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MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310 • WEEKLY
HOT CLICKS MEET OMAN’S BLOGGERATI
BOYS IN BLOOM
NOVEMBER 24 / ISSUE 258
THE IT KIT
PHOTOBOMBING Seen all over this year’s Oscars. The best one came from British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. We salute you, sir.
CARBS The Atkins Diet fell out of favour a few years ago, but the proteinbased food regime is back in a new format. Hmmm. Someone pass us the breadbasket!
Welcome to the new look Y Magazine your indispensable guide to everything modern Oman has to offer.
I What’s New Pussy Cat
first started writing because I found it rewarding and had something to say - or rather - a story to tell. It wasn’t because I wanted fame, fortune or even to be published. I just needed an outlet for my endless stream of ideas. Despite being a better artist than writer, I swapped a career in law for journalism and haven’t looked back since. But the creative landscape is fast changing. Professional and highly trained wordsmiths are no longer the only ones disseminating information and curating concepts – ordinary folk are doing it via blogs. And they’re getting good at it - so good, in fact, that they’re becoming minor celebrities on the back of their posts. Social media stars are topping VIP lists while fashion editors are being forced to share front row seats with influential style bloggers. But it’s not all fun and frivolity. Some weighty bloggers have become the eyes and ears of the world, reporting on serious human rights violations and whistleblowing on corporate corruption. In celebration of this social media revolution, we’ve compiled Oman’s Bloggerati list. Enjoy!
THIS WEEK… Team Y has been boogying to Tom Jones at the Welsh Society in Oman dinner, entertaining pupsters (otherwise known as interns) and laughing ourselves silly over the suggestiveness of Samsung’s Siri equivalent, S-Voice – yes, we know, you really miss us. Oh? You miss me more?
Ways to get your Y fix Online: Visit y-oman.com for even more inspiration. Smart device: Catch up with Y on the go at y-oman.com/current-issue
Penny Fray MANAGING EDITOR email@example.com
EDITOR IN CHIEF Sayyida Iman bint Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Eihab Abutaha MANAGING EDITOR Penny Fray SECTIONS EDITOR Kate Ginn
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CONTRIBUTOR Tom Robertson PHOTOGRAPHER Jerzy Wierzbicki ART DIRECTOR Matthew Herbst DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Feroz Khan
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Write to us at Y Magazine, SABCO Media, PO Box 3779, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman.
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
contents MARCH 06 2014
Features 20 Bloggerati Meet Oman’s Bloggers 24 Feminism Girl Power
06 The Big Interview
08 The Voice Of Oman
Rosie In The Desert
15 Oman In 43 Objects
How much Do You Earn?
18 This Week
26 Success In The City Right Place, Right Time
Kitchen IT Kit
30 Food Review
Business & Career
Food and Drink
16 Movie Listings
24 Hour Race
Cars and Outdoor 37 Destination
Wadi Bani Awf
Night At The Opera
42 Postcard From
Health & Beauty
46 Car of the Week 32 Fashion Renault Twizy Blokes In Bloom 34 Health Feel The Pulse 35 Style Council Barbra Young
33 NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE...
MUSSELS MANIA / FIGHTING RACISM / CUTELY CROPPED / THE ART OF INTERNING
C L I VE FRE E M A N , C HI E F O PE R ATING O FFI C E R FO R T H E L AND MA R K G RO U P Tell us about your career in 60 seconds or less: I began my retail career aged 15, working weekends as a cashier at a local supermarket. Then, after completing my academic studies, I moved into a two-year development-training programme with a major retailer. That allowed me to travel throughout the UK working in each sector of the business. From there I moved into ‘store, area and regional management’ and in 2001, was invited to join a retailer in Saudi Arabia. I worked there for five years before joining the Landmark Group. I have since had the opportunity to work for the company in Dubai, Egypt and Oman, each posting further developing my retail knowledge. What initially attracted you to the retail sector? From the time I worked weekends, I realised that the retail business is an extremely dynamic industry with no two days being the same. There are new experiences and learning opportunities each day and developments in consumer shopping and their expectations are constantly evolving. I also enjoy working in a team
MAR 06 – 12 / ISSUE 310
environment. After all, all retailers must have a strong team dynamic to be successful. What’s the secret to Landmark Group’s success here in Oman? I would say that all markets are unique. But the Landmark Group is a homegrown brand that started with the Babyshop in Bahrain back in 1974. The product range developed in all of our brands - which includes Splash and Max - is aimed at the local market only, understanding our customer requirements, listening to feedback and developing brand loyalty. What is your personal USP? These aren’t particularly unique qualities, but I believe that I am open, challenging and decisive. The expectations of customers these days are high – they want things faster and cheaper with maximum interaction, service and information on
provenance. How do you keep pace? As I said before, retailing is a very dynamic environment. Consumer needs evolve, expectations develop, new technologies are created, and retail environments change. As a business we listen to our customers, review our systems and processes and constantly work towards delivering an improved service using all available tools. If a genie appeared right now in your office and eliminated all financial, logistical and administrative constraints, what would you like to achieve? Our goals have already been set and a genie isn’t really required. All of the areas mentioned are pre-requisites to achieving our
business goals and shouldn’t be viewed as constraints. If business had two buttons – pause or rewind – which would you press and why? Neither. Every day in retail is important. The past experiences prepare you for tomorrow and standing still has no merit. How would you describe your personality in three words? That’s a difficult question to answer as it changes depending on the situation. What do you enjoy doing in your personal time? What spare time I have is spent with my family. What purchases did you last make in a Landmark store? Last week, I bought a cooker and printer from Emax.
