Monday, June 26, 2006

It's about time!

Qurm and PDO

In the 1960's Oman's capital was a wasteland except for Muscat, Matrah and the farms in Seeb. Oil was discovered and PDO came into existence. It was decided that Mina Al Fahal would be the main terminal for oil exports and hence PDO built its offices close by. PDO was also given a mountain (Qurm) and a beach (Sei7 Al Mala7) close by and told to use it for their staff accommodation and leisure facilities. In the 1970's when Oman changed, the other side of Qurm, which wasn't used by PDO, became the area chosen by the crème de la crème for their houses.

For the next thirty years we've had a contrast where one side of the mountain had huge extravagant houses and the other side has a scattering of PDO employee houses which are basically just a step above porta-cabins. Click on the picture above Google Earth image of Qurm to see how one side of the mountain is densely packed and the other is sparse. All these years this oil company has been sitting on some of the most expensive land in the heart of Muscat. If it was up to me I'd have the entire area taken from PDO and given over to some Emaar style tourism or housing development. Of course the people who run PDO are much smarter folks than me, and they're a step ahead. Yesterday PDO signed an MOU with the government-owned Omani Tourism Development Company to undertake a study on how to transfer PDO's housing area into a tourism complex in a way that PDO gets to keep a percentage of the new houses for its staff. So it's win-win for PDO. They get to be part of the redevelopment of the land before someone in the government wakes up and says "hey how come PDO's still sitting on all that prime real estate?" and they get to keep brand spanking new houses for the expat staff (as far as I know Omanis aren't eligible for company housing). [link]

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mr. Mom

This was the plan: OD is off to Denmark for a ten day course by her new job, and I am going to take advantage of her time away by working extra hours and finishing off all my pending work.

Here's what happened instead:

Sunday night she flew out to Copenhagen and the very next morning our maid got a call from the Philippines telling her father had passed away. She called me at work sobbing hysterically. She didn't say anything else but I knew soon as I get home she'll ask to go home. Tuesday night she was off on a plane to Manila. Oh, I forgot to mention that OD's family had left on holiday Saturday as well. So basically here I am with no one but my mom to help me out with looking after Faisal. And by "help me out" of course I mean do just about everything for him, because while I can take a few days off from work, I can't take a whole ten days. And even if I did take ten days off, I am totally useless when it comes to preparing his food and feeding him. So basically my poor mom is all of a sudden a full-time mom which means doing everything that both the maid and OD used to do. And now I am out of the office every single day at the end of official work hours on the dot. I try to do as much as I can, but I know it's not enough.

Back to the subject of the maid. My colleagues at work keep scaring me telling me that she's not coming back. It seems like everyone of them has a story of at least one maid who said her father or mother had passed away and went back home never to come back. They've become jaded because of their experiences and now they believe that they're all liars who make up stories to get free tickets home. I can't be that way. The poor woman was sobbing all day. That couldn't have all been an act. Still I asked her "are you coming back? If not just tell me and I'll book you a one way ticket." She insists that she's coming back so I paid for a return ticket. I hope she comes back.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup

My first football memory is of the 1978 World Cup final. Argentina beat Holland 3-1. I was 5 years old and didn't understand much about what was going on, but I knew it was something special. I've been watching the World Cup ever since. Until this year. This World Cup has now been on a week, and I've only seen 5 or 6 games so far. I just can't get myself to sync with the timings, especially of the late night game. I usually end up falling asleep around 11pm. And most days I can't be bothered to leave home to go watch the games outside. It sucks not having the games available on free to air television. Last World Cup the first matches were on during work hours and we used to leave work to watch football. I used to go to work at 6am so that I can go out for the games without feeling guilty. This time the football's not even in office hours and I'm missing them.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sign at the entrance of the Ministry of Manpower


Translation: Foreigners not allowed to enter.

Thing is, it's not just foreigners who are not allowed; even Omanis must have proof that they are authorised to represent the company or organization that they've come for. For example, when the ESO hired its first employee, who by the way isn't Omani, we asked him to go finish his paperwork in the Ministry of Manpower. He couldn't because he wasn't allowed to enter. I had to leave work and go there myself just submit his paperwork. Then a few weeks later when everything was done and we had to pay a small fee for his medical check-up, they wouldn't let him to go in just to pay the fee at the counter. He tried to get an Omani guy there to go pay the fee on his behalf but they wouldn't accept from the Omani either because he didn't have proof that he works for the ESO. I had to leave work again, go to the labour dept, stand in queue, show proof that I am an authorized representative, then go to the manager to verify my papers, then come back in line again and pay.

A night at the opera

Apparently one thing this city's been needing is an opera house.


Applications for prequalification have been invited by 10 June for the main construction contract on the New Concert Theatre Muscat project, which will see a concert hall and opera house built close to the Intercontinental Hotel in Al-Khuwair. The client is the Palace Affairs Ministry.

The estimated RO 50 million ($128.2 million) scheme calls for the construction of an 848-seat auditorium, built over seven levels, including a roof terrace, upper and lower balconies, and a royal and VIP tier.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Busy busy busy

As my husband said in the previous post, there really aren't enought hours in the day! Ok this is a brief summery of whats been going on with me:

I quit my job, I turned 31 and we are preparing for Faisool's 1st birthday!

Not in that particular order ofcourse!

I can't believe it but I finally finally quit my dead end job! I got two offers from two really good places! Anyhow, I picked one of them, signed the contract then drove straight to the ministry and submitted my resignation. All 4 lines of it! They tried and tried to get me to change my mind, but I have been wanting out for quite some time now.

I start my new job next week inshallah (wish me luck)!

Oh and yes I turned 31 as well. It wasn't as scary as turning 30 I must say. It was actually quite ok. Hmmm. I'm 30 years and 20 days older than Faisool. Thats alot! My mom is only 20 years older than me. Oh well, whats done is done!
As for whats been preoccupying my mind since before our son was born: The 1st Birthday paaaaaarty!!! Mux thinks its useless to have one since Faisal doesn't really understand whats happening and will most likely end up not enjoying it. I beg to differ. I think it is of great importance to have a wonderful 1st birthday. I'm sure he'll appreciate all the hard work when he sees the pictures in the future. Mux is ofcourse accusing me of having this party for myself not for Faisal :) But despite all these remarks, he's been a great sport about it all ,and I've appointed him official photographer of the event. (Lets not get him started on the fact that I was thinking of hiring a photographer for the party......)

Party is tom inshallah and I hope it turns out well. Will post picture!

And thats a wrap for now!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Not enough hours in the day

Apologies to all this blog's readers, if in fact there are any of you still left. It's been about a month since the last post and even that was nothing more than a cut and paste job. I'm sorry, between my increased responsibilities at work, the staff shortage, the house currently under construction, the soon-to-be 1 year old son, etc, it just seems that there aren't enough hours in the day to be blogging. Heck I don't even read other people's blogs that much anymore. Even the ESO, which I am now supposed to be giving more time to since I'm now the executive director, is getting less and less of my time. And now with the World Cup upon us, things will only get worse.

I can't promise to write more, but I will do all I can to keep this blog alive.