Drug Desperation The lengths addicts will go to for a hit – even selling their own sibling
Birthdays / B-Boys / Mercedes Mobile Phones Of The Future
Reaching New Heights:
39 OMAN’S CLIMBING CULTURE
BEAUTIFUL BENDS: The Benefits Of Yoga A BANKER WITH VISION: Tony Mahoney
Your top guide to the best of Oman, every week
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DESERT SURVIVAL GUIDE Outdoors
RED BULL SOAPBOX
It is still young but growing all the time – Al Wisal 96.5 celebrates its fifth birthday this week. The milestone has been a special time in our offices. Al Wisal 96.5 is on the floor below us here at Y Towers. As we are always popping down to make coffee – they have an amazing real coffee machine – and join in their lunchtime feasts, we have got to know our Al Wisal colleagues well over the last few months. These guys know how to have fun! On Monday we joined the party at a gala dinner thrown for Oman’s leading Arabic FM radio station at the very swanky Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort. The whole evening was under the patronage of HE Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al Rawas, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s Advisor for Cultural Affairs. Al Wisal, which is Arabic for ‘connectivity’ is set to become even bigger and better. With plans for expansion into the interior region, listeners from across Oman will be able to tune in soon. How exciting! There’s even going to be an Al Wisal 96.5 app for smartphones and tablet devices. Y is very jealous! Just like us, there is also going to be a new and improved website. We loved being able to mingle with a number of ministers and high-ranking officials during the evening. Y likes to celebrate with the best of them and it felt even better as this was in honour of our very hard-working Al Wisal sisters and brothers. We’d already finished this issue of Y Magazine by then, so work was put on hold for one night allowing us to be part of the fun. Don’t worry, though, we were straight back to work the next day ready to get your super issue of Y ready for next week.
Welcome to the new look Y Magazine your indispensable guide to everything modern Oman has to offer.
Fast forward Y
ou can’t visit or live in Oman without experiencing the splendour of the desert – dramatic, golden dunes shimmering under a crimson sun. It’s the stuff of dreams – and nightmares. Whilst driving through a sea of sand, the road ahead seems endless. There’s nothing around for miles and miles, so if your car breaks down, rolls over or gets stuck in sand, you’re in trouble. That’s why, in the final rush to explore Oman’s empty terrain before the summer heat, it’s important to know some survival tactics. Jerzy Wierzbicki, our photographer and very own intrepid Bedouin, knows the desert well. He understands the delights as well as the dangers and guides you through them in this issue. Also, as our drugs serialisation continues, we explore the depths of degradation addicts will go to get their next hit. It’s shocking stuff.
THIS WEEK… Team Y has been Soapboxing, making rose water, jazz clubbing, celebrating birthdays and exploring Doha.
EDITOR IN CHIEF Sayyida Iman bint Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Eihab Abutaha CONTRIBUTORS Kate Ginn, Joe Gill, Laura Shergold, Heather Duncan
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PHOTOGRAPHER Jerzy Wierzbicki ART DIRECTOR Matthew Herbst DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Feroz Khan
Y Magazine is published by SABCO Press, Publishing & Advertising LLC /Y is a SABCO Media product. We’d love to hear your news and views. For editorial enquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Write to us at Y Magazine, SABCO Media, PO Box 3779, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman.
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contents APRIL 24 2013
Features 16 Desert Survival The Ultimate Guide 20 The Drug Fighters The Road to Hell and Back Again
06 The Big Interview Tony Mahoney
08 Voice of Oman Readers’ Letters 10 News The Child Within
12 This Week Textile and Gift Show 14 Movies Listing Pain & Gain
Food & Drink 24 Redbull Guide BC One B-Boys 26 Food Chef Secrets 28 Restaurant Review The Irani House
20 Cars & Outdoors
34 Gallery First Oman Soapbox 37 Outdoors 30 Fashion Climbing to the Top Standing Tall 40 Destination 32 Health Al Thowarah Hot Springs Yoga 42 My Hood Al Hail 44 Y-Fi Future Phones 46 Car of the Week BMW Concept X4
Health & Beauty
44 NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE...
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TONY MAHONEY, CEO OF BANK DHOFAR
Words: Penny Fray
Tell us about your career in brief: I’m originally from a small industrial town in Wales called Merthyr Tydfil but have since worked all around the world. After graduating in Business Administration from the University of Salford, I joined HSBC bank, working through the ranks, until I eventually became the deputy CEO and group general manager at HSBC, based in the ChampsElysées in Paris. I thought I’d fulfilled my career by the age of 49. Then, I flew into Oman, loved it and became CEO of Bank Dhofar. What attracted you to Oman? The people. They are so generous, hospitable, loyal, helpful and supportive. Coming from what seems like the greenest, wettest country in the world, I also love the weather here. I must admit that my first 12 months was heavily work biased but I’ve since had a chance to explore a bit more of this wonderful country. I’ve visited over 40 of the bank’s branches and eaten a great deal of Halwa What’s your main ambition? We have a vision of becoming the best bank in the Gulf within three years. It’s not about being the biggest but the best. Any challenges? The competition here is strong. But that’s healthy. It keeps us on our toes. What about the reputation of bankers? They’re pretty unpopular in Europe after the financial crisis. In every industry there’s an element of suffering smear – but there are a lot of genuine and decent people out there. It’s about earning people’s respect. What’s your main work philosophy? My key belief is to create a working environment where people can have fun – it’s all about creating a family atmosphere, setting challenges, giving more freedom and celebrating success. We have just launched a new Women’s Development Programme. With 475 female employees, it has become a priority of ours to nurture their development. The programme will combine lectures, discussions, group work and personal assignments. What about personally? Relax. Enjoy life. How would you describe yourself in three words? I’m enthusiastic (I really believe in what we do.) I’m resilient (you can’t fob me off easily.) I’m also fun loving. What do you do in your spare time? I love sport, skiing and riding horses. Spending time with the family is also important to me.
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What are your top tips for success? 1. Always do the right thing – even if it costs you. 2. Invest in your people – it’s not about giving things away but challenging them. 3. Drive everything you do for the betterment of the customer experience.
The Voice of Oman Nadim Attieh offers some tips on how to survive the stresses of being a busy manager.
correspondence Story of a Sad Evening Dear Editor,
ver feel like you’re on a hamster wheel and it just won’t stop? That’s how I feel at the moment. As a station manager, I’m in the middle of organising the Al Wisal fifth birthday celebration. Before that, I was sponsoring several high-profile events including Akon and Soapbox. And even though a holiday fast looms on the horizon, a mountain of paperwork needs to be toppled before I hop on a plane. Of course, I enjoy the pressure. I’m lucky to have such an amazing job. But even if you think stress is for wimps, you have to accept the scientific evidence that the mind, body and spirit reacts badly to pressure – maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow – but someday. That’s why it’s important to control the madness of modern-day living. Here are some tips: 1. Break a big project into smaller, more manageable chunks – ones that a whole team can chomp on. 2. Make sleep a priority. 3. Let go of unhealthy crutches like junk food, caffeine and cigarettes. 4. Breathe deeply throughout the day to defuse the body’s flight or fight response. 5. Never sacrifice three things in the name of success – your family, your heart or your dignity. 6. Live well, fuel your body wisely and you’ll have enough energy to do what’s important. 7. And don’t forget to take that holiday. Nobody needs an exhausted boss or colleague whose too tired to deal with all the stuff that a senior position throws at you – mostly other people’s problems. After all, a lot of people depend on you and they actually want you to feel good too.
Next week: RUMAITHA AL BUSAIDI RETURNS
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It was Thursday evening, the latest issue of ‘Y’ Pulse of Oman was in my hand and I was sitting by the clock tower park near Ruwi. The title page of ‘Y’ (‘Oman in your hands – pledge to protect the planet before it’s too late’) and the unhealthy trees of the park compelled me to pick up my pen. I took a complete circuit of the park with open eyes and my heart became sad. The lawns in the park looked miserable as in many places they were covered in garbage. In the four fountains there were many empty water bottles, soft drink cans and cigarette
Dangerous crossing Dear Y Team, Recently my wife and I were driving on Al Khuwair Road when suddenly we saw some people running across the road right in front of us. I slowed down rapidly so that I could save the person who was just about to be hit by my car. Thankfully he was saved but the car behind hit me (though I had used my hazard lights). This incident put me in deep thought. Why do pedestrians cross busy roads just to save a bit of walking time and distance?
Debate of the Week We asked:
If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be and why?
Hansel Besty Kurian A teamwork structure should be organised to make the job more interesting. Khadija Lovai One common off day – that would lead to at least one annual picnic. Syed Iqbal Hussain I would like to increase my salary and decrease my hours.