The Voice of Oman
Embrace and accept our differences and just simply get on with enjoying each other, says Rosie Malcolm
correspondence baby blues Dear Y
RETURN OF THE YUMMY MUMMY
Parenting pa ge
Battling With The Black Dog
Noor Hy de can spot r discovers how pa and treat childhood rents depressi ad, clingy and suff on ering from drea
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els / ore / Cute Cam Discounts Galn / Golf Fit / Events / Marathon Ma/ Carb Comeback Abaya Chic
JAN 9 – 15
• ISSUE 252
TicketERTs Win VJ &IP NC RITA ORA IN CO or Bust:
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FEB 06 – 12
/ ISSUE 306
RO THE CONT
Fashion Outdoors Feature
Hello Y I visited Oman recently. Before I returned home to Saudi Arabia, I picked up your magazine out of interest to get some insight into this beautiful country. The culture and the friendliness of the people are unique. Not to mention the climate and wonderfully refreshing oceans. In your magazine I read of female genital mutilation, which I felt ill
THE CRUELLEST CUT
DRIVEN TO WIN
NOVEM BER 24
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
after reading. As a registered nurse from Australia, I find it difficult to comprehend that a mother would allow so barbaric an act to be carried out on her baby girl. I found myself looking at Omani woman and little girls whilst in Muscat, wondering if they had experienced such a horrifying procedure. If there is a petition to sign, point me to it. How can a country turn a blind eye to such an ancient outdated practice? Kind Regards 32 Joanne Lee, Saudi Arabia 2/5/14
/ ISSUE 258
WRITE TO US AND WIN A VOUCHER
o Dinner for tw at Tomato
test offers at Check out our la talMuscat /InterContinen
SEND US YOUR letters, photos, news and views to email@example.com / @ytabloid / /ytabloid. Impress us and the winning correspondent will receive an InterContinental voucher. Guests may redeem gift vouchers from the hotel’s reception. For the rest of the terms and conditions see voucher.
Changing trends and culture are having a serious influence on youngsters. This can affect them adversely, especially when the children in need of support are ignored in the early days of their lives. It is quite unfortunate and in the long run, the problem could affect their growth in every aspect. Hopefully childhood depression will not lead to creating unhappiness in later life.
Best regards Ramachandran Nair, Ruwi
en are from Mars, women are from Venus. Or so we’ve been told by John Gray’s iconic book. Certainly it can seem at times like we’re on different planets. Both want everything their own way and can’t accept the other. He doesn’t think how she thinks, she doesn’t do what he expects. With misunderstandings or imagining what the other is feeling or thinking, we often find that trying to work out our partner can be a daily task. What we actually should be doing is working out how to live in reasonable harmony most of the time with our spouse or life-long partner. In the last 50 years our roles have changed. No longer is it women at home running the household and having babies, while the men are out hunting and gathering for their families. We are still in the process of redefining our individual roles, reformulating the marriage of today into something different that both can feel happy with. The continuous struggle for power we encounter every day and disagreeing over silly things that don’t really matter detract from what is important. Simple old fashioned concepts that I think are the same in all religions: offering each other unconditional respect, being honest with each other, giving your partner a place of safety, as well as trusting the relationship. Like the sun and moon need each other, so we all need the masculine side of life as well as the feminine. My suggestion to couples is why don’t you just sit down, talk and listen to each other? Let go of egos and celebrate how great it is to have a partner that you can share your life with. Appreciation of each other is so significant too. The simplest comments can really make all the difference.
The article ‘Battling with the Black Dog’ (Issue 309) was informative reading. I think depression among youth is quite a common scenario these days. The reality is that children are suffering from this at an early age, but it’s not their fault. Responsible adults have a serious role in shaping the young generation of today and must bear some of the blame. Mental illness among the younger generation is a reality of modern society.
Welcom e to where we Y’s monthly Pare look at issu nting Page and dads . We’ll hav es that affect mum , fun tips e topical s and stor parents on competitions, and ies, trends, speak to the ups andthe ground who know downs of having chil all about dren.
YOUR FEEDBACK IS IMPORTANT TO US
If you were told that you had to leave Oman but could go anywhere, where would you move to and why there in particular? Rashmi Dsouza
Being in Oman for the last 32 years, it would be very difficult for me to say goodbye to this beautiful country where I was born and brought up. If there was no option to stay, I would go to India as that’s my second home. But Oman is, and always will be, my first home.
Maldives! Because it isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind.
Subhan’Allah, I would like to go to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to live this life and prepare for the next one.
Back to Pakistan, as I am a Pakistani.
would go to any country within the GCC so that I could still be close to Oman and visit whenever I wanted to.
Debate of the Week
The UK would be a great place to move and reconnect with long-lost family and friends.
I'm a reader
I’ve been in love with this country since the time we landed here two years ago. If I have to move, I’d probably go to the UAE, which is as close to my heart because my life in the Middle East started there.
friends from Muscat to spend an amazing time on the beach. We would have a BBQ , watch the beautiful sunrises and amazing sunsets and explore the sea with my private yacht.
Oman is a beautiful country but if there were no way out of having to move, then I would move to Australia for a while.
FA C E B O O K
I would buy a private island and invite all my
We enjoy a great life in Oman. However, if there was no option to stay then I would like to move to Goa. Even though both places are so very different, both are very beautiful; scenic locations with great beaches, great food, a laid-back lifestyle, friendly people, clean environment, lots of greenery and flowers, and sunshine.
This Week’s Debate:
The film Oscars have been awarded in Hollywood. If you could give your own personal Oscar to someone who has done a good deed to others or helped you in someway, who would it be and why? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter and be in with a chance of winning dinner for two.
