MAR 13 - 19 • ISSUE 261 • WEEKLY
Self Publish Or Be Damned
The trials and tribulations EVERY WEDNESDAY AVAILABLE IN BARKA of being an author in Oman NOW ALL THE WAY TO SOHAR JUNGLE FEVER / SPA HEAVEN GHUBRA / MOTOR SHOW
32 When good skin turns bad
EXPLORING: Qalhat Tomb RECORD BREAKING: Giant Kummah EXTREME SAILING: Y On Board
Your top guide to the best of Oman, every week
OMAN’S DESERTS in danger Development or destruction?
MAMA MANIA ON THE MENU
For those of you who haven’t already popped the date in your diary, March 21 is Mother’s Day – and to celebrate – we want your favourite, mum-inspired recipe. In association with Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat, the winning dish will appear on a restaurant menu, which you and your family can taste. This is the last chance to send in your gastronomic ode to motherhood. Email your family recipe to email@example.com by March 15. Oh – and talking of M-Day – get a chance to win an extra RO20 voucher at Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat by sending in a letter on why your Mum is special. We’ll print the best. Send your tributes to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 18.
TOPPING THE TREND BAROMETER
Shhhhh….the latest hype in housing is silence. Imagine it - a home with no chugging washing machine, humming fridge or buzzing air con – just peace and quiet in the world’s first Quiet House. Find out what else is cool in construction during this week’s Big Show at the Oman International Exhibition Centre from March 17-20.
THIS WEEK… Team Y have been pottering round Nizwa, freaking out about giant spiders and sampling the delights of Syrian fare. Tell us about your week on Twitter @ ytabloid
Welcome to the new look Y Tabloid - your indispensable guide to everything modern Oman has to offer.
Fast forward J
ust as poets say that science takes away the beauty of the stars, so explorers lament the arrival of oil companies in the desert. I know this because our photographer Jerzy Wierzbicki was upset when the tentative signs of energy exploration blighted his recent trip to the frontier. The hunger for black gold has already changed some aspects of the desert regions of Oman, while hunting, human encroachment and habitat destruction have all caused the extinction of some of the desert’s inhabitants, including the honey badger, the striped hyena and – before its reintroduction – the Arabian Oryx. The threats to this eco-region are endless – and yet it receives only a fraction of the attention afforded to the Antarctic. And so the inevitable question follows – is what’s happening in the desert development or disaster? Also in this edition – we explore the difficulties of getting published in Oman, as well as the usual feast of food, fashion and technological trends. Enjoy!
EDITOR IN CHIEF Sayyida Iman bint Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Eihab Abutaha CONTRIBUTORS Kate Ginn, Joe Gill, Tariq al Haremi, Heather Duncan, Laura Shergold
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PHOTOGRAPHER Jerzy Wierzbicki ART DIRECTOR Matthew Herbst DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Feroz Khan LOGISTICS MANAGER Ayman Canawati
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MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 260
contents MARCH 13 2013
Features 19 Lost Frontier Wire In The Sand 23 Oman Book Fair Publishing In Oman
Your Oman 06 The Big Interview Marius Wolmarans 08 Voice of Oman Readers’ Letters 10 News Boy Found
Food & Drink 26 Trend Best Of British 28 Restaurant Review The Jungle 29 Gallery Free Running
This Week 14 This Week The Big Show 16 Movies Listing Jack the Giant Slayer 18 Gallery Motor Show
Cars & Outdoors Health & Beauty 30 Fashion Army Men 32 Beauty Sins Of The Skin 34 Tried & Tested Chi The Spa 36 Shop Of The Week Mistal
38 Destination Qalhat Tomb 40 My Hood Ghubra 42 Outdoors Extreme Sailing 44 Y-Fi Kitchen Gadgets 46 Car Of The Week Audi Q3
44 NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE...
mother’s Day festival the rise of the nomo woman maternity wear zumba fever increasing fertility
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! Y A TOD
MARCH 2013 PRIZE
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路 The earlier you deposit, the more your chances to win. 路 Minimum average balance of RO 100 for 30 days is required to participate in the prize draws. 路 Interest bearing accounts are also available. Terms & Conditions apply.
OUT OF AFRICA
Marius Wolmarans, General Manager of Radisson Blu Hotel, Muscat Words: Penny Fray Give us a quick lowdown on your career. I started in the hospitality industry in South Africa and worked my way up the career ladder in various hotels. I joined the Radisson nearly four years ago, working in Cape Town before moving here last April. This is my first general manager position and I love it. What’s been the best bit? The highlight of my career has definitely been moving to Muscat. I did the backpacking thing years ago – but this is my first real expat job. It’s really exciting because this is my first hotel – and the way we manage hotels in the Radisson is that you are fully responsible for your place. Completely. I’m in charge of everything from guest flow to finance. If I could feel that I’ve made a difference in my industry for just a couple of Omanis, I’d be happy. Muscat is on the move. Do you think that’s true and if so, how has it impacted you? As a corporate hotel, there are a lot of opportunities here in Muscat in terms of development. Tourism is also important because it puts the country, metaphorically speaking, firmly on the map. What is your USP is in terms of catering to your corporate clientele? It’s very easy – no fuss and no complications. You can check in easily and there’s free, fast Internet that works. What are your short, mid and long-term goals? Short term is about capitalising on the projects and developments that are up and running in the hotel. We’ve refurbished our rooms but some of the public areas need to be revamped in the next three years or so. Eventually, I’d like to move on to a bigger, five-star facility – but not anytime in the foreseeable future. I first need to make this place a success. I really like this hotel. It’s a nice, compact, business unit that’s at the heart of city life. . What do you do in your free time? In Oman, you have to experience nature, whether it’s a wadi, beach or cave. I usually go online, print off Y magazine’s destination page and put it in a file ready for the weekend. There’s little time for additional hobbies when you have three kids and a hotel. What are your main business values? Fairness and respect – that’s how I deal with staff, guests, suppliers and stakeholders.
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Marcus’ success mantras: 1. Patience – don’t rush anything. 2. Surround yourself with a solid support structure – both in and out of work. 3. Believe in yourself – never listen to anyone who says it won’t work until you’ve tried it yourself.
The Voice of Oman Rumaitha Al Busaidi talks about the importance of being a knowledgeable ambassador
correspondence Keeping our children safe Dear Editor,
man is a four-letter word that brings up so many jumbled emotions in my mind. It’s my identity, my land and my home – and yet do I really know it? I was always proud to mention the name of my beloved country when I was studying abroad. Being away for long periods got me to read and study more about its history, the legacy it left behind and, more importantly, what it is now; a progressive developing country with so much potential. It soon became a habit to educate myself more about Oman – and in turn, educate everyone else about it. I felt a sense of pride in being able to answer the questions asked about the geography and culture of my homeland. But being an ambassador can be tough. It requires a lot of patience, especially when people still think we get around on camels and that every Arabian girl must be a daughter of a sheikh who has an oil well in his backyard (trust me I ran into a few people who asked me that question!) With this level of unawareness, isn’t it our job to let everyone know simple facts about the place we call home? It saddens me when I encounter so many of the younger generation lately who have no idea about the basics – like, for instance, the Blessed Renaissance began on the July 23, 1970 and not November 18. If we don’t inform our little brothers and sisters about their country, how are we supposed to put Oman on the map?
Next week: yummy mummy karima farid
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
I am a parent in complete distress. Why? Pondering about the safety of my children is giving me sleepless nights. After reading the two articles about children being abducted from schools and public places, I have really lost my composure. Being brought up in Oman myself, I always thought it to be quite safe but these shocking incidents have just triggered a buzz in my head to take more care of my children’s safety. But how safe are they once they leave my circle of influence? I even take them to the bus stop for their school. But after that, I feel my children are on their own. The limit to how much a parent can caution their child and how much the child’s presence of mind helps in such a situations just keeps me wondering in anguish.
Winner! Reply of the Week
I wish the authorities concerned would look into the matter more seriously and the schools take complete responsibility for each child once he/she reaches the school and until they leave the premises. I also request that parents who go to pick up their children after school ask them to wait inside the school premises. I am sure all schools have waiting rooms from where the child can be fetched. They will be much safer than if they are waiting on the road outside the school. It’s better to be late for whatever you are doing than to be upset after something has gone wrong. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Nothing is more important than the safety of your child. Nothing. Shabana Haris, Muttrah
WOMEN RISE ABOVE THE RAT RACE Dear Editor On International Women’s Day, amid all the glib talk of women’s empowerment and gender equality, women have realised that healthy competition and co-operation can run parallel like two railway tracks, for a win-win situation for all, irrespective of gender inequality (Y Issue 260). Gone are the days when the saying ‘women are the worst enemies of women’ is right. Moreover, in these days of the rat race, with phrases like ‘live and let live’ being the punch words, it is a quid-pro-quo to compete and yet cooperate for the simple reason that co-operation doesn’t necessarily have to be self-detrimental. Articles like Penny Fray’s add to awareness and act as reminders that we should rethink and retune for the better, rather than being jealous, egotistic and threatening.
WRITE TO US AND WIN A VOUCHER
To the editor’s pick of inspirational women, I take the liberty of adding the 14-year-old Pakistani blogger activist Malala Yousafzai, who nearly paid with her life for speaking out about girls being denied an education. Her story is a true inspiration. It proves that a voice, no matter how young, can make a difference. She has become an iconic symbol of hope for all those denied human rights. I also refer to a recent research finding published in the periodical Intelligence (MarchApril 2013) which concludes that women’s brain works more effectively than men’s even though their brains are smaller, so women are better than men at inductive reasoning, keeping track of tasks, numerical attention and spatial tasks. Regards, Usha Devi Suddapalli, Ruwi
SEND US YOUR letters, photos, news and views to firstname.lastname@example.org / @ytabloid / www.facebook.com/ytabloid. Impress us and we’ll send the winning correspondent a RO20 voucher to use at the Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat.
