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JAN 9 – 15 • ISSUE 252 • WEEKLY

Beneath The Waves

Full story behind the Sultanate’s recent oil spill Win Clothes / Muscat’s Mumpreneurs Discovering Ancient Dhofar / Bag A Bargain / Paranoia On Screen

24 Beggars Belief: Ask and you’ll receive



WHAT’S UP WITH WHATSAPP? Are free texts to go? PIZZA WITHOUT THE POUNDS: Kono Reviewed

Your top guide to the best of Oman, every week

AUGUST 15 – 21 • ISSUE 282 • WEEKLY

Fall fashion Get ahead of the style curve come September

























Love shopping? Like designer brands at discounted prices? Well, guess what? Your treasure hunt begins here as Brands For Less is offering a RO25 voucher to one lucky winner. Just be sure to spend it at their Muscat store before September. For a chance to win, send the word ‘shop’ to @ytabloid before August 22, 2013.



LEOPARD PRINT Whether your jungle is urban or not, it’s time to bring out the big cat print for day wear. Despite donning summer black all Ramadan, Y’s editor hasn’t changed her spots and is already lining up some wild additions to her new season wardrobe.


OFF THE PEG PAINT Is it us or is everything becoming bespoke at the moment? New on the growing list of custom designed products is paint. Khimji Ramdas now offers wannabe designers the chance to create their dream colours for the ultimate in interior co-ordination.

Welcome to the new look Y Magazine your indispensable guide to everything modern Oman has to offer.

Fast forward


he Eid sales are finally over and as new season ranges start to arrive on the high street, I’ve had the ace assignment of curating autumn’s hottest looks for September. To help fast track your wardrobe, I’ve browsed through loads of look books, talked trends with industry experts and had the terrific task of attending Boutique Muscat’s latest fashion show. If clothes aren’t your ‘thing’ – don’t worry. We have meatier stuff to satiate your appetite for stories. There’s the new butcher’s store at The Wave and news that June’s oil saga isn’t quite over, with trouble brewing below the surface of seemingly clean waters. In addition, we meet the Omani woman who swapped her stylish lifestyle for one involving supplication in a social experiment like no other. Myssa Said al Hinai took to the streets and discovered the kindness of strangers. Find out more about her story on page 20. I hope you all had a fantastic and fun-filled Eid and that returning to the normal routine hasn’t been too rough. Until next time…


THIS WEEK… Team Y has been shopping, scoffing shuwa and f-rowing it at Boutique Muscat’s fashion show.

Ways to get your Y fix Online: Visit for even more inspiration. Smart device: Catch up with Y on the go at

EDITOR IN CHIEF Sayyida Iman bint Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Eihab Abutaha MANAGING EDITOR Penny Fray SECTIONS EDITOR Kate Ginn

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Y Magazine is published by SABCO Press, Publishing & Advertising LLC /Y is a SABCO Media product. We’d love to hear your news and views. For editorial enquiries, please email

Write to us at Y Magazine, SABCO Media, PO Box 3779, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman.

AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282


contents AUGUST 15 2013


20 Begging in Oman Undercover Alms 24 What Lies Beneath Oil Spill Aftermath 26 Success in the City Micro Business

Your Oman

06 The Big Interview DJ Kinky D 08 Letters Finding Happiness 12 News Barney On His Way



This Week 14 16 18

This Week Almouj Treasure Hunt Movie Listings Pacific Rim Gallery Eid in Pictures

Food & Drink

28 Meat a la Mode Butcher’s Block 31 Mama Mia New Style Pizza

Cars & Outdoors

14 Health & Beauty


32 Fashion Season Style 35 Shopping Face Fixers

37 Khor Rori Dhofar’s Ancient City 40 Indoors Feminine Fitness 42 Postcard Tokyo Touring 44 Y-Fi Back to School 46 Car of the Week VW Touareg









Words: Penny Fray

Describe a typical working day for you: Every day is different. Some days are spent sourcing new music through research and the promotional material sent to me; other days are spent editing and creating music. Due to my international schedule, I spend a lot of time in airports, which is great for duty free. How did you get into deejaying? My love of music and dancing meant that I would often be out listening to other DJs and thinking ‘I could do that too!’ It was initially a hobby that turned into an occupation after playing at many friends’ parties for free. What are your current top three tunes?  1. Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell & T.I.  This R&B track is the tune of the summer for me, released a couple of months ago and still doing the rounds. Great production as per usual from the master producer Pharrell along with his label-signed falsetto singer Thicke.   2. Bass Clap - Million Dan featuring Sway, Durrty Goodz & Buggsy. I have been listening to and supporting Million Dan for several years now. It is good to see him finally getting the recognition he deserves. 3. Friend Within - Renegade. This house track is a remix of Wild Child by Renegade Master but brought right up to date and ready for club land. If you could meet any artist, who would it be?  Quincy Jones, musician, conductor, producer, arranger, composer and actor. His work


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spans decades and includes scores to films like The Italian Job. He has also worked with the best including Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, Aaliyah, Will Smith, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. This man has a fantastic résumé and I would love to work with him. What do you love most about your job? The fact that I get to travel the world and visit countries I probably would never have seen otherwise – while giving people a good time. Are there any downsides to the industry? Yes, the constant output of mediocre commercial music, which is force-fed to the masses. When you hit Muscat, what are you looking forward to seeing most? Exploring the culture. I’m also looking forward to seeing smiling faces on the dance floor. Describe your character in one sentence: Loud, energetic and fun loving.  How do you relax?  I love shopping of any kind especially for food and clothes, and a good foot massage always does wonders. Tell us something that would surprise us: I make a great Om Ali. What’s your ultimate ambition in life?  Happiness. DJ Kinky D will be playing at Coco Latté’s RnB Divas at Copacabana Restyled, Grand Hyatt Muscat, August 22 2013. For more info email

My 3 Secrets To Success 1. Love what you do 2. Eat well 3. Dress well

The Voice of Oman

Jane Jaffer on how finding happiness is in your own hands


n a recent road trip, I sat in the car reading Maureen Gaffney’s book, ‘Flourishing’. She writes of a different kind of journey: the quest to find happiness. Happy people are less self-obsessed, emotionally intelligent and have the ability to empathise with others. Negative thinking is the obstacle, and awareness is the key. Have you ever observed your thoughts? Is there a constant stream of negativity? Do you think life has given you a rough deal? Are you critical of yourself and others? Do you suffer from anxiety? A monk once told me to imagine the body as a chariot and thoughts as galloping horses. The intelligent mind is the rider who must rein in and control one’s thoughts. Anxiety arises when we anticipate the worst. Those who are happiest live in the present. Here’s how: 1) Live in gratitude 2) Find meaning in suffering 3) Keep a diary (writing is cathartic) 4) Focus on positive goals 5) Build strong relationships 6) Develop self worth (take an audit of your resources, attributes and achievements) 7) Meditate Consider not what life has thrown at you but what is required of you. How can you improve the world? Step up and see what you can do!



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correspondence Y – a Pandora’s box of delights Every time I open a Y magazine, I feel the touch of multicoloured feathers of knowledge, information, suggestions, advice, events, pictures and lots of excitement, all in one place. Aiming at all age groups, it specially caters to the interests of the Y generation and its neverending quests, answering all the ‘whys?’ and erasing all doubts. Every issue is like a Pandora’s box erupting with colourful accounts, interviews and experiences, presented in a very personal way that a reader can relate to. So Y magazine is the XYZ of ideas in a very literary, creative style. Go ahead Y mag, a ‘YO!’ to you. Dr Ritu Bali Al Khuwair

Cool journeys Dear Y, It’s raining Eidi as they say in Oman. Y is indeed surprising all its readers with a chance to participate in the ‘Cool Competitions’. I am Y-ing, if I may use that word, even if it’s not in the dictionary. A fantastic write-up about writer and columnist Dr. Patricia Groves. Oman’s Architectural Journey will be interesting to read for one and all in Oman. Eid’s over but here’s wishing everyone much happiness. Vijayalakshmi R Shetty Muscat


Dinner For Tw o

SEND US YOUR letters, photos, news and views to / @ytabloid / Impress us and the winning correspondent will receive a RO20 voucher towards lunch or dinner at Park Inn. Terms and conditions apply.


Berna Topcuoglu

from Turkey captured in Costa Coffee, Azaiba THIS IS YOUR PAGE!

Just send us your picture with the free Y magazine or pose with our photographer and we will publish it on this page Send it to:



could be installed to harness and capture wind energy. The green power generated should be used to desalinate water and recycle wastewater. Surplus power should be fed to the national or local electrical power grid to supply ‘green’ power to the population. Such energy conservation steps will lead to a more sustainable future for citizens and make the oil reserves last even longer.

Next week’s debate:

Like most countries, we don’t want the prices of petrol to go higher in the future, but they probably will. The coming generations will be at greater ease if the resources are saved for them.

Bushra Salahudeen

Saud Al Lamki

Invest in school education and primary and secondary industries to create jobs.


‘Only 30 per cent of Oman’s oil has been extracted, according to a report. What should the country do with the remaining reserves?’ Sanket Joshi

For the last eight years, I have been working on enhancing Winner! oil recovery by using Reply of alternative the Week methods. So it is a good sign that we still have reserves remaining. Extracting it is actually quite a difficult task due to the geology of Oman. Our group at Sultan Qaboos University is working on the solution to recovering this extra oil by using microbes. Practically, Oman should be able to recover roughly 60-70 per cent of the oil from the reservoirs.

Irwin Serso Rio

Mayuri Sawant

The remaining reserves should be preserved for future generations. We mustn’t be selfish, just thinking about ourselves in the here and now. Future generations may be in more need than us as the population may be even greater. So let’s preserve it for a golden future.

Shaidul Ikram

Keep it safe – until the most difficult period comes. It’s like having a decent bank balance. You feel more stress free.

Debate of the Week

Muscat Resident

After Ramadan/ Eid, have you made any personal resolutions? Tell us about it on Facebook.

For God’s sake let the reserves remain there. We don’t have to use up everything that God has bestowed on us through Mother Earth. Keep away!

Rishikesh Chidhambaranathan


I think it would be suitable to keep the reserves for coming generations. As the population of Oman increases day by day, demand is also increasing, which means we should keep some reserves for the future.