Sami Bakhour was spotted with his favourite Y Magazine at Muscat City Centre, Seeb
Vedette de Niese
I know I cannot stay here permanently, even though it’s like home, so I would love to go to Canada to find greener pastures.
Heetraj Chavda I will go to London after leaving Oman to watch Chelsea’s football matches or back to India, because there is no place like home. Shabnoor Alam
I would try not to leave Oman because I have spent my childhood days here and all my memories are from here. If I had to leave this place, then I would go back to my motherland, Bangladesh, as it’s where I was born. Though I love Oman more than any other place.
I am in love with this place, so the thought of having to leave here makes me a bit sad. But if I had no choice and had to move away, I
THIS IS YOUR PAGE!
Just send us your picture with the free Y magazine or pose with our photographer and we will publish it on this page Send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
How much do you earn?
If you get a phone call over the next few days asking how much you pocket each month, don’t be alarmed. It’s simply part of a far-reaching survey to gauge consumer confidence. The ongoing poll, which started on March 2nd, will last for ten days and gather essential information on factors such as purchasing potential, wages, spending and employment. Around 1200 adults will be questioned. Answers to the survey will help develop an overview of the economic situation in the country and to provide ongoing monitoring
of economic conditions. Decision makers will then be able to use the findings to formulate new policy with an updated understanding of Oman’s consumer spending power. Unlike the recent population census in the country, which was carried out using door to door calls, the survey will be conducted by phone from a call centre. Interviewers will use a special questionnaire formulated by the National Centre for Information and Statistics, which uses the latest scientific methodology to gather statistics.
Lethal H1N1 returns to Oman
his week saw the tragic deaths of two people suffering from the H1N1 virus, the Ministry of Health has announced. The victims were suffering from pneumonia caused by the seasonal flu virus. Speaking on behalf of the Ministry, a spokesman urged Oman’s residents to maintain hygienic practices to help stop the spread of the virus. He added: “Most of these cases are moderate and do not require medical intervention.” However, those who suffer from influenza-like symptoms are encouraged to contact a doctor in order to seek professional medical advice.
SUPERBOY WINS LG
G FLEX PHONE We’ve had an amazing array of photos and videos of readers displaying their superpowers for our fabulous competition. There have been cooks, actors, orators and even those who can shrink family and friends by virtue of computer wizardry. But the winner, chosen by the editor, is Yvonne Van Den Wildenberg, who sent this photo of their superhuman son, Yke, ‘flying’ through the Muscat skyline. If only we could do the same! Congratulations to you. Your prize is a LG G FLEX smartphone, courtesy of Nawras.
FEB 27 – MAR 05 / ISSUE 309
ON CALL AND ON DEMAND
Our new weekly slot takes a lighthearted look at a news issue of the week.
Place names What are they? The given names for geographical locations, such as Abu Dhabi in the UAE, Boring in Oregon, USA or Poopoo in Hawaii. But why are we talking about Poopoo now? Because place names here in Oman have recently come under the spotlight. People are starting to ask why road signs in the Sultanate give different spellings for the same place. While the Arabic name is consistent, the English translations are becoming more and more creative. Does it really matter? Clearly. Imagine that you’re driving along looking for Sohar but then see a signpost for Suhar. Is it the same place? We just don’t know. Similarly, you could be searching for Al Azaiba and Al Udhaiba is shown. Then there’s Al Amerat and Amirat. Uncertainty now clouds your navigation… Mutrah, Mattrah, potato, potatah – what’s the big deal? All kinds of horrible and chaotic situations could result. Tourists will never be able to find Muttrah to spend their rials in our economy and Sohar Chips may have to have an alternative marketing campaign for Suhar Chips. Good grief ! - What’s next? Chips Omin? It could be worse. Really? If you start to spell thingz differently then language starts to foll aparrt. I think I could keep track. I’m not sure you cud. If speling startz 2 crumbel then even2ually w’ll al be lft with joost anunintelligble mesofwordz. What could be the cause of this confusion? Experts agree that it’s down to the differences in scripts. At the end of the day, the Arabic alphabet is different to the Latin Alphabet and as such, there are always different ways to transliterate the names. Come again. Transwhatnow? Transliteration. It’s the process of converting text from one script to another. Do say: Which way to Muttrah, please? Don’t say: How do I get to Matrah, please? It’s not on my map.
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
mbulance services respond to an average of 25 emergencies every day in the Sultanate, with the majority dealing with road accidents or other major traumas. Over half of the calls, 60 per cent, are in Muscat. In contrast, the lowest number of callouts occurs in Al Wusta, with just 60 in one year. In total, ambulances attended 9,228 calls during 2012, according to a study by the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI). Injuries from traffic accidents and other physical injuries accounted for 67 per cent, or 6,160, of all emergency callouts. A further 2,981 calls were classified as medically related, where ambulance staff rushed to provide immediate assistance to people suffering a health emergency of some kind. Final figures from last year are still being analysed.
STOP PRESS: A government committee has recommended that the fuel subsidy should be scrapped altogether or withdrawn from those who can afford to pay. Subsidising fuel is projected to cost the government RO860 million in 2014.
A WEEK IN PICTURES
HEADLINING STORIES FROM OMAN AND BEYOND
World leaders say Russian invasion of Ukraine could spiral into ‘biggest international crisis since Cold War’
12 Years A Slave wins Best Picture at the Oscars. Brad Pitt, the film’s producer, accepted the award
First day of trial of South African ‘Blade Runner’ paralympian Oscar Pistorius who denies murdering his girlfriend in gun blast
Microsoft founder Bill Gates regains top spot as world’s richest person with an estimated wealth of $76bn
Laparoscopic Surgery Al Raffah Hospital, a multi speciality centre, offers advanced Laparoscopic surgery procedures with state-of-the-art facilities.
