Saturday, November 19, 2011

Print and Internet Media in Oman

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English newspapers in the Sultanate

Muscat Daily (

Muscat daily is probably the best "read" for expats. It's a relatively new newspaper being founded in 2009 and is privately held. There is a nice mix between "official stories" and local interest. Also, international news is featured. One can recognize it by its bright orange and black heading.

The paper's Internet layout is organized and easy to navigate. One of the staff has started is own Facebook ('FB') page under the user name Muscat Daily Ed. It is not officially affiliated with the paper, but the FB comments about the news stories are interesting at times. Muscat Daily uses the printing press of Times of Oman.

The Times of Oman is one of the oldest if not the oldest privately held English print newspapers in Oman founded in 1975.

The paper can be recognized from its striking logo boasting a gazelle. The Arabic version 'sister' paper is called Al Shabiba. In 2011, the Times won a Communication Arts international design award in the Editorial Design category (I've posted a few of the winning entries below).

The head of the paper is Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali who is responsible for the content in weekly column called 'Viewpoints'. To his credit and forethought (as there seems to be a dearth of books and of bookstores in Oman), a compilation of all the viewpoint columns has been published in a book by the same name called 'Viewpoints' written half in Arabic and half in English. 'Viewpoints' may be purchased in the duty free shopping area in Muscat airport. Sadly, Mr. Zedjali passed away early 2013.

Winning Design: Times of Oman
Winning Design: Times of Oman

Oman Daily Observer (

The Daily Observer is a government sponsored paper founded in 1981.  According to their website the Observer is the, 'English-language daily newspaper with the largest circulation in the country.'

The paper focuses on official local news but also has pages on India and the Philippines, as well as, a business and sports section.

A nice feature about the website is one can download the daily edition in PDF format from an inconspicuous link at the bottom; however, the overall website could use a 'facelift' considering it's a national newspaper.

Update 2013: The website has been redone; it looks a lot better.

Oman Tribune( 

The Oman Tribune is a relatively new paper founded in 2004 with a focus on business. The paper claims:

'Since its launch on September 1, 2004, Oman Tribune has been giving readers top-of-the-line articles and graphics from exclusive services such as New York Times, Harvard Business Review, McClatchy Tribune News Service and Graphic News.' 

● TheWeek (

The Week enjoys a large expat readership with a focus on local happenings and events. The Week is free and distributed all through out Oman. The Week also features an "epaper" format where all editions including archives can be read online through a special digital edition application that lets you 'flip pages'. 
The paper is an easy read and normally flaunts a catchy lead story and photograph which grab one's attention. According to the paper, it is audited by an international audit agency – BPA Worldwide.
Arabic Media

Arabic Newspapers in Oman
● Al Watan “The Nation”,  founded 1971; private   
● Al Shabiba “The Youth”
● Al Zamn “Time” founded in 2007; private. 
Al Zamn recently faced trouble when its editor and journalist Al Haj were sentenced to six month jail term for an article published regarding alleged favoritism at a Ministry.
● Al Ruwaya “Vision”

Internet Forums

● Sablat Oman - Very popular in Arabic version. 
Sabla English -
● Omaniaa -
Al Harah -

Relevant Legal Codes

See Article 61 of the Telecommunications Regulatory Act  'anyone using telecommunication devices to spread false news or harm someone can be punished with up to one year in jail and can be fined up to RO1,000'
... and now the newly worded amended Article 26:
 'Article (26) "It is prohibited to publish anything which may prejudice the safety of the state or its internal or external security, all that is related to military and security apparatuses, their bylaws and internal regulations, any documents, information, news or official secret communications whether the publication is through visual, audio or print means or through Internet or any of the information technology means unless permission is obtained from the respective authority. It is also prohibited to publish the text of agreements and treaties concluded by the government before they are published in the official gazette.” 


A description of leading English newspapers and Internet media outlets in Oman.
4.5 / 5 stars

English Newspapers in the Sultanate of Oman

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Expat Quiz: Who's that GCC ('Gulf Cooperation Council') King ?

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In this quiz, match the corresponding Country, Name, and Face. The answers are listed below.