It’s a good thing that they have extracted only a sufficient amount of oil until now because the country might need the remaining reserves for the future. Besides, the economy is riding high at the moment.

Dr. Dean will be visiting KIMS from August 21 to 23, 2013

Shyam Karani

The country should invest any future income earned from extracting the oil reserves to secure an environmentally friendly economy for future generations. Oman is blessed with sunlight all through the year and investing in solar energy should be its main focus, along with energy derived from wind power. Large solar parks all over the Sultanate using the latest technology to harvest sunlight should be created. Similarly, wind turbines »

SERVICES / PROCEDURES OFFERED: Dr. Dean Cunha Gomes MBBS, MS, MRCS [Glasg], MCh. [Plast Surg], DHSA [Can] Visiting Consultant Plastic & Aesthetic Surgeon KIMS Oman Hospital


MoH No. 223/2013.

I'm a reader


New Laser Hair Removal Treatments Available

For appointments and details, please call: 24760100 / 200 / 300, 92877190 Email:





Care & Compassion







AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282






No Life

WhatsApp? What’s that all about then? Put simply, it’s a mobile messaging app that allows you to exchange free messages without having to pay for SMS.

What’s so good about it though? Well, it’s so much more than just sending the odd message. Sharing pictures, gossiping, looking for jobs, dating, networking – it has myriad uses. Stand next to someone using WhatsApp, and you will hear a constant bleep from a WhatsApp message coming in. Recording and sending voice messages is the latest fad.

So it’s quite popular then? That’s an understatement. Put it this way, if you don’t use WhatsApp then you’re out the loop. A year ago it was handling 10 billion messages a day. By June this year it had over 250 million active users, and was handling 27 billion messages a day worldwide. It’s spreading as fast as, well, a WhatsApp message.

What’s the deal with WhatsApp in Oman? Oh we love it here! Nawras, which has a deal to provide exclusive bundles, said there were 1 million users of WhatsApp in Oman at the end of last year. Indeed, the company says it has seen a 50 per cent increase in customers using the service now compared to December. “The service proved very popular from the start,” says Julie Amann, Nawras’s head of public relations. Half of Oman’s phone users subscribe to data packages, and most of these are using WhatsApp, Viber and other free messaging services. AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282


No WhatsApp,

magine waking up one day to hear that your most essential means of communicating, networking, and sharing photos and videos with friends, families and workmates was suddenly switched off. That could be the reality for users of WhatsApp in Saudi Arabia after reports the kingdom was threatening to pull the plug on the service unless it was allowed access to its data. Rumours soon began circulating – on WhatsApp, of course – that Oman could follow suit. For the initiated, Y helps you understand what all the fuss is about.



WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in Oman, but threats of a ban in Saudi Arabia have sparked fears that the same could happen here. Joe Gill reports

It’s not just teenagers who love it either. Business people, from those in the media to hard-nosed executives, find it useful to keep tabs on what’s happening, share information and root out leads. During the storms and rain that swept through Oman in April, for instance, photographs and videos of flooded wadis and rain soaked streets were quickly circulating on WhatsApp, uploaded by people on the ground and viewed almost instantaneously. “People and businesses now think of WhatsApp as a new platform to raise awareness about a product or different activities,” agrees Jansait Qoughondoqa, head of community management at social media consultancy The Online Project. “It is proven by numbers that WhatsApp is the fastest method to promote anything – be it a joke, rumour or even help for a needy family.” Fair to say, the whole WhatsApp thing is huge then.

What’s this about problems with WhatsApp? Well, until fairly recently, the march of WhatsApp seemed unstoppable. The problem for authorities is that they have no way of monitoring what users are sharing. Connections are encrypted, making it difficult to keep a check on potential terrorist and criminal activity. Saudi Arabia has already blocked Viber and similar issues have arisen with Skype, which remains barred in Oman.

What’s the view in Oman? The official line is WhatsApp is here to stay. “At this time there is no plan to ban the service,” says Hilal al Siyabi, international relations and media manager at Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). Al Siyabi makes it clear, though, that the TRA is not responsible for regulating or controlling what is being sent out on WhatsApp. “If you send an image of video to someone that harms someone else, that is your responsibility and there is a legal process for dealing with that.”

What’s the buzz on the streets? Well the rumours are still doing the rounds. As expected, users aren’t happy at the thought of losing their favourite app. Sultan Suhail, 14, a confirmed WhatsApp addict, says: “I use it to interact with

my family when they are travelling overseas – my grandmother, uncles and sister. I also use it with friends. I send a lot of photos.” His view of banning it, is: “I think that’s a really silly thing to do because smartphone networks will lose a lot of their market. If we can’t use WhatsApp, we might as well go back to using basic Nokia phones.”

So all is well in the world of WhatsApp then? Yes, for now. However, do heed warnings from TRA’s Hilal al Siyabi about getting carried away with your WhatsApp usage. It could cost you dearly in more ways than one. Firstly, WhatsApp is a free app when used on wireless networks, but if you use it while travelling abroad, you can face huge 3G roaming charges. Beware using it overseas. As one poor user in Oman found out. During a week abroad sending lots of photos and videos to friends back home, he racked up a phone bill of RO11,000 in five days. Another cautionary tale involves a man who took photographs of a car accident with his smartphone and forwarded them to others using WhatsApp. The pictures went viral across the country and as a result the Royal Oman Police brought a prosecution case against him. So the message for all you WhatsApp users is be careful.. Be WhatsApp wise!





Popular children’s character to make Oman debut with FOUR shows audience - and accidentally break them all. “Thankfully, Barney knows just the place to go and takes everyone to visit a magical factory where the Imagination Machine – a wonderful device, which is powered by the children’s imagination can repair the toys,” said a spokesperson. “Along the way, you can join the journey with interactive fun and games.” Details of show timings, ticket prices and selling outlets will be released soon. Tickets will also be sold via a dedicated ‘Barney Oman’ website, Facebook and Twitter page. In the meantime, there’s no need to wait to catch a glimpse of Barney. Barney & Friends are shown on the MBC Network and OSN, which broadcasts episodes across the Middle East to over 80 million viewers each day The show airs in more than 220 territories across the globe. Farid Hassan, head and creative director of SABCO Art Events, said: “We are really excited to be the Omani event management company who are bringing this fun, educational and creatively driven international children’s show to its many fans in Oman, and we are looking forward to a truly great show.”

He is purple and green, song, dance and laughs. In extremely cute, loves peanut what promises to be one the butter and jelly sandwiches – most eagerly anticipated debut and is coming to Oman soon. appearances, Barney will be Barney, one of the biggest stopping off in the Sultanate as and best-loved children’s part of his Middle East tour. characters, will be making Fans, old and new, will be his debut performance in the taken on an adventure packed country with four shows in with imagination. Muscat. The journey begins when SABCO Art Events, a leading Barney’s friends show their event management company in favourite playthings to the association with SABCO Media, Sunshine Events Five Fun Barney Facts and HIT Entertainment, have announced that Barney was created by Sheryl of milk, he also loves marching Leach of Dallas, Texas, in 1987, bands and parades. Barney Let’s Go! – Live who wanted to make a show He is a 200 million years on Stage! will perform to entertain her son, Patrick, old, six-foot tall, very friendly exclusively at the Qurum then two. Do you know that: Tyrannosaurus Rex. Amphitheatre on October Barney’s theme song is ‘Barney Originally, he was going to 25 and 26, with two Is a Dinosaur’ sung to the tune of be a blanket and then a teddy fabulous shows a day. Yankee Doodle. bear that came to life, but was Huggable Barney changed to a T-Rex because Barney’s favourite description and his friends, BJ, Riff little Patrick was fascinated for things is ‘super dee-duper’. and Baby Bop, will be by a dinosaur exhibit at the As well as peanut butter and getting up to all sorts of local museum. jelly sandwiches with a glass fun during an hour of 012

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Donating The Smart Way Giving to charity is easy with new phone app

Helping charitable causes has never been simpler with online donation and websites dedicated to those wanting to extend a hand of generosity. Now it’s got even easier with an app which allows contributions to be made on the move, anywhere and at any time. The Information Technology Authority (ITA) hopes that the app will rapidly increase the number of donors to its donations campaign portal. Encouraging the tech savvy young, the so-called iGeneration, who have grown up multi-tasking on smartphones, is also part of the plan. “Given the fact that almost everyone has a smartphone, this donation app takes donors to a completely new level,” said an ITA spokesman. “Currently available to users through Google Play, all you have to do is simply download the ‘’ app, choose the targeted charity and follow through

with the donation process.” ITA started the Donations Portal for Charitable Organisations, in co-operation with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD), as a way of offering donors an easy and simple way to donate money. There are 10 charitable organisations on the site, from family care to social causes, all recognised by the Ministry. Last year, the total money donated was RO41,561. The ITA expects even more this year. “The initiative of the Donations Portal started in 2008 with the MSD, and some other charitable organisations,” said Muhanna Moosa Baqer, epayment manager at the ITA. “It is an idea that has grown to include a number of charities within the Sultanate offering humanitarian help to society.” While the portal campaign was highlighted during Ramadan, it runs throughout the year and is

open to donations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The online link,, allows people to donate using a Visa or MasterCard. All the donations are free of charge and the money is transferred directly to the desired charity. There is also a link on the page to an English site. Live updates give details of donations and a running total. Since its launch, over 16,000 people have donated money, raising RO345,130 to help those in need. “Donors can choose precisely where to place their donated money and can opt for their donations to remain within the country or be allocated to international donations,” said the ITA spokesman. “Under each main category fall

additional sub-categories such as: donations to buy food, orphans care, education help, medical help and housing projects.” “For first-time visitors, the website also provides a specific link which explains the steps on how to make a donation.” Among the charities in Oman are Dar Al Atta’a, Al Rahma Charity Team, and Al Noor Association for the Blind, the Oman Association for the Disabled, Oman Cancer Association and Hereditary Blood Disorder Association.

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Words: Kate Ginn

Muhanna Moosa Baqer

THE WHAT’S ON GUIDE Oct 15 to 17

Save The Date

Keep Snapping MuscArt’s August photography competition is open until August 20 and the theme is flowers, animals or objects. Go to MuscArt Facebook page for more details.

