacturers of air conditioners (or so they claim).



Something's definitely not right here. They are the sales people. It's their job to get us to buy their products. We shouldn't be chasing them around and doing their jobs for them. Don't these people care about making a sale. Don't they have any quotas to meet.

When was the last time you bought something in Oman because the salesman was good and convinced you to buy his/her product? More often than not they don't really market their products. They're just their to give you the price and nothing more.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Will it leave any skin on your face?








Gillette has escalated the razor wars yet again, unveiling a new line of razors on Wednesday with five blades and a lubricating strip on both the front and back.

The razor, known as the Fusion, has blades spaced 30 percent closer than Gillette's current MACH3Turbo system. It also has a single blade on the back of the cartridge for shaving sideburns or trimming under the nose.

The move renews an ongoing blade battle with Schick which launched a four-blade razor, the Quattro, last year. The move ate into Gillette sales and sparked a legal battle between the two companies. Schick is adding a battery-powered Quattro to its lineup this month, while Gillette's Fusion -- in both manual and battery-powered models -- won't hit North American stores until early next year.

The Fusion will also be available in a power version and features a micro-chip that regulates the voltage and blade action. Other high-tech features include a low battery indicator light and a safety switch that shuts the razor down after eight minutes of continuous operation. [link]

What's next? I tried that Schick Quattro once and my face looked like a battle field afterwards. Who needs 5 blades in a razor?!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Phone to Flickr

Recently discovered the fun of sending pics from my phone straight to my Flickr account. Been sending all kinds of crap from everywhere I go to my second Flickr account:

www.flickr.com/photos/muscatiblog/

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Darkman vs Thursday magazine

Stupid magazine, stupider cover


This is the cover of last week's Times of Oman Thursday magazine, probably one of the worst weekly publications on earth. There's no use beating on a dead horse but I'm posting this because I thought it was hilarious.

As you see above, Thursday's editors think Muscat has become a happening town and have gone out asking people about their thoughts on the party scene. By some miracle they found a bunch of clueless people who agreed with them. Lucky for us readers that they spoke with Fahmi Al Mawali, AKA the Darkman, and that they had the guts to print what he said.

Fahmi begins:

"The party scene is non-existent. It is not thriving. If you wanna go out, I will be careful to use the word party, because it isn't. It's more like socializing and doing the routine, simply because there is a lack of entertainment locations in Oman, the acceptables to go out and bump into the same faces is Trader Vics, The Pub, Safari and Copacabana. Places that have a lot of men and no variation, that's why the girls don't go out and if they do, it's probably for a goodbye do or a dinner."

Pinky Cayabyab, sales manager at Al Sawadi Resort, begs to differ: "The party scene in Muscat is thriving- people are now getting used to modern ways and things in life.."

Fahmi puts in a word edgewise: "I don't get entertained in Oman... I'd rather entertain since nobody there has the imagination or the energy to do so. House parties are the best place to go to, you know everybody and the company is gentle and soft rather than strangers who have no manners. Socializing in Oman only gives you a low and a hangover. Why because you drink so much to make up for the lack of a member of the opposite sex or any mental stimulation."

But he's quick to add: "But don't get me wrong, we all love Oman, but we hate the lack of input, help, imagination, or crowd to go out and do anything.. thank God for Darkman (events management company)."

Guess who is a year older?

Happy Birthday to you..

Happy Birthday to you........

Happy Birthday dear Muscati....

Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!

Yeps, today is my dear husband's birthday :)

Have a great one babez!

Friday, September 16, 2005

It's been a year

On September 15th, 2004 I submitted my dissertation at Strathclyde Graduate School of Business and the very next day we were on a flight back to Oman.

When OD submitted her dissertation on September 2nd last year, she wrote the following here on the blog:

Apparently this degree of mine should open many doors for me, career wise. The only door I want opened is one that belongs to a different company offering me a better job! Will start job hunting when I get back home..

I was too too busy packing when I finshed mine so I don't have anything to flash back to. We came back to Oman full of hope and trepidation. I was so excited about being back that I reported back to work a week before the end of my study leave.