1. Bahrain   2. Kuwait   3. Oman   4. Qatar   5. Saudi Arabia   6 and 7. UAE (President and Prime Minister)


 I.    Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani
 II.  King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa
 III.  Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah
 IV.  Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said
 V.   Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan
VI.  King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud
 VII. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

GCC Leaders

Scroll down for Answers ->

 How did you do ?
 7    correct = Expert
5-6  correct = Professional
4     correct = Expat level
3     correct = Secondary School
2     correct = Grade School
0-1 correct = What's a GCC country..


1. Bahrain (A, II)   2. Kuwait (D,III)   3. Oman (G, IV)   4. Qatar (B, I)   5. Saudi Arabia (F, VI)   6 and 7. UAE (President (C, V)  and Prime Minister (E, VII)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Bandar Al Khayran: Serendipitous Discovery

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Highlights of Bandar Al Khayran

  • Bandar Al Khayran is a serene and picturesque bay inlet on the road between Yiti Beach Village and Sifah about 30 minutes from Muttrah, Muscat by car.
  • Al Khayran is also set to be developed into a small private resort called 'the Oberoi' by the Alargan company featuring a spa, restaurant and 82 rooms with an expected completion in 2013.
  • The underwater scenery in Bandar Al Khayran is also a tourist destination for divers and for the "Semi-Submersible" -a vessel used to explore the reef below. See and to take the tour or for more information.

Sketch of planned resort (from

Construction Area

Construction Area

Semi-Submersible Tour

Underwater life: Photo,
Underwater life: Photo,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

De Niro kidnapped by Omani Sheikh from Salalah in movie plot

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The film Killer Elite was released earlier this year. The film revolves around the storyline that an Omani Sheikh kidnaps De Niro's character and holds him in an underground "bunker" in Salalah to force the character of Jason Statham into killing three former SAS soldiers to avenge the death of the Shiekh's sons during the Dhofari uprising. The movie is well-made with good actors but somehow missed the mark in thrill factor and received mixed reviews.

Actors De Niro and Statham in supposed Omani landscape
      The highlight of the movie for me is that the plot revolves around Oman. Even though the the story takes place partly in Oman, none of the film was shot in Oman. The film was filmed mostly in Australia, “To our knowledge this is the first time Melbourne has doubled for Oman, but Victoria’s locations are so diverse that the state has doubled for many locations over the years....," commented the CEO of Victoria Film. And, sometimes filmed with an Australian foreground but Morrocan background edited together, "Some of the scenes were shot with foregrounds in Australia and backgrounds in Morocco, so it was like a magic stunt, keeping the hands moving and keeping the story and pace moving..," Director, Gary Mckendry (

    This is where Oman misses the mark by not inviting the crew to film in Oman or by not sending Omani "consultants" to the set because where could Oman ever get such great publicity for its tourism "projects" and country. Jason Statham's brawn speeding through breathtaking Omani wadi cliffs combined with De Niro's notoriety featured  in a Hollywood movie shown to thousands of people. Instead, Oman is pictured as a backward country filmed with a Moroccan background and with an Omani flag or two thrown in. Honestly, the movie does not represent the Omani people or Oman's natural beauty well or realistically. The movie is based on a book, "Feather Men" by Sir Ranulph Fiennes which in turn is allegedly based upon a true story.

Character of Shiekh Amr in Killer Elite
     In the movie, the Shiekh's son is indifferent and does not show remorse when is father is killed and states, "I'm not going back to the desert," nor does he wear a dishdasha or any other traditional Arab robe throughout the movie. Also, many Dhofari people speak the local language Jeballi at home not Arabic. To Omani peoples credit, the Omani culture compounded with religious undertones calls for extreme respect for one's parents. Some people actually fear their fathers. It is highly unlikely an Omani person would publicly act so indifferently upon a parent's death. In addition, I have never heard any Omani say anything  remotely close to, "I'm not going back to the desert." Oman has a lot more to offer and achieved more than pictured (in fact, Oman is literally not pictured at all in this film).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Old Video Footage Shot in Oman

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I find these video clips from the 1980's shot in Oman interesting. The first shows the Al Bustan, Ruwi and old Muscat areas. Muttrah still had its original wall, Al Bustan Palace Hotel had not been built and Ruwi was an airstrip with a vegetable sook (from youtube user: OmanAdjo).