Green Treasures


Calling all Muscat designers and mode mavens. As part of the Fashion Forward event in Dubai, organisers have announced the launch of The Garden – a retail and trade gallery dedicated to the sale of accessories and lifestyle items by designers originating from or living in the Middle East. If you’re interested in getting involved, download a form at

Almouj Golf still has two sessions of its summer camp on Monday August 19 and Monday August 26 left. The action kicks off at 4pm with a Wacky Races putting session followed by a Magic Golf Treasure Hunt. The following week includes Mini Madness chipping and full swing Strike it Rich activities. Children aged six to 16 are welcome, with minimum groups of four. RO20 per child.

Karate Kid



What to do. What to see.

You’ve watched most of Bruce Lee’s movies, now it’s time for you to give karate a go for yourself. Martial Arts can be a fun way for all the family to achieve fitness and focus. Classes for beginners will be held at the PDO school gym on August 25. For more information go to or call 24677321

What to hear.

A U G U S T Sept 01 to 07

Food Glorious Food The Food and Hospitality Oman show at the International Exhibition Centre, Seeb, promises to showcase all the latest in catering cuisine and services in the Sultanate. For more information call the OIEC on 24512100.


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Aug 25


Summer Light

Movies Aug 19 to 26

Who says the summer camp season is over? MuscArt has got something for the budding young photographers out there. Rasha al Abdali is hosting a two-day photography workshop for 7-13 year olds from 9am11.30am. All you need is a compact digital camera and you’re off. Price RO45 per child.

Aug 23-24

Read of the Week There’s something quite compulsive about owning a beautifully illustrated children’s book. The Moose Belongs To Me by the multi-award winning Oliver Jeffers is a ‘must buy’ for this very reason. It tells the story of Wilfred and his pet moose Marcel who is later claimed by another. Witty and thought provoking, it explores the concept of ownership.

Call of the South

Aug to Sept 06

The Salalah Tourism Festival is already underway under the theme of ‘Oman – Loyalty and Giving’, and runs through to September 6. The ‘Cultural Village’ is hosting competitions and performances by traditional troupes from the Sultanate and other GCC countries, while in Dhofar there will also be art events and exhibitions.

AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282



MOVIES MOVIES THIS WEEK’S MOVIES For more information and times, go to: City Cinema: Al Bahja Cinema: Star Cinema: Tel +968 24791641

Pacific Rim If you’ve followed and enjoyed the career of Mexican director Guillermo del Toro, you will expect much from his summer blockbuster. We are in the territory of the lowbudget Japanese monster movies of the 1950s, but given a massive budget and del Toro’s singular vision to bring some artistry to the action. He opens the film with one of his lovingly animated sequences, providing a backstory to the clash between human and Kaiju, beasts from another dimension that emerge from a portal deep in the Pacific, intent on smashing up the planet. There’s a slight nod to nonAmerican audiences as the robotriding warriors who must fight the Kaiju include a Russian, Chinese and Australian, although the alliance is soon reduced to the English speakers. What del Toro delivers in spades is technical brilliance and incredible battles between the giant robots and the vast alien monsters. The human cast plays second fiddle here, although Idris Elba and del Toro favourite Ron Perlman



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bring some heft to the proceedings. Characterisation is limited – well, you don’t expect intense emotional drama in this kind of spectacle. Most del Toro movies merit a second viewing since he brings so much detail and craftsmanship to his creations, and this is no exception. Ultimately what you get is incredible, jaw-dropping action on a giant scale, made all the more atmospheric for the gloomy, rainspattered oceans and cities across which the earth-shaking showdowns take place. The science of the robots is a whole lot more plausible than the usual sci-fi technobabble that passes for explanation in most big budget fantasy films. With Pacific Rim, del Toro has definitely shown all the big Hollywood hitters how to do this kind of thing with verve and conviction, giving the audience a reason to stop munching the popcorn and gape in awe. Watch and believe. Review by Joe Gill

Paranoia Harrison Ford and Gary Oldman play rival tech billionaires in this corporate espionage thriller. Liam Hemsworth is a hunky technician who, after a prank that goes wrong, is offered a last chance to save his job. He must join Ford’s company and spy on its boss, supplying his real employer, Oldman, with information to help him pull of a multi-billion dollar deal.

Despicable Me 2 When the tale of a criminal called Gru, who decides to go straight, came out in 2010, it charmed audiences and took $251 million at the box office. So it’s no surprise that there’s a sequel to what was a perfectly formed one-off, and equally predictable that it feels a little unnecessary. But as long as you don’t expect too much from this moneyspinner, you can take pleasure in the tip-top voice work (including Steve Carrell as Gru, Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig, and UK’s Russell Brand and Steve Coogan), some very neat plot turns and superior animation. Benjamin Bratt steals the show as El Macho, a Mexican restaurant owner and master villain with the most OTT Latino accent since Al Pacino in Scarface. Pharrell Williams provides a knockout score.

Red 2 How can you improve a hit team of anti-terror agents led by a grizzled Bruce Willis, and icons like Helen Mirren and John Malkovich? Just throw in Anthony Hopkins (acting crazy) and Catherine Zeta-Jones (playing a Russian femme fatale) and a rogue nuke, and bingo. The DC Comics franchise sequel works thanks to the evident fun the cast had making it, which easily rubs off on the audience. The plot doesn’t bare examining as the team chase down a Cold War Russian bomb, with plenty of explosions, shootouts and witty one liners.

Killing Season This drama may set out to deal with serious issues like the Bosnian war and genocide, but then you see John Travolta mugging it as a Serbian war veteran with a growth on his chin masquerading as a beard. This is the guy who starred in Grease, Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction. And that Serbian accent isn’t working – even Robert De Niro’s US veteran can’t save this two hander.

Bollywatch Chennai Express

There’s plenty of onscreen chemistry between Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in this action comedy set in the rural backlands of south India. Directed by Rohit Shetty, it’s a mainstream Bollywood love story, with Tamil-influenced music numbers, including a tongue-in-cheek Lungi dance that’s raised a few hackles among Indian

commentators. The soundtrack is already a hit for this blockbuster.


Best of the Beasts



To mark the release of monster epic Pacific Rim, Joe Gill chooses the top ten creature movies of all time

King Kong (1933)

Arguably the greatest monster movie of all time, and certainly way ahead of its time on its release. Kong is a sympathetic beast brought low by a greedy showman who wants to put on ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.’ Some may prefer Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake, but it doesn’t have the heart of the original.

American Werewolf in London (1981)

Werewolf movies have come and gone, and mostly are best forgotten. But this masterpiece from John Landis gives us wicked humour, Anglo-American culture clash, a cracking soundtrack and an impressive transformation of man into beast.

The Thing (1982)

John Carpenter took a classic 50s sci-fi and updated it with Kurt Russell among a motley crew of scientists stuck on an Antarctic base when something very old and frozen is brought back to life. Brilliantly gory.

Gremlins (1984)

Joe Dante’s children’s entertainment is a lot darker than most and the gremlins are genuinely scary under the cute exterior. The out of control beasties wreak havoc in small town America.

The Fly (1987)

Alien (1979)

David Cronenberg has always specialised in stories of bodily mutation and this is the ultimate in metamorphosis – from human to fly. Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davies are the stars who make us care when it all goes wrong.

Jaws (1975)

Nobody had done dinosaurs especially well until Spielberg gave us the real deal. Just the vibrating thud of a Tyrannosaurus approaching in the dark sets your hair on end, and that’s before it appears. Then there’s the Velociraptors...

This hybrid horror-science fiction brought to the screen a terrifying creation from our darkest nightmares. The alien emerges memorably from John Hurt’s chest and picks off the crew of the Nostromo one by one. Terror in the water, with a terrific soundtrack and director Steven Spielberg on top form. The themes of corrupt commercial and political interests overriding public safety play a part but in the end the nailbiting drama is about three men in a boat looking for the killer Great White.

Jurassic Park (1993)

The Blob (1958)

The alien monster movie that laid all the groundwork for future mega-budget fantasy films. Steve McQueen leads the humans against what appears to be a giant moving red jelly.





GRAND HYATT MUSCAT Shatti Al Qurum Diplomatic District ● PO Box 951 ● Muscat 133 ● Sultanate of Oman ● ●

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THIS WEEK Glamming up for Eid



Food, Fashion Hostess from Oman Air

Top fashion bloggers at the show

Buying and selling at Nizwa market


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Fashion blogger Ascia

Souq shopping

Gallery Special

and Family

Y captures the festivities of Eid

Showcasing new season designs

Stocking up at Seeb market

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Goat market in full swing

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AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282

D It’s illegal but that doesn’t stop beggars plying their trade on the streets of Oman. What would it be like to step into their shoes for a day? One woman did just that, reports Kate Ginn

ressed in an old abaya, a bit shabby and faded at the edges, with a veil covering her face, Myssa Said al Hinai cut a rather desperate figure as she approached strangers pleading for money. In a hushed voice, she recounted her sorry story. A widow with five children to support, she was unable to pay the rent and the family was facing eviction. Anyone listening could not help but be moved by the image of a woman fallen on hard times and forced to beg to survive. There was no doubt it was a compelling story. Certainly, the strangers who willingly put their hands into their pockets thought so. What they didn’t know is that al Hinai was not, in fact, on the verge of being made homeless or struggling to make ends meet. In reality, she is happily married with a baby son, a comfortable home in a nice area of Muscat and a good job. A freelance journalist, the idea was to experience first-hand what it would be like to beg as an Omani national, though in the end, it was as much a social experiment. “I had no idea what to expect when I set out to do this,” says al Hinai. “What would the reaction be from people? Would they help me or be angry? “I was interested in how I would feel too.” Over two days during Ramadan, begging for four hours a day, she collected RO64, which she later donated to charity. Some people gave as much as RO5, others handed over a few baizas with kind words. All expressed the same sentiment of wishing to help in some small way, an unspoken sympathy for another human being in trouble. When al Hinai decided to don a disguise and shuffle through the streets looking for money, she was well aware of the potential dangers and possible consequences. Not least of which was being arrested and thrown into prison. Anyone caught begging faces a jail sentence between two months and a year with a fine of up to RO100. During the first three weeks of Ramadan, 54 people were caught begging. “I didn’t tell anyone what I was going to do before I did it. No one knew, not even my husband,” admits al Hinai. “I knew that they would worry or try to talk me out it. I was a little scared about the risks but