Gastrointestinal & Bariatric Surgery · Diagnostic laparoscopy · Intestinal & Colorectal Surgeries · Cholecystectomy · Weight Loss Surgeries · Hernia Repair · Umbilical Hernias Repair · GERD Surgery Urology · Urinary stones · Kidney Pathologies (Pyeloplasty & Nephrectomy) · Bladder & Prostatic issues (Cystectomy, Prostatectomy) · Kidney, Bladders & Prostatic Cancers · Undescended Testis & Pediatric Hernias · Congenital Problems · Varicocelectomy Gynaecology · Total Hysterectomy · Myomectomy - simple & complicated · Ectopic Surgery including conservative surgeries · Ovarian Cystectomy · Hysteroscopic surgeries · Endometeriosis · Tubal Microsurgeries · Surgeries for Prolapse · Laparoscopy during pregnancy
For appointments call 9855 0066 Care Beyond Boundaries
Al Ghobra Round About, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman Tel: +968 2461 8900/1/2/3/4, Fax: +968 2449 7210 Email: email@example.com
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35 MEDICAL CENTRES OVER 25 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
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B SM 24 hour run
Pupils, parents, staff and friends raise funds for charity
Kai Vacher, Principal at British School Muscat
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
OMAN IN 43 OBJECTS
pring has literally sprung, as this week we’re exploring the falaj. You can imagine the word appearing in a quiz and people scratching their heads as to its meaning. For those of you not in the know (and I admit to being one of them), the falaj is an original Omani irrigation system, deep-rooted in the country’s land and history. There are some 3,000 falaj systems still in use in Oman. I bet you’ve seen them around the Sultanate – water filled trenches snaking
through an area, and kids jumping into them. You’ll also see them criss-crossing the terraces of Jebel Akhdar, bringing the source of life to the fragrant roses used to make rosewater. The source of the water streaming through the falaj is fresh groundwater found in the subsoil or valleys. And just in case you’re preparing for that aforementioned quiz - the plural of the word ‘falaj’ is ‘aflaj’, which is a comprehensive term used to denote an irrigation system. MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
MOVIES MOVIES THIS WEEK’S MOVIES For more information and times, go to: City Cinema: citycinemaoman.net Al Bahja Cinema: albahjacinema.net Star Cinema: Tel +968 24791641
average script and plot that the actors are left battling with. Accusations of predictability are perhaps overly harsh as the plot does manage to twist deftly but there’s a certain ambience to the film that never really takes it into premium thriller territory. It doesn’t really offer anything over and above some of the high quality TV series that are knocked out with consistency these days. The movie’s poor reviews should send out a clear warning to directors that thrillers really do need to be supremely crafted and edited in order to compete with their serial counterparts. Reviewed by Tom Robertson
Driving home one night, a young attorney (Dominic Cooper) is involved in a hit-and-run incident that leaves an innocent man at death’s door. When Samuel L Jackson is arrested for the victim’s murder, the lawyer is put under pressure to change the course of the investigation and have the man acquitted. But as more details of the case emerge, Cooper realises that he has freed a man who was actually instrumental in the murder of the victim that fateful night. Jackson delivers a fantastic performance as a disturbing psychopath intent on inflicting pain and suffering but it’s a character portrayal that far outshines the
Mr Morgan’s Last Love Romance-filled Paris isn’t the kind of place you would normally associate with lonely souls. Based on the novel La Douceur Assassine by Francoise Dorner, the city of love is ironically where a retired philosophy professor, played by Michael Caine, finds himself recovering from the loss of his wife. Clémence Poésy plays opposite the elderly widow as the young and free-spirited Pauline Laubie, a dance instructor. The two strike up a relationship that amounts to a deep and caring friendship but one that neither their friends nor family can quite grasp. It’s not overly dramatic or complicated, just easy watching.
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
300: Rise of an empire Following in the marching footsteps of ‘300’, this latest instalment adopts the same visual style that
boosted its predecessor to success. This time the action unfolds on the high seas as General Themistokles, played by Sullivan Stapleton, counters invading Persian forces bent on crushing the Greek states. For fans of the first one, this is a comfortable sequel that safely delivers a movie unwilling to stray in any way from the original formula.
Snowpiercer Set in the future, a train zips around what has now become an earth of sub-zero temperatures. The carriages hold the last of humanity, divided into widely differing classes; the haves and the have-nots. When you consider the setting, it sounds absurd. But the director, Bong Joon-ho, handles the script beautifully and delivers an enthralling story that showcases the best of South Korean cinema.
Poor Rani (Kangana Ranaut) faces the ultimate nightmare of every bride. The young 24-year old from Delhi is left alone after her fiancé is killed in a car accident before the wedding. But instead of letting the tragedy consume her in grief, she sets out alone on the honeymoon that had been planned for the wouldhave-been newlyweds. Venturing off to Paris and Amsterdam, her escapades set her on a path of selfdiscovery. Friendships are formed, hearts mended and faith restored. This fun
film is different enough from the conventional Bollywood musicals to warrant a trip to the silver screen, though some of us may find it a little too tame at times.
Shop around the world right here in Oman at the Spring Shopping Fiesta 2014 at Bareeq Al Shatti. Attractions include international shopping and family competitions.The event will last from 2pm to 9.30pm. For details contact Events In Style at 9831361/92380382 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Al Fresco disco Are you looking to kickstart your weekend with a bang? Attend Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat’s ‘Pinoy Night’ at the Lazy Lizard Garden for a scrumptious buffet, live DJ music and more. Buffet is RO10 per person and entry is free. For reservations, contact +968 24487777 or e-mail email@example.com
What to do.