Winner! Reply of the Week
boxes destroying their beauty. There was a fence around the grass, standing alone, unloved, like a widow, without any flowers to beautify it. Why? Because educated people did not teach their kids not to pull up flowers for their pleasure. Parks are an important part of our environment and if we do not care for them, a day will come when they will be converted into commercial buildings. Oman is a beautiful country and everyone must care for her with open heart. They must love and respect the land of Oman. Munawar Hameed, Higher College of Technology, Muscat.
They put their precious lives in danger, without thinking even for a second. Although there are subways and pedestrian bridges in place so that people can cross the road safely, as well as zebra crossings, people don’t use them and instead violate traffic safety rules by crossing the highway. As drivers, this puts us in a difficult and dangerous situation in which the lives of people in the car are put in jeopardy. People need to think really carefully before they cross the road and only use the designated crossing points. Regards, Bhavin Shah, Muscat
Dinner For Two
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Ameera Sa’eid Alwahaibi The location.
Rahid Stylesh Designers Work only as much as required. Don’t give up your life for it. Earn with joy, live happily.
Saad Nasser The hours. If the working days are different for different offices and schools, there would be less traffic on the roads.
Atif Dafedar I would change my supervisor because his ideas are out of date.
BREAKING THE SILENCE Tackling the taboo subject of abuse, artist Gailani aims to bring it out into the open
sing a canvas and paint as a form of therapy is a brave way of expressing past hurts and present fears. When that subject is child abuse, the project takes on another dimension altogether. In the first exhibition of its kind in Oman, Muscat-based artist Ibrahim Gailani has laid bare his own journey and struggle between darkness and light. Unveiled in public for the first time on Saturday, Gailani chose his first solo exhibition to showcase his highly emotive work under the title ‘I am CHILD.’ The 22 paintings set in three themed series; ‘Internal Shame’, ‘Letting-Go’, and ‘Healing’, were shown in collaboration with Whispers of Serenity Clinic, a mental health wellness centre in Muscat run by psychotherapist HH Sayyida Basma al Said. Gailani chose to tackle this sensitive topic to raise awareness of child abuse and the plight of vulnerable children, as well as highlight his own deeply personal story. He suffered years of abuse from the age of six until he was a teenager at the hands of servants and relatives. It took him until the age of 35 to admit the abuse and address his past. Painting became his way of expressing buried emotions, a cathartic process of banishing old demons. The Pakistani-born artist, who is self taught, hopes his work will illustrate how art therapy among others
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can help the process of letting go of the pain and moving towards healing. “It is to show the success of my own personal journey using art as therapy to no longer be stuck with pain of abuse, and to give hope to victims and parents or guardians of abused children that a fulfilled life can be lived after such a trauma, if help in the form of treatment is sought.” The exhibition, for one night only, was inaugurated with a lighting of three lamps; one in honour of the silent victims of abuse, one a symbol of a new fight against child abuse, and the third in memory of Sarah White, the arts advisor and museum director of the Bait Al Zubair Foundation, who died recently and was instrumental in bringing Gailani and the Whispers of Serenity Clinic together for the project. A special Facebook page was also launched aimed at reaching children and promoting child abuse awareness among parents. “Abuse takes all forms – physical, emotional, and even neglect is a form of child abuse,” said HH Sayyid Basma al Said. “This exhibition is the first step in a series of activities that our clinic will embark upon to fight against child abuse.”
30 - May
It’s more than 60 years since Amalia Hernández founded the internationally acclaimed Ballet Folklórico de México. Since then the company has received more than 200 awards for its ballet works and musical pieces, reflecting the diverse regions and indigenous folk cultures of mezoamerica. Royal Opera House from 7.30pm.
Whether you are a retail buyer or a fanatic of all things sartorial, you will not want to miss the Textile and Gift Expo at the OIEC. Over 400 exhibitors from more than 20 countries will be showcasing all kinds of garments, textiles, shoes, bags, children’s toys, babywear, bedding, carpets, perfumes and electronic products. Open to all visitors from 10am to 10pm and 4pm to 10pm on Fridays. Ladies and families only on May 5. Phew!
Roast Beef April
25 What to do. What to see. What to hear.
The Royal Society of St George will be holding its White Dragon Dinner at the Grand Hyatt Ballroom, featuring ‘England’s favourite foreigner’ Kev Orkian, and, of course, a traditional roast dinner. It starts at 7pm. Dress code is black tie. Call Michele on 929754054 for details or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t forget you can perfect your salsa and merengue moves at the Latin Dance class every Thursday, for kids, teens and adults from 4pm to 6pm at the Dance Studio, Hotel Muscat Holiday, Al Khuwair. Call 9614 8863 to register.
May 6-20 April
Khalija Al Shaibani’s latest Daziaa collection will be on display at House 84, Way 8184, from 10am to 1pm. Women’s Guild of Oman members will get a 10 percent discount on collection items. For more details email email@example.com
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The Empty Quarter is the subject of a new photographic exhibition, ‘Fabrics of the Desert’ by Ahmed Al Harthy in collaboration with Ahmed al Shukali at the MuscArt Gallery in the Al Ghubra Plaza, 18 November Street. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Open from 10am till 8.30pm.
School Sale Spring’s here and it’s time to clear out your wardrobe and draws. British School Muscat is holding its table-top sale, known as the biggest and best in town, so why not book a table in the school’s bottom car park for RO10 or just pop down and have a browse for just 500 baisa. Times 8am – 10.30am. For more details contact Sue on 98226174.
Eye on Fashion
Feel the Quality
T H E W H AT ’ S ON G U I D E Viva Mexico
MOVIES MOVIES Comedown
Pain & Gain Director Michael Bay has a break from giant robots bent on destroying the world for this sort of low budget crime caper. It’s based on the true-life story of a trio of bodybuilders in Florida who get caught up in a kidnapping and extortion spree that goes disastrously wrong. The film has already run into controversy as relations of the victims of the real-life gang have protested at this attempt to turn the case into black comedy. Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Antony Mackie star as the bungling trio whose shortcut to the American dream leaves a trail of mayhem behind them. Johnson plays against type as a born-again Christian ex-drug addict with serious doubts about the ethics of the criminal scheme. Bay convincingly portrays life in Sun Gym, where Danny Lugo (Wahlberg) pumps iron and dreams of escaping his humdrum
life. The mean streets of Miami are a natural home for Wahlberg, whose own background and rise to stardom make him a natural for the role. Their first victim, a perfectly cast Tony Shaboub, is an odious businessman who the gang befriend, then torture and terrorise into giving up his dubiously acquired wealth. However, the victim has trouble convincing the police of the gang’s incredible ineptitude and turns to a private eye (Ed Harris) to track down the kidnappers. Ever since Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, graphic violence and comedy have made uneasy bedfellows and it’s a close call as to whether Bay pulls it off. It’s good to see Johnson stretching himself as the reluctant gang member, but that won’t save him from their inevitable downfall. It’s a fun ride to oblivion. Reviews by Joe Gill
PREVIEW The Call Halle Berry plays a veteran 911 emergency responder in a Los Angeles Police Department call centre nicknamed ‘The Hive.’ After taking a call that ends badly, she switches to a training position but, when a young woman is abducted from a shopping mall parking lot and calls 911 from the trunk of a car, Berry does everything she can to keep the girl alive.
THIS WEEK’S MOVIES 014
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A gritty little British slasher about the ultimate night of booze and drugs that ends badly for those involved. It’s an urban twist on the teen horror format in which a group of youngsters who only wanted to get high are gradually picked off by an inhuman killer in an abandoned tower block. Strong performances and a smart script make you care about the grisly fate of these ne’er-do-wells. A memorably bad trip.
the investigation into strange goings on at the palace. He forms a kind a medieval CSI team to solve the mystery. With plenty of high-wire fights and badly aimed arrows, it’s China’s answer to Pirates of the Caribbean. What’s not to like about talking deer and a gender-swapping imperial doctor?
Detective Dee: Mystery of the Phantom Flame
Samir Abu El Nile (’Father of the Nile’)
It’s the second outing for the Seventh Century Chinese detective. He is still serving time for leading a revolt against the now dead Emperor, until new Empress Wu Zetian frees him to lead
Egyptian comedian Ahmed Mekky stars in this new comedy vehicle in which he shows off his Gangnam Style moves alongside Nicole Saba, Mohamed Lutfi and Hussein El Emam. A crowd pleaser.
Y’s Eco Top Two Following Earth Day, Joe Gill goes green
The China Syndrome (1979) A classic ’70s environmental thriller with the sterling cast of Jack Lemmon, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas. The film was released just 12 days before the meltdown at Three Mile Island, and helped mobilise the antinuclear movement in the United States.