Muscat / Ruwi / Al Bustan 1980

Camel Race 1981

Wadi Bani Khalid 1980, 1984

Monday, November 7, 2011

Notes on Hotels in Muscat

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According to an index put out by, Muscat has the most expensive hotels (not necessarily nicest) in terms of average price per room per night than any other city in the world.
 The Hotel Price Index™ (
I am listing a few hotels and my notes of impressions of them below.

Luxury Hotels

1. Al Bustan Palace Hotel  (
I find this hotel to be the most exquisite and relaxing. A most noticeable feature is the very high domed ceiling upon entrance. The infinity pool is rarely busy and surrounded by an oasis of palm trees leading to the beach. There is a great buffet in the Terrace Restaurant in the lower level and two first class restaurants on the main level.  It is definitely appropriate to hold business functions or meetings here. There is a also a gym and tennis courts. A huge auditorium is enclosed in a connecting side building. Many of the government buildings are moving to the Bustan area when construction is completed or are located nearby in old Muscat.
Lobby, Al Bustan Hotel

2. Shangri-La Barr Al-Jissah Resort and Spa
Shangri-La is actually a complex of several hotels and residential villas and townhouses developed by Zubair and Omran (government owned). It can be seen from the local Qantab beach, and it is possible to hire a local fisherman's boat from Qantab to cruise by the beaches of Shangri-La. I was not that impressed with the quality of decor or of food available in the restaurants.
Townhouse for sale on Shanri-La property
      However, there is a very cool "sheesha" room with an open roof worth a visit. The pool and beach facilities are nothing not found     elsewhere. The SPA is decent and spacious. A massage will cost around 80 OMR, but the clinicians are well trained.
A 'Heritage Village' is located on the property where traditional gifts may be purchased. It is family friendly in some of the hotels, but kids are banned in others. The resort is located fifteen minutes south of Muttrah on the coast.
Shangri-La (Photo:
3. Chedi Hotel Muscat (
Some say this is the best hotel in Muscat. Close to Azaiba.

Chedi Muscat Hotel (Photo:

"Mid Rate" Hotels

4. Radisson Blu Muscat (
Check out the outdoor bar equipt with comfortable seating and private tables/loungers. There is a pool but no beach. Al Khawair area.

5. City Seasons Hotel Muscat (
This hotel was recently opened and has a rating of 5 stars according to the hotel literature. It has a fairly central location in Muscat and is good for business travelers or someone passing through. Recommended. Last September, a TGI Fridays opened next to the hotel. Al Khawair Area.

Park Inn roof top bar and pool
6. The Park Inn Muscat (
This hotel offers decent accommodation in a central location at a reasonable price. The "coolest" part of the hotel is the roof-top bar and pool. There is a small fitness room. The downstairs restaurant is average. Al Khawair Area.

7. Crowne Plaza Muscat  ( hc/hoteldetail)
The Crowne Plaza is situated on a cliff overlooking Qurum beach. The lobby and rooms are of quality you would expect from the Crowne Plaza chain. There is a spectacular view over looking Qurm beach  from the terrace outside of the Dukes bar and Persian restaurant. The Persian restaurant serves flavourful dishes; there is also an Italian restaurant, but I have not tried it. Dukes bar isn't bad for sitting back and having a few pints. There is a pool on the premises and a beach area (a bit of a walk down the cliff). Recommended-works for business or families. There is usually a large European contingency of guests keeping the hotel filled. Al Qurm Area.

Dukes Bar
Terrace View

Budget Hotels

8. Beach Hotel (
I am listing this hotel for its location and low price. It is located in Qurm very near to the beach. There is a small pool. This hotel is not luxurious; some may even find it dingy.

9. Crystal Suites (
Located in Wadi Kabir near Ruwi. This hotel offers large rooms with satisfactory and comfortable furnishing for about 40 OMR. There is a very small "business center" to check e-mail. The rooms are build around an indoor courtyard. The facilities and rooms are much better than shown on the website.

10. Mina Hotel or Naseem Hotel
Entrance to Muttrah sook
Both are located on the Muttrah Corniche. They offer the best deals for staying in Muscat - 15 OMR (45 USD single) - 22 OMR (55 USD double room). The rooms in these type of hotels are normally small. One can ask to see the room first as the architecture of these old buildings give each room a different shape. It can be noisy due to the corniche below. These hotels are located just down the street from the famous Muttrah sook. The hotels have parking but not many other amenities.