What to see. What to hear.
08 Power Notes Known as the ‘Ambassador of Khaliji Music,’ Kuwait’s famed singer, Abdullah Al Ruwaishid, will entertain the audience at the Royal Opera House Muscat with his powerful voice and his passion for music for one night only at 7.30pm. Tickets range from RO5 to RO48. For tickets and details, visit rohmuscat.org.om.
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
You can now get a taste of Thailand and its rich culture at the Asia Restaurant in Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah. The luxury resort is hosting two guest chefs from their sister resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand, who will bring the rich culture of Asian cusine to Oman. For reservations, contact +968 2477 6565 or e-mail fbreservation.slmu@ shangri-la.com
BLOGGERATI Words: Penny Fray, Noor Hyder and Shishira Sreenivas
They inspire, they entertain and sometimes they even change people’s lives. Y meets some of the Sultanate’s most influential bloggers 020
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ove them or loathe them, you can’t ignore them – bloggers are shaping our world. Writing about everything from fashion and politics to parenting and closet skeletons – these tireless online commentators are now media’s new opinion-formers. They jot down whatever they think, feel or know, and within seconds, it’s published and read by a global audience. Of course, they’re not new. Bloggers have been around for decades in one guise or another. In the 1980s, they used to pin their views on virtual bulletin boards. But as Internet use spread, they made their mark on the explosively expanding world of cyberspace with their web logs – known as blogs. Today, there are more than 410 million people viewing more than 13.1 billion blog pages each month. Successful bloggers are now leading new lives as published authors, front row stylists and even billionaires. Even the not so famous have sufficient gravitas to top VIP lists and make a decent living from their daily ramblings. In celebration of this new breed of creative writer, we profile some of the Sultanate’s top English language bloggers to discover the secrets behind their success.
Eliza Richardson Blog: Pumpkin Polar Bear
Tell us about your blog?
I started Pumpkin Polar Bear to document all of my adventures and experiences as an expat living in Oman. In my earlier blog posts, I wrote about my ‘culture shock’ and struggles of adjusting to my life abroad; I also shared a lot of my rookie mistakes as an expat and there were many. My goal has always been to entertain, inform, and excite people to live life to the fullest. I love sharing all the ups and downs of my journey in the hope that it might inspire someone else to take risks and step outside their comfort zone. Oman is such an amazing place to live and I’m very grateful for all the memories that I have to look back on - which all happen to be neatly archived on my blog. My site has taken a bit of a turn since I recently moved back to America. But who knows? Once I get my degree in Graphic Design, I may return.
What got you started?
I initially started Pumpkin Polar Bear to help keep family and friends up-to-date with our new life abroad. There are so many misconceptions about the Middle East, especially in the States that I wanted to reassure everyone that I was, in fact, okay and having the time of my life.
Are all your followers in Muscat? I get views from all over the world! People wanting tips and
information about Oman contact me frequently. House Hunters International even contacted me via my blog to film an episode for them in Oman. Once filming wrapped up and the episode aired, the traffic on my site tripled.
What do you love about blogging?
Blogging is a creative outlet which has allowed me to incorporate all of my interests of photography, travel writing and design in one place. It has also given me some pretty neat opportunities; I’ve written for quite a few expat websites and been filmed. I also love having a way to document life’s moments – but a backspace key is always a plus.
How would people in Oman find your blog useful?
It was a slow start at first but once I found my writing niche, the blog took on a life of its own and it’s become a helpful resource for people visiting and/or moving to Oman. If you’re looking for restaurant recommendations, or helpful tips on making the move, I’ve probably written about it at some point in time - and if I haven’t, readers can always contact me. One of my most popular posts is called ‘Challenges of Raising a Dog in Oman’. It just goes to show the variety of topics people are looking to find out about in the country.
Freddie Sayers Blog: Muscat Mutterings
What attracted you to becoming a blogger?
My wife did it before me, writing a very popular and no-holdsbarred blog. One night we were having dinner and overheard people on other tables talking about her blog, which was fun. Around the same time I was enjoying reading Muscat Confidential and The Muscatis, so I thought ‘why not have a go?’
What do you think the secret to your success is?
I have no idea! I’m not a particularly good writer from a grammatical point of view. I enjoy blogging and perhaps it shows? In the early days, The Undercover Dragon at Muscat Confidential kept mentioning and linking me in some of his posts, and that really helped drive traffic to my blog.
Some say bloggers have now overtaken journalists as writing celebrities, why do you think that is? We have? Perhaps it’s because there’s more interaction with readers. Print journalists can’t always directly reply to people
(except that one guy who took a national paper and used it as his mouth piece to shout at Andy in Oman). I should point out though that journalists are much more reliable than bloggers like me.
You sometimes cover some controversial topics, which posting are you most proud of? There are a few – like the cost of living posts because they help people. But the one I’m most proud of though is probably the scoop I got on the MGM store listings, which I posted on August 27th, 2011. To the person that helped me with that - you know who you are - that was fun!
What are the highs and lows of blogging? Without a doubt the biggest high from blogging has been meeting so many people that I doubt I would have met otherwise. The lowest lows are the nasty emails and occasional comments I get from ‘haters’.
What’s your top tip for aspiring bloggers? Blog about something you like to write about. If you’re not having any fun with it, why bother?
HOW TO WRITE A BLOG l Decide what you’re going to blog about. l Consider which blogging platform you’re going to use – free or self hosted. WordPress, blogger.com and tumblr.com are all popular. l Choose a name and create a USP before you write your first blog. l Write about what you know and love. l Publicise your blog on print and social media.