Here we are a year later and we're both in the same jobs. Neither of us got promoted. Neither of us has seen any advantage of the post-graduate studies yet. In fact my career hit the pause button for about 10 months before it finally started moving. I never had plans to look for a new job. I'm happy where I am. Worst case, I thought I'd go for my back to my old position with the same responsibilities as if I was away on a one year vacation. Instead I got benched and forgotten. I wasn't exactly jobless. I was given a task and a responsibility. It just wasn't a full time thing.

First it was ok, then it started to get to me. I kept a brave face, but my body refused to accept it. About six months into it my blood pressure started to act up. It scared the hell out of me. I guess I was repressing my frustration but thank God, that's all under control now. Al Faisal's birth
put everything into perspective. I've always believed that when things look bad you need to take a step back and look at things from a wider perspective. For a while there, I forgot my own advice.

So was it worth it or was it a waste of time? I'd say despite all the negativity, it was well worth it. The course might not have been that good and the degree didn't do anything for me. My career plans are now two years off-course. But still, going back to school and spending a year away was a great experience. Worst case, I look at it as a one year semi-paid vacation interrupted by occasional exams and writing assingments.

The year since we came back has been good as well other than the career aspect. We had a beautiful baby and worked on designing a house of our own. We've done a lot of work with ESO to get it off the ground. And we're now also involved with the British Alumni Network in Oman (BANO).
Things are finally begining to work out. I have actual work to do these days. OD's begining her job search in earnest. And construction should begin soon on the house. Yes, on the whole it has been a good year. Al 7amd lilah.

"rapped over the knuckles"

Got the following email from my online friend, Sue:
You are...semi-famous

Did you know that there was a bit of analysis about you in a scholarly article published in Middle East Journal: Vol. 59 No. 1, summer 2005. Called Democratic Development in Oman, by Jeremy Jones and Nicholas Ridout?

It implies that you were metaphorically 'rapped over the knuckles' for writing in your blog about the leanings of those arrested early this year. Seems you didn't behave in the gentlemanly way expected within Omani society, which doesn't choose to defame people in public.

Bet you really wanted to know that, didn't you?
I checked the Middle East Institute's website, the article isn't available online so I can't read it myself. Dunno where the authors got their information from. It was self-censorship on my part. I chose to distance myself from the events and not write anything more about it, especially after the events in Bahrain and the arrest of Oman's leading human rights activist earlier this summer.

Would love to get my hand on the article though if anyone has it in PDF or maybe even a scan.

Update: thanks to The Emirates Economist for emailing me a PDF of the article. It's 17 pages long, I'll try to read it tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Art for Atta

Image_35.jpg

Dar Al Atta's "Art for Atta" (Art for Giving) exhibition was inaugurated last night at the Bait Al Zubair museum in Muscat. 57 artists have contributed a total of 172 pieces for the exhibit. The artists are donating 50% of the sales to Dar Al Atta.

We attended the opening reception last night and recommend it highly to everyone. By the end of yesterday's a large percentage of the works were already sold or reserved, but there were still many beautiful items still available. All the pieces will remain on display till the end of the exhibition which will last till September 22nd. Timings are: Saturday to Thursday 9.30am till 1pm and 4 to 7pm. An enterance fee is charged, but it allows you entry to both the museum and the exhibition.

We fancied ourselves art collectors and laid down a not-so-small chunk of change on a large piece of digital art by Hilal Al Harthy and 2 beautiful framed photographs of Omani doors by H.E. Mohammed Al Zubair. The Muscatis, henceforth, art connoisseurs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Abu Dhabi exits Gulf Air

The government of Abu Dhabi plans to pull out of Gulf Air, becoming the second partner after Qatar to do so, an airline official said on Monday. "The emirate of Abu Dhabi officially requested two days ago to withdraw from Gulf Air. The company's board of directors will convene at the end of the week to discuss Abu Dhabi's decision and its likely effects on the company," the official said, requesting anonymity. Qatar pulled out of Gulf Air in May 2002, leaving Bahrain, Oman and Abu Dhabi to try to bail out the cash-strapped company. Oman and Bahrain stayed in Gulf Air even as it saw passengers dwindle. [link]
What impact will Abu Dhabi's exit from Gulf Air have on Oman?

