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AUGUST 13, 2008

ISSUE 284

08

news

www.theweek.co.om

email: theweek@apexstuff.com

Exquisite show villas, now open the new 24799388

NEWS BRIEF

DJ Aqeel to perform at Al Sawadi To celebrate India’s 62nd Independence Day, Al Sawadi Beach Resort is hosting Rain Dance 10 on August 21 with India’s top DJ, DJ Aqeel, performing for the first time in Muscat. A press release said that DJ Aqeel’s remixes have been chartbusters and are played worldwide. Considered the DJ Don of Bollywood, he has performed at more than 40 cities including London, San Francisco, Malaysia and Sydney. The event, which will also feature DJ Manish and include a dance performance by local troupe Tipsy Twirls, hopes to attract a crowd of 1,500 plus. Shuttle bus services will be provided to the venue from Muscat. According to the organisers, Sawadi Events & Dusk Events, there is demand for tickets from Muscat and Dubai as Aqeel has not visited Dubai for a long time. For further details, call 99771785 or 92721768

A great reputation to build on On the eve of India’s 62nd Independence Day, Indian Ambassador H E Anil Wadhwa talks to TheWeek Aninda Sardar aninda@apexstuff.com

MB Doggy to perform at Golden Tulip MB Doggy, a leading Bongo Flava artiste whose popularity extends across east Africa, will perform at the Golden Tulip on August 14 at 8pm. Tickets, RO12 each or RO20 for a couple, are available at the hotel, a press release said. Born in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam in 1983, MB Doggy has twice won a best male artiste music award. His hits include a single called Siulinambia. MB Doggy’s popularity crosses generations and borders and has grabbed the attention of music fans from round east, central and southern Africa. He is now working on his second album, called Akili yangu. For further details, call 95885083 or 92671421

Since his arrival here in Muscat on August 4, 2007, just days before the 61st Indian Independence Day, H E Anil Wadhwa, Indian Ambassador to Oman, has been in a whirlwind of activities. A year ago he found himself in the thick of things as the Embassy celebrated Independence Day while he was still forming his first impressions of Oman. Today, he says, “It seems more like six months than a year. Time has just flown past. The situation as it stands today – we are poised for a lot of activities in the near future. The groundwork has already been laid for these. We are looking forward to the next year; starting on August 15, it’s going to be a very busy time.” High on H E Wadhwa’s agenda are plans to start a new school, possibly in collaboration with private investors, and ongoing efforts to improve working conditions of the 450,000 strong Indian community in Oman. “Though we have been involved with various activities, very few of these focused on the commercial and economic aspects of OmanIndia relations,” he said. “The

embassy has been concentrating on community welfare and consular services, which an embassy in a place like this should be doing anyhow. But in today’s world, we should also look at our bread and butter. So that was made the focus and every-

scheduled for October this year. Among the embassy’s achievements in consular services are two key changes, one already in place and the other pending approval from the sultanate. With the digitisation of the embassy’s consular services, document authentication and issuing of visa procedures have been expedited. “We have negotiated an MoU with Oman Post

High on Wadhwa’s agenda has been his attempt to get the Ministry of Manpower to issue a ruling saying employers can hold passports of employees only with written consent thing that we do now, other than consular services, is geared towards bolstering trade and investment between the two countries.” In 2007, economic relations between India and Oman were worth US$1.8bn, with US$1.4bn generated from non-oil exports. “We have seen a growth of between 38 and 40 per cent over the years in non-oil exports between the countries. This year, it should touch US$2bn,” he said, adding that an India-Oman Joint Forum is

whereby people will no longer need to physically come to the embassy but instead can use the post office to access consular services. This will greatly benefit people living outside Muscat. If this MoU is approved, it will be quite revolutionary.” The embassy will also continue to concentrate on efforts of various community welfare programmes that currently operate independently. “On August 29, all of us who are involved in community welfare will meet with a view to concentrating

our efforts and pool in our resources. This will ensure that we reach out to more people, more effectively.” With Indian schools filled to capacity, the embassy is also planning to open a new school in Muscat and expand its schools elsewhere. “We have already been allotted land for the new school by the Ministry of Housing and will be looking at attracting private investment into the education sector here.” Indian School Sohar will see expansion works soon, while Indian School Nizwa may be moved to a location more easily accessible to children living in the interiors. High on H E Wadhwa’s agenda has been his attempt to get the Ministry of Manpower to issue a ruling saying employers can hold passports of employees only with written consent. “Unfortunately, what constitutes consent has been a grey area and has never been properly implemented. There is a contention that employees like construction workers may not have safe storage for important documents like passports, but that would not be the case for people who work in offices. Unfortunately, it happens regularly.” He added that the embassy has asked the Ministry of Manpower to clarify the rule on this practice. “There is reluctance to change the existing system. It will have to be decided by the cabinet.” As for the community he seeks to continuously serve, he has only this to say: “They have built a great reputation for themselves. They are seen as the most trusted and reliable workforce and there is a demand for Indian employees. It is very important to keep up this reputation and improve on it.”


Indian Ambassador Interview