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Heather Duncan Blog: The Duncan Adventures
Andy Brown Blog: Andy In Oman What’s your blog about?
It’s an online journal of my new life as an expat wife and new mum in Muscat. Daily life in Oman is completely different to my previous life in Scotland, UK, and I wanted to show my family and friends back home what we have been doing and just how amazing life in the Middle East can be through pictures and stories.
What got you started?
My inspiration came when I saw a blog written by Pumpkin Polar Bear - I find her writing to be both thoughtful and inspiring. I always enjoyed the new instalments on her blog and reading about her adventures so I found myself trying it out for myself and really enjoying it. When I receive positive feedback from followers it makes
the time and effort worthwhile.
How many followers do you have?
I have over 30 followers on a regular basis here in Oman but most people who get in contact with me are other expats looking to move to Oman and looking for advice and friendship. On an average month I have around 5,000 views from here in the Middle East to far away lands like Argentina and Germany.
What do you love about blogging?
To me blogging is a way of documenting my life for others to read and for myself to look back on. I enjoy knowing that I have helped and inspired others in wanting to travel to the Middle East.
Shurooq Al Haremi Blog: Mademoiselle Shosho
Tell us a little bit about your blog?
I started blogging in 2011. It’s where I can express my passion for fashion and anything that catches my eye in the industry such as a good sale or the latest runway collections. There are also updates and pictures of fashion shows or events that I have attended.
What got you started?
Having gone through some fashion blogs and getting to know some of them, I realised that I wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry and blogging helped me start my own business as a designer. Getting to know many fashion designers who started their journey the same 022
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way I did, kept me motivated.
What do you love about blogging?
I always loved wearing stylish outfits and wanted to share my OOTD (outfits of the day) on my blog and to express myself through it. I also post photos of my recent designs and my journey in the fashion industry. Basically it’s anything that inspires me about fashion, makeup, interior design, or just life in general.
How would others find your blog useful?
I post pictures and updates of fashion events I attend. I also post about sales, supporting other talented Omani designers and anything related to fashion.
What attracted you to becoming a blogger?
Like many expat bloggers, I first started blogging as a way of letting my family and friends know what I’m up to. It’s changed since then and I mostly blog now to let people know about great places to visit, restaurants in town we’ve enjoyed, events for the Protestant Church in Oman and any news items that are of importance.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
Longevity. What I mean by that is that many bloggers come to work and live in Oman and only stay a year or two. There are many blogs that fall by the wayside simply because people have left the Sultanate. I’ve been in Oman for seven years now – and the longer you have a blog, the more your blog posts come up on Google search. Another key factor is frequency. The more often you blog, the more often your readers check in to see what’s new. If you go months and months without blogging, your readership falls quickly. Finally, I think the secret of my success has been a willingness to invest. Free blogs have a limited amount of space. I use high-resolution photos and so pay money every year to upgrade the space on my blog.
Which posting was the most successful and why?
One feature on WordPress that I enjoy is the stats page because it tells me clearly that a post on Bimmah Sinkhole Park (between Quriyat and Sur) has been by far the most viewed blogpost. I think it’s viewed often because it’s a gorgeous spot that people might
have seen in photos or heard about and want to see for themselves.
Blogs can be hard work to maintain – what keeps you motivated?
One of the greatest motivators is meeting people in church or various spots around town who thank me and tell me that my blog was one of the factors that made them more comfortable with packing up and moving to Oman. Wow! That’s awesome to think that my humble little blog has helped people come to see the beauty of the Sultanate. My wife and friends often joke that the Ministry of Tourism should pay me. Of course as a Christian, my ultimate motivation is my love of God and love of people. I try to see my blog more or less as a community service and think about what others might want to know or should know. We are meant to be here to serve and not to be served.
Any tips for budding bloggers?
Keep it up! It won’t take long before word gets out about your blog and people will be dying to meet up with you, especially fellow bloggers. You will be AMAZED at the opportunities that present themselves if you continue to write about your passions and experiences. Believe me, if I can do it, anyone can do it. Don’t worry if you’re not techsavy. You will learn day-by-day and step-by-step, how to change features and create a blog that you never imaged possible when you first clicked the ‘sign up for free’ blog button. There are never enough blogs, in my opinion; the more the merrier.
Dahlia Al Riyami Blog: Aishelaqtta
Tell us a little bit about your blog?
‘Aish Elaqtta’ is urban Omani for ‘What’s Happening?’ It’s a social events platform that functions as a promotional page for all new activities in Oman. I also showcase local talent and upcoming SME businesses. The blog is linked to a Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram account.
What got you started?
I have been a blogger since 1998 whilst at university. The first blog was actually very personal and included some of my poems and fictitious stories. I closed that blog down since I had no time to maintain it. Life took over until I ventured back into the blogging world on October 2013. That completely changed the perspective of my blogging experience.
Tell us about your followers? The Instagram account is the
most active of all and is updated three times a day with various flyers, pictures and promotional events that I am covering. The blog on the other hand is updated on a daily basis, except for the weekends. It has a total of 15,000 views with 75 direct followers via Google+ and exposure to over 250 viewers and their extended circles, when shared through the network. I also link my Instagram account to the blog thus providing exposure to more than 760 followers.
Maurizio Monte Blog: Oman Collective Intelligence
How would people in Oman find your blog useful?
Ultimately, what sets blogs apart from other marketing mediums, is the capacity to build direct relationships with consumers. My blog comes from a local’s personal perspective, catering to both the Omani and the expat community to what’s happening on the local scene.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE A RISK Blog reader Vivian Daboul learnt a lot more from cult blogger Aziza Al Bahlani than just fashion.
