Thursday, September 27, 2007

Job opening at ESO

Situation Vacant

Omani Trainee

The Environment Society of Oman (ESO) is looking to hire an Omani employee in a full time position. The candidate will be provided with on the job training towards attaining a position of responsibility within the ESO.

Applicants must fulfill the following requirements. S/He must be:

- Omani

- With a genuine interest in environmental and conservation issues

- Fresh/recent university graduate in a relevant field of study (environmental sciences, conservation, eco-tourism, environmental economics, geography, etc.)

- Fluent in Arabic and English (written and spoken)

- Computer literate (Microsoft Office)

- Self starter

- Holder of a valid driving license

Please send your CV and application letter indicating why you want to apply for this position to: or fax to 24486876. Deadline for receiving applications is 10 October 2007.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Acupuncture works"

You know that pins and needles feeling that you get when you sat on your leg for too long? I had it just about all day, every day, for 3 months. Lab tests, MRI's, nerve conduction studies, they were all coming up without any explanation why my left side kept numbing. After seeing doctors both here and in Thailand's Bumrungrad Hospital, a neurologist here in Oman told me "maybe you should try acupuncture." I was shocked. Here was the country's top neurologist telling me to try an alternative therapy. He told me straight up, when it comes neurology they just don't know why or how, but "acupuncture works".

I never got around to find an acupuncturist. At first I was occupied with my mother's health. And then the numbing started to subside and I got busy with other things. It hasn't gone away, but it's much less of a bother than before.

The reason I brought this up is because there's a news story in the BBC today about a study conducted in a German university on acupuncture that found out that when it comes to back pain, even fake acupuncture works.

More than 1,100 patients took part in the study. They were given either conventional therapy, acupuncture or a sham version.

Although needles were used in the sham therapy, they were not inserted as deeply as in standard acupuncture. Neither were they inserted at points thought key to producing a therapeutic effect, or manipulated and rotated once in position.

After six months 47% of patients in the acupuncture group reported a significant improvement in pain symptoms, compared to 44% in the sham group, and just 27% in the group who received conventional therapy.

Dr James Young, of Chicago's Rush University, said: "We don't understand the mechanisms of these so-called alternative treatments, but that doesn't mean they don't work." [link]

I'm definitely going to look for an acupuncturist here and give it a try.

iPhone insanity

Apparently, some people here in Muscat are crazy enough to buy unlocked iPhones for a staggering 425 rials. What more, the shop that's selling them is always running out of them and can't get them fast enough. That's $1100 for a $399 phone!

Last night, I was almost tempted to order an iPhone online from and have it shipped to me through our Aramex Shop and Ship account but then I cooled off of it and decided to wait till after Apple's next software update. And now Apple has announced that following statement:

Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed.
In other words, if you have an unlocked iPhone, installing the next software update is going to brick up your iPhone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

15% rent cap announced

Good news on rent, but only for those whose rents still haven't been increased yet.
The Council of Ministers Decision on Properties Rent Rise

Muscat, Sept 18 (ONA)---The Council of Ministers today decided that properties rent amount should not be increased by more than 15% of the current rent value during the next two years.

The Council of Ministers today issued a statement in this regard, text of which reads as follows:

“The Council of Ministers thoroughly reviewed at its session held on Tuesday 6th of Ramadhan 1428 AH corresponding to 18th September, 2007, the issue of organizing the relationship between the landlords and tenants of residences, shops and industrial sites and registration of their tenancy agreement registration on the light of the considerable increase in the properties rent level in the Sultanate.

As this issue has direct effect on all development, economic and social sectors, and in order to safeguard both the lessants and lessees interests, as an urgent solution to the issue, the Council of Ministers has decided that properties rent amount should not be increased by more than 15%, of its current rent value during the next two years. The municipality concerned will monitor implementation of this ratio as per stipulated regulations.

The government will also conduct a comprehensive study to regularize the relationship between landlord and tenants which fulfill all parties interests and contribute positively in promoting the urbanization renaissance in the Sultanate.
So if a landlord increases rent by 15% this year he can't increase it again next year? The landlord for the office we rent for the ESO increased the rent on us 50% and we just signed the new lease agreement a couple days ago!


Yep, that's my birthday cake from earlier this week.

Friday, September 07, 2007

If you're one of those people for whom the tv series are main highlight of Ramadhan, you're gonna love Blue-Chi's new blog, Blue-Chi and his team are planning to give daily coverage on all the major series that will show during the month. They've already started with posting brief outlines of the shows and which channels they will be shown on.

My wife and I haven't been watching any of the Arabic serials the past two Ramadhans and instead we catch up on our DVDs. But with a site like this one I guess it would be easier to choose a show to watch and find updates if we miss a day.

We were supposed to be smoke free by now

The following news item is from June 2004:
The health affairs department at Muscat Municipality has drafted a plan to ban smoking in commercial centres, shops and industrial establishments in various wilayats of Muscat governorate.

The plan was prepared in cooperation with the department of fighting non-communicable diseases at the Ministry of Health.

The plan will be implemented in two phases. The first phase, which covers first category restaurants, will continue until August.

The second phase, which covers all closed and public areas, will begin in September and continue until August 2006. � ONA

From the Oman Observer that same day:
The first phase, which began recently and continues till August this year, involves the implementation of a system whereby Grade A and First Class restaurants are required to devote 50 per cent of their areas to non-smokers and to put up boards indicating the same.

The second plan, from September 2004 to August 2006, implements a total ban on smoking in all closed public areas or total separation of smoking and non-smoking areas so that the air cannot mix between the two sections, added Al Kishri.

Closed areas with children's games and restaurants and other food outlets surrounding these and other areas where children gather should implement a total ban on smoking.

What happened?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Flavours comes to CBD

Flavours, the 24 hour "multi cuisine" restaurant, has opened a second branch in the CBD area. Flavours' new location is right next to Supa Save, on the corner opposing HSBC and the Ruwi post office. This location most recently had a Thai restaurant which went out of business in less than one year and prior to that had a restaurant called The Arabic Oven.

While the CBD is Muscat's financial district, home to the head offices of most of Oman's big banks as well as the Central Bank of Oman, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Oman Chamber of Commerce, and the Muscat Securities Market, it is not exactly a hotspot for restaurants and cafes. In fact most restaurants here go out of business. Even fast food. The last attempt to open a fast food franchise here was Subway which closed down 4 years ago. This is pure shawerma and rolled Arabic bread sandwich territory. And once the bankers and business people go home in the evening the area becomes depressingly quiet and deserted at night.

I haven't eaten at Flavours so I can't pass judgement. Read Amjad's review
on the Omani Cuisine blog.

By the way are you aware that Muscat Municipality has recently renamed CBD to Hay Al Souqe?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Azzamn (their spelling, not mine), is a new daily Arabic newspaper that recently launched in Oman with very little fanfare. It quietly slipped onto the news stands without a publicity campaign on August 12th. I read the first issue because they came and gave out free issues in our office that day, but that was that. I haven't heard anyone talk about it since.