YOUR FEEDBACK IS IMPORTANT TO US
Debate of the Week We asked:
What is your favourite joke? Natalie Placid Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash. Now we have no jobs, no hope, and no cash. Tahseen Rizwana Kareem Waiter: What would you like to have? Customer: Coffee Waiter: Black? Customer: What other colours do you have? Upasna Sharma Wife: I wrote your name on sand it got washed away. I wrote your name in air, it was blown away. Then I wrote your name on my heart and I got a heart attack. Husband: God saw me hungry, He created pizza. He saw me thirsty, He created Pepsi. He saw me in the dark, he created light. He saw me without problems, he created YOU.
Hooked on Y
FA C E B O O K
My wife and I are ‘hooked’ on reading the Y on a weekly basis. We are new to Oman, but happy to find such a valuable publication available for free, and having all the news, info, activities and reports. My wife loves your women and food sections and I am collecting all the articles about activities and places to visit during the coming period. Congratulations on a job well done and good luck for additional progress and improvements.
It is good that there are periodic checks by the concerned authorities on the expiry dates of perishable commodities in supermarkets here in Oman. I always check the production and expiry date before a purchase. But I found this one chocolate bar really amusing. The production date on a pack of chocolates was 13-06-2013 while the expiry date was 13-03-2013. So the chocolates were expired and then produced!
Hani Antar, Ghubra
I'm a reader
Best wishes, Jonitha D’Cruz
Husnain Hussain was spotted with a copy of Y Magazine at Al Amerat (Wadi Hatat)
Ally Marley Bimani Teacher: I said all stupid people should stand up. Juma looks around and sees that nobody has stood up, so he stands up. Teacher: So Juma, are you stupid? Juma: No Madam, I just can’t bear to see you standing alone. Numan Kayser My class teacher pointed a ruler at me and said: “At this end of the ruler stands a fool!” I got detention for asking which end. Vijayalakshmi Shetty The math teacher saw that Harold wasn’t paying attention in class. She said: “Harold! What are 2 and 4 and 28 and 44?” Harold quickly replied: “NBC, FOX, ESPN and the Cartoon Network!” Y Magazine editor Penny Fray shares her favourite joke: A penguin walks into a shop and asks the assistant: “Do you have any grapes?” “No,” he replies. The same thing happens the next day and on the third day the assistant replies: “No, and if you come in asking for grapes again I will nail your flippers to the floor!” Next day the penguin walks in and asks: “Got any nails?” “No,” replies the assistant. “Got any grapes?” the penguin asks.
This Week’s Debate: Are our children safe on the streets? Tell us on Facebook.
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MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
PARENTS’ RELIEF AS MISSING BOY FOUND SAFE Community wants action after a series of attempted abductions
arents have been left fearing for the safety of their children after two cases of attempted abduction in a week. In the most recent case, a schoolboy was found with his hands and legs tied after he was allegedly taken from a supermarket car park in Wadi Kabir. Noel Sam Abraham, 16, has told police that three men took him to several different locations. A family friend told Y that the abductors had apparently used chloroform to make him unconscious before the kidnap. Just three days before, a 12-year-old girl escaped after allegedly being forcibly taken to an isolated dwelling in Wadi Kabir. Two men were later arrested. Y has also found out about another case of an attempted kidnapping in Azaiba when a teenage boy was taken in a car. He managed to escape unharmed. Parents also contacted us about an incident on a school bus last month when a man allegedly molested two young girls. The incidents have put the safety of children and teenagers in Muscat under the spotlight. “The recent incident is an eye opener for all parents who leave their children alone at home due to work problems, or something like shopping,” said Habil Bhagat, a Y reader and parent. “It is high time the Indian Embassy conducts some awareness seminar to all parents and creates an atmosphere of safety and security amongst Indians.” Another parent, Shabana Haris, said: “I am a parent in complete distress for the last couple of days. Pondering about the safety of my children is giving me sleepless nights. “Being brought up in Oman myself I always thought Oman to be quite safe. I wish the authorities concerned would look into the matter more seriously.” She urged parents to pick up their children after school and ask them to wait inside. Social media sites, local forums and mobile messaging apps were abuzz with the story of Noel Sam Abraham. A post about the case on Y’s Facebook page attracted more than 18,700 hits. A photograph of the teenager semi-unconscious with his legs and hands bound with coloured string has been widely circulated on the WhatsApp mobile phone application. Noel had been reported missing from the car park of the LuLu Hypermarket in Wadi Kabir on Friday night. He had been left alone in the car while his family went into the shop. There were signs of a struggle at the scene and a ripped piece of Noel’s t-shirt was found in the car along with his footwear and schoolbooks. A student at Indian School Darsait, he had been due to take an
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
Words: Kate Ginn
Noel Sam Abraham
examination the following day and was apparently anxious about it. Police launched a search of the area with specially trained sniffer dogs. A photograph of Noel appealing for information was posted on social media sites and the story went viral within hours. It was in the early hours of Sunday morning that supermarket employees stumbled upon the schoolboy at the back of the LuLu building near some rocks after hearing cries. “He was tied with his legs and hand,” said Najeeb Kolangaddubrambal, a family friend. “The family has said he had scratches and bites. He was very dehydrated because he had been without food and water for over 24 hours. “He has told his parents that there had been three men speaking in a language he didn’t understand. He was moved to [different locations] at least twice and was covered with a plastic sheet at times.” He is not said to have sustained any serious injuries. At the time of going to press, the Royal Oman Police had made no formal statement. Noel, who has a younger brother, is still being treated in hospital. His father, Abraham Samuel, a Ministry of Health employee, told Y: “Thank God we have him back, that’s what matters. We don’t know when he will be out of hospital.” According to Kolangaddubrambal, one of his friend’s sons was almost abducted a few days before. The 15-year-old was approached by a man in a car in Azaiba and was lured into the car and the windows locked. He managed to escape. “They didn’t report it to police because they didn’t want any trouble.” Last month, a mother told Y how she intervened when she saw a man apparently molesting young schoolgirls, aged between six and eight, on a school bus. “He was touching and kissing the girls and sometimes he stood and then sat,” said Rubeena Ibrahim. “It was so shocking that I had to do something so I stopped at the light behind the bus and went to the driver who was busy talking on his phone, unaware of what was happening at the back of the bus. “I climbed in and saw two men in blue uniforms snuggled with the girls. I scolded the men but they didn’t get off. I wish I could have done more.” The issue was also debated on the Muscat Mums Internet forum. Najeeb Kolangaddubrambal said the recent spate of incidents had left parents wondering what would happen next. “I think parents in the community are worried after what’s happened recently. Everyone needs to be more vigilant.”
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Hats off to you!
Largest Kummah in the world puts Amani in the record books At whopping 5.2 metres in circumference and 1 metre high, this Kummah is quite a sight to behold. And thanks to Amani al Raisi, it now has a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest ever made. Amani, 17, always dreamed of achieving something seemingly impossible and making her country proud. She came up with the idea of making the biggest Kummah in the world. Oman is the only place where the traditional cap is worn. The inspiration came from Amani’s mother, who helped with the mammoth task. It took Amani and her family around 18 months to stitch the creation. And they
counted every single one of the 200,000 stitches it took to complete. The symbols on the Kummah represent Oman. Her father and friends Rohit Jadhav and Ojas Bhatia also helped Amani in her quest to become a record breaker. There was a collective holding of breath when the Guinness Book of Records checked the Kummah, which is 1.6 metres in diameter, before declaring it a worldbeater. It officially entered the Guinness record books on February 26. Amani, a pupil at Al Amerat School, wants the beautiful work of art to be a gift to her country. “I want all young women out there to believe that nothing is impossible, it all starts with a dream.”
FROM LITTLE SEEDS
ith tender care, these youngsters are helping shape a new landscape for Oman and looking after the environment. The children were among 70 volunteers helping to plant 800 mangrove seedlings on the island of Masirah, as part of an initiative by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs. These young saplings, in both senses, will grow up to be part of the future of the country. When the little ones are older, they should see the fruits of their labour blossoming too. Mangrove trees can grow more than 60 feet tall. Children from Masirah Secondary School for Girls and members of the Omani Women’s Association Island Masirah group took part in the event. The planting is part of the ministry’s project launched in early 2001, which has seen more than half a million mangrove seedlings planted to date. MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
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Equine therapy helping children with special needs Words: Kate Ginn
heir work has transformed the lives of Omani children and adults with special needs and now they need your help to continue the vital service. Para Equestrian Therapeutic Riding Activities (PETRA) has launched a fundraising appeal for money to convert a donated broken down farm into stables to house their horses. The plot in Al Seeb was handed over by the Oman Equestrian Federation, with support from the Ministry of Sport. PETRA, which was founded in 2009, now needs to raise around RO80,000 to create a stable block. “Once we raise the money, the work can be completed within three months,” says Amanda Collins, one of PETRA’s qualified equine therapy instructors. “We have expanded so much in the last four years. We have riders waiting for therapy.” It hopes to have 10 horses donated by the Oman Royal Cavalry and the animals will be retrained for therapy work. Therapeutic riding, also known as equineassisted therapy or riding for the disabled, uses a horse to help children and adults with a variety of physical or behavioral issues. The youngest riders are just five years old. The therapy can be used for a range of special needs from spina bifida and cerebral palsy, to autism and Down’s Syndrome. Those with spinal injuries may also benefit. “The movement of the horse stimulates the nerves, muscles and joints,” says Collins. “It’s not a cure but it helps people to feel better. It is also good for selfconfidence and self-esteem. Because they are no longer in a wheelchair, they feel equal. The feedback from parents is amazing. “We had one boy with cerebral palsy who did not socialise and was very down, on anti-depressants. “Now, he is happy, confident and is integrated with the rest of the village. When you hear stories like that, it makes everything worthwhile.” PETRA only works with local children and adults. A non-profit organisation, it does not charge for its services. All the horse leaders and instructors are volunteers, willingly giving their time to a good cause. More Omani volunteers are needed. PETRA’s new facility will also house a training school, where it is hoped to train locals in their unique work to create a generation of qualified Omani therapy riding instructors.