Fear has no meaning except for what you give it. Aziza Al Bahlani, a bright young Omani known for her fashion blog Haus of Ziia, knows this. She isn’t afraid of taking a risk and has overcome her fears by focusing on what she loves most - fashion. And that’s inspirational. Often we tend to listen to the limiting self-beliefs that stop us living our dreams. So start asking yourself: ‘what if ?’ For Aziza, this question helped her give things a go and never look back. “My life now is great,” she says. “My followers always put a smile on my face. I’m a regular woman with ambitions that I decided to follow. “You’d think we all follow our dreams, but I know a lot of us young adults are scared. Do whatever makes you wake up happy in the morning, chase after the positives because you never know what happens in the end.”
In brief, what’s your blog about?
Oman Collective Intelligence is that little place in Oman that talks about social media, less traditional marketing and other fun stuff. Through the blog I try to keep readers up-to-date about the latest social media trends, share tips and findings, as well as show great advertising campaigns or viral videos, analyse less traditional marketing activities like ambient or ambush marketing, and much more. The whole point is to learn, understand and share the impact that social media is having on the corporate world.
What got you started?
Not sure really. But back in 2009 I was always reading local blogs and at the same time my passion for social media was growing. So I started blogging. I remember my first post was ‘10 reasons why brands fail on Twitter’. Five years later and I’m still happily blogging.
How many followers do you have?
Followers on blogs do not really count, they are just a symbolic number. More important numbers to look at are the number of visits Oman Collective Intelligence gets about 20,000 per
month and the amount of people who subscribe to the blog and receive mail updates, and that is about a thousand. I’m very pleased with the results. Twelve per cent of readers are from Oman while most hits come from USA, UK, France, Brazil and Germany. Lately, I’ve noticed an increasing number of visits from both India and China.
What do you love about blogging?
Blogging is an ongoing learning process that keeps me up to date with the industry’s latest development and trends. What I also enjoy is being invited to colleges for lectures or presentations as well as developing social media training packages for corporations. Through blogging I’ve made many new friends and clients.
Why is your blog useful?
Oman Collective Intelligence is a niche blog. I often compile data and share stats about the local online arena, like the ‘Top 100 companies in Oman on Facebook’ or ‘Why people in Oman use Twitter’. This type of content attracts mostly communication and marketing professionals. The general public finds topics such as ‘The Top 10 restaurants on Trip Advisor’ more useful.
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POWER International Women’s Day (March 8) is all about equality in 2014. But does the feminist cause still have a place in today’s society? Absolutely, says Penny Fray
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the DISCUSSION Two Omanis Talk About What Feminism Means To Them: Afra Al Balushi, 16, owner of Flora For Cupcakes How has the role of women in Oman changed? The traditional view that women are only supposed to stay at home and not work is all but gone. Women are now educated and have careers. Omani women are confident, strong and want to encourage others in the Sultanate to be the same. They feel free to do whatever they want. What advice do you have for other young women ? Be confident about yourself. Provide high quality work and don’t be afraid to answer people’s queries about your work and what you are doing. Make yourself and your work relatable - your ideas are not clumsy but creative. The main thing is to try your hardest to achieve your dreams. What hopes do you have for the women of Oman? I want to see more Omani women go abroad to get further education and then come home to start more businesses and help the country grow. Nasra Saleh Abdullah Alnaamani, Ministry of Information and member of the United Nations’s CEDAW (Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) What’s your view of feminism? Feminism is a commitment to achieving the equality of the sexes. Is there equality? In Oman, equality has been widely practiced and has become part of our culture, especially in cities. However, in the rural area, some equality aspects have not been introduced properly nor directly; this has led to the misunderstanding of the whole concept of equality. Proper programmes need to be implemented to create awareness, which will lead to a healthy environment and culture, and happy life. Hopes for women in the future? Education should be compulsory and more engagement of women in economy and politics.
e’ve climbed the career ladder, raised families and have all but smashed old fashioned role barriers – so how come women in the Sultanate are still trailing behind in the gender race, pestered on streets and badly represented in company boardrooms? Oh I know some people say that things are so much better than they were. And yes, we have it much easier than those in some other Gulf countries. Granted, we can work and choose to live alone without being dumped in a desert or branded a witch and dunked in a pond. But International Women’s Day (March 8) reminds us not only of women’s achievements but the huge issues that still affect us – ones like equal pay, sexual harassment and the fact that there are still females out there being denied the most basic of rights. Statistics indicate that in Pakistan, up to a thousand women die annually in honour killings. Only 18 per cent of Ethiopian women can read and write compared to 42 per cent of men. And in Saudi Arabia, a woman still can’t travel without the permission of a male guardian – something that still happens here in some sectors of Omani society, by the way, alongside female circumcision and
night curfews. Take a trip around the international headlines of just a couple of newspapers and you’ll find an abundance of articles on rape, domestic violence and sexual inequality. In fact, just stop any woman in the street and ask her if she’s been subjected to any unwanted male attention and the chances are she has been – as revealed recently in Y magazine. When a 20-something acquaintance of mine announced in a recent dinner party that her generation doesn’t need feminism, I nearly choked on my pudding. After all, it’s this movement that gave women the option on whether to go to work, stay at home – or both. We have the choice – even if imperfectly – because some of the most fearsome female intellects in gender politics - women like Emmeline Pankhurst, Germaine Greer and Andrea Dworkin fought for it. Of course, 2014 isn’t completely bereft of advocates. In fact, the rallying calls of fourth wave feminism are swelling in social media sites, magazines and even on the celebrity circuit. These days everyone’s a feminist on Twitter, where it probably matters least. Beyond the realms of 140 characters though, it’s been a terrible time for womanhood – and we’re not just talking about Miley Cyrus’ tongue here -
but I won’t bore you with the endless statistics. Also, the latest generation of feminist thinkers aren’t making the same impact as their predecessors, leaving us to listen to the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and even ‘Girls’ star Lena Dunham, instead. The best of the bunch, in my view, is Caitlan Moran, author of How To Be A Woman, a modern feminist who advocates heels, gossip mags and men. When asked if blokes are the foe, she answered: “No no no no no – one of the first rules of any useful kind of feminism is to politely but firmly say “Not today, dear” to any woman quacking on about how men are the enemy.” As far as 21st century feminism is concerned, it’s a small world with a lot of problems and we need every brain we can get. We need to transform the landscape in which we live and work. We need women shaping policy, women in science, women at the forefront of engineering, women managing global enterprises, women designing buildings, women being fairly represented in the media – in fact, we need the female experience to be threaded through all power mechanisms. Most of all though, we need equality. As the firstever female US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, once said: “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
BUSINESS & CAREER
Positioning for Power
Get to know where you should be, and when, to help land that dream job.