Initially, Abdu Dhabi must decide whether it wants Oman and Bahrain to buy off its share in the company or it can choose to exit without compensation, like Qatar did a few years ago. Gulf Air's board is scheduled to meet in Muscat this week to discuss the matter. The two countries will have to pay equally unless one of them gets a higher shareholding in the company. There's also the issue of the sovereign guarantees given to the company against any external debt that it has taken. Although the press always refers to Gulf Air as a "debt-ridden" airline, the fact is it has very little debt in comparison to other airlines.

Gulf Air is presently in the process of studying various options on privatizing the company including a possible IPO, and of updating its fleet. It had recently requested both Airbus and Boeing to submit proposals for new aircraft. We'll have to wait and see if the company will proceed with this plan now that Oman and Bahrain have to fork out to Abu Dhabi, will they still be willing to stomach guaranteeing loans for new aircraft as well? Will they allow Abu Dhabi to continue to benefit from Gulf Air. For example, Abu Dhabi is Gulf Air's main service hub because of a company called Gamco, and Gulf Air's all-economy service, Gulf Traveller, is also based in Abu Dhabi. Will AD cease to be a GF hub after the exit? Will GF shift the hub to Muscat, or will Bahrain become the sole hub with Oman Air working as a feeder service between Muscat and Manama?

Monday, September 12, 2005

For real or just a marketing gimmick?


Shell claims it has a new fuel mix which results in better mileage. Sounds cool, but is it true? I thought all petrol in Oman comes from Oman Refinery Co regardless whether you fill up at Oman Oil, Al Maha or Shell. I wonder if anyone reading this blog knows about whether the refinery does different mixes for each of the companies or if the companies put additives into the fuel after they buy it from the refinery. I'm quite sure that fuel transport tankers fill up at the refinery and then go straight to the stations thast they supply.

Sounds like a rip-off to me. Anyone know elsewise?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Damn price hike

price hike!

Apparently the price of chicken has gone up by 30% in the past few months. The sign in the picture above is dated June 1st, so it might not be the only hike in the price of shawerma. Isn't it amazing that the price of a shawerma has always been 200 baisas. It couldn't last forever. And it hasn't.

Friday, September 09, 2005

How's this for a company slogan

Hate the hard G


This is the "Magan" boat. I put its name in quotations because the actual name is Majan but the stupid Omani press has been trying to fake an Omani accent by spelling it with a G instead of a J. This hard G has been turning into quite a bother recently, especially on Oman tv and radio with more and more presenters deliberately changing their pronounciation of most words that have the letter g in them so that it's always pronounced hard (Blue-chi wrote about it a couple months ago). It's a new trend I guess. I remember ten years ago all of a sudden most of the presenters on Oman tv suddenly started talking in khaleeji accents as if they were embarrassed of their Omani accents.

Now they've gone to the other extreme to the point that it's become disgusting. And it's not just Oman tv or radio. I hear it everywhere. It's like a "more Omani than thou" phenomenon. I know that in some regions in Oman they have strong accents with very hard G's, but now it's become so ridiculous that they do it even when they speak in English. Imagine someone pronouncing the word "suggest" with hard instead of soft g's.

Which brings us to the ridiculous journey of the sailboat, Magan. For the past few weeks the Ministry of Heritage and Culture has been on a huge publicity drive promoting an upcoming historical journey. It's a continuation of Oman's almost maniacal obsession with our past's naval history. Apparently they found bitumen fragments from an ancient civilization which proved to them that the people of Majan (or Magan as they want to call it now) used to sail boats all the way to India 5000 years ago. So they financed the building of a replica using the same methods and materials and were planning to sail it 600km from Sur to Gujrat in India.