Walt Disney and Pixar’s visionary, hilarious and moving animation. It imagines an apocalyptic future dominated by endless landscapes of rubbish and completely devoid of life – except for a lovable cockroach – and still makes it entertaining. A masterpiece.
For more information and times, go to: City Cinema: citycinemaoman.net Al Bahja Cinema: albahjacinema.net Star Cinema: Tel +968 24791641
He’s made over 200 trips into Oman’s deep desert. Here Y’s Jerzy Wierzbicki lets readers in on the secrets of safe desert driving Words: Joe Gill Images: Jerzy Wierzbicki
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rozen, exhausted and hungry, without fuel, food or water, the three women and four men, lost in the Empty Quarter, faced a slow, terrible death. What had started as an adventure of a lifetime looked certain to end in disaster. Even their two Omani drivers, who knew the territory and were used to taking tourists out into Oman’s vast deserts, were helpless. How did it all go so horribly wrong? The Empty Quarter, which Oman shares with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, is larger than France. The surface can reach 80 degrees Celsius in the day, hot enough to fry a steak. At night it becomes bitterly cold. Luckily for the seven Germans and one Swiss adventurer, Saudi Arabia’s Border Guard spotted their two four-wheel drive vehicles near the Saudi-Omani border. One can only imagine the feeling when members of the group first saw their rescuers, who took them to the Border Guard offices and gave them blankets, water and food. They were the lucky ones.
But this incident in February is far from unusual. A few weeks previously, two Saudis almost died after being lost in the desert for four days before the Border Guard found them, more than 100 miles from the nearest inhabited area. In January, 51 UAE residents including women and children were rescued in the same desert. The hazards of desert exploring are real and the consequences of not preparing properly and following recommended safety advice can be fatal. Less than 18 months ago, three men were found dead after a month-long search in the border area between Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. They were in a single vehicle. A golden rule is never to go into the desert with less than two vehicles, in case one gets stuck or breaks down. “From my first crossings back in September 2009, I instantly learnt the importance of not entering the desert terrain alone,” says Rebecca Mayston, who works for The Guide Oman running off-road expeditions. Mayston has
taken part in more than 60 official desert crossings as well as travelling independently in Sharqiyah. “When driving off-road one always needs to be prepared for the worstcase scenario, and the inevitability of getting stuck,” she says. “The important thing to remember in the desert is that safety should always come before fun. It’s one thing entering the desert on the bedouin highways – you can still get into trouble – however, when cutting new paths through unchartered sand dunes it most certainly brings its challenges, and yes, getting stuck is inevitable. It happens to the best of us. “Driving in sand is a definite skill that one has to master in order to cross through sand dunes with minimal assistance required. From day one in the desert I learnt to be really thankful for the supportive people around me who help with recovering vehicles. “The important thing to remember is that you are taking part in an extreme sport, with risks that you must be willing to accept. As individuals we should all work towards reducing this.”
Jerzy’s Top Tips for Off-Roading Since I arrived in Oman in 2007, I have visited the interior more then 200 times and during all my trips, sometimes alone, I have had to face many unpredictable situations in the open desert. So it only seems fair that I should share with readers some of the most important practical tips for successful off-road adventures – and to help make sure that you get home safely.
1. First of all, you absolutely need a 4x4 in good condition, with a low-range gear ratio. For off-roading, the 4x4 gear reduction is required on the sand. With low-range gearing, the axle spins more slowly, but with a huge amount of torque. The vehicle therefore moves more slowly, but with much more power. Without this, any trip among the sand dunes is not possible. 2.
Be sure that your car is in good condition – check that the engine, gearbox, AC and transmission are all working properly. Check the condition of the tyres twice and be sure that you have at least one extra spare wheel, and recharged battery.
3. Before you move to the interior be sure that you have enough water, food and a first aid box in your car. The average quantity of water for one adult in Oman’s climate is 3.5 litres a day, but be sure that you have enough water for 3-4 days, even if you are planning to spend only one full day or night in the desert. 4. Refuel your car as often as you can. If you are planning to go deep in the desert get a few jerry cans with additional petrol. Big 4x4s with massive engines consume a huge amount of fuel, especially when dune bashing. 5. Use proper shoes, long trousers and long-sleeve shirts to protect your body from the sun and sand. A hat, scarf or anything that protects your head is absolutely obligatory in the desert – even in the winter when it is cooler and the sun is not as strong. 6. Make sure you have a towing rope. Mostly these will be situated in the boot of a 4x4, but please believe me when I say it will help you get out of a serious trouble. 7.
Other essential items that you need in your car are a GPS locator, small shovel, one or two blankets or sleeping bags, because the night can be very cold in the desert. Be sure that you have a big box of matches or 2-3 lighters, a long knife, a small pot for preparing coffee or tea; a good torch and spare batteries. Be sure that you place tools for changing the tyre, like the wrenches and the car jack, where you can easily find them. All these items should be placed in the car boot.
8. Inform your family, friends and colleagues where you are planning to go and approximately what time you should be back. If there is no phone reception in the desert, it is still advisable to call someone from the last point on the asphalt road just before you set off into the desert. 9. Even though I break this rule myself, please NEVER go alone into the sandy desert. I cannot emphasise this enough. If you have no friends to go with, go to a desert camp, most of which are located on the Wahiba Sands. They will help you, or can include you in an organised tour.
10. If you are driving on the soft sand, such as sand dunes, small sandy heaps or sandy tracks, reduce the pressure in your tyres. The standard road pressure is 32psi so reduce it to the level of 18-20psi if you are planning to drive on the sandy tracks and 15psi if you will are driving purely on the dunes. Special off-road tyres can be deflated even below 15psi. Do not make any sudden turns. Deflated tyres can collapse from the rims in the soft sand. 11. Before you set off, ensure that the GPS locator is recording your way so that, if anything happens, you can easily find your way back. If it is possible, keep on the tracks, especially in the sandy deserts. 12. Use local Bedouin sand tracks if you can. Bedouins know the desert very well and they know how to find the optimal routes and to avoid dangerous places. 13. Drive very slowly and carefully. Be sure that your seat belts are on – these are still really important in the desert. Many accidents in the desert happen simply because people drive too fast. Try to drive around the big sand dunes but if this is not possible it is better to stop and turn back. 14. Go at the right time. Avoid the hot season when the temperature is constantly above 42 degrees centigrade. The sand is much softer at this time of year and so more treacherous. It’s advisable during the trip to find some shade and have a break. Against all appearances, in the Omani desert, you can find trees or rocks where you can shelter from the sun. 15. When out of the vehicle and exploring, be careful what you pick up. It may look like a dead zone, but the desert is full of life. A few of the creatures you may find can be dangerous, especially snakes or scorpions. 16. If you are driving on the soft sand you must switch on low range in your car. The lever should be in the position L. If you feel that your car is getting bogged down in the sand, it is better to stop and reduce air pressure in the tyres rather than drive under pressure on the high RPM. 17. If you get stuck in the sand – which can happen anytime and to anyone, even professional Dakar Rally drivers – do no try to escape from the sand trap by revving the car. In most cases you will simply sink deeper and deeper in the sand. It is better to use a shovel to dig out the sand and get away quickly. If you find you are digging under the car for a long time you risk dehydration or sunstroke from being exposed to the strong sun. If it is possible, use a second car and towing rope to escape from the sandy ambush. 18. If it is your first time or you do not feel experienced enough to go on a trip deep into the desert, I strongly recommend you join others and go together. A good place for beginners is a long sandy track on Wahiba Sands near Bidiyah or Al Wasit. You do not need to go very deep into the sands, and if you experience any problems there is always someone close by who can help you. If you are a beginner, absolutely avoid any trips to the Empty Quarter, the Al Huqf Escarpment or any other uninhabited locations. APR 24 -30 / ISSUE 267
Jerzy’s Close Shaves I don’t take chances when it comes to desert driving. Nevertheless, even the most experienced off-road driver can run into trouble. Below are my most unforgettable off-road adventures. Even in the places that I have visited again and again, sometimes unexpected things happen. Like rain.
Empty Quarter - Autumn 2012
I was leading a small group of European off-roaders on Ramlat Hashman last autumn. We were deep into the desert, some 80km from the nearest road. The dunes there are amazing – and overwhelming. I decided to cross a high sand dune, to reach the sandy track on the other side. Whenever I am not sure what is ahead of me, I pull over my car and go to check possible routes. This time I was not sure how big the dune was and so I walked on foot to check it. The route looked fairly safe. Unfortunately, I approached the edge of the dune in my 4x4 at the wrong angle and found my car hanging to one side on the peak of the high dune. It was very dangerous. If I had have been driving faster, we could have tipped and rolled down the dune, making it my last trip. The risk of rolling over was very high. It took two hours in 41 degrees heat to extricate the car.
