Tuesday, May 29, 2007


We couldn't deal any more with how things are never kept in stock here in Oman. Every supplier has catalogs and display pieces of just about any design you can think of, but if you want to buy, they all give you the standard "allow six to eight weeks for delivery". With our house already a few months behind schedule, I'll be damned to wait 8 weeks for simple things like door handles or light fixtures. So like the majority of my fellow Omanis, I packed my family into the car and drove 4 hours to the shopping wonderland otherwise known as Do-Buy.

I swear to God, I think we spent half our three days in Dubai stuck in traffic. The average driving time between any place and the other was 1 hour 15 minutes. I couldn't believe it when we left a restaurant at 12.30am on Thursday night thinking we're gonna drive home in peace and instead found that the roads are just as congested as they are in the day time. Time it took us home? Yep, 1 hour 15 minutes.

Anyhow, so I'm still on leave from work. I have like 60 days accumulated and when I asked for a few days off my boss forced me to take 2 weeks. Since Saturday I've been going out every morning around 9 and driving all over town running errands till 1 or 2pm. What we call traffic here is nothing. It's a pleasure to drive in, compared to the traffic hell of Dubai.

I've been listening to the new station Hala FM a lot while doing all the driving. Doesn't it strike anyone as weird that Oman's first private radio station doesn't have any advertising? Is this deliberate? And they also don't have any on air presenters except during the morning and evening drives. Other than that it's just nonstop music and Hala FM jingles. Some people have been complaining that they don't play enough Khaleeji music. I've been so out of touch with the new Arabic music scene that whatever they play all sounds fresh to me, so no complaints. Can't wait till they open their sister station which is going to be in English. Another thing I've noticed is that Omanis love calling in radio stations. The presenters treat them like friends, and I wonder if these callers really are lonely souls who think that that voice on the radio really is a friend. I've yet to hear the presenters on this station entice callers with the chance to win anything. People are just happy to call and hear themselves on the air. "I'm calling from Saham, and the reception is really clear here. I love this new staton. Thanks for putting me on the air!" or "Hi, I'm Fullan, remember me I called yesterday also. I love your station. Thanks for putting me on the air again. Can I dedicate a song?" I'm not trying to be sarcastic and make fun of these people. I think their simplicity is endearing. It shows what simple we Omanis are.

I'm flying to Bangkok tonight for some check ups at that big hospital that everyone's been singing the praises off lately. I've been seeing doctors here in Muscat the past month for something that's been bugging me and I got tired of having to wait a week between appointments while the doctors keep eliminating possible diseases from their lists. Finally it was my dad who got tired of all the worrying and declared "we're going to Bangkok". I feel like a kid. I don't know anything about the trip. For the first time in my adult life, I'm the kid again. He did the bookings and just told me "we're leaving Tuesday". It didn't even come to my mind to ask where we're staying and how long we'll be there till my wife asked me the next day when I tried to convince her to come with us or at least to follow us at the of the week. It's funny, here I am in my mid 30's, now at the age where you start worrying about every thing. Your back hurts and you think it's a slipped disc. Your arm hurts and you start panicking about a heart attack. And yet, you're still a kid to your parents. And just how we worry about every little thing with our son, it's the same to my parents about me.

So yeah.. I'm flying to Bangkok. If all goes well I shall be back in a week.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Hala FM

At long last, Oman has its first private FM station. Hala FM, broadcasting on 102.7 FM, started test broadcasts earlier this month and will have its launch on May 23th. It's an all Arabic station, but the choices have been quite good. It'd be nice to have a good English music station, but I can understand that it makes more commercial sense to play Arabic music. I hope the other private stations follow now that frequency allocation has (apparently) been sorted.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Insane: Inflation in Zimbabwe

  • The cost of living doubled in Zimbabwe last month, lifting the annual rate of inflation above 3,700 per cent.
  • Economists forecast that inflation will continue to spiral out of control. Tony Hawkins, an independent economist in Harare, said: “It will be well above 10,000 per cent by the end of the year, probably nearer 15,000 per cent.”
  • A single brick now costs what ten years ago would have bought a mansion in the capital’s upmarket areas. This week the cost of postage stamps went up 600 per cent.
Even more insane: Robert Mugabe has a degree in Economics from London University! [link]


Paul Wolfowitz has finally agreed to resign from the World Bank.

The following however was his position with the board of directors when he met them while negotiating his resignation:
In a last-ditch plea to save his job, Wolfowitz appeared before the board Tuesday. "You still have the opportunity to avoid long-term damage by resolving this matter in a fair and equitable way that recognizes that we all tried to do the right thing, however imperfectly we went about it," he told the board. [link]
The article goes on to say that, "The controversy, which has gripped the bank for a month, has threatened to tarnish the poverty-fighting institution's reputation and hobble its ability to persuade countries around the world to contribute billions of dollars."

For real? More damage than bringing one of the main architects of the US invasion of Iraq to run this "poverty-fighting" institution?

Blog layout updated

I finally updated the blog to Blogger's new layout. It still looks the same because I haven't changed the template but changes are now easier to make. I've added a new "Shared Items" box in the side bar from Google Reader in which my most recent shared items are listed. In case you haven't tried Google Reader, I can't recommend it enough. I've been using it the past 3 or 4 months and it's a life saver. A lot of people complain that they prefer offline aggregators, but for me what I like the most about Google Reader is the fact that it's online and not one my computer. I can log on to it from any computer anywhere in the world and get access to all the feeds which I've subscribed to. I've never used any of its extra features before, but it gives you the option to share blog posts which you like. Henceforth, whenever I like a post on any blog that I read, I will share it and you will see it on the box or you can click the link at the bottom of the box to go see the full shared items page.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Let's play pretend

Ok, boys and girls, let's pretend this is the first we hear of this:
Bahrain has become the sole owner of Gulf Air after Oman said yesterday that it was ceasing to be a stakeholder in the airline with immediate effect.

Oman's formal withdrawal was stated in an official letter delivered by its Economy Minister Ahmad Bin Abdul Nabi Makki to Bahrain's finance minister Shaikh Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Khalifa at a meeting in Manama.

Following the decision, the Gulf Air board of directors held an impromptu meeting that included representatives from both countries to discuss the modalities of the transfer of the Omani shares and assets which, according to analysts, should last a maximum of six months. However, Bahrain's solo management of the company started yesterday. [link]