Monday, February 6, 2012

Oh, Muscat Jet Driver!...

Was reading Andy In Oman's blog earlier about the Muscat Festival and had to raise a smile when I saw the following photo:

For those of you who do not understand the significance of this, I urge you to read the original trio of blog-posts by the now seemingly retired, and for me, sorely-missed MJD here, here and finally, here.

Will we ever see the likes of him again?


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blue City....

Not sure if Undercover Dragon will ever produce the third instalment of what went down over the now legendary Blue City project. 

In the meantime, have a look at the following link, which gives an amazing legal letter walkthrough the past six years of the project. 

The Blue City Letters

It makes for very interesting reading, as the numbers involved are simply staggering!
Just click each download on the right to open a new page. 

Dear Queen of Sheba....

Forgive me. I tried to reply on Dhofari Gucci's blog but the allotted space for commenting was no sufficient, so here you go.

"Who are you to talk about this being all talk with no substance?"

The classic "Who are you…?" question. You must either come from here or be in the region too long."

"What substance, exactly, do you offer us?"
The experience to know that idle chatter on the internet with no basis other than "drawing attention" to a subject that already has organised campaigns usually does more harm than good: The road to hell being paved with good intentions.

"What is it that you would you like to see?"
I would like to see these two, obviously intelligent women, with quite a high blogosphere profile and exposure, go about doing what they do in a way that is more effective.
You see me as the aggressor, but what you fail to understand is that I have only been blogging my comments under this moniker for a few weeks now. There have been countless replies and advice over the past year given in a much more sedate way that have fallen on deaf ears so to speak.
If you pop over to my blog you will see that as soon as I made a more robust comment about the situation that the comment count jumped significantly. So while you may believe that I am some kind of cold-hearted bastard with no feelings for either woman, you have severely misconstrued my comments and failed to see them for what they actually are.

"Have you been to Dhofar, even briefly?"
Many times, and not just as a tourist in Salalah.

"Do you have any idea what the society here is like?"
Yes. I'm very familiar with it.

As a family, we have had a military connection with Dhofar for many years, and know the region and it's people intimately.

"The mere fact that Nadia and Mimi are actually WRITING publicly, as it is, about issues is astounding."
They are not writing publicly. They are, just like me, writing under an alias. Which is all well and good, but nothing to laud about.
I understand fully that freedom of expression is a matter of interpretation here in Oman. And therefore while I don't share your sentiment of how amazing it is to blog about sensitive issues under an assumed name, I do see the necessity to do it that way.

"how do you know that they are not doing it in Arabic as well, somewhere else?"
From what has been posted on both blogs, there is no evidence to suggest that they are.

"You are being ridiculous, because you feel that they are not proactive enough according to your own standards, which, might I remind you, have nothing in common with Omani standards"
Absolute rubbish. Standards are standards, and any system or culture that pretends to label nothing but the highest demonstration of it's kind has no place tagging it as such.
All too common a sight in Oman, are "standards" that fall way below the norm of what is globally acceptable.

"Did you ever stop to consider how this young woman indirectly told us through that story that the same has been done to her? How do you think that has affected her, you blabbering fool in trousers?"
Of course I have, and as I have said above, I am not in any way taking away from that. I have mentioned in my previous comments how barbaric and horrific FGM is.
The suggestion of "all talk and no trousers" is a figure of speech. Try to see that for what it is, rather than a suggestion of any kind of gender superiority.
In fact, if you read my posts and run them through more than one set of argumentative filters, you may see that I might not be as "ridiculous", "blabbering", "foolish", "absurd", "racially-fixated" or "double-standarding" as you think.

"Good Lord, where were Jessica's trousers and why did she only write about her ordeal on a blog, when she could have been in the front lines allowing medicine to experiment on her?"
Jessica's blog was indeed about her ordeal, however unlike my two fellow bloggers, she had a workable agenda to improve the quality of life of those around her, set up a charity organisation and went out there to make a difference. The evidence of that is there for the seeing.
Does she have more metaphorical trousers than the other two? Undoubtedly.
Would I have blogged about her if she was a dark-haired Arab girl? Yes, I would.
The fact that you went and played the race card on that comment raises an eyebrow with me. Was it you who on my blog post about her anonymously commented under the nickname "Wasp" about her being a "little white girl" or was that just someone of a similar ilk?

"I wonder what tune you'd be singing if there was a widespread problem involving MGM"
Who knows? It's a hypothetical suggestion at best, however, as I have empathised through comments with the plight of Mimi and Nadia before, I guess it would be fair to say that I would hold the same abhorrence and fear that they do, but I doubt that I would blog about it incessantly without at least having more effective and productive suggestions for change, rather than just saying "This is horrible. Change it!, but someone else should do it, not me!" A very typical Omani response to a problem. That is the "all talk and no trousers" that I am intimating at.

There are, as I said before, campaigns and organisations worldwide who are fighting the fight to stop this abominable nonsense. Their time and energy would be used to much greater effect if they liaised with the above.