Masirah Island – Autumn 2011
I went alone to Masirah Island. I established my camp in the southern part of the island near a rocky beach. In the night, the weather changed dramatically, and the first drops of rain tapped on my car. The next day was very cloudy and the rain was much heavier. In the afternoon, I headed quickly to the ferryboat with the hope of getting back to the mainland. Suddenly, a violent storm approached Masirah, and in no time all wadis turned into fast streams of water and mud. I saw a few cars completely submerged. The ferry was not operating, so I had to go back. Seeing what was happening on the roads and certain that driving during the storm on submerged ground was very dangerous, I stopped my car on a small hill. The next night of violent winds and rain was unforgettable. I was sitting completely soaked in a humid car, sleeping under a wet blanket. Yuck! In the night, I watched the electrical thunderstorm on the dark sky and was listening to Pink Floyd’s album Delicate Sound of Thunder – the best music for this situation. In the morning, I could see that 60 per cent of the road on Masirah was still under water. I had to go back to the ferry pier, so I drove extremely slowly. In some places the water rose up to the mask of my car. Two times I had to check how deep the stream ahead of me was before I drove across the mad water. Finally I reached the ferry harbour after more than two hours of scary driving.
Tow Truck Tales
I recall a trip when Merge 104.8 presenter Chris Fisher joined me for a desert crossing, a situation that we have giggled about a few times afterwards. In this particular situation, I became a recovery vehicle towing a broken down 4x4 to the safety of the tarmac road. Towing is a challenge when traversing through a tricky patch of dunes and, yes, we got very bogged with the brokendown vehicle stuck behind us with the tow rope firmly stretched out. Had a third vehicle been with us, it would have been a reasonably fast recovery, however we were a distance behind the group. We had no choice but to radio for assistance and then wait – and wait. I am sure Chris can relate to sitting in a terrain, surrounded by sand dunes stretching out for as far as the eye could see in all directions and waiting – waiting patiently for the sight of a car on the horizon. I know for myself, it really highlighted the security of having someone else with you. Thankfully, the recovery crew wasn’t too far off, and after a few radio messages of “what can you see? .... “ummm... we can see nothing but sand!” they reached us, and all that started well, ended in a jolly good story. 018
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These two women are at the forefront of the battle against drugs in Oman, helping addicts who want to kick the habit and educating the young against the dangers. In Part 3 of Yâ€™s investigation into drugs, Kate Ginn meets them
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r Amira bint Abdul Mohsin al Raaidan is a softly spoken, unassuming woman with a gentle demeanour and conventional appearance. She seems an unlikely crusader to be deeply involved in the battle to clean up both Oman’s streets of drugs and the users who become addicted to whatever substance has claimed their lives and soul. Then Dr Amira starts talking and the stories are shocking; not just the content but also the fact that she is the one telling you. She is sitting drinking an iced coffee in her black abaya and telling you bleak tales of drug addicts who lose all sense of self and morality in the desperation for another hit. “I have seen the worst of humanity,” she says. “Addicts don’t care about anything except the next dose. They will steal, or they will kill, whatever means to get this powder. “They will sell their bodies. They will sell their own mother or sister to get the powder.” As head of the drug detox rehabilitation programme at the country’s only specialist substance abuse centre, Dr Amira has first-hand knowledge of how widespread the drug problem is in Oman and the devastation that it can cause. Y is publishing the tales that she has told. Not because we want to shock, although it will no doubt do that, but to highlight the destructiveness of drugs. “There was one addict who had got his younger brother involved in drugs. His younger brother had just got clean, he had been through detox, and was trying to get his life together,’ says Dr Amira. “They went out for a night and the older brother persuaded the younger one to take heroin again. But his body couldn’t cope with it after the detox, just a tiny amount was too much, and he overdosed and died. “The older brother went home and in the morning, he couldn’t remember what had happened. His family asked him where his younger brother was and he didn’t know. “He had been so out of it the night before that he’d forgotten that his own brother was dead. “When he remembered where they had been, they went and found the body.” Another addict broke down and cried as he described to the doctor how his craving for drugs led him to sedate his own sister and ‘sell’ her for a few hours to a man so he could buy morphine. He was tormented by his act. Others tell of how they got their brother, sister or friend into drugs. “If they haven’t got the money for drugs, the dealer will say ‘get me another victim and you will get this one free for today’,” says Dr Amira. “So they persuade people to try the drug. They tell them it will give them
energy or help them lose weight. Very soon they are hooked on it too.” Another man introduced his pilot brother to drugs, who later died from an overdose. He has never shown a drop of remorse for what happened. Drugs debase people. They are reduced to almost animalistic lengths of survival. It’s as if everything that once made them a person has been stripped away, leaving the raw, unfiltered instincts behind. Dr Amira is also chair of the Al Hayat Association, a non-profit community drug awareness group, where she teams up with her right-hand woman, Ibtisam al Busaidi, the vice chair. The two women are a formidable force, working tirelessly to campaign against what they see is a ‘disease’ blighting society as a whole. The drug of choice is mostly morphine, an opiate derived from the poppy plant. It’s cheaper than heroin, costing just RO10 for a hit. The brownish powder is wrapped up in paper, which is folded in a small parcel. Heavy users can need up to 10 hits a day. Users are aged as young as 14. Drugs are ridiculously easy to get but coming off them is like going to hell and back. Until recently, the only form of detox and rehabilitation offered was at Ibn Sina hospital, which predominantly treated patients with serious psychiatric problems. The drug unit had just 20 beds. Now the clinic has moved to the brand new RO49 million Al Masarra Hospital in Amerat, which was officially opened last weekend though it has been taking patients since January. Here they have 50 beds for addiction, alcohol or drugs, split between detox and rehabilitation. There is a gym, basketball yard, swimming pool and tennis court for the patients to use. The doctors see both men and women, mostly the former. “It’s especially difficult for women to seek help because it’s so taboo, the idea of women taking drugs,” says Dr Amira. “I receive calls from friends who say my niece needs help but she can’t come to the hospital, people might see her. “For the female addicts, it’s very difficult to tackle. Statistically, they are likely to be treated outside the country or die. The family will say she had a heart attack or it was a sudden death. Drugs will not be mentioned.” While there are more beds than before, there is still a waiting list of up to a year for a place. Many give up waiting or go abroad if they can afford it, to places such as Bahrain or Malaysia, for detox treatment. Ibtisam al Busaidi says families will rarely admit the child who died had a drug problem. “Parents will refuse an autopsy rather than say he APR 24 - 30 / ISSUE 267
or she died from a drugs overdose,” she says. “They say it’s out of respect for the family or that they want to preserve the dignity of the person, to protect their name and memories. In public, they don’t admit it.” Sometimes, one parent will hide the truth from the other. “A mother will come with their child and say to me, ‘I came here behind my husband’s back. He must not know’,” says Dr Amira. “They are sneaking around, terrified someone will find out. But we need all the family support for this.” It can be a slow slide into hard drug addiction. Dr Amira talks of one 17-yearold patient who started smoking marijuana and then moved on to sniffing morphine, before injecting himself. The struggle has to waged in the playgrounds too. Dr Amira knows of a 12-year-old from a school in Muscat caught dealing soft drugs and a schoolboy, aged nine, who was found with afdal, an illegal nonsmoking form of tobacco chewed in the mouth. The Ministry of Health says the success rate for treating addicts is only 20 per cent. Doctors suggest it could be even lower. Some addicts come to the hospital just to get the methadone handed out as part of the treatment programme. After five days, they check themselves out. According to al Busaidi only a “handful” of addicts don’t relapse after treatment.
The laws need to be stricter on drug users and dealers, they both say. The threat of imprisonment or risk of harming himself or herself appears to offer little deterrent. Addicts are at their most vulnerable during the recovery period when the leave hospital and go home. “That is why we are fighting for a half-way home where recovering addicts can go from hospital for up to a year,” says al Busaidi. “They will have support to rehabilitate them back into the community and stay on the straight line. If they go back to their old life with their old friends, it will be hard to resist the temptation to start using again. “We will try to make them whole again, pick up the pieces and build them up. “Recovering addicts have to face stigma. They find it hard to get work, get married and get accepted by the community. They wanted to be accepted and heard.” Every success story is a small victory in the battle. “The motivation for me to work hard is seeing a recovering addict move on with their lives,” says Dr Amira. “That gives me the strength to carry on.” It seems a long, hard road ahead for these two extraordinary women. “For an addict, it has nothing to do with putting the fear of God in you,” agrees al Busaidi. “If your body wants the drug, you have to have it no matter what the consequences. It’s just a temporary high or fix but it costs you everything, even your life.”