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Royal Visit to Oman PRINCE Charles and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall are due to arrive in Oman in a few days on the final leg of a three-country regional tour of the Middle East. The couple will also visit Jordan and Qatar as part of a mission to promote British interests in the region. They arrived in Jordan on Monday (11), where they were due to be greeted by King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, before heading to Doha and then Oman. The couple’s engagements in Oman will cover military personnel, health and education issues. During the trip the Prince of Wales will meet with Sultan Qaboos bin Said, a personal friend of The Queen. They will also be guests of honour at a reception at the house of the British Ambassador. This will be Prince Charles’ fifth official visit to the country and the first for the Duchess.
T H E W H AT ’ S O N G U I D E March
Yanni’s Coming Romantics and music lovers will be thrilled to hear that Greek composer and performer Yanni, who played to rapt audiences in Oman two years back, is bringing back his live musical extravaganza at the 5000-capacity City Amphitheatre, Qurum, on March 21. Yanni combines exotic instruments, treated vocals and high-tech studio wizardry
to produce rhapsodic melodies loved across the world. Black & White Events is organising the show, with profits helping to support Dar Al Atta’a to raise funds for building a school shelter for children in Yiti village. Tickets are priced at OMR25, OMR50 and OMR100 and can be booked on 24565697 and 98675976.
What to do.
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
What to see. What to hear.
Another day, another chance to experience the mad, bad and dangerous on the roads of Oman. Across the Gulf region the issue of traffic safety will be highlighted for GCC Traffic Week with events, talks and exhibitions taking place. Muscat City Centre will see a road safety exhibition under the slogan, ‘Let’s Work Together to Reduce Road Accidents.’ Visiting police officials will be sharing international practice on how to keep the roads safe.
If you build it The Big Show 2013 takes place at the Oman Expo Centre under the title ‘Focus on Oman’s Infrastructure Development’; it’s the 10th international exhibition and will feature an extensive range of the latest building materials, construction equipment, interior furnishings, services and technologies in the market. Could they possibly help bring forward the day Muscat has a public transit system before we all get stuck permanently on the expressway? Doors open between 3pm – 9.30pm.
Share a Dream Today is the final deadline for the seventh Dar Al Atta’a Children’s Writing Competition for poetry under the theme of ‘My Dream’. Send original work of no more than 12 lines, with the student’s name, age, school, and contact number to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries are judged according to three age groups: 4-8, 9-13 and 14-18 years. Go to www.letsreadoman@groups. facebook.com for details.
Lights Out As the evidence of human created climate change grows stronger, Earth Day on March 23 is a chance to show your concern by taking part in a shutdown for one hour – as will people in 92 cities worldwide. A hotel might seem an unlikely place to take action for the climate, but the Park Inn is asking guests to turn the power off in their rooms from 8.30 to There are fewand thingsgoin to the field film, music and television 9.30pm theofcandle-lit that Indian star Himesh Reshammiya has not put his hand Sama Terrazza rooftop wearing to – music director, actor, singer, TV and film producer, green. The hotel will give away 10 lyricist and script writer. Fusing western and Indian classical weekend breakfasts for two if 100 with techno beats,turn he hasup created winning Hour. formula with a string people on aEarth of hits to his name. On Thursday he is performing at the City Ampitheatre as part of the Omantel Hayyak Night series alongside a troupe of talented singers including Anwesha Dutta and Vineet Singh.
Bollywood Fever March 23 March 14
There are few things in the field of film, music and television that Indian star Himesh Reshammiya has not put his hand to – music director, actor, singer, TV and film producer, lyricist and script writer. Fusing western and Indian classical with techno beats, he has created a winning formula with a string of hits to his name. On Thursday, he is performing at the City Ampitheatre as part of the Omantel Hayyak Night series alongside a troupe of talented singers including Anwesha Dutta and Vineet Singh.
All-seeing eye Abstraction is the theme of MuscArt’s monthly photographic competition sponsored by Panasonic, with the final deadline for entries on March 20. The competition is open to all artists resident in Oman aged 15 or over, whether amateur or professional. Artists may submit one entry photo only into the competition each month. Manipulation of images must be minimal. The winning photographs – chosen by MuscArt’s three judges are eligible to win a Panasonic ‘G’ series DSL Mirrorless. Send photos to email@example.com
The Great Escape It’s no secret that temperatures are rising and many of us are already planning our escape from the heat. The Guide Oman is ahead of us and is taking bookings for its ‘Easter in the Mountains’ overnight excursion to Sunrise Mountain Resort in Jabel Shams. It will take in Bait al Saffah, Al Hamra’s traditional Omani home, a picnic, some climbing at Jabel Asar’h and dinner at the resort’s Sunrise Restaurant as well as views of Oman’s Grand Canyon. Contact Rebecca Mayston on 9803 8820 or Abdul Rahman on 92285813 for more details.
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Argo This entertaining and tense drama about a lesser-known real-life rescue operation during the Iranian revolution won Best Picture for Ben Affleck at the Oscars last month. That’s why it’s back on release. In 1979 six American officials managed to escape from the US embassy in Tehran just as it was being over-run by a revolutionary mob. The six escapees reached the Canadian embassy, at which point, CIA ‘exfiltration’ expert Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) is assigned to get them out of the country. The method chosen is so unlikely, only those wacky guys at Langley could have cooked it up. A fake film crew of Americans using Canadian passports enters the country pretending to be scouting for a sci-fi movie called ‘Argo’. To make the hoax as convincing as possible, real Hollywood crew
are employed and a laughable script is read out in a Los Angeles hotel, dutifully reported by Variety. Argo is clever on the absurdity of espionage and the reality of film production. This is a Hollywood movie about itself – how the powers of illusion employed in the movies can also be used for political ends. Arguably the film’s finale undermines the whole by slipping into jingoistic mode for the boys and girls back home. Affleck as director and lead makes much of the period, with top-notch flared suits and moustaches. He also genuflects to the classic political thrillers of the ’70s including All The President’s Men and The Conversation – but Argo, despite its Oscars triumph and undoubted qualities, is not quite in that class. Reviews by Joe Gill
Jack the Giant Slayer Fee fi fo fum - yes, it’s another rebooted fairy tale. Handsome Jack lives with his grumpy uncle in ye olde land of Cloister. He sells his horse for some magic beans and, before you know it, up jumps a beanstalk. When princess Isabelle (Eleanor Thompson) is kidnapped by villain Roderick, Jack sets off to rescue her and foil Roderick’s plans to conquer the world with the help of the giants. Fantasy action with Ewan McGregor and Ian McShane.
THIS WEEK’S MOVIES
smart and touching. Others will find it twee, self-absorbed and humourless.
For more information and times, go to: City Cinema: citycinemaoman.net Al Bahja Cinema: albahjacinema.net Star Cinema: Tel +968 24791641
While probing into his small town’s dark past for a school project, Julian (Johnny Pacar) discovers there’s more to an old murder story than his mother, a police lieutenant, has told him. The house where the notorious killings took place is still standing and a baby at the scene of the crime survived. Starring Christian Slater.
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
Take This Waltz Canadian Sarah Polley’s film will divide viewers in the same way as does countryman Leonard Cohen (whose song gives the film its title) – you’ll either love it or hate it. Some will find its story of an emotional triangle between married author Margot, hubby Lou (Seth Rogan) and the artist next door, Daniel,
A found footage horror film, this time set in Claridge, Maryland, where hundreds die in a terrible biological accident that is covered up by the authorities. A reporter uncovers the archives that explain what really happened, through recordings on people’s smart phones, web cams and whatever else was used to document the nightmare. Echoes of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.
Y’s TOP TWO Kelebegin Ruyasi (‘The Dream of a Butterfly’)
A mesmerising and deeply moving epic about the lives and friendship of three Turkish poets, one older and experienced, the other two young and talented, but suffering from tuberculosis. They spend most of their time together, attempting to get their poems published, fall for the same girl, and go to the same sanatorium. Heart breaking and yet full of humour. In Turkish with Arabic subtitles.