Myssa Said al Hinai

I felt it was an important issue that needs to be highlighted.” Telling her husband that she had a work meeting, she left him and their nine-month-old son at home in Azaiba and headed off to Al Khuwair souq under cover of darkness on the first night. “I wore an older abaya and scarf to cover my face,” she says. “I managed to find a tailor who let me sit in his shop and ask customers for money when they came in. “The tailor told me that two women beggars ‘worked’ the area around the souq, keeping to their own patches. “I was nervous the first time but after that it was easy. The first person I asked, a man, gave me five rials. “Everyone believed my story. After a while I got into character and almost began to believe my own story. “A few people did get angry with me. One said ‘you are a woman, a mother. You shouldn’t be doing this’. “Others told me to find work, that I was still young and could start again. “Did I feel a fraud? Yes I did. My hand was shaking the first time that I took money from someone but I felt that I wanted to show people the truth of what’s happening.” Arriving home at 11pm, her husband was none-the-wiser. At 8pm the following day, she slipped out into the night again. This time, she made for Al Ghubra souq and without a friendly shopkeeper, had to walk the streets asking complete strangers for money. “That was a bit scary at times,” she admits. “I had no idea who I might meet and the reaction I might get. “The funny thing is that men were much more generous than women. I think men become very soft when they hear a sad story. “It is part of our Islamic culture to help someone in need.” When the truth of her nocturnal activities was revealed, family and friends were encouraging. “My husband was shocked but supportive. My friends were surprised and the reaction from my mother was very positive. “I felt very powerful with their support.” Most of us have probably seen someone

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begging at one time or another, hanging around near mosques, supermarkets and ATMs. There are reports of little Omani kids targeting fast food chains and filling stations. Undoubtedly, many people are driven by desperation to such measures. You would have to be. Sadly, however, some are abusing the charity of others. Two years ago, the Ministry of Social Development’s anti-begging unit warned that people from neighbouring countries were travelling to Oman, seeing it as a soft touch. “Many of those caught weren’t begging out of need as claimed, but because it was an easy way to make money during Ramadan,” said Abdullah al Talee, heading of the unit. “Some of them are quite well off. They use different ways to get money. Some claim to have a sick child in need of immediate attention, some women want money for their husbands’ expensive medical treatment while some feign losing their wallets and ask for cash to go back to their home country.” The Royal Oman police have formed special teams with the Ministry to tackle beggars. According to the unit, 548 people were arrested for begging last year. So far this year 267 cases of begging have been reported. Beggars are routinely rounded up and arrested but, by the next evening, their place has been already taken by someone else, hand outstretched and a pleading look in the eyes.

From al Hinai’s research, she believes that the majority of beggars are crossing over from Yemen, often illegally, and, unable to find work, are faced with no choice but to beg. Some outstay tourist, family or visit visas. It is a complex situation and there are no easy answers, but it is clear more needs to be done. “What struck me is that simply arresting people and then putting them in prison is not the answer,” says al Hinai. “It’s not easy and I don’t have a solution but this is a human problem and needs to be looked at from that viewpoint. “I think what we need is a centre where people who have been begging can go to get help and start again, without focus on nationalities or backgrounds. “We also need to study the problem: who these people are, where they are coming from and why. We have to give them a chance.” To date, there has been no response from the Ministry of Social Development to Myssa Said al Hinai’s story. “When I look at someone begging, I think that it could be my brother or sister. It could be my child one day,” she says. “The right place for a child is in school, not on the streets.”

Begging is an ongoing problem in the Sultanate, and while cases traditionally spike during the holy month it is by no means confined to this period. To combat the rise in cases in Muscat, the Ministry of Social Development set up an elite anti-begging department and ran a campaign encouraging residents to call and report any incidences of begging in their neighbourhood. It may be making inroads into the problem in the capital but it is now increasing in Dhofar, particularly Salalah, suggesting the beggars are on the move. According to the Omani penal law Article 234, “whoever is found begging beside public roadway, places and supermarkets will be sentenced to either one or both of these penalties; prison no less than two months nor more than a year, with a fine of not less than RO50 nor more than RO100.” Repeating offences carry a prison term of not less than six months or more than two years. Using a juvenile for the purpose of begging is punishable by a jail sentence of up to three years with a fine up to RO100. This is doubled if the culprit is a guardian of the juvenile or assigned to take care of him. Of the 54 beggars arrested in the wilayat of Muscat this Ramadan, 13 were Omani. The rest were visiting Oman on family and tourist visas. One suggestion to tackle the menace is to restrict family visas being issued to certain blacklisted countries. Anti-begging hotlines are 24794949 or 24707405.


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It’s the dawn of a new musical era right here in Oman. Merge 104.8 is a celebration of cultures and a true reflection of diversity. Providing you with the best R’n’B, House, Rock, Lounge, 90s, and Pop music from around the world. Served with fresh local flavour.

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ith the sun bouncing off the blue water lapping the pristine shore, the beach at Saifat ash Shiekh, near Sifah Village, certainly looks like an inviting spot to enjoy the best of Oman’s fabled landscape. This postcard perfect scene, the sort that draws tourists to holiday here, is not quite what it seems however. Look closer and black lumps can be seen scattered around the sand. Below those sparkling clean waves is not much better. On the seabed lies an ugly mass of pollution, the legacy of a cargo ship that sank off the coast of Muscat at the end of June, spewing a black spill from its hold into the sea. Slicks of oil and bitumen, also known as asphalt, washed up around the area, prompting the authorities to launch a clean-up operation to tackle the potential environmental disaster as soon as possible. A day after the spill, Y’s photographer Jerzy Wierzbicki

Looks can be deceiving: Saifat ash Shiekh beach this week and, inset, after the spill in June

WHAT LIES BENEATH A clean up of polluted waters around Muscat has been halted but the contamination remains below the surface – hundreds of tons of it, reports Kate Ginn Photos: Jerzy Wierzbicki and Kate Ginn


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“We have no idea how much is actually down there, or how much is still lost” captured children playing in the Saifat ash Shiekh sea, dark with the sticky, tar-like bitumen. This week, Y returned to the same spot and found that while most has gone, large bits of solidified bitumen are still everywhere on the beach and rocks, and clearly visible in the shallow water. Below the waves deeper and out of sight, the pollution is apparently worse, destroying coral and killing fish, in what someone involved has called a ‘horrendous’ situation. Locals on the beach seeemed unaware of the blight right in front of their eyes. And Y has discovered that the clean-up work has apparently ground to a halt, amid some dispute. Whether and when it starts up again remains to be seen but, meanwhile, the bitumen sits on the bottom of the sea along the Muscat coast, while unsuspecting people swim in ignorant bliss above. Down below, it is far from a pretty sight, according to a source, who spoke to Y on the condition of anonymity. “Under the sea, it’s a mess. It’s really bad for the marine life. It’s all over, from Jissah to Sifah and it’s awful. If you go underwater it’s horrendous.”

Another source adds: “We are at risk of losing dive sites, fish

are dying already. Coral is being contaminated.” It is believed that over 100 tons has so far been removed from the seabed, some of which has been stored in plastic

containers nearby. While bitumen, a liquid form of petroleum is not considered a highly dangerous substance, it needs to be carefully handled and disposed of by those with experience of dealing with hazardous waste. Exposure can cause skin irritation. Certainly, families enjoying one of Oman’s many beaches might not be thrilled to discover what lies beneath the surface of the sea. As one of our sources says, “Would you want tons of the stuff dumped under your back garden?” No one from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs was available to comment on the claims. When a country lacks the resources and systems to handle hazardous waste, it is shipped, at some considerable cost, to a country that does have the capacity to deal with it safely. Oman would certainly be in the former category. If the bitumen is left on the country’s seabed, it could eventually float back to the surface. Removing it is a laborious process, done by hand and no one really knows how much there is. Original reports said that the stricken 32-year-old tanker NESA R3 was carrying a cargo of 816 tons. Bitumen has to be kept hot or it solidifies, so the tanks would have been heated to around 120 degrees. “It was a very old vessel,” says a source. ”It had a breach on the hull and when the cold water hit the side of hot metal, the tanks would have ruptured.” While the Indian crew of nine was rescued, the Iranian captain is missing, presumed drowned, going down with his ship around 1.4 miles off Port Sultan Qaboos. Questions have also been raised about the tanker. NESA R3 was, according to marine records, sailing under the flag of West Indies islands Saint

Barrels waiting to be filled from the clean up and, above, lumps of bitumen on the rocks and beach at Saifat ash Shiekh

Kitts and Nevis, not Cyprus as had been reported. The holding company is in the UAE. The vessel had also undergone several name changes. Until 2007, it was known as the Black Pearl. The vessel’s last known port was Larak Island, off the coast of Iran and one of the Islamic Republic’s major oil export points since 1987. A source told Y that “under UN sanctions any vessel loading petroleum products from Iran invalidates its insurance.” The source further claimed that NESA R3 was not allowed to dock in any other port in the GCC except for Oman. The NESA R3’s final resting place is on the bottom of the Sea of Oman. The future of its cargo, however, remains less certain. If left, it could be rearing its polluted head now and again for years to come. “We have no idea how much is actually down there, or how much is still lost,” says a source. “It has to come out. It’s a huge problem and it isn’t going to go away.”

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AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282



“Don’t be insecure about aiming to be a small business. Anyone who runs a business that’s sustainable and profitable, whether it’s big or small, should be proud.” – Jason Fried, author of Rework.