IT’S A HARD HABIT TO BREAK Words: Michico Rimmer
he health risks of drug abuse are clear. Last year, there were 19 recorded deaths related to drugs and dozens more would have gone unreported. Drugs, such as heroin and morphine, can ruin the future of young people and cause anguish in families and beyond. The risks associated with sniffing drugs include damaging the mucous membrane in the nose, which becomes swollen and infected, eventually leading to the complete loss of smell. Injecting drugs causes its own risks of collapsed veins, infections and contracting HIV and Hepatitis C. Methadone, a synthetic opioid, is traditionally used for drug addiction detoxification programmes. It is prescribed as a substitute for heroin and morphine, with the dose gradually reduced. Taken as a green liquid, it has similar effects to these drugs without the same high. This means that the patient can give up heroin while avoiding the acute withdrawal symptoms. There are, however, some patients who cannot tolerate the side effects of methadone, such as drowsiness, mania, vomiting and anxiety. Newer drugs for treating addiction include buprenorphine, which is milder than methadone. Morphine is a potentially highly addictive substance. It can cause psychological dependence and physical dependence as well as tolerance, with an addiction potential identical to that of heroin. Going ‘cold turkey’ is the withdrawing of drugs without any medical assistance. The.... withdrawal symptoms of morphine and heroin can start to occur just a few hours after the last dose. Even with a methadone programme, the addict will experience symptoms Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms: R Anxiety R Insomnia R Restlessness R Depression R Social Isolation R Poor Concentration R Aggression R Mania R Paranoia
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Physical Withdrawal Symptoms: R Sweating R Racing heart R Muscle tension R Difficulty breathing R Shivering R Sweating R Streaming eyes and runny nose R Itchy skin R Pain in joints
An urban dance style that started on the streets of New York more than 30 years ago, B-boying became a global phenomenon that supported the original hip-hop scene. The popularity of films such as Beat Street and Breakin’ inspired tribes of teenagers to jump on cardboard to ‘pop and lock’. By the late ’80s the breakdancing craze faded into near oblivion only to recently resurface with one of the fiercest dance competitions on the planet. Since its founding ten years ago, Red Bull BC One has earned a reputation as the premiere one-on-one B-Boy Championship. From the first global competition held in Switzerland, the community has grown immensely alongside the resurgence of breakdancing culture as a whole.
On April 25, 32 B-boys will battle it out for the title of champion. They’ll then represent Oman in the regional heat to take place in Egypt later this year. Fans will also be excited to learn that this year’s 10th anniversary final will be held in Seoul, South Korea, home to some of the most innovative B-Boying today.
Bait Al Zubair Museum at 6pm.
Pumping music from DJ Renegade, cool lighting and the extraordinary artistry and athleticism of the competitors – it’s a dance competition with attitude.
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The judges will be from the BC One all stars – world champion B-boys – Lilou, Lamine and Pelezinho. The trio will also be showcasing their skills on the stage.
Nothing. Admission is free. Woo-hoo!
To be the best takes dedication, perseverance and a lot of serious training. The BC One All Stars earned an extra set of wings after participating in Red Bull’s High Performance training camp last year. A team of industry-leading coaches, sports scientists, nutritionists, biomechanics and performance neuro-feedback experts, led by Dr. Andy Walshe, ran the dancers through a custom programme designed to perfect their performance.
“I think the Omani B-Boys are the best in the Middle East. I saw a lot of strong powerful moves and I appreciate that. They are very comfortable with developing new moves and motivated when they have sessions or events in the region.” Ali Ramdani, BC One All Star and twotime winner of the Red Bull BC One World Championship.
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food and drink
Italian chef and pizza world champion Oriana Tirabassi will guest at the Shangri-La’s Capri Court until April 28. The glamorous gastronomist uses traditional techniques to cook her signature dishes, including Vitello Tonnato – chilled veal in tuna mayonnaise with capers and home-made pickles.
Italy is home to some of the finest food in the world – from divine pasta dishes and moreish pizzas to heavenly cheeses and a seemingly endless array of ice creams. So what’s the secret to enjoying la buona cucina? The essence of Italian cooking is simplicity. Using the freshest ingredients and cupboard staples such as pasta, tomatoes, garlic and extra virgin olive oil, the Italians manage to make magical dishes in minutes.
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rECIPE New Restaurant
HERO INGREDIENT Y’s culinary heroes know which ingredients make killer dishes. Here, four of Muscat’s finest foodies reveal their favourite produce to Penny Fray. ONIONS Many people often forget about using onions when cooking – but they’re essential in that they add so much flavour and texture to a dish. They can be used either raw or cooked (sliced in a salad or as a base in soups, stews and sauces), pureed, baked whole, roasted or even served as a garnish. If you ask me, any food without the humble onion is pretty tasteless. Jason P Brotherton, Executive Chef at the Grand Hyatt Muscat SCALLOPS This seafood, which is so rich in protein, can be eaten raw or cooked and is incredibly adaptable. It goes well with many spices, vegetables and fruits. Imagine it with rabbit saddle and truffle, roasted fig, spinach and a licorice sauce. Delicious. Pascal Etienne, Executive Chef at the InterContinental Muscat RICE Having lived most of my life in Milan, my favourite ingredient is rice. It’s very versatile and I consider it very much food for the soul. Whether it is Carnaroli or Arborio, rice is an ingredient suitable for starters, salads, mains, sides or dessert. The dish can be as simple as a mushroom risotto or an Osso Buco alla Milanese on saffron risotto. Gianluca Visciglia, Executive Sous Chef at the Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa TARRAGON It may taste a little bitter but it is also a very refreshing and special herb. I’m talking about tarragon. It works well with mushrooms, eggs, fish, butter sauce, chicken and cream. It can also be used either fresh from the garden, dried or marinated in vinegar. Found in a lot of continental cuisines, it’s rich in vitamin K, keeping your bones healthy. Christian Pageot, Executive Chef of The Radisson Blu Muscat
Take IELTS with us Contact us at our stall in GHEDEX for more information, and get ready for a great IELTS score with the British Council. http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare/road-to-ielts
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food and drink
review N e w R e s t a u r a n t
Address: Irani Restaurant Al Marooj Hotel Al Khoud Opening for Lunch and Dinner: 12pm-12am daily Tel: 24545741 Price (for four): RO24
The food was fine but the service was less than satisfactory. The Irani at Al Khoud hits a low note with Matthew Herbst.
’d been looking forward for weeks to try out some authentic Iranian usual houmous, muttabal and tabouleh to share with the table. Thankfully, it cuisine at one of Muscat’s Irani restaurants. I pictured myself tucking into was really tasty. Still undecided on what to have next, I piled into the bread. their well-publicised buffet in Azaiba but settled on the Al Khoud branch At this point my drink arrived. Usually, a lemon and mint mocktail is icy and instead because it was closer to home. refreshing but on this occasion it was like being hit by a warm bag of sugar. On arriving, it wasn’t clear where the entrance was, as the sign was perched After grabbing one of the three waiters who were too busy to serve us, I on top of the hotel building it shared. As such, we ended up hiking through the solved my decision paralysis by going for the mixed kebab plate. hotel entrance, going to the back of the restaurant and past the kitchen. Not a One friend tried fish and the other a mutton dish with rice. Both of them good start. But things were about to get worse. were satisfied, although there was nothing distinctive about the flavours. My friends came with their child, so we walked through partitions When my main dish arrived I was pretty much stuffed, but I soldiered separating the family area from the men and women’s sections. on, sampling each of the meats. They were delicious and juicy but VERDICT: The former felt like the latter and it was all a bit glum. Everyone, not particularly unique. For the price, the food was acceptable – the including the families eating, looked serious. service less so. 10 We sat down and after some time had passed, were given two Feeling ignored and uncomfortable, we hurried our late-arriving Good value for money food but menus between three of us. I hate that, as I prefer to browse meals. Then the restaurant was hit by a power cut. When the lights no atmosphere and through the available dishes in my own time instead of peering over came back on we decided not to bother with dessert. an indifferent a friend’s shoulder to see what’s on the slab. We asked for another As we waited for the bill, power cut number two struck. I took a service. one but it never arrived. sip of water to kill the sugar sweats from the mint and lemon juice. I The waiter took yonks to take our order, during which time we’d put the glass down and by the time the lights came back on, my drink had devoured most of the bread on the table. disappeared. But it was no magic trick – the waiter was clearing our table in I was struggling to make up my mind as I was expecting some really authentic eager anticipation of our departure. Iranian dishes rather the usual Arabic and Turkish fare. The waiter chose to We stumbled out in darkness through the back entrance during power cut stand and wait until I made a decision. Disconcerted, I opted to start with the number three, disappointed by our experience.