Cockneys vs Zombies
Two Cockney brothers lead the residents of a retirement home in a battle against the living dead in this horror comedy whose joke is in the title. Andy (Harry Treadaway) and Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) are in the middle of robbing a bank to save the home where their grandfather lives, when a zombie plague strikes East London. A superior addition to the genre.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK Beasts of the Southern Wild 016
The What’s On Guide
classic car and drift racing at Oman’s motor sports festival
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
The search for black gold is encroaching on areas of unique archeological and natural heritage Images: Jerzy Wierzbicki Words: Joe Gill
here is an area of the uninhabited desert region of Al Huqf Escarpment that encapsulates the unspoilt beauty of Oman, a wilderness belonging to nature that has been untouched by modern man. Until recently, that is. Now, the oil companies have moved in and things are changing. The pristine desert of Oman is being encroached on in the relentless search for the black gold that lies beneath The Al Huqf Escarpment is on the frontier of Oman’s desert wilderness and the expanding zone of oil exploration. Only six months ago, this particular spot – 50 kilometres west of Mahout in the Wusta Governate and 12km from the Siwan oil field – was untouched by human presence. But no longer. When Y photographer Jerzy Wierzbicki visited his favourite beauty spot on the escarpment recently he saw survey teams laying wires and criss-crossing the area in their search for oil deposits. “A few years ago, some exploration was planned there but was stopped,” said an environmental specialist in relation to the zone. “However many petroleum geologists still visit and study the area. PDO has organised expeditions to go there.” Y put calls into oil companies operating in central Oman and to PDO but none were available for comment as we went to press. For a lover of nature, and for anyone skeptical about the wonders of development, such a discovery can be painful. Each year the number of unspoilt wildernesses that remain beyond the bounds of homo economicus grow smaller. From the first great migrations of prehistory to the modern hunt for riches in the most far-flung wildernesses, we have always pushed the boundaries of nature. But only in recent times has the search become insatiable and threatened to destroy the last of the unspoilt regions of the Earth. The Al Huqf Escarpment is within the boundaries of the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, which was set up by Dr Andrew Spalton, under the auspices of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, in the early 1990s. Sadly, the reserve became the first ever to be delisted and removed from the World Heritage register in 2007 as a result of Oman’s decision to reduce the site by 90 per cent in pursuit of hydrocarbon exploration. The population of Arabian Oryx had fallen dangerously as a result of poaching and loss of habitat. Now most of the Oryx are confined to protect the species and numbers have recovered. In the same region, Jerzy has often driven across the salt basins, where large reservoirs of oil have been found. Hydro-
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carbons generated from Huqf sources are produced from a variety of reservoir types and ages ranging from Precambrian to Cretaceous in the Ghaba and Fahud Salt Basins. It may be an obvious thing to say, but hydrocarbons are created from organic matter that has been trapped in the earth over many millions of years. This is the reason hydrocarbon reservoirs are referred to by the geological era in which they were formed. Oman’s geological record dates back more than 500 million years to the earliest of eras – Cambrian and pre-Cambrian, dating back further – with evidence that Oman possesses some of the oldest rock formations on the planet. Aside from the clash between hydrocarbon exploitation and nature conservation, archeologists also have a big stake in the preservation of the Al Huqf. The southern end of the Arabian Peninsula was where humans made their first decisive steps in their journey of world discovery, when our ancestors crossed the narrow isthmus and arrived in western Asia – now Yemen and Oman. The evidence of this presence can be found in a number of archeological sites across Oman, including those discovered on the Al Huqf Escarpment, a desert area known for its remarkable geological formations – and also for its vast oil reserves. A 2007 survey by the Institute for Prehistory and Archaeological Science (IPAS) of the University of Basel discovered a wealth of Paleolithic sites in the area. Over five weeks a team of archeologists collected evidence on Omani prehistory and discovered no less than 369 archaeological sites. The results were “astonishing in the array of archeological sites that were identified”, wrote Swiss archaeologist Dr Reto Jagher in a 2010 study. The discoveries revealed a large and diverse prehistoric legacy in Central Oman reflecting a much bigger population than was expected in such an arid area. At one time, this remarkable desert was some kind of Eden for our ancestors. Its inhospitality today has to some extent protected this legacy, but for how much longer? As Y has found in its own visits to the area, there are literally hundreds of sites where man’s prehistory lies scattered and undisturbed by trophy hunters or oil exploration. But this is likely to change. The fate of the Oryx sanctuary is a salutary lesson on the impact of hydrocarbon development on Oman’s rare species and areas rich in archeological value. If exploration continues at the current pace, the survival of Oman’s last frontier is in the balance.
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W ire in the sand Jerzy Wierzbicki describes the changes he has seen around the ‘Duck Rock’ area of Al Huqf as a result of oil exploration
l Wusta is my favorite place in Oman. Why? There are almost no people, a diversity of pristine desert environments, rocks carved into the most unlikely forms by millions of years of erosion. Miles and miles of natural beauty. Perfect. The Al Wusta Governate encompasses Central Oman and three distinct environmental zones. In the west are the sand dunes of the Empty Quarter; the central part is the Al Huqf Escarpment; and the east reaches to the shoreline with many beautiful beaches. Al Huqf is unpredictable and full of locations ideal for photography as well as being tough to drive across even in a good 4x4. The ‘Duck Rock’ – pictured on the cover of this week’s Y - is a particular favorite location for me. It is a difficult route from the south between sand dunes and sabkah (salt basin) surfaces, which naturally tends to reduce the number of visitors to the area. Each time I go, I enjoy the pure, gorgeous desert. It’s just me, silence, the monumental rock and the moon as my only companion (and of course, my faithful dog, Trop). The rocks to the north, salt basins and the sand dunes to the south are to me the perfect example of the diversity of Oman’s deserts. I visited this particular location five months ago with a group of colleagues from Poland, Germany and Australia for some 4x4 adventures. When we reached this part of Al Huqf, I could see just a few signs of human presence, like an old tyre track from a Bedouin’s pick-up and some camel footprints. A few weeks ago I made a same trip from the asphalt road to ‘Duck Rock’ expecting the same. I was in for a surprise. The desert surface was crisscrossed by hundreds of tyre tracks. It looked like a sandy airstrip. Some of the grooves in the sand were very deep and wide, perhaps caused by heavy vehicles, so that even experienced 4x4 drivers had a problem crossing them.
Also new were the many electrical wires laid on the sand and stretching to the horizon. Some of my friends joked that in the 21st century even in the desert you can recharge your mobile phone or shaving machine. We did not touch anything but I felt I had to check what was happening and why this place had suddenly changed. Just a few kilometers from ‘Duck Rock’, between the asphalt road and our destination point, I saw a number of very large vehicles. It looked like the oil companies were carrying out exploration work. This explained the frequency of enormous tyre tracks on the sand and these colourful electrical wires. We reached the rock without any problems. This particular area is still accessible for anyone who is adventurous enough to come this far. There were no restrictions or check points limited the access to oil workers only. But one can safely assume – based on what has happened elsewhere – that should they find the oil, this unique and beautiful territory will be closed to visitors. By way of example, two years ago I planned to visit a great salty desert called Umm as Samim, located between Fahud and the dunes of the Empty Quarter. On the way my friend and I were stopped by the local police and informed that this area was now closed for travellers and we could not continue our trip without permission. We had to turn back and go home. I fear that if oil is discovered near ‘Duck Rock’ or other Al Huqf locations, they will be out of bounds for good.
A Brief History of Oil Exploration in Oman
t didn’t start very promisingly, but after decades of frustrating exploration, a discovery at Yibal in April 1962 marked the beginning of the commercial oil era in the Sultanate. The country is now 24th in the global oil production league with reserves of about 5.5 billion barrels. 1901/2: Members of the Geological Survey of India come to Oman looking for coal to keep it from falling into French or Russian hands. 1904: The Colonial Government of India sends Guy Pilgrim to the Arabian Gulf and Oman in search of oil. He reports that the oil prospects in Persia (Iran) were more promising than those in Oman and Arabia. 1925: Anglo Persian Oil Company’s exploration arm D’Arcy Exploration obtains a two-year licence to prospect in Oman. A party of geologists led by George Lees and K. Washington Gray reaches the western side of the Hajar mountains where some promising geological areas are noted. Tribal unrest prevents further exploration inland and they encounter further hostility on the coast. 1937: The consortium Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), obtains concessions for Oman and Dhofar through its associate company, Petroleum Development (Oman and Dhofar) Ltd. 1938: An attempted ambush by a sheikh in Buraimi cuts short the PDOD geological survey. 1939: An aerial survey and a brief land survey around Murbat reveal nothing of interest, 1948: Iraq Petroleum Country geologists René Wetzel and Mike Morton arrive in Salalah and undertake a 600 km trek by camel through the province. Their negative findings lead IPC to surrender the concession.
1952: The Sultan grants a concession in the Dhofar region to Wendell Phillips, an American archaeologist. He assigns it to American oil company, Dhofar-Cities Service Petroleum Corporation (DCSPC). 1954: Petroleum Development Oman – the operating company of Iraq Petroleum Company – send an expeditionary force with WWII tanks and local infantry to land at Duqm in the south. Permission to proceed is held up for seven months. 1956-60: Several wells are sunk at Jebel Fahud, and then more at Ghaba, Haima and Afar. Still no indication of oil in commercial quantities. Three of the IPC partners decide to withdraw, leaving Shell with a majority stake of 85% in PDO. 1955-58: DCSPC digs its first test wells in Dauka and Marmul but the results are disappointing. 1962-64: A new drilling programme follows Royal Dutch Shell’s careful study of all geological data. Oil and gas are discovered in the Shuaiba and Wasia limestones south-west of Fahud. Further productive wells are struck in 1963 and 1964. 1967: The first export of Omani oil took place on July 27 following the construction of a pipeline of 276km from Fahud and Natih to the coast at Mina al Fahal where a power plant was built. 1974: The Government of Oman acquires a 60% stake in PDO. Source: Buraimi: The Struggle for Power, Influence and Oil in Arabia by Quentin Morton. Published by I.B. Tauris Ltd
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
There are lots of writers in Oman desperate to get their work out there but trying to get published is a whole other story
Author: Kate Ginn
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f you were to use a book genre to describe the current state of the publishing industry in Oman, it might well be tragedy. A touch of the historical novel and romance perhaps, but certainly not a bestseller. Visiting the Muscat International Book Fair last weekend, you would have been forgiven for thinking the industry was enjoying an unprecedented boom. A queue of traffic to get entry into the Oman International Exhibition Centre snaked back to the roundabout. Inside, the crowds swarmed around the vast hanger-like space filled with row upon row of books spread out on stalls shining under the glare of the artificial spotlights. Don’t judge a book by its cover, as they say. Talking to people tells a very different story about publishing in Oman. At his stall in aisle H, Hassan Kamal was doing brisk business. His company in Lebanon publishes and distributes books, from action and military, to biographers and romances. They have offices in the UAE and Kuwait but not Oman. “There’s not much demand here,” says Kamal, chatting away while simultaneously stuffing a book into a plastic bag for a customer. “I’m actually looking for Omani authors to publish but the market doesn’t seem to be there. It costs a minimum $1,000 (RO385) to publish a book, paper is now very expensive, and so you have to be certain that it’s going to be worth your while.” Fostering a reading culture in Oman remains an issue but it certainly seems to be on the rise – judging by the number of visitors to the fair, at least. According to Kamal, however, the problem is the authors - there just aren’t enough fighting to get published. Now, the plot thickens. On the opposite page, authors complain that it’s virtually impossible to get their written work out there. There are only a handful of companies able to publish books, the largest being Al Roya Press & Publishing in Muscat, and trying to take an idea for a book to the finished article is far from easy. The story of Ali Saif al Rawahi is a case in point. Al Rawahi won first place in a novel writing competition back in 2009, organised by the Literary Society in Oman. After such an accolade, he might have expected a flood of interest from publishers keen to get his work on the shelves. In fact, it has taken almost five years to find a publisher and the company involved is in Jordan and Lebanon, not his home country of Oman. “Most writers I know get published outside of Oman,” says al Rawahi. “When I decided to write I knew that I would face many challenges; getting published was one of those challenges. “I also knew that there is little money in this business in this part of the world and I was conscious about how people don’t read here as well.” In al Rawahi’s eyes, this seems to be a tale of romance and triumph, the power of the written word winning out in the end. Awad al Luwaihi, a member of the Literary Society and the Omani Society for Writers, takes a rather more pragmatic view.