Minute Mentoring



Minute Mentoring

SMALL IS The New Big Micro enterprises that revolve around people’s values and passions can prove profitable, says Penny Fray


t all started with the women who gave up their high-flying careers to start businesses that worked around their families. Cupcake queens, yummy yogis and chick flick authors all looked good on the mumpreneur’s CV. Now almost everyone who’s anyone in Oman has started flexing his or her entrepreneurial muscles by making handmade products or setting up home-based services. These aren’t vanity projects but a viable way of growing the Sultanate’s economy. A recent report suggests that micro businesses are more likely to succeed in tougher climes than their larger counterparts. The study, released by online accountancy firm Free Agent Central, suggests that working in, and with, very small businesses is a sensible and profitable thing to do. The detailed findings show that 36 per cent of small businesses have been very optimistic about the future with better-anticipated earnings compared to larger companies in similar sectors. So, is small becoming the new big? Peter Stoney, an expert on economics, seems to think so. “Big businesses have their place but the value of the small business will increase,” he says, citing the Internet, social networking, better business schools and mentoring schemes as some of the reasons for the initial boom. Mayya Al Said started her own micro business after becoming a stay-at-home mother. She taught herself how to sew using online tutorials before launching Sew Chic & Unique, selling everything from bespoke bags to business cardholders. Now back in full-time employment, she’s put her

business on hold but remains grateful for the experience. “I truly believe that we can do anything we set our minds to do,” she says. Similar stories are plentiful. If someone’s not baking cupcakes for their local coffee shop or creating friendship bracelets for birthdays, they’re writing novels or selling crafts in fairs or on online sites like Etsy. And people are buying as well as selling. Why? Well, they want something personal and authentic over mass-produced products. The need for creativity and making some spare cash is finally back in business. Here are five tops tips to starting your own micro business: Be clear on why you want to start your own venture. Write it down and determine whether you have the right attributes to make it happen. What’s your big idea? Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Give your personal twist to the tried and tested. After all, people still buy cakes, we all get haircuts and birthdays need cards. Just make sure you execute your version well to rise above the competition. Write a bijou business plan. Cover what you offer, who you’re targeting, how much you’ll charge and what you’ll do to make it happen. Keep costs down. If a start-up loan or tapping into personal funds aren’t options, think creatively. Get customers to pay for the supplies upfront, tap into the crowdfunding trend and barter for key services. Be customer focused. Nothing else matters if you don’t have buyers. Start the sales process by making a list of 25 potential prospects and contact them one by one with your pitch. Also, build a serious social media presence, somewhere you can engage directly with your target market.

WHAT THE MICRO ENTREPRENEUR SAYS: PUT PERSONALITY AND PASSION AHEAD OF PROFIT “It’s important to create unique and practical things, adding personality to your products. Be passionate about what you do. Your business should never be just about making money. Finally, don’t be afraid to step back and re-evaluate. Some of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs have done the same only to discover success.” – Mayya Al Said, founder of Sew Chic & Unique

C oNen n e c t e d

twork fro with Y’s newm your desk weekly profile Name: Mediate . 2013/2014 What: A dynam ic directory that profi media les all businesses involved in the med ia communication se and ctors. Know who’s who in with the flick of a Oman pa Character: Vib ge. ra connected and inte nt, welllligent Would like to m interested in the m eet: Anyone edia and communic ations sector. Find me: In a nu Muscat, including mber of book stores across th Bookshop, Sultan e Family Bookshop, Al Batra Center/Qurum an d the SABCO Media office in Se eb Beach Road.

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food and drink BUTCHERY’S BACK

Heard the news? Hipsters have moved from farming to butchery, trading their herbs for a good meat cleaver. Classes on how to cut your own meat, mean less waste and more culinary kudos. No wonder butchery has become the new baking.

“With their swinging scabbards, muscled forearms and constant proximity to flesh, butchers have the raw emotional appeal of an indie band.” – Kim Severson, journalist


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Meat A La Mode The Butcher’s Block near The Wave is bringing the old-fashioned butcher to Muscat, finds Joe Gill


consumed on the same day but it can be very dangerous if the customer refreezes and thaws it later, which can lead to serious food poisoning. “As far as Butcher’s Block is concerned, we wanted to bring something different to the market.” His Highness’s idea – “to have a place where you can get very good meat at a very reasonable price” – has paid dividends, with cool culinary types cooing over the re-establishment of the neighbourhood butchers. “All the work surfaces are stainless steel and it is an open design so you can watch your burgers and billabong sausages being made to order,” says His Highness. The beef and lamb come from specialist, free-range farms in South Africa, Australia, the US and Holland. His Highness has visited all of them, spending weeks in all four continents as he looked over operations to ensure they were up to the standards he wanted. “None of the ranches use antibiotics or growth hormones, which is where most of the diseases come from.” Halal certification is guaranteed, he says, because the special label is placed inside the vacuum bag when the meat is wrapped, rather than on the outside. “I have been to all the slaughterhouses and I know personally that the certification is 100 per cent halal.” Coming soon will be free-range lamb and goat, and also Omani freerange chicken. “I thought I could get fantastic free-range chicken from farms in the Interior that nobody knows about,” says His Highness.

Another difference at The Butcher’s Block is that the butchers are both male and female. “It was very difficult to get a woman and a man working together, as it’s never been done here before. It wasn’t easy to explain to the government that you could have a female butcher. “I think women are more in tune on cleanliness, and also some female customers are more comfortable talking to a woman.” The South African connection continues with an exclusive supply of marinades and spices – used to make the boerewors sausages – from the famed Freddy Hirsch Group. “There is a South African market in Oman, but also these flavours are more in tune with the tastes from this part of the world. Customers have responded best to the very savoury, garlic and chilli flavours.” A huge photograph from a New York butchers taken in 1920 takes up one wall of The Butcher’s Block, emphasising the connection with an older tradition. “In Oman this is a new thing – it still exists in small towns in the UK where people go to their local butcher, and it’s now coming back in the US after dying out for a while, with people using butchers’ chains rather than the hypermarket to buy their meat. It has always been an honourable, specialised profession.” The Butcher’s Block is starting home deliveries, so your finest steak will soon be at the end of a phone call from Qurum to Seeb.

Image: Jerzy Wierzbicki

pposite The Wave a little revolution has started in the provision of fresh, free-range halal meat to Muscat. The Butcher’s Block, opened last month, is the brainchild of HH Sayyid Azzan Al Said, chief executive officer of the Al-Rahba Integrated Projects, LLC. After years of supplying the catering trade, hotels and officers’ clubs, he saw a gap in the market for a specialist butcher.

“At the mother company, we have been supplying hotels like the Grand Hyatt and Shangri-La for years and have always been a business-tobusiness operation. I never wanted to get into retail.” Then family and friends started asking him to get the best quality steaks for private events. “I am a perfectionist,” he explains. “I take pride in my product. I couldn’t get others to help. I tried to change the hypermarket mentality. I explained to them that people could afford quality meat, not just the cheapest New Zealand beef or mutton. “Eventually I decided enough is enough. We are building a European standard slaughterhouse in East Africa with its own ranch, to supply the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, China, and two countries in Europe. “People buy beef in this country and the meat is imported, then it is thawed and sold to the customer as fresh. This happens a lot. The problem is that the places selling this meat don’t tell the customers that it was frozen. The customer doesn’t know this and assumes he is eating a fresh tenderloin. This is okay if it is

N e w R e s t a u r a n t Reviews

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food and drink


N e w R e s t a u r a n t Reviews

Simple Thai Beef Salad with Chili & Ginger Ingredients:

1 thick sirloin steak, about 350g
 ½ to 1 tsp of chilli sauce 
 RECIPE 1 tsp grated ginger 
 2 tsp light brown sugar
 Juice of 1 lime
 2 tbsp light soy sauce
 1 tsp sesame oil
 4 little Gem lettuce hearts, leaves separated
 100g radishes, thinly sliced
 1 cucumber portion, deseeded and thinly sliced 
 4 salad onions, thinly sliced
 28g pack fresh coriander leaves

Method Recipe: Waitrose

1 2 3 4 5

Grill the steak for 2–3 minutes on each side until nicely browned but still a little pink in the centre. Transfer to a warmed plate and leave to rest for five minutes. Mix together the chilli, ginger, sugar, lime-juice, soy sauce and sesame oil and set aside. Arrange the lettuce leaves, radishes and cucumber on a large serving platter. Thinly slice the beef and place on the salad. Drizzle over the chilli and ginger dressing, scatter with salad onions and coriander leaves and serve.



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New Restaurant


Kono Pizza

Jerzy Wierzbicki enjoys the taste of the pizza in a cone but isn’t convinced to switch from the flat, round sort

As we waited the waitress brought us a tray of Omani coffee in a large KONO PIZZA pot with a generous plate of dates. It Address: Al Maha was a nice touch and probably just as Service Station, next to well as service was not particularly fast Muscat City Centre or keen, even though we were the only Tel: 94193054 • 97445075 • 24553562 customers in the place. Opening hours: Now the good news is that the 10am-11.45pm cones worked – they tasted freshly Price (food and drink made, and the smoked turkey was for two): RO9 excellent. The cone pastry was browned, crunchy and chewy in all the right proportions. pizza in a cone. After our first three, we still felt a One downside is that most of the pizza is inside the cone, so you have to little hungry and ordered another two. We came back for vegetarian and hope that what you see on top is just spicy salami, and both were hits. as good as you work your way down. The cone pizzas were definitely Rather like a cornetto really. moreish. It was an unfamiliar We had a choice of comfortable experience but an enjoyable one, seating or the more business-like although it was hard to gauge how round tables and chairs. much to eat. Can a cone really be Both of us were hungry so we as filling as a good old-fashioned flat ordered three cones between us. circular pizza? I’m not so sure. Everything is made in front of you. We spent just over RO9 for The lady serving us made each cone two people, which to my mind from fresh ingredients displayed at is a bit too much for a fast-food the counter then took it out back takeaway, even one in a shiny new to put in the oven, which we could environment. There were dessert also see. cones on the menu, but we were Our choices were the Super too full to try them. Supreme (a meaty feast), VERDICT: Kono Pizza might just be a smoked turkey and great place to take the kids, pepperoni. Cones come 10 but the service needs a step up. in large and regular. You Unusual twist Still, it could catch on. can guess what we chose. on the pizza


t’s pizza – but in a cone. Now, think about it – two of Italy’s greatest exports, pizza and cornettos, combined into the ultimate fast food. It certainly sounds good on paper. One thing we should say about Kono Pizza is that it is actually Italian. If you want food to be authentic, it’s good to know that the dish you are eating came from the country where it originates. Certainly Kono Pizza has come a long way – we found the bright red and green livery at the Al Maha service station next to Muscat City Centre, less than salubrious surroudings it must be said. It was a quiet evening just after Iftar time and

the restaurant was empty. The flashy lighting and big splashes of colour both inside and out certainly makes an impression - though some might find it too garish. In other ways, it’s typical of a global fast-food chain, although the design and furnishings were a cut above the standard in Oman. The place feels ultra-clean and new. We were slightly surprised to realise that Kono Pizza sells – yes, pizzas in a cone – and that’s it. There are no ordinary, flat, round pizzas on the menu. Now, there is something in me that likes things the way they are – too much innovation makes me nervous, and I had mixed feelings about eating



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Photographed by: Jerzy Wierzbicki

Info Box






Thank the Baroque movement for this autumn’s leading fashion trend of embellished beauty. Expect textured fabrics, silk tapestries, and ornate details that embrace history’s haute couture.