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A well-travelled wardrobe is always in season – but never more so than in spring 2013. The bohemian spirit was alive and kicking on the catwalks of Gucci and Tory Burch. And a new trend brings with it many things, not the least important of which is a shoe closet update.
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We love this season’s boho luxe look – and few high street stores do it better than Monsoon.
These Sam Edelman sandals with their zebra print straps and flashes of neon, scream spring 2013. Available from Harvey Nichols from RO100
From bold, bohemian accents to block heels – shoes are moving from towering to tame this season, says Penny Fray.
here’s a debate that’s been raging in Muscat fashion circles for weeks and it concerns height. Do we bid farewell to those towering platforms that we’ve been teetering in for almost ten years and restore a sense of proportion with the modish mid-heel – or do we reject vogue and hang on to our tramp trotters? It’s a difficult decision, made all the harder because the sensible shoe is now being championed by everyone from Miu Miu and Marni to Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton. And let’s be honest here, extreme heels have been around for ages and are beginning to look a bit tired. On the other hand, they do help you look longer and leaner. Argh! What’s a girl to do? Thankfully, there is a compromise and it comes in the form of the editorial heel – sexy, strappy and sans platform, it’s been seen on several fashion editors’ feet. On the high street, Zara and Aldo do it best – embracing all the exoticism of the sexy bohemian spirit that dominated this season’s catwalks. When choosing the new style shoe, be prepared to mix prints, colour and textures for a distinctive tribal vibe. Even better – scour the souks for beaded slippers in rich hues of yellow, orange and blue to play up to the haute hippy look. Alternatively, try the gladiator sandal, which was interpreted in interesting ways on the runways. Tom Ford added a metallic touch to his, while Altuzarra reached new heights. If you don’t have a big budget, Matalan does a great value, gold version, while Sam Edelman’s ethnic variety screamed new season style – but expect a higher price tag. Fashion kudos and being able to walk without support? It’s time to say ‘yes’ to the new season silhouette. We’re so excited, we just can’t hide it, we’re about to lose control because Preen is Aldo’s collaborative partner for 2013. The designer collection is streamlined and easy to wear thanks to ankle straps and wider heels.
Travelling glamazons will love these Getreel heels from Nine West. From RO40
Thank you Zara for delivering designer worthy shoes at high street prices. RO50
Clarks are making a come back on the fashion hit list.
Walk This Way: PENNY SHOWS YOU HOW TO NAVIGATE NEW SEASON SHOES. 1 Chunky-heeled shoes in bold colours and mixed materials are the trophy pieces right now. 2 A flat sandal needn’t fall into flip-flop territory. Keep your sartorial stance strong with an ankle strap and embellishment. 3 Enter the viper room – the Year of the Snake continues in high luxe sandals. Alternatively, try a spot of faux leopard skin for extra grrrr.
Zara has become the go to store for fashion forward shoes this season. These ethnic sandals are not only bang-on trend, they’re also super comfortable too. RO30
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LIKE BIBA A
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Celebrity devotees, designer accessories and a never-ending list of health benefits – there’s a lot to say about yoga, as Penny Fray discovers
path to enlightenment that winds back 5,000 years in its native India – yoga is hotter than hell. It’s the exercise cum meditation for celebrities, power players and yummy mummies alike – one that doesn’t so much pump you up as bliss you out. The ancient discipline not only helps you stay supple and stress free, but it helps you lose weight and survive natural childbirth – benefits which Mercedez-Benz marketing manager Biba Mohan discovered for herself as she managed to deliver her baby drugfree. “I prepared myself mentally for the challenge with a mindset of a warrior,” laughs the 35-year-old. “But as all mothers know, the pain of contractions can be immense and way beyond the threshold of what’s bearable. “I struggled for hours and reached the point at which I thought that I wouldn’t be able to do it – then I discovered a method that just worked for me – I stood next to the delivery bed, swayed my hips and let go. When the pain of contractions kicked in, I somehow flowed through it and eventually a beautiful little girl, the most amazing miracle of nature, was placed on my chest.” Biba became interested in yoga after attending a spiritual retreat in India several years ago. As a salsa dancer with a black belt in Taekwando, she’d previously dismissed the trendy exercise as being too slow. “Then, I practiced yoga and its breathing techniques for two weeks and noticed immense changes in my body, mind and spirit,” she explains. “The lightness and joy experienced during that retreat were indescribable. Not only did I lose weight but also my overall radiance visibly increased. I may have looked better but it was how I felt that really mattered – I felt balanced, my mind became calmer and my concentration levels increased.” In line with yoga philosophy, Biba trained herself to witness her emotions and thoughts, responding to them with maturity. “I started enjoying my own company more but also noticed a big change when dealing with others – I became more compassionate. I also learned to simply flow with life, with no fear, accepting everything that came my way with gratitude.” Of course, the traditional Indian means of learning how to let go has been re-invented in the west as a lifestyle accessory, complete with designer trimmings. And with yoga trends changing faster than a catwalk model, it can be a confusing and sometimes superficial business.
“I remember meeting a model from New York in a coffee bar, who said she practiced Ashtanga – unfortunately, to many, yoga’s become just another ‘in’ thing to do. I spoke with her for a while and soon discovered that she suffered from insomnia, something that shouldn’t happen if you practice yoga. “There are many schools of yoga nowadays but I’d say basic Hatha, done with lots of feeling and awareness, followed by meditation, is the perfect choice.” Biba has since trained as a yoga teacher and claims that the practice has blessed her in more ways than one. Apart from changing her life for the better, yoga also helped her meet her soulmate. “During my first ever yoga class I met my husband Mohanji,” she says. “One of his great gifts is the ability to deliver profound inner experiences during meditation and help people unburden themselves from the unnecessary ‘luggage’ of negativities from the past, stored at the subconscious level.” Mohanji has now launched a retreat, during which yoga, breathing techniques, healthy food and spiritual insights are adopted. “The next retreat will be happening in Serbia in May, and is designed for those who want to truly work on themselves with the aim of deep inner transformation,” she concludes. For more information, go to: email@example.com
BIBA’S TOP TIPS TO YOGA Ì There is nothing competitive about doing yoga asanas (or positions). Do not compare yourself with others as we all have different journeys. Ì While performing each asana, go as far as you can. You will be amazed how fast your physical body will respond. Ì While performing each asana, always be aware of your breathing. Keep your mind calm, facial muscles relaxed and focus on your breath, which should always remain smooth. Ì Train yourself to simply witness your physical, mental and emotional reactions as you perform yoga asanas – do not allow your mind to wander to other subjects or follow other stimuli. Ì As you become more regular and more adept in the practice, the goal is to hold the asanas with ease and enjoy the practice. Intense and challenging postures should always be followed with a short relaxation and each pose will have its counter-pose. Ì Always allow some time for meditation (either in the Shavasana or cross-legged position, but always keeping the spine straight) after your yoga practice. This allows the energy to sink in and the cleansing to take place.
G A L L E R Y
SOAPBOX STARS HUGE TURN OUT FOR OMan’s FIRST RED BULL SOAPBOX on a sunny day in bawshar
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CARS AND OUTDOORS
Oman is something of an adventure playground for climbers, whether youâ€™re a beginner or a hardcore rock fan.