I’m actually looking for Omani authors to publish but the market doesn’t seem to be there
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They are doing it by themselves through self-initiative – that negativity of starting a new cultural project doesn’t exist any more
“We need a few publishers in Oman to take the chance but it’s not just about the money. “We need the government and the private sector to think about this. If they are serious about supporting authors, they need to make it easier for them to get published.” The Literary Society did receive some funding from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage last year for an initiative to publish selected manuscripts in seven areas, including poetry and fiction. Money donated from private philanthropic benefactors has helped the Omani Society of Writers publish 12 books. Self-publishing is often the only way for frustrated would-be authors. Sami Jaffer, 31, went down that route with his debut book, Pharha’s Quest, Adventures of the Shir Sha, a children’s novel. He paid the costs of the editing in the UK, the printing and publishing out of his own pocket and will struggle to make any profits from the sales. “I did speak to a publisher in Oman but the service being offered wasn’t all encompassing,” says Jaffer. “I also talked to other authors and one told me she had gone with an Egyptian group with her book. She paid them RO2000 to publish it and they printed just 20 copies. It’s cheaper to selfpublish and self-print. “I think what Oman has to do is leapfrog, miss out the whole paper book concept, and move forward to eBooks. “From a business perspective, nobody (the publishers) is willing to take a risk on anything.” Mohammed al Sadawi, who owns Beirut Bookshop in Al Qurum, which also publishes books, agrees with the last sentiment. “It’s expensive to publish and it’s difficult to distribute books too. The places are all spread out in the country, from Muscat to Salalah is over 1000 kilometres.” Of their 115 titles, only 15 are by Omani authors. Al Sadawi hopes to increase this to 50 within three years but there has to be an audience. “The actual process of publishing and printing is easy but our problem is selling the books,” he says. “There is not a culture for buying books in Oman. They don’t want to pay for books.” Al Luwaihi, a published poet, believes the feel and smell of paper will prevail. “We still need paper books in Oman because there are many people who don’t have access to eBooks or they prefer to get it in paper form.” Perhaps the last word should go to al Rawahi, who at the age of 30, is on the verge of finally becoming a published author. “I am optimistic. What makes my hopes high is seeing a new generation of writers and artists who are very enthusiastic about lifting the literary scene in Oman up to a standard that we are all hoping to reach. “And they are doing it by themselves through self-initiative. That negativity of starting a new cultural project doesn’t exist any more. They finish their work and then seek help or an outlet. “And I am glad that I have friends and acquaintances among them.” MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
food and drink
Cook a British meal for friends. Nothing beats old favourites like cottage pie followed by apple crumble. For recipes log on to www.lovebritishfood. co.uk/recipes/
British grub, once the subject of culinary disdain, is suddenly stylish again. The nation’s stodgy staples, curvy cooks and bespoke brands are now trending in Oman thanks to the Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and nostalgic expats. To celebrate the island’s famous food heritage, LuLu Hypermarket is currently holding a ‘Best of British’ festival – selling hundreds of mouth-popping products throughout the store. Granted, a US company may now own Cadbury’s – but there are still a huge number of gastronomic icons making their mark in Muscat. From marmalade to mustard and tea to treacle - our favourites include HP Sauce, Twinings Earl Grey Tea, Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Welsh salt marsh lamb with lashings of mint sauce.
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review N e w R e s t a u r a n t
ANIMAL MAGIC The rainforest is spectacular but the food less so, although kids love it, says Tanushka Marah
ut of the park we came – myself, my husband and daughter – searching for the entrance to the fabled Jungle, where all manner of beasts and monsters lurked. The impressive gate rose up before us and we entered with trepidation, yet strangley eager to discover what lay within. We walked through the low-lit canopy and encountered a menagerie of beasts – a dinosaur, crocodile, orangutan and huge python. The humidity, luscious greenery and the waterfall all added to the sense of wonder – and our three-year-old daughter was thrilled. The dinosaur roared. Was it real? Later, we even got caught in a monsoon downpour on one of our many visits to the rainforest. Inside, as much attention was given to the décor, with a variety of textures including carved stone, wood, bamboo, rope and carvings reminiscent of cave paintings and Aztecstyle hieroglyphs. The Jungle definitely delivered on atmosphere. All the earthy colours were lifted by the bright green place mats. The attention to design and detail were obvious and it wasn’t just for the kids – the centrepiece open kitchen was another winning feature. The menu reflected themes of prehistoric and ancient cultures with a Hunter and a Gatherer menu, and everything from kangaroo and camel meat to Scotland’s own fried Mars Bar! The staff were very attentive and helpful from the moment we entered. One’s eyes only needed to flicker away from the table and someone was there with a smile, offering to help. The waitresses were lovely, bringing Amali plastic creatures to play
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Contact number: 24561700 Address: P.O. Box 54 | Near Qurum Natural Park, 100, Oman Website: www.junglerestaurant.net Average lunch price (for two adults and one child) RO22
with and, just as she was slurping her fresh fruit fish together? My meat balls were barely room smoothie, they brought her a complementary blue temperature. I tried a bite of my husband’s tasty slush drink. I wish they hadn’t but, hey, Amali was noodles – good but nothing spectacular. Still, I happy and clearly having a great time. wanted to cry with envy. For starters my husband ordered the Dinosour Finally Joe persuaded me to ask about my Egg Drop, a Chinese-style chicken and egg drop basket of fish and chips – yes, there had been a soup with sweetcorn. I ordered the Spicy Sweet misunderstanding and it was taken away. Whilst I Shrimps – golden shrimps tossed in a fiery yet sweet was at it, I asked to exchange my meal completely. chilli sauce. Joe’s soup was okay, tasty more with salt Without a moment’s hesitation, the waiter agreed than flavour. My giant shrimps came impressively and brought me back the menu. I went for a Jungle standing up like a tepee on a bed of salad – all signature dish, their Butter Chicken. This saved three of them. They were battered with the day. I had the tastiest meal on the table, lovely a pot of sweet chilli sauce for dipping. succulent chicken, delicious spices, and the best I bit straight through the batter nan bread I have ever tried. Puffed, soft, crispy and into the shell and realised that glistening with butter! only half of each shrimp was In a better mood now, we finished our meal. edible, so this grand entrance My daughter was happy, dragging us to the jungle ended up as a modest starter. between courses and playing with the waitresses. We took our time to I made sure I saved some room for the excitingdecide on a main course looking dessert menu. Having scored well with their as there was so much to signature dish we chose the signature dessert – the choose from. Amali had traditional Middle Eastern Um Ali milk pudding. fish fingers and chips from This was delicious. Thoughtfully, they guessed we’re the comprehensive children’s a family of sharers and brought three spoons and menu. Joe chose the Pad plates. Warming, soothing, creamy and sweet, it felt Thai noodles and I chose the like a big fat aunty’s cuddle. With oohs and aahhs, Morrocan Grill – minced we devoured it and finished our lamb meat balls with onion, meal smiling. VERDICT: capsicum, chilli, eggplant and I’m a believer in teaching my garlic. daughter how to behave in adult 10 I should say at this point that I suffer environments and have never been Great service, from terrible food envy and always want a fan of kids’ eateries. However, she great fun for what my husband chooses. The waiter really did have a great evening and the kids. told me that what I had ordered was only there was nothing about the Jungle three meatballs on a skewer. I still assumed it restaurant that was garish or painful for came with the side dish and salad as it said on top adults either. I enjoyed the night as much as of the page, but I was wrong. I got an empty plate her. There was as much to keep me looking around with three meatballs, and some sad-looking pieces as there was to keep her entertained. This is not of red and yellow pepper on a skewer. the place to come if you are a gourmet eater but if Where was the eggplant? Then came a bit of you select carefully from the menu, and I advise the a surprise – a basket with battered fish and chips. signature meals which are marked, then it’s a great Was this a Moroccan custom to have lamb and place for some tasty nosh and a family night out.
GALLERY New Restaurant
Mohammad Al Attar, Kuwait’s first Red Bull Free Running Athlete, at the wave
Image: Jerzy Wierzbicki
DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT ALL THE LATEST NEWS ON OMAN’S SOAPBOX RACE AT redbullmea.com/soapboxrace
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
The military vibe is an enduring trend because itâ€™s masculine and oozes urban cool. Update the look by trying a pixelated camouflage pattern or an alternative colour to khaki.
MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
These shorts from Matalan in Markaz Al Bahja are bang on trend, especially when worn with clashing prints.
MODERN MILITARY Street style junkies rejoice – camouflage is still in style for spring, says Penny Fray.