This Marks & Spencer version of the catwalk look means mixing lace, velvet and devore for elaborate evening elegance.


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FUTURE FASHION From urban baroque to beautiful black blooms – Penny Fray picks her top five autumn trends

This Erdem shift is on every fashion editor’s shopping list thanks to its unusual luxe fabric. Available online at from RO520


here was a time when an editor had to pack her Prada suitcase and jet off to New York, London, Milan and Paris to discover next season’s top catwalk trends. These days, all she needs to do is switch on her laptop as designers stream their runway shows live to her screen. Why scramble for f-row status when you can take notes from the comfort of your own couch? I’ve rounded up my five top looks and previewed the hottest new buys from Muscat’s malls to help prep your autumn shopping list. My Secret Garden A darker and more dramatic take on summer’s botanical trend was seen everywhere from Erdem to Christopher Kane this season. Their decadent interpretation of floral prints meant embracing plush jacquard materials in rich shades of emerald, violet and blue. Monsoon does an amazing take on the look for a fraction of the price with chiffon blouses, scarves and floral jackets in this season’s hottest hue – black.

Every screen starlet knows the dramatic value of red lipstick. We love this vampy version from M.A.C – from RO6.

Scarlet Fever Bold and bright – scarlet is this season’s statement colour. Be confident and go red-to-toe in structured dresses and pointed shoes or give a subtler nod to the trend with a slash of blood red lipstick.

This faux leather shift from Next looks great day or night thanks to it’s chic, simple shape - available online or from Qurum and Muscat City Centres from RO25.

Luxe Leather Hide remains a runway staple - but this season, step away from the beaten up boots and your beau’s bomber jacket because grunge has just been trumped by sleek separates. Tuxe With A Twist Fed up with frocks? Go for the ‘le smoking’ option instead as designers such as Victoria Beckham, Helmut Lang and Alexander Wang all offer up their own interpretation of the traditional tuxe. Fashionistas on a budget should head for H&M or M&S to recreate the look. Gothic Romance Victoriana vogue keeps making a comeback with its austere layers of lace, chiffon and velvet. Everyone from Mulberry and Michael van der Ham to Preen and Prada embraced the nouveau gothic look – and so should you. If you’re not into Western fashion, update your abaya with velvet and jet black embellishments.

This Accessorize bracelet whispers baroque beauty. Price yet to be confirmed.


Zara does it again, ticking all the right style boxes with these shoes. Red and pointed with a mid-heel – they ooze modern vogue. RO30.

to updating your wardrobe for September

Top marks to H&M for their nouveau tux jacket – wear with skinny jeans or black pants for day to night versatility. From RO40

1 Don’t put away your leopard or floral prints just yet. Two of autumn’s biggest trends are already in your wardrobe. 2 Hate red? Don’t worry. Emerald was also spotted all over the runways. 3 Learn to layer. Mix a sheer or lace piece over leather for the coolest new look.

AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282






Eastern Elegance

Combining heritage with a modern twist, Penny Fray looks at Muscat’s hottest new fashion trends


hen it comes to clothes that are easy to wear but impossible to miss, this season’s Middle Eastern collections oozed comfort, culture and colour. Boutique Muscat’s latest fashion show brought together the collections of four designers from all over the GCC, including Oman’s very own Hazar. The latest looks from Suzani, Zena Zaki and Kwashi all embraced a strong ethnic elegance that tapped into the DNA of their cultures, using traditional embroidery, beautiful beading and flowing silhouettes. The overall result was very much old Arabia meets modern metropolis. Black may be planet fashion’s favourite colour but on Muscat’s catwalks, gemstone shades of emerald, amethyst and sapphire made an impact. Punchy patterns, flashes of metallic and statement needlework gave simple shapes a much need lift. Structure was added through the use of embellished belts. “Belts are big news as is statement jewellery,” says Hazar al Zadjali of Boutique Muscat. “We have just introduced The House of Harlow exclusively here and the collection is clearly inspired by the Middle East. As for the outfits, think princess. We’ve just launched the Hazar Collection, reflecting the preference of Omani women for dresses that are long and flowing with lots of sparkles. The prints are inspired by Versace and Missoni.” Y particularly loved the boho luxe look of Suzani as designers Zara Gailani and Dania Kurdi embraced their Eastern roots with boho luxe dresses, while the open gold jacket by Hazar oozed day to night versatility. When it comes to the traditional abaya, look for lace, leather and velvet embellishments., as a nod to the dark trend found on the runways of McQueen and Bottega Veneta.

F-ROW’S BEST DRESSED Saba Al Busaidi sports a Gucci blazer, Jimmy Choo shoes and Valentino bag. Cobalt blue remains a hot hue

Hazar Al Zadjali’s Wish List: The Gold Open Jacket by Hazar A House of Harlow piece by Nichole Richie T-Shirt Swag – a funky Dubai brand Dresses from Suzani


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Sahar Al Azawi wears a Julea Domani skirt, Endemage abaya, YSL clutch and Swarovski jewellery






Work with your proportions to find the perfect frame for your face, says Penny Fray


Penny Fray explores the perennial dilemma on how to deal with unwanted gifts – especially after Eid.


he summer season is in full swing and sunglasses are even more ubiquitous than usual on the streets of Muscat. But the focus is less on fashion and more on how to frame your face with the most flattering styles. Get the right pair and you’ll enhance your natural assets, knocking years off your overall appearance. “It’s important to work out which features you want to highlight and which ones you want to play down,” says Elizabeth al Sarhani from Al Gazal Opticians in the SABCO Centre. “If you have a large nose for instance, styles with a heavy bridge will exaggerate the size. If the frame doesn’t sit properly or is not aligned with your brows, chances are they’re not the best fit for you. Likewise, be aware of frames that leave marks, dig into your cheeks or feel tight across the temples.” Latest trends may include Gatsby inspired designs and mirrored lenses, but classic styles that have stood the test of time usually make better investment pieces. Black, oversized frames are still chic after 40 years of wear, while the Aviator has been a firm favourite since World War II. “Take your time and try as many pairs as you can,” says Elizabeth. “Also, seek the advice of staff in relation to use, maintenance and suitability.” Here’s the lowdown on what should suit your face: Round Shaped Face: This season’s gorgeous 1930s inspired frames will make your face look even rounder. So go for an oversized style with a square shape instead. They’ll make the face appear slimmer and longer. Long Shaped Face: Steer clear of deep, tapering styles or skinny frames, as they will make the face look even

longer. Oversized round shapes with detailing at the temples will create an illusion of width. Heart Shaped Face: A larger, round or square frame will draw attention away from the width at the top of your face. Oval Shaped Face: Lucky you! Most styles suit your face. But there’s always an exception to the rule. If you have a particularly small face steer clear of supersized frames – unless you’re a celebrity bent on wandering around the streets of Muscat incognito. Finally, consider your hairstyle. Short tresses and scarves can make features look a little more severe, so soften the effect with large, round glasses. Those with long fringes however, should think twice about wearing supersized frames. They can drown your face.

A comedian once said that to attract men she wears a perfume called ‘new car interior’. Leather and sweat doesn’t really do it for me but anything from Amouage does – and happy days, a plush new store is opening in the SABCO Centre.

Y LOVES…SERPENT TAILS Obviously, we’re not talking of the real, rattling type but rather this month’s hottest make-up trend. Cleopatra’s signature kohled eye complete with double flick end is back in vogue. Recreate the sultry look using Body Shop’s Intense Black eye set.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a good gift can generally be gauged by its size – for instance, anything bigger than a bread box is bound to be bad. It usually indicates something domestic – and dare I say – dull. But a small, turquoise box with a white bow and the words Tiffany & Co embossed in black rarely disappoints. An ashtray (I don’t smoke) and a crystal dolphin with flashing neon lights (the unfortunate consequence of an aunt being left too long in front of the shopping channel) are some of the many gaudy gifts that I’ve consigned to the back of the cupboard for all eternity. Of course, the gesture is always appreciated but is there an alternative to politely accepting gruesome dust gatherers? For some, the idea of re-gifting those plastic flowers and novelty socks is the height of bad manners, others argue it’s better than binning them. What to do with an unwanted present is a moral maze that few of us are willing to enter – but must, unless prepared to drown in a sea of dodgy offerings. The safest option is to give them away to charity after a safe period of about three months. But the green trend of re-gifting is fast gathering pace. In fact, a new poll suggests that only 10 per cent of people would feel angry or cheated about receiving a re-gift, leaving the other 90 per cent happy to take your rejects. Just avoid a situation where the original gifter and the new recipient roll in the same circles – or even worse – you mistakenly return the offering, complete with original tag. Now, to whom shall I bequeath my flashing dolphin?

Sponsored by

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How To Become


The Editor’s Top 3 Buys 01

You don’t have to sacrifice style to make clever cutbacks in Muscat, discovers Penny Fray


believe in consumption, conspicuous or otherwise. I love shopping so much that it’s my premier pastime. But what with the global recession still in full force and green issues to consider, even the extravagant need to tighten their belts and buy less. The days of just wanting something and getting it regardless of the cost or consequences are all but over. Frugality is back in fashion. So how do you embrace prudence without sacrificing your Prada? Well, the cut-price outlet has finally arrived in Muscat and with it, rails upon rails of deliciously discounted designer goods. Just around the corner from Costa Coffee in Markaz Al Bahja Mall you’ll find Brands For Less, a store packed with famous names like DKNY, Calvin Klein, Nine West, Coach and Tchibo. According to Neil Isaacson of AMZ Group, the operator for Brands For Less in Oman, the shop is a unique addition to Muscat’s retail map in that it not only offers designer labels at affordable prices but it’s stocked daily with new lines. The chain already has 30 outlets across the Middle East in countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen. The Muscat store is the latest addition to the company’s growing portfolio, tapping into Oman’s growing trend to live well and spend less. Back in my native UK, discount outlets like TK Maxx and Bicester


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Village are all the rage. Even the Duchess of Cambridge admits that she loves designer shopping for less. And no wonder, when you can get up to 80 per cent off your favourite brands without the rip-it-off-thehangers and leave-it-on-the-floor chaos of the sales season. In Brands For Less I spot so many steals that I went into zombie shopping mode, ignoring everyone in a zone of concentrated consumption. My friend was shocked that a luxe lover like me should like the store so much – but beneath the veneer of civilisation, we are all hunter-gatherers. I spot a classic DKNY pencil dress for RO6 instead of $300, a pair of embellished sandals from Coach for less than a quarter of its original retail price and a gorgeous black sequined cocktail dress from French Connection for RO35 – one of the most expensive things in store. It’s clear that most of the stock comes from Macy’s, a famous American department store – the original price tickets are still attached. This adds to the thrill of the experience because you see how much money you’re saving. I fare well in this sort of retail environment because I have an open mind. I also like chasing bargains and know

my brands from both sides of the Atlantic. Those who hate rummaging and have a fixed idea of what they want won’t share my enthusiasm. The goods may be upmarket but the shopping experience is not, so don’t expect an army of glossy assistants jumping to your every whim, plush changing rooms and the scent of Diptyque candles wafting through the air. You are not paying for the luxe trimmings of tissue paper, ribbons and expensive cardboard bags – you’re paying for last season’s designer wear in a less than designer environment. Will I return? With some of my favourite fashion brands available at the fraction of their original price – do you really have to ask?