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CARS AND OUTDOORS
With towering mountains and deep canyons, Oman is a climber’s dream for those with a taste for daredevil feats and no fear of the unknown, writes Kate Ginn
aced with a looming rock face them between them and their destination, there are two types of people. One would simply walk away and find another way round. The other would already be planning the route to the top. For the latter, the rugged terrain and unforgiving landscape of Oman provides an adventure playground on a huge scale, taking in some of the most inhospitable parts of the country. Oman offers a variety of climbs for the more experienced and the beginner, says Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre (MDAC), which arranges climbs for novices or logistical support for hard-core climbers on longer trips. Many of the popular climbs have bolts already in place for the ropes, known in climbing lingo as ‘sport routes’. This also means that guide ropes can be set up for those who want to learn the basics but need to build up confidence. For those who want to get into climbing as a hobby, Oman has several climbing areas with a diverse choice corresponding to the climbers’ skill. There are paved paths for absolute beginners and tricky treks for the more experienced. First-time climbers in Oman will also need to get to grips with the unique nature of the rock – most climbs are on fairly soft and brittle limestone that’s not always reliable. Rock that looks strong can easily flake and become detached when pulled too hard, so climbing in Oman is often more subtle than athletic, requiring balance and patience. Apart from the quality of the rock, Oman’s hot climate is another factor. For the dedicated climber it is possible to climb through the summer, if the crag is picked carefully. North-facing crags are usually in the shade in the afternoon. In most cases, though not all, a good 4x4 is essential to get to the more extreme climbing areas. It’s also got the space to transport all the climbing equipment and paraphernalia that is required. However, you don’t always need to go far. The closest climbing area to Muscat is the 5 O’Clock Rock in Wadi Adai, around 6km away. According to Oman Tourism, Wadi Ghool in A’Sharqiyah South, which rises to 300 metres, provides a perfect climbing spot. It also cites Jabal Misht as the best location for mountain climbing with its rocky front, possibly the largest in the 038
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Arabian Peninsula, extending for 6km and rising to 850 metres, providing trails for all levels of difficulty. Oman also used to have the added challenge of via ferrata. From the Italian literally meaning ‘Iron Way’, via ferrata are mountain routes with fixed zip wire cables, metal rungs and ladders, allowing adventurous walkers and climbers to ascend steep rock faces in relative safety. Via ferrata was originally developed in the Italian Alps during the First World War to assist troop movement in difficult mountain terrain. The Ministry of Tourism sponsored the installation of three via ferrata routes in Oman – the Grand Canyon on Jebel Shams, Snake Canyon in Wadi Bani Awf and Bandar Khayran – but these have all been closed for maintenance since January 2012. Someone who knows all about the adrenalinpumping lure of climbing is Khalid Sulaiman al Siyabi, who on May 23, 2010, became the first Omani to reach the summit of Everest, the highest peak in the world (8,848 metres above sea level). Only ten people from the team of 19 reached the summit, as they battled altitude sickness and storms to get there. Al Siyabi has said his feat help put Oman on the mountaineering map. “I believe most Omanis have somewhere deep inside themselves a relationship with mountains – it’s part of our heritage,” he said. “We need to rediscover our connection to the mountains. I keep telling my friends that if we could only do that, our life and health will be changed.” Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre www.omandiving.com
REACHING THE PEAKS 5 CLIMBS IN OMAN
1. 5 O’Clock Rock
A slab of limestone just a short drive up the Al Amerat Road towards Wadi Adai. It’s a five-minute walk from the road but with a 4x4 you can drive right up to the base.
2. Qantab (aka Bandar Al Jissah)
Offers great overhangs and a challenging cliff face. Located on a busy beach, expect to attract an audience of families and local Omani kids. A further nine climbs can be reached by fishing boat. Stay away from the sea facing cliffs as you might encounter very territorial hornets.
3. Wadi Dayqah
Just an hour and a half from Muscat, this has three main crag areas and lots of climbs of various difficulties between 30-60 metres. Relatively easy to get to being only 3km off road.
4. Khubrah Canyon (aka Secret Canyon) Something for every skill level and taste. Around 20 routes ranging in difficulty.
5. La Gorgette
Located deep in Wadi Bani Awf, it’s the steepest crag in Oman and only really good for seasoned climbers. A two-and-a-half hour drive from Muscat.
If you’re a novice climber who needs to build up some confidence and know-how before trying your hand at the real thing in the great outdoors, head to the indoor climbing wall in Al Khuwair and gain the basic skills you need. Heather Duncan did and found it an uplifting experience.
f, like me, you don’t have a head for heights, the idea of tackling a climbing wall might be enough to tip you over the edge. I was persuaded to have a go only because it was for charity, a small-Muscat based initiative called ‘The Children of Jebel Shams’, which raises funds for underprivileged children who live on Oman’s highest mountain. In an attempt to raise some cash for the charity started by Rachael MacIver, a family fun day held at Al Khuwair’s indoor climbing area offered the chance to get to grips with heights. Enlisting the support of my brother, my feelings of trepidation weren’t eased by immediately being plunged straight into an abseil. For those who might not know, abseiling is a controlled descent from a height using a length of rope. Kitted out with a safety harness and helmet, it was time to face the music, or rather the wall. Abseiling always looks pretty easy but once you are lying back at a 90-degree angle with only a rope holding you in place, the nerves kick in. Even though I was only about four metres off the floor, I was still nervous about the rope holding me in place. The instructors were great and very patient with my endless questions and, to my surprise, I even enjoyed the experience. We then moved into the ‘bouldering room’, which is a small room with hand and foot grips all over the wall
and ceiling, allowing you to pretend to scale even the scariest of rock faces and hang on vertically. In reality you are safe as the floor is cushioned. One of the instructors showed us how it was done and scaled the ceiling like some kind of agile spider. Then it was my turn and I was quickly brought back down to earth. I was nowhere near as graceful as him and fell after around 20 seconds on the wall. He made it look so easy with his long, slender legs. In the building there are several different climbing routes up the wall and you can choose your preference depending on your ability. I went for the medium one as I knew I had to do better than the young children who were surprisingly quick and strong at getting to the top completely unconcerned about the height. Once I was up on the wall it seemed a long way down. Getting up was the easy part, but the coming back down was the bit I dreading. With reassuring words from my instructor and panic assuaged, I managed to shimmy my way back down to terra firma. My brother on the other hand showed me how it was done, as he scaled the walls effortlessly and was only halted by the ultimate challenge wall. Even the instructor, who has been climbing all his life, struggled with this one, as the foot grips are so narrow, testing even the best climbers. It was good to get my feet firmly back on solid ground and, while I don’t think I will ever quite have the climbing skills of a mountain goat, I did scale my own fears. * To donate money to the charity contact Rachael directly on: firstname.lastname@example.org The climbing wall is in Al Khuwair and is called the Muscat Diving & Adventure Centre. Email email@example.com or phone +968 2454 3002
Fact Box First artificial climbing wall was constructed in 1964 in the UK. The word ‘abseil’ derives from the German language and in English means to ‘rope down’. The first art of abseiling was perfected in 1879 on the mountain of Petite Dru in the French Alps.
APR 24 - 30 / ISSUE 267
CARS AND OUTDOORS
Al Thowarah Hot Springs
A wallow in the invigorating warm water in the shadow of spectacular Nakhal Fort is certain to put a spring in your step, finds Laura Shergold
APR 24 - 30 / ISSUE 267
Images: Peter Shergold
Nakhal is approximately 30km from Barka and about 120km from Muscat. • Nakhal is situated in the Al Batinah region • There is car park at the side of the springs • There is a also small food shop • You don’t need a 4x4 to reach the fort or springs • Ladies need to dress conservatively if bathing • Don’t forget sun cream, sunglasses, hat and camera
e slipped into the warm soothing spring after a hot and dusty drive. The shadows of the beautiful date palm trees lining the stream played on the surface of the water. A sense of tranquility settled and everything in the world seemed just right. Such is the power of the Al Thowarah hot springs to wash away your troubles. Visitors often make it to the spring only after first taking in nearby Nakhal Fort. This is a shame as the Oasis of Nakhal is well worth the 120km trip out from Muscat alone. A leisurely if unremarkable drive from the capital via Barka brings you to Nakhal, in the Al Batinah region, whose name is derived from ‘nakheel’ meaning palm or palm trees. Dominating the village is the magnificent Nakhal Fort rising out of the mountain rock, which is itself framed by the towering backdrop of the Western Hajar mountain range. This famous old fortress has witnessed countless battles and is considered by many to be the most impressive in Oman. Climb to the top of the watchtowers and you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding countryside. My interest, however, was not here this time but the hot springs, which can be found a few kilometres beyond the fort. The name ‘Thowarah’ derives from the Arabic word to ‘boil’, though there is no danger of third degree burns here as the springs are pleasantly warm. A twisty road leads from the fort where you will enjoy lush greenery and date palm plantations. There is a car park at the side of the springs and a small shop where you can buy snacks. The natural spring water is channelled into the falaj system to irrigate the surrounding date plantations, and you can dip your toe or have a paddle in the run-off water. It’s a popular destination for locals and tourists, so I was expecting it to be busy on a weekend. Sure enough when we visited on a Friday, it was packed with families picnicking on the banks of the springs, young guys washing their cars and people relaxing with shisha. For me, this all added to the atmosphere, but if you are after a quiet dip, then it would be best to go during the week. As well as the free flowing spring water, there is a concrete tub with a small inviting waterfall to bathe in. Women should be aware that your presence in the bath might well attract stares from men. This is out of curiosity and, as it’s a public swimming area, a t-shirt to cover up is recommended before plunging in to enjoy it with the rest. What you might not be expecting – I certainly wasn’t – is the complimentary pedicure that can be enjoyed here. Simply sit on one of the many rock formations at the side of the wadi and dip your feet in. Before long there is movement in the water, as small fish begin to have a nibble on your dangling digits. It tickles at first and is a bit of a strange sensation but after a few seconds, you get used to it and it’s actually quite pleasant. My feet were so smooth afterwards. With pedicured feet, great photographs and the smell of afternoon barbecues wafting in the air, we headed back to Muscat, stopping for a caffeine hit in a small coffee shop in Nakhal village. I would have no hesitation in recommending Nakhal and its super springs as a great place to while away a sunny afternoon.