And in relation to me having no trousers….again, we're into hypothesis and the more blanket judgments based on little fact. For all you know, I might not even be male at all, but what is that to stop a good rant, eh?
However, regardless of my gender, race or hair-colour, try not to see me as a black-hearted antagonist. I'm far from it. But while my methods of writing might upset or offend you, they do have a tendency to bring people a bit more out in the open.

Thank you for taking the time to write your comment. I hope that I have at least gone some way to explaining myself and answering your questions.

You may wish to take some time to reply to what I have said. Maybe this time, but not as it matters, you might be able to do it without adding a string of colourful labels to my character ;)


Saturday, January 14, 2012

My Dubai Taxi Driver....

Went for a day trip to Dubai and decided to park my car in Mirdif City Centre, and get a taxi to Mall of the Emirates. 
I like Dubai taxis because they have meters, and the system should be adopted in Oman, but that is for another rant in the future. 

As soon as I got into my cab (ID number NT 739) we drove out of the carpark and onto the highway. 
Then he decided to take a phone call.'s Dubai, I suppose I will just have to deal with it. 

But once he started using his other hand to fix his hair, gesticulate and describe what he was saying, it was decided that enough was enough.

He now had both hands off the wheel, and was drifting into adjacent lanes, and that for me was simply unacceptable. 

It took a series of comments, and then a physical intervention on his shoulder to get him to stop. 

His attitude to the incident was one of complete indifference. 
I guess he's tired of working as a taxi-driver and needs to look at other options. 

Maybe Dubai's RTA might have some career advice for him!

You can lecture me on how hard his life is, and how much he needs to feed his family back home, but if having a job means so much to you, then you should do your level best to hang onto it! 

If the driver is dangerous, let him go!


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where Is Your Letter?....

Can anyone imagine how much time is wasted on obtaining letters in this country? 
For anyone on the outside looking in, allow me to explain a little more. 
In Oman, when you want to get something done, you will usually need a letter of some sort. This sometimes comes in the form of a permission letter, an authentication letter, a no objection letter or whatever. 

Want a phone line? - Where is your letter?
Want to open a bank account? - Where is your letter? 
Want satellite TV? - Where is your letter?
Want vaccinations? - (I shit you not!) Where is your letter?

I have recently had accounted to me, a story of a man who, as all responsible citizens do, paid off his car-loan and now wanted to get his mulkia (car registration) transferred into his name. (Over here, if you have a car loan, the car is registered as both you and the bank being the owners until you pay it off.)

So our man goes to the police station, and because of his prior experience with the letter brigade, he came prepared. The conversation went as follows: 

ROP Man: You want to transfer ownership into your name? Ok. Where is your letter? 

Guy: Here you go! All signed by the manager. I'm in the clear. 

ROP Man: Where is the other letter? 

Guy: Mmmmm. What? 

ROP Man: You need the letter that says that the man who wrote this first letter is authorised to issue that letter. 

......and off our man went on another two-hour jaunt around town.

Apart from the inconvenience, the environmental impact alone is unreal. Assuming 50% of folks, and that is no stretch of the imagination, have to go and get a "another letter", they are clogging up the roads, wasting petrol, wearing out tires and tarmac, extending bank queues and taking up resources. The extra carbon footprint alone is insane!

When I wanted a bank account, I needed a letter, salary certificate, copy of passport, driver's licence, resident's card etc.....ok fine.

When I wanted a bank-loan from the same bank.....I needed the same documents again.....even though they had them in their own folder in front of me!

Unnecessary! Wasteful! Change it!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


The fabulously brave and way-beyond-her-years mature Jessica Joy Rees, passed away two days ago, at the age of just twelve. 

Her blog started out as a way for Jessica to keep her friends informed of how she was doing during her hospital fights with her two inoperable brain tumours, which were diagnosed only one year previously. 

The blog went viral and she became a worldwide inspiration and support to her fellow sufferers and also to their families and friends. 
Through her life-maxim of "Never Ever Give Up" the NEGU Foundation was formed, one of the functions of which, was to deliver Joy Jars (a light-hearted and fun care package for children struggling with serious illnesses.) 

The power of the blogosphere and it's uses for making the world a better place is never more greatly demonstrated as it is in this case. 

Thank you Jessica for your bravery, your good heart and your "awesomeness"! 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spare a thought....

A couple of days ago, I took a few deep breaths, trudged through the mayhem and did a fortnight's worth of shopping in Carrefour at Mawalah. 
This suburb of Muscat has quite a reputation for being a sort of posh-ghetto hybrid with some very nice villas, yet a surplus of unoccupied youth with not much to do except hang around. 

Therefore, outside of the normal 'up-yours' style of graffiti that comes in areas like this, it was rather unusual to see that someone had mustered up the courage, probably in the dead of night, to vandalise some local property, in an effort to draw attention to a large but little talked about west African nation: Niger.

Having checked out Wikipedia, I found that it's a very interesting place, but has had more than it's fair share of civil unrest. However, with an abundance of uranium, gold and other precious metals, it is making a name for itself in global economic circles. It also has a burgeoning tourist industry. 

So please, spare a thought for Niger, as this individual has done, but, I do not condone that you write it on walls where you live.