A silk Charlotte Sparre scarf in this season’s hottest floral print. It costs RO13.9 at Brands for Less – but you’ll find the same Danish brand for more than RO70 in Bloomingdales.

A black blazer is every woman’s wardrobe staple and this one by Ralph Lauren is beautifully cut and well worth the RO20 price tag. Buy it elsewhere and you’d be adding another zero to the number. Okay, it’s a bit crumpled but nothing a hot iron couldn’t handle.

Another investment buy is the black wedge. I spotted the one above in my size by Nine West for RO15 instead of $89. It’s not a huge saving but it’s a classic. Other worthwhile shoe brands included Coach and Steve Madden.

Postcards from






On a beautiful stretch of coast the ruins of Sumhuram are giving up the secrets of Oman’s ancient past

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Postcards from





Khor Rori


Steeped in history, the ruins of the ancient city of Sumhuram are still revealing their secrets, discovers Jerzy Wierzbicki

atching an artefact dating from as much as 2000 years ago being brought from the ground, where it has lain undiscovered for so long, is quite a privilege. One can only wonder about its history and the people who may have come into contact with it. Seeing an archaeologist find a


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small clay pot during a dig for relics made my trip to the remains of the settlement of Sumhuram, near the Khor Rori area, even more special. My visit to this fascinating site came during a working trip to Dhofar. I had pinpointed beforehand the places that interested me and Sumhuram was near the top. It is located a few kilometres behind Taqah, a town steeped in

atmosphere that stirs my soul every time I go there, with its lively streets and sprawling banana plantations. After a long two-day drive from Muscat, I reached the entrance of Sumhuram after sundown. The man on the gate informed me that the site would be closing in an hour and all visitors had to leave by 8pm. Even though it was late, I decided to buy a ticket anyway and do a quick reconnaissance before

a well inside along with storehouses and workshops. Burial areas were found in front of the city and signs of agricultural use. In 2003, archaeologists uncovered evidence suggesting that Sumhuram had been expanding into the surrounding area outside the city walls. A temple was discovered in Wadi Darbat, a few kilometres from Khor Rori Archaeological work is ongoing. During my visit, workers were excavating areas in the top of the ruins and near the main defensive wall. I met an Italian archaeologist, Michele Degli Esposti, and I witnessed him turning up a small clay pot. Michele, who is from the University of Pisa, also directed me to where I could find an ancient inscription written into the bricks and a small museum displaying many artefacts excavated from the site. After an hour exploring the ruins, I moved down to check the terrain surrounding Sumhuram. In the narrow isthmus between the Khor’s water and the ocean, I saw in the distance a group of camels walking in the fog. Darker contours of the animals on the high waves,

blurred a bit by the fog and millions of small drops of water, created ideal conditions for photography. Immediately, I put a long lens on my camera and started taking shots. The nature here is incredibly rich. Many bird species could be seen bathing in the cooling water of the khor, especially flamingos. I spent half a day there capturing the wildlife scenes. I had Trop for company, and the camels in the distance, with the silence broken by the sound of huge waves crashing against the rocks. I sat watching the raging sea for a while, sipping on a cup of strong coffee. I was reluctant to leave but the open road was calling me. More adventures in the Dhofar Mountains were waiting.


travel guide

going back in the morning. Night was settling and it was almost completely dark. Only the lights of nearby Taqah and the main road illuminated my way through the remains of old walls and stony constructions. After a brief look around, I called it a night and went to sleep in my car just a few hundred metres next to the main gate. With me, as ever, was my faithful canine companion, Trop. Waking early, we were greeted by typical Khareef season weather; a moody sky heavy with dark clouds and a refreshingly low temperature with little humidity. The gloomy atmosphere was perfect for a journey back into the past. A natural extension of the wadi, Khor Rori is a long and deep ravine filled with water, and separated from the ocean by a tiny white sandy beach. Wander to the right side of

the ravine bank and you will find Sumhuram. Once the centre of frankincense production in the region, it was the most important preIslamic settlement in Dhofar. Founded as an outpost of the Hadramite kingdom, it was established on the Omani shoreline for economic and commercial reasons, with the first colonisers in the 4th century BC. Links with the Roman Empire cemented its important position. It was also a stopping place for traders during long trips between the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula and the northern part of Oman, which was rich in copper. English explorer James Theodore Bent and his wife, Mabel, first discovered Sumhuram during their travels in the region in the late 19th century, described in their book Southern Arabia. Early excavations began in the 1950s and, since 1994, the Italian Mission to Oman (IMTO) has been working on site. Diggings have uncovered the remnants of a small-fortified city with a huge gate, a monumental building with

Sumhuram is located just a few kilometres behind Taqah on the main route to Mirbat and Hasik. The site is open for visitors from 9am to 8pm and the cost of an entry ticket is RO2. Technically you do not need a 4x4 as there is a good tarmac road. In my opinion, though, travelling to Dhofar during Khareef season is much safer and more comfortable in a good 4x4. The total distance from Muscat is 1100 km For additional information about Sumhuram please visit:

GPS Coordinates: N17’02’21 E54’26’3

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Working out in the gym is how women are toning up - and networking at the same time, finds Kate Ginn


Rumba Fit class has just finished at Balance Health & Fitness club and everyone is unwinding, with excited “Some women chatter coming from the have gym equipment ladies changing room. at home but it’s not While these women have no doubt the same as getting enjoyed a good workout and chance up and out. There is to flex their muscles, the opportunity no motivation or to stretch their social network is just social interaction” as important. More and more women are becoming switched on to the varied benefits of exercise. While they are getting those endorphins flowing around the body, they can link up with like-minded people for friendship and business possibilities. Little wonder that gym use among women is rising in Muscat, with more ladies-only clubs opening and existing ones introducing specific facilities geared towards their female members. “I’ve been in this industry for six years and have really noticed in the last two years the growing awareness and willingness of women to come forward and do something for themselves,” says Shabana Panwala, general manager at the Balance club in Qurum. “Women like group activities where there are opportunities to sit and have a chat. We live in a fast world of Facebook and Twitter and it’s all about social networking, so being a member of a health club gives you a chance to do that in person.” Attracting women members is clearly big business. While it has a mixed gym, Balance also has a ladies-only facility with cardio equipment, a separate fitness studio and steam room. It also has a dedicated Kids Play Room, beautifully equipped with a television, toys and educational books for the little ones to stay amused while mum is exercising. “The idea was to have somewhere where parents could leave their children while they were using the club,” says Shabana. “Mums are finding it very beneficial. We have quite a few mums who bring along their children, with their maids or nannies, and use the room while they are exercising.


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Postcards from




FITNESS “We even have a camera installed in there so the mums have extra reassurance.” In addition, the club has started running exercise classes for children timed to coincide with when their parents will be working out, offering anything from Zumba for Kids to cardio and street dancing. “We want to encourage family usage,” says Shabana. “If children see their parents exercising right from childhood, they are more likely to do it themselves.” Horizon Fitness, Oman’s largest health club, which has branches in Muscat, Sohar and Salalah, has separate ladies-only gyms in most of its clubs and offers weight-loss programmes. One in Azaiba has a dedicated slimming centre for female members. “Most of the ladies who come are looking to lose weight,” says a spokeswoman from the club. “The classes are more social, where people can mix. These are popular with women too. We are getting a lot more interest from women recently.” One new club to open its doors with a women-only environment is Fitness Athletics, which has set up recently near Muscat City Centre. It has specialist facilities geared towards women, along with aerobic classes. “The ladies-only gym means women can exercise without feeling uncomfortable,” says the club. Technogym, the Wellness Company, has just been chosen to provide gym equipment for two of Oman Sail’s schools, which will be used among others by the all-women crew from the Al Thuraya Bank Muscat boat. The company also supplied Balance Health & Fitness club with Kinesis Stations – the latest

workout machines and the first in Oman. Balance is due to open another branch at The Wave, Muscat, early next year. According to Shabana, the club’s female members often have different aims. “We have busy mums, working mums and those who perhaps have a very sedentary lifestyle, and want to tone up. “Housewives tend to want to lose weight and we have post-natal women who come around six months after delivery. “A lot of Omani women coming in welcome the opportunity to mix with different cultures.” Exercise can be especially good for those women who might be suffering post-natal depression, she adds. “Group activities are great for warding off ‘baby blues’ and exercising is good for improving self-confidence and a sense of self. “Some women have gym equipment at home but it’s not the same as getting up and out. There is no motivation or social interaction. “We provide a supportive environment with the right ambience, where women can go on their own journey without any pressure. “It’s not always about weight loss, although we have a targeted weight-loss program if a woman wants to do that, but just getting fit and getting the endorphins moving and starting to feel more positive about yourself.” In fact, once the exercise bug bites for women working out, the whole family can be recruited into trying it. “Some of our ladies join and then get their husbands to come to fitness classes too. “We had one member who brought along her husband and two teenage children. It can be something the whole family can do together.” AUG 15 – 21 / ISSUE 282





This iconic building is a copy of the Eiffel Tower. But unlike the Paris landmark, Tokyo’s first TV broadcasting tower is 13m higher and painted orange to comply with air safety regulations.