Nakhal Fort opening hours: Sat to Thurs: 9am to 4pm Fridays: 8am to 11am Entrance: 500bz adults, children free Latitude: 23°23’41. 00”N, Longitude: 57°49’43. 00”E APR 24 - 30 / ISSUE 267
AL HAIL The Good, The Bad & The Ugly It’s not the prettiest of neighbourhoods. A common complaint is the lack of proper pavements and the absence of parks. There are also a lot of roadworks snarling up traffic. Then again, it’s a quiet and friendly neighbourhood for families both local and expat, with a wide range of spacious villas and the sea nearby.
Living There From the most budget and rundown residential blocks all the way up to exclusive palaces, Al Hail caters for all ends of society. It offers a lot in the way of affordable villas and apartments for those who prefer space and don’t mind the daily commute to town. And for Al Hail’s most exclusive inhabitants, of whom there are a few, the area is also home to a number of high-walled palaces. It’s nothing if not eclectic. 042
APR 24 - 30 / ISSUE 267
Photo by Jerzy Wierzbicki
CARS AND OUTDOORS
The LowDown Al Hail is a residential neighbourhood with a large community of Omanis, as well as a mix of expats. Locals say it is friendly and easygoing. With a range of villas large and small, and easy access to shops and services, it’s a great place for families and commuters.
It’s not necessarily the most exciting part of Muscat but Al Hail has a lot to recommend it
Why I live in Al Hail: Places of Interest Itâ€™s a lot more green and The area has some important education institutes including the prestigious Caledonian College and the Sultan School, while the Polyglot Institute is popular spacious than some parts of for English and Arabic students. On the Al Khoud border the Seeb Stadium hosts local football matches and is the home club for Seeb. Al Hail also has a farm or two, Muscat. Youâ€™re close to all your showing how recently it was just countryside. household needs like fruit and vegetable markets, laundries, barbers and car cleaning. Salman Abbas, IT worker HangOuts There is not a huge amount to do here although it has a few quality restaurants and cafes. The Asmaki fish restaurant offers superior seafood. For fresh catch, head to the Evening Fish Market just off the Sultan Qaboos highway. There are a number of superior Turkish and Arabic restaurants as well as lots of cheap shawarma shops. For the more action oriented there is a paintballing centre where you can let off steam by splatting your mates at the weekend. And you are just a short hop to Muscat City Mall or The Wave for a coffee or dinner by the marina.
Shopping There are a lots of tailors, barbers, launderettes and some interesting independent retailers that cover most of your basic needs. Highlights include The Cake Gallery where you can order a delicious sponge for any occasion. There are a few smaller supermarkets on the service road running alongside the highway, while Markas Al Bahja and Muscat City Centre are nearby for all your higher end shopping needs. APR 24 - 30 / ISSUE 267
Still love Spider-Man and other Marvel Comics characters? Create your own with the Comics Creator. This free BlackBerry App allows you to upload drawings and build your own comic from an impressive library of images and dialogue bubbles.
BOOK IT Rumours are rife that Amazon is building its first ever smartphone. Close your eyes and imagine a palm-sized Kindle with the ability to make calls as well as downloading books, music and apps with complete ease. No release date has been announced yet – but the 4.7inch device is sure to appeal to bookworms.
IT’S ALL IN THE WRIST Your smartphone is the centre of your universe. It’s just a pity that on most days, you have to scramble through all the detritus of your bag to find it. Enter the smart watch – the world on your wrist. As previously reported by Y-FI, the Pebble version has already been released earlier this year – but hot on its heels are versions by Apple, Samsung and Google – or so the gossip goes.
GAME ON Nintendo has a long history with mobile gaming – but could the company make a move into smartphones? It would give people access to characters like Mario and Donkey Kong on a cool new platform. Fingers crossed.
EDITOR’S PICK CLEAR AS CRYSTAL Remember the transparent smartphone used by Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man 2? Well, fiction is about to become a reality if phone companies have anything to do with it. Not only do these see-through handsets look chic but they’re also eco friendly as they harness the power of the sun to re-charge.
JAN 1624 –– 2230 / ISSUE 253 APR 267
The mobile has just celebrated its 40th birthday. Penny Fray takes a peek into the future to see what technological wonders are about to emerge from the world of phones.
CARRIER FREE PHONE Could iPhone launch its own network and avoid the usual partnerships with established mobile carriers? Impossible? Only time will tell. But if anyone can do it – it’s Apple.
THE FUTURE LOOKS BRIGHT
THE TECH IN YOU
APP OF THE WEEK
CARS AND OUTDOORS
Car of the week
BMW Concept X4 Engine: 4L and 6L petrol and diesel Six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic Body Length 4,648mm Width 1.915mm Height 1,622mm 21-inch alloy wheels Reports suggest X4 xDrive20d will be pitched at round 35,000 GB sterling (RO20,500)
It has the sporty looks of a sleek coupe with the robustness of a rugged SUV – meet the new BMW Concept X4 and the next chapter in the brand’s story
here were few surprises as the covers slid off BMW’s all-new Concept X4 at the Shanghai Motor Show four days ago. The German car manufacturer had already previewed the look of its latest offering, so the design was well known beforehand. Nonetheless, this didn’t detract from the impact of seeing it for the first time in all its gorgeous, shining glory. Whatever else is said about the Concept X4, one cannot take away from the undeniable beauty of the machine, its undulating lines and elegant fastback look as the roofline slopes down to the back. It’s a good looker to be sure and certain to draw admiring glances whether cruising down Sultan Qaboos Street or navigating off-road tracks in a wadi somewhere. The car is clearly aimed at taking the BMW X model family, which made its premiere in 1999 with the X5, onto the next level of motoring and design. In that challenge, it undoubtedly succeeds.
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The Concept X4 has high ground clearance combined with the feel of a regular car, steering it into the flourishing crossover territory, which should find a ready market in Oman. It is, however, very definitely pitched at the high end with eye-catching composition, tight contours and numerous high-quality details, all adding up to a dynamic package on wheels. Classic BMW features such as the kidney grille and stylized twin circular headlights give the front a clear identity. This has been given a modern twist with an ultra-stylish finish, styled by BMW’s head of design, Karim Antoine Habib, who was born in Beirut. Heavily influenced by the design of the larger X6, the chunky 21-inch light alloy wheels give definition and depth. Where this car differs is the sweeping roofline making the model appear longer and somehow more muscular. Even when standing still, the X4 seems to be on the move. With this under your control, the streets will be yours for the taking. Indeed, the tagline BMW is using for the car
at the moment is ‘Captivates Everyone. Fears Nothing.’ Initial reaction to the design has, for the most part, been favourable, though the jury will remain out and won’t be passing verdict until the car hits the roads. This is a tantalising preview for you as the X4 production models are not due to roll out of the factory until early next year. BMW has yet to reveal the interior and for now is keeping mum about specifics other than promising “outstanding performance and driving dynamics”, the very least we’ve come to expect from the carmaker over the years. The X4 will come with a standard four-seat layout, with individual rear seats divided by a centre console. A five-seat layout will apparently be optional. With X models accounting for one in four sales last year, BMW has high hopes for its latest baby. Every new X model is a trailblazer, it says. We will have to wait a little longer to see whether the X4 lives up to this billing.
Porsche Centre Oman SATA LLC Muscat, Telephone 2449 2544 9277 1887 9222 1225 firstname.lastname@example.org www.porscheoman.com
Carrera S 2012, 8,500 km, Gold Lime Exterior, Black Interior, 44,000 OMR.
Cayenne S 2008, 101,955 km, Olive Green Exterior, Beige Interior, 19,000 OMR.
Cayman Sport 2007, 95,000 km, Red Exterior, Beige Interior, 13,500 OMR.
GTS 2009, 47,000 km, Red Exterior, Beige Interior, 21,500 OMR.
Cayenne Turbo 2008, 54,754 km, Green Olive Exterior, Beige Interior, 22,500 OMR.
GTS 2009, 56,094 km, Orange Exterior, Black Interior, 21,000 OMR.