11. Hotel Ibis (
Part of the Accor chain of hotels. A room will cost you around 40 OMR or less depending on where you book. Rooms are fitted with modern bathrooms. A bit difficult to reach by car due to the new traffic routing at the LuLu's Hypermarket nearby. Al Khawair.


12 Dive Center ( The website seems to be down.
Not only can one take a diving lesson at the Dive Center, one may sleep here also. It's located in a coastal inlet near the Shangri-La hotel. The rates are reasonable. Good for weekend trip. One can pay a fee to use the beach during the day.
Dive Center (

Sunday, November 6, 2011

TV in Oman

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TV Schedules:

About TV in Oman
Most households use satellite TV in Oman. When buying and setting up a new TV in Oman, it is often necessary to also buy a satellite dish and receiver. The dish should cost around 50 OMR and the installation should cost a maximum of 10 OMR labor charge. Most people pay a one-time fee around 10 OMR to receive basic satellite service.

You can find a basic 32" flat TV from a known brand for around 150-175 OMR. The Ruwi area in Muscat is home to many electronic stores where you can negotiate for TV, dish, receiver, installation and delivery. LuLu's hypermarket also sells TVs, but often does not provide the dish or installation. Most sales clerks in retail stores speak English well. A popular service is NileSat. To receive premiere channels such as Hindi movie channels (Bollywood), there is a monthly surcharge.

Oman has three government run TV stations; however, the programming generally doesn't meet the expectations of the people and many seek other Gulf produced shows on other satellite broadcast channels such as MBC for their entertainment.

The MBC group of channels ( might be the most viewed channels on satellite in the Sultanate: MBC 1 (Arabic); MBC 3 (Cartoons), MBC Max (English movies), MBC Action (English movies and shows).  Many British and U.S. series such as CSI run on MBC (maybe a season or two behind).

Egyptian movie channels are also popular as Egyptian film industry has had a rich history and notoriety since before the 1950's. Both the Hollywood  movies "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "Pretty Women" were based on Egyptian films. International news stations such as BBC, CNN and French news channel are also available via satellite. Music stations consist of Najoom 1 2 3, MTV, VH1 and Wanash.

      During the holy month of Ramadan, special programming is produced on many Gulf networks. Many residents shift their sleeping schedules during Ramadan and are awake until quite early into the morning when some of these shows are broadcast.

A leading show called 'Tash ma Tash' comes out of Saudi. The programme just finished its 18th year of Ramadan specials. Each episode lasts about an hour and focuses on different aspects of Saudi social issues and culture but a wide-ranging audience can relate to the characters and emotions brought forth in the story line. The show is what I would consider "cutting edge", but meant to be a comedy. Reportedly, the cast of the show is under constant death threats by some elements in the Saudi society.

Last Ramadan, there was an episode referring to the "past" vs "present" mutawah (religious police). The clip shows mutawah "of the past" walking down a village road greeting everyone, asking about their families, etc., then, shows a present day clip of mutawah sporting long beards in a SUV patrolling the streets. They kidnap a teenager with long hair and force him to the barber shop to be clipped.

Later on in the show, the mutawah stop any car with a man and woman inside together and demand their IDs to make sure they are married or related. Toward the end of Ramadan,  an episode aired about the excruciating heat in the region and the protagonist fried eggs by the sun and then hid in the freezer for some relief from heat.

Another Ramadan show broadcast on MBC is Tariq wa Hayoona طارق وهيونة. Tariq is a famous Kuwaiti entertainer on TV and in theater. Hayoona often acts in Tariq's productions. Tariq wa Hayoona is a game show where callers look for items in rooms of a studio house and win prizes and money. Contestants call in from all over the Gulf region. Tariq and Hayoona often "help" the contestants find the hidden items. The pair are quite energetic, and each show begins and ends with a singing number. Although they sometimes joke as if a married couple on the show for entertainment purposes, they are married to other people.

A third Ramadan series was a game show featuring Abdullah Abdulkhair عبدالله بالخير. Abdulkhair is a singer/entertainer based in the Emirates. It's rumored he loves the colour red and lives in a house decorated in almost exclusively red. He has a short monologue at the beginning segment of the show where he portrays a different character or theme each night. The following is his "take" on Gaddafi.