This t-shirt from Marc by Marc Jacobs is a clever interpretation of the camouflage trend – available at RO45 from mrporter.com
n its various incarnations, the army look has been an eternal trend for years – and 2013 is no different. From avant-garde runway pieces to wardrobe essentials, the forces have played a major part in shaping the cut, colour and cloth of menswear this season. Whether you choose the camouflage pieces of Marc Jacobs or the anoraks of Burberry Prorsum, the key to rocking the modern military movement is the fit. It’s time to throw out those enormous fatigues from the Army & Navy store and go for something a little more tailored instead. For a thoroughly modern interpretation of the look, try alternative camouflage prints and colours. Muscat street stores currently embracing this trend include Splash, Matalan and H&M. For wearability, look for ways to tone down the fullon army vibe. Heavy lace-up boots, a khaki jacket and a cap are all great pieces on their own, but never all at once. The aim is to look slightly tough and oh-so in season, not to channel a full on military operation. Rucksack – from RO23 at Next, Muscat City Centre
This MQ top with desert scarf from Alexander McQueen looks great with either combats or jeans. RO110 at Harvey Nichols, Dubai
We love these stylish soldier sneakers from Jimmy Choo
PENNY’S TIPS ON HOW TO WEAR THE MILITARY TREND
Team a tailored combat jacket with this season’s bright trousers for a modern update of the military trend, as seen in Splash
1 Don’t be too literal with military accents. You want to look as though you’re heading for the front row not the front line. 2 If you don’t want to commit to the full combat gear, opt for army boots. Wear them with your trousers tucked in for a youthful vibe. But avoid pairing them with formal wear at all costs – the clash of styles is just too extreme. 3 Incorporate army shades of olive, khaki or grey as a modern neutral to go with this season’s obsession with neon and brights.
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Once a teenage rite of passage, acne is increasingly becoming a grown-up problem. Azza Al Riyami reports on the stressrelated condition that just wonâ€™t go away. 032
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magine waking up in the morning, looking at your reflection in the mirror and seeing a splatter of spots symmetrically arranged down your face. No amount of make up will cover them and the idea of squeezing them is too torturous to contemplate. I’m not a teenager but a grown up woman who feels like she’s wasting too much mental space ruminating about the state of her skin. I am not alone. According to recent research by Olay, half of us get blemishes, and dermatologists are reporting an increase in the number of women seeking treatment. If you haven’t suffered from acne consider yourself lucky. It is embarrassing – especially if the only skin on show beneath your hijab is flawed. In case you didn’t know – acne is a condition caused by an inflammation or infection of the skin’s oil glands, resulting in spots. Hormonal changes as well as cosmetic reactions are to blame. “But the main problem is chronic stress,” explains Dr Shushma Ravi, a dermatologist from Starcare Hospital, Muscat. “Stress control and a bit of life style modification can go a long way in fighting acne.” Like many modern women, I used to have good skin but then life’s problems started to pile up and the pimples followed. After a visit to the doctor and a prescription for an antibacterial cream, my face started to clear. But the moment stress struck, so did the spots, and a vicious cycle began. Even a moderate amount of daily stress—like balancing a career and a social life, or coming home from work and having to cook dinner for your family—can be enough to trigger a breakout. According to Dr Shushma, adult acne can be harder to shift than the teenage variety. “Adult acne appears mainly on the chin and neck area. They are more painful and have deeper nodules that stay for longer and are more resistant to treatment,” she says. If the acne is severe and persistent there are a number of prescription creams on the market, including antiinflammatory and antibiotic ones. “Then, there are intralesional injections and hormonal treatments. But it is always advised to consult your doctor for a better understanding of the condition first,” adds the skincare specialist. Surprisingly, there is no evidence that food plays a role in acne. Of course, eating a healthy, balanced diet is recommended because it’s good for you. But according to science, it won’t have a major impact on your skin’s condition – although I think drinking more water and cutting down on refined sugars certainly helped me. Acquaintances also swear by alternative therapies. According to Shella Hall, an Australian-trained practitioner of nutritional medicine at Capital Natural Herbs in Ghubra North, herbal medicine is the natural way of re-balancing the body’s needs. “Symptoms like spots are messages given to us by the body that something is out of balance and needs to be addressed,” she says. “Natural remedies for acne include cleavers, burdock and nettle, as well as fish oils and zinc. Chaste tree or bupleurum can also help if there is a menstrual imbalance. “But it’s not the same combination for everybody and there are individual medical issues that need to be considered in order to address the cause of the acne. There can sometimes be a link with diabetes, which can also be managed naturally.”
THINGS TO DO WHEN GOOD SKIN GOES BAD
DON’T STRESS ABOUT SPOTS It will only make things worse. Get eight hours sleep a night and try a soothing exercise like yoga. 2 SEE AN EXPERT If overthe-counter treatments don’t work, go to a doctor or dermatologist. They will have an arsenal of products to clear up your skin. 3 COVER UP Match the concealer to your skin and steer away from shimmering blends. Pat on a few thin layers in and around the problem area with a brush, then blend well. 1
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PARENTS IN A
PARADISE With work and a lively toddler daughter, Y writer Joe Gill and his wife have their hands full. The Shangri-La’s spa turned out to be a perfect location for some mum and dad pampering.
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bit of stress is good, it is said, but all work and no play makes Joe a dull dad. Chasing my three-year-old daughter Amali and swinging her above my head until she breaks into fits of giggles is a serious business. To do it properly you need energy. What better restoration for mum and dad to sooth away the demands of parenting than a double dose of massage and facials at Shangri-La’s Chi, The Spa? Even better, there is an on-site crèche where staff volunteer their time amid shifts to make sure the little one is in safe hands. The mythical Shangri-La was a hidden utopia in the Himalayas where people lived peaceful, harmonious lives amid stunning natural beauty. Arriving at the Shangri-La Resort has a similar effect on the visitor. It’s like an earthly paradise with its majestic backdrop of mountains and a beautiful bay that emerges mirage-like as you approach along the Qantab Road from Al Bustan. Within this Omani version of the secluded haven various delights await, one being Chi, The Spa. It is like an inner sanctum where serenity and wellbeing reign, offering a menu of treatments, massage, exercise and therapies. I could feel myself unwinding as we strolled through a lush garden with a fountain to the spa. As this was a his-and-hers treatment, a masseur and masseuse greeted us and ushered us into the changing rooms. We got into our robes and were shown to the massage beds. The atmosphere in the spa is tranquil and intimate, with tasteful ambient music and the aroma of lavender and pine. My wife could barely contain her excitement at the prospect of 90 minutes of bliss for her body and soul. I am curious – the last and only time I have been anywhere like this was in Vietnam. We are offered herbal tea from beautiful jade porcelain that our charming host explains helps digestion and also has calming and “anti-ageing” powers. We eagerly gulp down a couple of cups, something we would later regret. I lie face down on the soft towel massage table, and a towel covers me. My wife is lying on the table next to me but as soon as it begins, I might as well be a thousand miles away. My choice was a deep massage called the Philippines Hilot in which the masseur uses deep work and coconut oil to find and treat blockages in the body. First off, my calves are pummeled, causing me to cry out. He tells me they are stiff. They won’t be for much longer. He works his way through my body – legs, back, arms, stomach and chest – it’s a vigorous massage and it feels like it’s doing some good. There are a couple of bees in my bonnet from the world outside and I am hoping that I will forget about them, at least for the duration of the session. Mental and physical well-being are obviously linked, and I wanted this therapeutic experience to ease my mind too. When the massage becomes particularly intense, I forget about my troubles and I am in the moment, as my muscles are stretched and pounded into life. We move seamlessly into the Gentleman’s Facial. My eyes and mouth are covered with cool poultices, as the masseur dabs on to my face various salves and gels, each of which
H ealth give off an invigorating fragrance, so while your skin is revived and scrubbed, your senses are thrilled. At some points I lost sense of time and place. I had no idea how long I was lying there – more than 90 minutes it turned out. When the masseur tells me it is over I get up, feeling a little like I had been on a run, but also extremely relaxed and refreshed. In the mirror I see a younger version of myself. From head to toe I am renewed, although it ended just in time for me to run to the men’s room thanks to the magical tea.
knew my luck was in when the courteous masseur walked us across the elegant tranquil gardens and motioned to me every time there was any unevenness in the ground beneath my feet. For someone who is always rushed and clumsy, I really valued this thoughtfulness. Once the slippers were lovingly placed on my feet, I knew I was getting the Queen of Sheba treatment. I was in good hands and could relax – at last. I simply never get to relax, between home, childcare and work. I also don’t feel good about spending money on myself for such luxuries when I think, that could be a piano lesson for my daughter. But it really is worth treating yourself once in a while. I had the Rescue Release Massage Treatment. It’s a focused massage that gives you a choice of customising your treatment to quickly relieve muscle tension in the targeted areas. I chose all
three – back, head and feet. This was a different type of massage, very energetic, vital, with swift hand movements which really got into my aching tired muscles and woke them up. I didn’t want to fall asleep like I usually would. Although I was deeply relaxed, I was also invigorated. I found myself getting great ideas and new thoughts, and for the next few days, I felt a renewed energy and excitement. Afterwards I found my posture had improved and my energy was flowing through me without the usual interruptions of knots and stress. For the facial I chose the Ila Facial which includes exfoliation using serums from the rainforest and pure Damascena Otto. Then heat was applied to my face, followed by a mask and eye balm. I never outgrew my teenage skin and always have a few pimples waiting to pop out; miraculously they had all completely disappeared – my skin literally glowed and a week later an old friend told me I looked younger. This really is intensive pampering, and genuinely seemed to have an effect on my skin and energy levels. I loved the fact that my husband got a taste of my favourite treat. He’s bought me spa treatments before as presents, but now he knows why I enjoy them so much! Rescue Release Massage Duration 45 mins RO35
Philippine Hilot Massage Duration 1 hr RO60
Ila Facial Duration 1 hr 15 mins RO60
Gentleman’s Facial Duration 1 hr RO 50
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promot i on
t’s one of the coolest and most exclusive accessory brands around and it’s now landed in Muscat. Romain Jerome, the luxury Swiss watchmaker, is finally available at the super-swank Mistal showroom in Darsait. Each of their limited watches contains an original piece from an iconic machine from history –including the Titanic, the DeLorean and the Apollo 11 space shuttle. All the models from the DNA collection come with a certificate of authenticity, guaranteeing the purity of the materials used. And with limited numbers on sale, you’ll have to be quick to get one. Their latest creation is less about DNA and more about design. The new Spacecraft watch, combines retro-futuristic aesthetics with horological complexity to create something really special. The chronograph has a black rotating disc with a red light to denote the minutes, whereas the hour display is visible on the side of the watch by a red-lacquered cursor. On adding this new brand to its existing collection of masterpieces, Mistal’s managing director Dharmesh Khimji said: “Romain Jerome embodies the value of time, carries a sense of distinctiveness and yet has this discreet aura of virility. This is complimented by the quality and craftsmanship that Swiss-made watches are renowned for.” Oman’s accessory connoisseurs know that Mistal is the ideal hunting ground for the crème de la crème of watches and jewellery. Their showrooms at SABCO and Darsait ooze elegance, space and superb service.