The 40 foot vessel is made of "
reeds formed into bundles, lashed together with rope made from date palm fibres and covered with a woven mat coated with black bitumen or tar to make it waterproof. The vessel was powered by a square-rigged sail made of tightly woven wool and manoeuvered using two teak steering oars." The crew consisting of two Omanis, two Australians, two Americans, an Indian and an Italian, set sail from Sur to great fanfare on the afternoon of September 7th with huge media coverage and an official ceremony full of ministers and top VIPs. By nighttime the boat was overwhelmed by wind and waves and began to take in water. Soon after, just 6km into its 600km journey, the crew were transferred to the Royal Navy's support vessel which was trailing them and Magan sank.
Commenting on the incident, a senior representative of the Ministry said, "True to the complexities involved in any scientific experiment, the 'Magan Boat' project too poses many challenges. An expedition of this nature has many imponderables which manifest as we go along, but only provide us opportunities for great learning. Every challenge we face will help us appreciate the extraordinary prowess, skill, knowledge and experience of ancient Omani boat builders and seafarers. Despite these stumbling blocks, our resolve to continue the quest to rediscover and understand this ancient compendium of knowledge only stands strengthened."
Ok.

Links: Middle East Online, Oman Tribune, Times of Oman

Monday, September 05, 2005

Moving on

Ok so I'm supposed to go back to work next week. Yuck! I don't want to go back. Ever. I hate my job. I love Faisal. I want to stay home with him. I want to retire. But I'm guessing that people who have only been working 6 years are not eligible for retirement. Makes no difference. I still hate my job. So my other alternative would be to find a new job, which is my new mission in life (during the hours which Faisal is asleep).

Why didn't I do some business course or get an MBA or something. Why did I have to study science and environment and think that I can save the planet! And get really low pay for it!!

Now people, concentrate with me, I need you to all start praying for me to find a new job. One where I actually have something fun to do. One that actually pays well. Come to think of it, I don't think its humanly possible to be paid less, hehe.

Moving on.

Whats been happening to the world of bloggers. I admit I don't come online much, but when I do, it doesn't take me long to go through all your blogs! We had a baby, whats your excuse?

Moving on..again.

Warning: Not for the faint hearted.

I find that I have changed in many ways. Since Faisal popped int othe world, I have become stronger and not as easily grossed out. For example. The sight of puke used to make me, well ..puke. Heck, When I'm sick and puke, I end up crying. But now, when faisal spits up or throws up, I find myself staring at the puke and thinking to myself, hmm, why did this happen? Did I overfeed him? Didn't I burp him properly? Should I stop hugging him all the time and give him time to digest? This puke contemplation can take anything from 1 - 3 minutes. This is a record puke thinking time for me. Yesterday Faisal puked all over my shirt and it was mux who ran to the bathroom and came back with a wet towel and started cleaning my top while I calmly discussed the issue with Faisal who seems to laugh everytime he does this!


END OF WARNING PART.

Moving on again and again...


Did you guys see Crash? I luuuuuuved it! I haven't seen a really good movie in a while, so it was nice to actually sit and enjoy a whole movie. I don't know why my hubby hasn't reviewed it yet. Or did he and I missed it? Better go check, hehe.

And again...

I think Mux and I should have a reality show. Aha. Nick and Jessica do even though they are boring. The nicest thing about their show is the house they live in. Paris Hilton has her own show as well and she is way to boring. Although I admit I watch it for the bags and shoes and clothes.

Actually wait, no, it wouldn't work. I wouldnn't be too comfortable with cameras following me around. And if there was a camera Mux wouldn't open his mouth cause he is way too shy.


Maybe someone can make a movie and base it on our blog (back when it was interesting, hehe).

And maybe I should shut up and stop writing :)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

2 in 1

I was checking out Oman Tribune's newly launched website when I came across this news item:
Promotion for failed students in the offing

There is good news for students as the new school year approaches. Ahead of the September 3 school year reopening day, the Ministry of Education has decided to promote grade 5 to grade 11 students who failed in only one subject in the school year 2004-2005, to the next grade.