Top 5 Places To Visit: 1. The Central Fish Market 2. Tokyo Tower 3. The Imperial Palace 4. The Tokyo National Museum 5. Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea


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I n d o o r s postcards from

Bernard Viola,

general manager of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel Muscat, recommends:


A big konnichiwa (hello) from Japan’s capital, a place where trends are adapted, adopted and discarded within weeks. Here, there’s an obsession with all things weird and wonderful. But beneath the futuristic façade, there’s a traditional side to this hyper-urban cosmopolis. This is a place where you’ll find pagodas, imperial palaces and historic parks intertwined with steel towers, super-fast trains and technology. Yet for all its diverse offerings, I love it simply because it’s the city where I met my wife Yumiko, back in 2006.

My Favourite Place Go to the bustling Roppongi district after dark and you’ll find yourself in the Tokyo of your dreams – an area full of blazing neon lights, bustling crowds and streets pulsating with life. It’s very much reflective of modern Japan and became a popular haunt for the Japanese entertainment elite and expatriates during the 1960s. Crammed full of nightclubs, restaurants and bars, it’s lively to say the least. The name Roppongi literally means ‘six trees’, said to have been six very old and large Japanese zelkova trees, the last of which was destroyed during World War II. Many foreign embassies are located in the area and some big companies have their offices there, including Google Japan and Ferrari Japan. Crowning the midtown area is The Ritz Carlton, a very special hotel with giant paintings by Sam Francis and breathtaking views clear to the Imperial Palace. I was part of its opening team back in 2006 – another sentimental reason for loving Tokyo. Nearby, you’ll find Hinokicho Koen, a cherry tree-lined park and the National Art Centre.

Im p e r ia l Pa l a c e

Highlights: As a foodie, I have to say the restaurants. One of my favourite dining spots is Les Creations de Narisawa. It’s well worth the six-month wait to get a table because Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa studied under the most celebrated French cooks in the business, blending classical French techniques with a Japanese aesthetic and an adherence to shun (the philosophy of capturing ingredients at their peak season). He buys his meat, fish and certified organic produce directly from a handful of reliable farmers. In 2011, it was voted 12th best restaurant in the world. Visitors to Tokyo must have their photo taken with the famous Hachiko dog statue outside the Shibuya subway station entrance. This hound became famous for faithfully waiting for his master, who had died from a brain haemorrhage on the way home, for nine years. His story was even made into a Hollywood film starring Richard Gere. The current bronze statue was placed in 1948 at the spot where Hachiko used to stand. If you need a break from the city, head out to see the Great Buddha of Kamakura. Take a rickety old train across country for an hour to see the towering 13-metre bronze statue in the grounds of Kotokuin Temple. Lowlights:

Buy a good guidebook if you’re venturing outside Tokyo because some areas only have Japanese signs. Communication can be difficult, but with a smile people usually find a way to assist you.

ha G r e at B ud d a of K a m ak ur

Must buy souvenir:

Visit the Oriental Bazaar, located in the Middle of the Omotesando district, for a coffee mug featuring a picture of Mount Fuji (Fuji San). The Japanese say that each day you see Fuji San, you’ll have a great day. If you’re on a daytime flight, and lucky enough to have a window seat, you’ll have a wonderful view of Mount Fuji as you approach Tokyo’s Narita International Airport.

Where to stay: Tokyo is famous for its eclectic selection of hotels – from the sublimely ostentatious to the downright quirky. For those on a budget, try a capsule hotel. Sleeping in a tiny cramped pod often measuring just two square metres is an experience. Good ones have a television and offer food service. They are usually filled with businessmen who have missed the last train home or the curious. Most, such as the Shinjuku Kuyakusho–mae Capsule Hotel are men-only (capsules from RO17 per night) but the Asakusa Hotel & Capsule has women pods with Internet and shared washing facilities from RO11 ( Tanoshinde! (enjoy)


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Postcards from




Forget about notebooks and pens – things have got much more high-tech for today’s back-to-school students, says Penny Fray LOVE THE SKIN YOUR IPAD’S IN

This fashionable folio-style case cradles your iPad to protect both its touch screen and back panel – just like the cover of a book. A magnetic clasp keeps the folio closed when you move around. And because no part of your device should be left unprotected, the skin is covered with an intelligent, liquid-repellent coating. Available from at RO58



This Livescribe Sky device marries old school penand-ink with cloud technology. Not only does it record everything you write and hear but it also automatically and wirelessly sends your notes to a secure storage system, allowing you to access your work any time, any place, any where. How cool is that? Available from RO52 at

EDITOR’S PICK Audio cramming? You may not be able to use your boom box in the library but these urban ears are ideal for blocking out everything but the sweet sound of study. Oh, and did we mention the fact that they’re eco friendly too? Made from the spare parts of previous collections, these headphones by Urbanears help protect the Costa Rican rainforest. Each special edition pair comes with a GPS tracking code, so you can see exactly where you’re protecting with your purchase. Buy for RO43 at 044

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It’s young, fun and more economical than the grown-up Q10 – no wonder BlackBerry’s Q5 is causing a bit of a stir this summer. Not only have the keys been redesigned to help you type faster but this stylish smartphone also features a BBM video, screen share and story maker. Price yet to be confirmed. For more information, go to



You have a lot of gadgets to lug around all day – so you may as well do it in style with this leather-trimmed backpack from Marc by Marc Jacobs. The bright, durable nylon will stand up to the elements, while the central compartment offers enough room for all your essentials. From RO148


For those who would forget their heads if they weren’t attached to their bodies, salvation is here. Stick-N-Find is a kind of location sticker linked to a smartphone app that can attach itself to practically anything – including wayward kids and expensive laptops. Available from RO20 for two at

NEW! SPECIALIZED TURBO BIKE Is it a bird, is it a plane – no, it’s a brilliant new electronic bike that hits 27mph. A sleek, racy alloy frame for high-speed riding with tapered head tube, fully integrated down tube battery, internal routing, thru-axle dropouts and full fender/rack mounts. Magura MT Carbon hydraulic brakes with carbon levers/clamps and 180mm rotors provide huge braking power and great modulation; plus regenerative charge to battery when engaged.

Direct Drive rear hub motor provides uber efficient power directly where it counts—at the rear wheel—for maximum push and efficiency at both full Turbo speed and on slow hill climbs. Wireless interface unit with illuminated display to show assist level, battery status, light on/ off switch as well as normal bike computer features like speed, time and distance. Illuminated grip remote switch to adjust power level. For more information, go to http://turbo.


Hate homework? We feel your pain. But the MyHomework app is easy to organise and keeps track of your upcoming assignments and class schedule. The old excuse that your dog ate your notebook no longer applies. Free from iTunes.

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Postcards from



C ars

VW Touareg V6 3.6

Engine: 3.6 Litre V6 Horsepower: 360 Transmission: Eight-speed automatic Top speed: 228kmph Price: From RO15,950

Car of the Week VW’s luxury SUV offers outstanding performance both off-road and in the city – for a price, says Joe Gill


riving down another steep and stony section of the track that takes you over Jebel Akhdar, I realized the VW Touareg was braking for me. At first I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it – the hair-raising nature of the driving had made me a little light-headed. But I was not mistaken – this awe-inspiring work of engineering was indeed slowing us to a crawl on the steepest descents, so that I could take my foot off the brake and leave it to the car. In rough or dangerous terrain, it’s hard to put a price on that kind of reassurance. It’s almost as if the makers of the car are there with you, like high-tech angels protecting you and your passengers. If you’re going to put your life in the hands of a car, the VW Touareg is one to do it in. It may be a crossover SUV, but it in my experience its off-road qualities measure up to the big boys, inspiring confidence in demanding environments. Rather like its nomadic Saharan namesake, the Touareg is your essential companion in the wilderness, be it the desert or, in our case, the mountains. On the highway too, you can 046

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feel the powerful torque at work as you take curves at high speed. I found out first-hand how vital the car’s ability to clear rocks or bumps with angles up to 27 degrees can be. With excellent steering and traction that holds even at a lateral tilt of 35 degrees, it can turn and manoeuvre through the trickiest of spots. The Touareg warns you with its audio clearance system when you are close to hitting something – whether it is in front of you, at the side or to the rear. Which came in rather handy when I took a wrong turn into the back streets of Muttrah on a busy weekend. The further I went, the narrower the streets became until I could go no further. I had to reverse between badly parked cars and pedestrians going home from the mosque. And yet with the highly responsive steering and warning system, I smoothly navigated my way out. I hardly broke a sweat. Inside the Touareg, the driver and passenger seat are almost infinitely adjustable, the fourzone AC keeps front and back row happy, while the large sunroof opens and closes with a nifty bevel-style button. The high position of the seat gives the driver a good view of

the road in front of you. The digital display is functional, if not exactly idiotproof. For a price, you can equip the car with a radio navigation system that displays a 3-D view of the surrounding area – although this was not included in our test vehicle. Another ‘ooh-aah’ moment was noticing how the low-beam lights adjusted to visibility on the road, giving off a stronger beam in patches where street lighting was lacking. The boot is spacious, with handy straps to stop your cool box from rolling on the corners, and opens and closes electronically. In truth, the way the Touareg surprises and impresses, from the moment you first set eyes on its head-turning features, is enough to make a grown man – or woman – swoon. Then you look at the price and realise that this kind of worldclass engineering does not come cheap. It starts at RO15,950 before you have thrown in any extras. Parts are also expensive but they are made to last. I hesitated before handing over the keys and getting back in my modest saloon. I had been to the mountaintop and I didn’t want to come back down.

They say: ‘Top-of-the-range crossover SUV.’ We say: ‘Luxury off-road drive.’

Check this out

Gear ratio reduction with permanent all-wheel drive Automatic safety brake on steep inclines Stability on lateral slopes up to 35 degrees angle Clearance of bumps up to 27 degrees Extendable boot with power- folding back seats and lashing strap to secure loads Push-button, fully adjustable front seats Four-zone temperature control AC Responsive low-beam headlights that adjust to external illumination Audio collision warning system Optional radio navigation system and external all-round cameras

MMC_RangeSedan_ Y MAG_ 25W X 35H


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Y #282, 15 August 2013  

Your guide to the best that Oman has to offer