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For more details contact Mistal on +968 22004444
CARS AND OUTDOORS Wave Power
Yâ€™s Heather Duncan joins the Red Bull team for the opening of the Extreme Sailing Series at The Wave, Muscat (p42)
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CARS AND OUTDOORS
Mausoleum of Bibi
Maryam at Qalhat Steeped in history, the crumbling remains of a kingâ€™s love for his wife are a poignant reminder of the past 038
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never been to. Qalhat once served as an important stop in the wider Indian Ocean trade network. In the 14th and 15th centuries it had great strategic significance in the Kingdom of Hormuz, and was Oman’s first capital city. Today it is difficult to picture the great city of Qalhat as all the houses have gone and the harbour is filled with sand and stones. There is virtually nothing left, save for the tomb dominating the skyline. It is all that remains of this once thriving town. The tomb of Bibi Maryam, also known as ‘The Mausoleum of Lady Maryam’, is located just next to the highway connecting Muscat and Sur on a hill overlooking palm trees and what would have been the town. Some believe the King of Hormuz, Bahauddin Ayez, built the tomb in the 13th century in honour
of his wife Bibi Maryam. Others say it is the site of a mosque Lady Maryam built herself, or is simply her final resting place. Whatever the truth, the building with its dome eroded away by the sands of time has a mystical air about it. One can almost feel the history seeping through the stone. If those walls could talk, the stories it would tell of ancient Oman would be fascinating. In its time, it must have been an impressive building. The shrine measures almost 30m long and 25m deep, with a basement or underground corridor beneath the shrine. A stony wall once surrounded the entire construction and, even now, from the remnants we can see its size and range are impressive. The view from the top sweeps across modern Qalhat and the Hajar Mountains.
tanding on the top of a hill overlooking the doomed city of Qalhat stands the ruins of the Tomb of Bibi Maryam. It is one of the most spectacular locations to be found along the coast stretching between Muscat and Sur, an area rich in history and heritage sites. Recently I was on a trip to the Hajar Mountains region to check out the wadis. We were near the Salmah Plateau, enjoying the many small beaches, dotted with rocks, white sand and small pebbles that can be found there. After passing a pleasant few hours, my cousin Pawel, who was travelling with me, got itchy feet and started asking me about historical sites. As it was his first visit to Oman, so I decided to show him somewhere that even people who have lived in the country for many years have
The ancient city of Qalhat was affected by two terrible events. First, an earthquake destroyed many of the city’s fine buildings at the end of the 14th century. Then in 1507, the Portuguese arrived in Oman and ransacked Quriyat and Muscat. The following year they attacked Qalhat, killing many of the local population and burning all the ships and buildings there. They also burned the beautiful mosque or tomb of Bibi Maryam. Qalhat was completely devastated and the survivors moved away from the city. It is well worth the trip to see this site alone. Anyone planning a weekend trip to Sur or the wadis in the Eastern Hajar Mountains should also make a detour and stop in this place for a while to soak up the feel of ancient Oman.
HOW TO GET THERE Take the road to Sur, pass the village of Quriyat then continue 90km to Qalhat. The tomb is on the lefthand side, several hundred metres from the asphalt road. You do not need a 4x4 to see the tomb but if you are planning to go on to a wadi, be sure that you have the right car. The GPS location of the tomb is: N22’41’44 E59’22’20 MAR 13 - 19 / ISSUE 261
CARS AND OUTDOORS
EXPLORING AL GHUBRA
Photo by Jerzy Wierzbicki
With a top hotel and a beach on its doorstep, it’s a mix of the swish with the down to earth.
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
Having a five-star luxury hotel in your patch is a big, big plus, if only to add a touch of glitz to the area. The Chedi is understated and so is Al Ghubra, so don’t expect any flash ostentatiousness from the surroundings or those who choose to live here. Traffic at peak commuter times, or any time during the school runs, can be frustrating, exacerbated by construction work in the area. It’s hard to equate Al Ghubra with ugliness but one resident did describe the Ghubra Lake Park, which was destroyed by Cyclone Gonu of 2007, as ‘horrible’ with no facilities for children.
Living There Accommodation is predominantly two-storey villas with a few apartment blocks above shops and businesses. You won’t need to have incredibly deep pockets to afford to live here – rents vary but a two-bedroom flat can be found for a reasonable RO450-amonth. One of the bigger villas near The Chedi will, of course, set you back considerably more than that so unless you have high aspirations or a big bank balance, check out cheaper alternatives close by. Popular with families, the area is also ideal for those seeking to be close to the action of Qurum and Shatti, but happy to live on the outskirts. While the beach is by no means as good as the former and latter, it still offers a great sandy playground for games and walks. The good Arabic and other schools close by, including the Indian School Muscat, will please parents, although there is nothing for western expat children. Plenty of local shops and health facilities in the area are a bonus. 040
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Rubbing shoulders with Azaiba has let a little of the gloss rub off on its neighbour, making Al Ghubra a similarly sought after place for locals and expats to lay their hat. It does have The Chedi, one of the best boutique hotels in the country in its midst which obviously helps to up the glamour quota. Having a beachfront doesn’t do any harm either for your residential reputation. Al Ghubra, then, is definitely one for the well heeled or those who want to be seen to be.
Cars Why I live here: The main reason I live here is for the schools. The Indian School is close by so the children can walk there independently. For shopping, LuLu is very near, so it’s no hassle. For restaurants though, you need to go to Qurum or MSQ. The beach is good but there are no lifeguards. The rents are middle to high. Habil Bhagat, financial worker, Oman Holding International.
Places of Interest Unless desalination plants are your thing, there is very little of note in the actual area to grab your attention. That said, the Al Ghubra Power and Desalination Company does have an interesting history. Back in 1970 it was decided to install the first desalination plant in Oman and the Al Ghubra plant opened in 1976, apparently making it the oldest distiller in the Middle East. The plant has water reservoirs of 12 million gallons in reserve for any emergencies, enough to last Muscat for two to three days. Nowadays, the plant supplies 60 per cent of Muscat with fresh water. So, next time you take a shower or turn on the water tap, spare a thought for the unsung work of the Al Ghubra Desalination Plant and its staff. Luckily, there is plenty of great stuff to see and wander round a short drive away, including the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque and Muscat Grand Mall.
Hang Outs We’ve already mentioned the beach, a long expanse of undulating sand dunes, which is unsurprisingly a popular place for both locals and expatriates to chill out in the evenings or weekends. Close by is Al Ghubra Lake Park, constructed along the remains of an old khor (creek), which has a walk path up to the beach and is family friendly with dogs and cycles banned. However, it took a bit of a hit when Cyclone Gonu swept through Muscat and some locals say it has never been the same since, also citing the lack of a children’s playground as a major problem. One can’t talk about Al Ghubra without mentioning the magnificence that is The Chedi, with its understated Zen-like architecture, three swimming pools and superbly decadent restaurant. It also boasts one of Oman’s most popular and luxurious spas for the ultimate pampering treat. It may cost a fair few riyals, but you will feel like a million riyals after it. The award-winning hotel also has its own stretch of private beach. For those with a shallow pocket, there are excellent local restaurants such as the Lebanese-chain Automatic.