The Ministry of Education's solution to the overcrowding of schools is to push students through the system even if they're failing. This year any student who's failing just one subject will be pushed to the next grade without a make-up exam. And those failing multiple subjects will be given make-up exams in each of the failing subject even if they exceed three. In the past failing three subjects meant that you repeat the grade. Now you can take 3 or 4 make-up exams at the end of the summer and get pushed through to the next grade. Basically a student has to be a really miserable failure to repeat the year.

God help us all.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Journey of Light resort

This news is apparently a month old but I only heard about it today when I was searching for Oman in MEED.com.

On August 1st, 2005 an American company, Journey of Light Inc, signed an MOU with Oman's Ministry of Tourism to develop a $700 million resort to be located close to The Wave. The project includes "cultural, educational, tourism and entertainment activities and, as currently planned, includes a theme park & exhibitions; hotels; restaurants; commercial and retail businesses; office space and residential units". As its contribution to the project, the Ministry of Tourism will give the company "between 800,000 and 1,000,000 square meters of beachfront land (approximately 200 to 245 acres).. This land faces the Gulf of Oman and is near the Muscat International Airport".
The theme park and exhibition areas within the Project, to be known as the "Landmark," is planned to be an innovatively designed development that will combine cultural and heritage components with tourism attractions. The Landmark will be owned and operated by a separate joint venture company (the "Landmark Company") where the majority interest will be owned by the government of Oman who will underwrite all operating losses, if any, of the Landmark. Management of the Landmark will be by the Project Company under a separate fee arrangement with the Landmark Company.

The Project's development and construction costs will be reviewed by JOL in the coming months but are presently estimated to be approximately $700 Million. The residential units will account for approximately 60% of the cost. The balance of the construction costs will be utilized to build the various hotel, retail, shopping and rental property businesses, to be owned and operated by the Project Company, and the Landmark, to be owned by the Landmark Company.
Sources: Forbes businesswire [link], MEED [link], Commercial Real Estate News [link]

LCD iTrip



Griffin Technology has finally come through with an improvement to the iTrip. I've been suffering with my iTrip for about a year now and there isn't a single frequency that gives clear music. It's such a hassle tuning the damn thing and worst of all the frequencies are kept as files in the iPod like songs so you can't shuffle unless you use a smart playlist.

The new iTrip has a knob on the side for tuning frequencies which are displayed right there on its LCD display. Griffin claims that the new iTrip produces clearer sound "
even in the toughest situations, such as large cities with lots of radio stations crowding the dial, iTrip's DX Mode delivers a noise level that's below that of a cassette tape adapter, allowing the music to punch through cleanly."

Price: $39. [link]

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Boring

I have a question for you guys: has this blog become too boring?

The blog stats show that the number of daily visitors has fallen to half what it was before. I can totally understand why. My posting has become quite irregular in frequency, and when I do write quite often it's for the express purpose of keeping the blog alive. Sorry if I'm being a bore. I can say it's the summer blahs but I suppose there's more to it than that.

In order to keep this place interesting I decided to open up the floor to our readers. Reply here or email us with your suggestions, ideas or questions and we will try to incorporate them here if there's anything we can use of them. Tell us what you like about the blog and what parts you don't.. or what you find interesting and what's boring. Let's call it the First Annual Muscatis Reader Survey.

The email address is: themuscatis[at]gmail.com

PS. OceanDream once again promises that she'll be back to blogging soon.

The Phantom Miranda

The Phantom Miranda

For reasons better known to them Pepsi-Co went for a promotional tie-up with the Batman Begins movie for Miranda here in the Middle East. Dunno how it went elsewhere but here in Oman it's been a big goof up. The billboards suddenly appeared all over town about three weeks ago followed by full page ads in the newspapers, especially TheWeek. The timing couldn't be worse. The movie had come and gone by then so there was no synergy to be gained by the tie-up. Worse, it appears that the movie didn't do well at all in the Omani market. It played for just a week at Shatti Plaza before they cut it down to just one show a day. Maybe if the Miranda campaign had come before and during the movie's launch then maybe the movie might have had better exposure and a bigger chance at success.

But quite weirdly, despite the huge publicity drive I haven't seen this "special edition" Miranda flavor anywhere. Is this a further goof up in the planning, or is this a marketing campaign without a product?