Shopping There is an abundance of small shops selling everything from fabrics to fertilizer. Not only is it convenient but also means that you can buy essential items at all times of the day and night, very handy indeed. For larger shops, the huge LuLu Hypermarket is not far by car, covering just about anything that you might need. Muscat Grand Mall, the swish new shopping centre with designer brands, old favourites, upmarket cafes and a large indoors children’s play area, is also within easy striking distance. MAR 13 – 19 / ISSUE 261
CARS AND OUTDOORS
Taking It To The Extreme Exhilarating, intense and action packed, you have never seen sailing like this and Heather Duncan was on one of the boats for Y
Photos: Sabine Konig
HEY have been described as the Formula One cars of the sea and I am about to step aboard one. At an impressive 40 foot and capable of a top speed of 74kmh, these sleek water monsters are not for the faint-hearted. The twin-hulled catamarans called ‘Extreme 40’ are designed with pure racing in mind. This week, Muscat was the host of the first stage of the 2013 Extreme Sailing Series (ESS). With eight boats competing to be the first stage winners, the atmosphere was tense. The victorious team last year was Muscat’s very own home team, ‘The Wave, Muscat’, and they were hoping to make it two years in a row. The competition attracts some of the world’s best professional sailors and Olympians all competing to take the title of champion. I’m not quite in that league. My place on the Red Bull boat was by invitation and merely in the observational capacity, although I do have race sailing experience. There is no luxury seating on this boat. Nor is there any protection from the elements. These guys mean business. The whole boat, including sails, weighs about the same as a Mini Cooper car, which makes for an adventurous ride when the wind takes hold. It is not unusual to see a whole hull raised out of the water as the boat turns and zigzags across the water. Celebrity fans of the ESS include Simon Le Bon, Jodie Kidd and Eddie
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Jordan. Last year Jordan, a former Irish racing driver and founder of a Formula 1 team, was quoted saying: “This is Formula 1 on the sea and the most exciting thing I have seen in a long time.” For non-sailing experts it is very easy to understand. There is a course set out on the water marked with buoys that the boats have to race around. A good start is essential, these boats don’t have brakes as such so it is all in the timing and positioning. You want to be the first boat so you get the ‘clean’ uninterrupted wind to propel you. There are umpires out in the water on smaller boats who act like football referees to keep the competition fair, handing out penalties and disqualifications where required. The first boat past the finishing post wins – it really is as simple as that. But what is not as simple is that along the way you have to navigate your very expensive boat at top speeds without crashing or being crashed into. There are teams shouting from boat to boat trying to outwit each other with nautical language and racing knowledge. These guys are the elite of the racing world. Space can be tight between the boats as they race literally inches from hitting each other, which leaves a huge potential for disaster, making it all the more thrilling to watch. High speed crashes, wipeouts and capsizes are a really possibility and all part of the game. What is most unique about this competition is that the teams permit
Cars guests onboard whilst they are racing to give outsiders an insight into the intensity and attraction of extreme sailing. My entire life I have been on boats, both big and small, as my father was a Captain in the Merchant Navy and now has a racing yacht as a hobby. We even competed in some races in the UK. But nothing prepared me for how exhilarating yet terrifying it was to be on an actual Extreme 40 racing boat mid-race. My heart was pumping faster than it has done in a long time, my eyes were as wide as saucers trying not to miss one second of the action but I was extremely cautious not to get in anyone’s way and hinder their chances. As a guest on board your role is very simple: Hold on for your life, don’t get in the way and enjoy it while it lasts! Each race lasts around 12-15 minutes and is well worth all the build up. I couldn’t have been in better hands with the Red Bull Captain being none other than Roman Hagara, an Austrian double Olympic gold medallist. For me it was an utterly unforgettable experience and I am privileged to have been a part of such an event. To round off my day on the water, my Red Bull crewmates finished second on the podium to ‘The Wave’ team. All the teams now move on to Singapore’s famous Marina Bay for the racing to start again on April 11. The eighth and final stage is in Rio De Janerio, Brazil and finishes on November 17 so we still have a long time to see who will triumph as the overall champions of 2013. I just wish I could be on the boat with them. * You can follow the progress of your favourite teams online at www.extremesailingseries.com and sign up for newsletters and updates.
Extreme Facts A catamaran is a boat with two hulls parallel to each other. For transportation, the whole boat is taken apart and packed into a standard 40ft shipping container and is rebuilt in the next destination in a matter of hours. The mast is 62ft (18.9m) tall and made in two sections. The main sail is so large four London buses could park on it. The weight of the whole boat – including sails- is about the same as a Mini Cooper. Top speed: 40knots / 46mph / 74kmph The mesh in the middle of two hulls is called a ‘trampoline’ and is made of nylon.
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-FI THE TECH IN YOU
TURN UP THE HEAT IN YOUR KITCHEN WITH THESE SUPER HOT KITCHEN ACCESSORIES, SAYS PENNY FRAY.
POP OP Want to show off your hip culinary credentials? Step away from the cup cakes and start making pop cakes instead. This brand new baker from Lakeland in Muscat City Centre will make the process really simple. It’s also ideal for baking mini doughnuts. From RO18 TOAST TOTTY Dualit’s classic toaster is a design icon. Available in a wide range of colours, it’s engineered to produce the best toast in the world. Handmade and featuring an assembler’s stamp on the base of every plate, this is every toast aficionado’s dream machine. Prices start from RO60. For more information, go to www.dualit.com.
ZEN TEA Built to last – this Le Creuset kettle is made from sturdy carbon steel and finished with a vibrant porcelain enamel finish. Combining precise craftsmanship with the colourful style synonymous with the cult brand, this cool kettle oozes kitchen chic. Go to lecreuset.com for stockists. From RO45
EDITOR’S PICK MIXER A LA MODE Calling all baking enthusiasts. KitchenAid’s Artisan is the crème de la crème of stand mixers in that it has the perfect combination of efficiency, design and power. Plus, it’s available in more than TEN cool colours. Prices start from RO375 at kitchenaid.com. Also available from Tavola in Sultan Qaboos, Muscat
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DEEP TEA DIVER Traverse the depths of your tea cup with this yellow submarine. Waiting to be filled with your favourite loose leaf tea, it infuses flavour and fun into your cup. Available from Harvey Nichols in Dubai for RO7
FIND OUT WHAT’S HIP & HAPPENING IN GADGETS SECOND BY SECOND SALES Following the announcement that it would debut its new Optimus L Series II smartphones this month, Korean smartphone maker LG has provided an update on its original L series range, noting that sales have now eclipsed 15 million. Jayanta G Borpujari, general manager of Khimji’s Information & Communication Technology, said, “The L series LG mobiles are already popular in Oman. We expect the new Optimus L SeriesII smartphones to be available this week. It will be available through all the major retail outlets.”
NEW! Samsung Series 7 Slate PC The Slate PC provides a wide variety of user interfaces, including a wireless keyboard, digitiser pen, touchscreen and slate PC dock. For maximum convenience and enhanced productivity, you can simply touch, write or type to take meeting notes, create documents, give presentations, research online or enter a world of vivid entertainment. With the Windows® 7 operating system you can enjoy the same high productivity and familiar interface as a normal PC, but with a range of input methods. It’s easy to create and manage your own content, like pictures and videos, and also do new things like remote streaming of music from your home PC. Samsung’s Touch Launcher provides rapid access to a range of touchfriendly applications. It’s pre-installed with a regularly updated range of popular applications, including music, movies, weather, recipes and maps. You can also access Windows applications, like e-mail and Messenger, and use widgets to check on performance, including battery life and Wi-Fi connections.
APP OF THE WEEK Handyscan
A document scanner and keeper – this app can scan anything into your phone, so you can carry it with you, send it by email or save it to the cloud. From receipts to contracts and newspaper articles to old photos, this is an amazing app for nomadic workers. Platform: Windows Phone 7+ from RO1.80
With Samsung’s Fast Start technology and solid state drive (SSD) you can be up and running within 15 seconds of turning on – that’s 60 per cent faster than most other PCs. Weighing 860g / 1.89lbs and just 0.5 inches / 12.9mm thick, the Slate PC design provides maximum portability and versatility – on the desk or on the go. It’s extremely easy to carry and will quickly slip into almost any bag or case, but it still offers comprehensive functionality and performance. wherever you go.
THE GIRLY GADGET
For salon-worthy locks, try the award-winning Infiniti Pro by Conair. Its quiet but powerful AC motor guarantees faster drying time – plus, it’s super light to handle.
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CARS AND OUTDOORS
Audi Q3 Engine: 2.0 TFSI turbocharge Horsepower 170 or 211 0-100km/h: 7.8 seconds Top speed: 212km/h or 230km/h Transmission: Dual clutch seven-speed Fuel efficiency: 7.7 litres / 100 km
Car of the week Check this out
The newest and most compact member of the Audi family suits urban and off-road drivers
A Standard and optional features:
• •• •• •• •• •• •
Automatic air-conditioning and heat insulation adapting to sun position and humidity 17-inch alloy wheels 14-speaker 465 watt concert audio system ISOFIX child seat mounting Adaptive light system High-beam assistant Panoramic glass roof Comfort key Hard-drive navigation system MMI Leather-covered steering wheel Leather interior covers Audi active lane assist
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s the youngest and most compact member of the Audi family, the Q3 is an SUV for the urban driver with the power and control to go
off-road. Sporty qualities are revealed in the coupestyled lines, sharp edges and arched sheet metal surfaces. The front grill shouts like a hungry lion, warning you not to mess with her. Not only is the Q3 the smaller cousin to the larger Audi SUV models, Q5 and Q7, it has an “ultra” lightweight but rigid body giving it a weight of only 1,630 kilograms. Last year the European New Car Assessment Programme awarded it five stars for passive crash safety. Halogen headlights can be upgraded to xenon lights, while the Q3 also features LED daytime running lights, LED indicators and optional LED tail lights. Inside, the Q3 offers comfortable seating for five, and high standards of workmanship with inlays of fine wood or aluminium as well as a wide range of upholstery choices. The luggage compartment has a capacity of 460 litres, which can be increased to 1,365 litres by folding down the rear bench seats or the front passenger seat. The Audi Q3 comes with a pleasingly long list of standard equipment, including concert audio system and the ISOFIC child seat mounting, automatic air-conditioning that adjusts to sun position and humidity, as well as
heat insulation – both standard features in Oman. The optional extras are the kind you expect to find in luxury vehicles, including a passthrough hatch from the back seat to the boot, panoramic glass roof, high-beam lighting assistant and comfort key for automatic door opening and starting the engine. Lane changing in Oman is generally nervewracking and so it’s a relief to have Audi’s radar side assist to help you avoid close shaves. Also parking is made a whole lot easier with an autonomous assist system that manoeuvres you into tight spots with reasonable ease. The optional MMI hard-drive navigation system features high-resolution 3D graphics on a fold-out 7.0-inch colour monitor, while the Bose surround sound system delivers 465 watts of power to 14 speakers. The range of attractive paint finishes cover most tastes from cobalt blue, platinum beige through to Caribou brown and Samoa orange. For all-round connectivity the optional Bluetooth online car phone is paired with a WLAN hotspot for smart phone and laptop Internet use. The Audi Q3 was launched with two fourcylinder 2.0 TFSI engines, combining direct injection with turbocharging and featuring an energy recovery system. Both engines come with Quattro all-wheel drive and a fast-shifting, dual-clutch sevenspeed S tronic transmission.