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Increase your chances of finding a suitable job by stacking the odds in your favour, says Tom Robertson
ight place, right time. It’s an expression we often hear but don’t always realise the enormity of. It can make the difference between a successful career or professional stagnation. But it’s not always blind luck, a point proven by one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time. Steve Jobs put himself in the right place through his own efforts; no matter how innocuous it may have seemed at the time, the future billionaire used his free time after school to attend lectures at Hewlett-Packard, and it was there that he was first hired. While at HewlettPackard he would work with his Apple Co-founder, Steve Wozniak and the rest, as they say, is history. By the time the Apple CEO tragically died in October 2011, he did so with a personal fortune of over $8 billion and had been named in 2007 as the most powerful person in business by Fortune Magazine. With increasing competition for desirable jobs, career professionals agree that it’s no longer just a question of being the right person for the right job. We need to do more; now, it’s right person, right job, right time, right place. A four-pronged approach that we all have to get right. So just how do we go about ticking those final two boxes? Career experts agree that the first step is to target places stragtegically where we actually want to work and where we think our maximum potential can be achieved. “Don’t even think about starting a job search campaign without first identifying and researching companies that will be a mutual good fit,” says Meg Guiseppi, an Executive Branding and Job Search Coach. But then comes the more tricky part; working out how to get there. “Help employers to find you,” says Paul Forster, CEO and Co-Founder of Indeed.com. “It’s key for job seekers to stay up-to-date on where employers go to find candidates and develop a presence there.” he adds. Online resume sites such as Indeed Resume are one of those tools that can be used to help give a candidate
a permanent online presence. But we can’t just rely on virtual CVs to help make us known to organisations. Gautam Godhwani, Co-Founder and CEO at SimplyHired.com, believes that when it comes to making yourself known, networking is the key to success. “With more than half of all hiring done through referrals, it’s critical for job seekers to leverage their professional and social networks to get an inside track on a job. “Take advantage of social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with industry leaders and recruiters, and to show off your unique skills and experience. These online tools are great resources for connecting with hiring decision-makers, or those who can put you in touch with them.” But, social networks shouldn’t be relied upon to provide all the networking necessary. At the end of the day, face time and pressing palm is part of the process. It’s about getting to know the right people and being merciless in using your contacts for the sake of getting introductions to people who can have a say in whether you’re hired or not. “Your network, professional associations, the press are all useful sources here. Search your own network, and your networks’ networks to identify informal routes and introductions,” says Joanna Pollard, a Career Guide at website Position Ignition. Now you’ve managed to put yourself in the right place, it’s just a question of being there at the right time. While we can’t predict when opportunity is going to come knocking, we can at least make sure that we’re there and ready if and when it does. It’s a question of building on-going relationships and always being in proximity – even if there’s no opportunity for you right now. What better way to increase your visibility with the company by enquiring as to whether there are any internships opportunities available? If you feel that you haven’t got any time to commit to being a full time intern, consider the possibility of offering to do freelance work for free - I know, that’s partly the reason why I’m working for Y magazine right now.
WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS:
Get a foot in the door with an internship “I always wanted to work for a radio station so I applied for an internship with Al Wisal. I was very lucky because over the two month period, everybody helped to teach me things I needed to know to start to work in the industry. It also meant that when a position became available, I was already familiar with the company setup. When it came to my first day of permanent work, I was ready to hit the ground running. I think a lot of employers appreciate that.” Fathiya Ali Al-khanabshi, Al Wisal 96.5FM presenter
BUSINESS BUY Help put yourself in the right place at the right time with the new Samsung Galaxy S5. Research future employers, find your way to their offices, and manage those essential contacts. It’s even got a heart rate sensor for those nerve-racking interviews. From RO380
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food and drink
ISN’T IT ICONIC?
We never turn our nose up at coffee from the machine outside the office, but when it comes to working from home (or even as an incentive to get up), there’s nothing like a state-of-the-art espresso maker. There’s Nespresso of course, but if you really know your crema from your cappuccino, you’d be using Rancilio Silvia, according to Coffeegeek.com.
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TREND New Restaurant
THE IT KIT
BENTO BOXES - The trend for all things Japanese grows
Oman’s culinary clique will spend a small fortune on the latest must-have kitchen gadgets, discovers Penny Fray
stronger than a weightlifter on steroids and the Bento range is a modern take on the latest food box trend. With three stacking inner containers, each with its own flexible lid, you can fill up yours with anything from rice and pasta to salad and vegetables – ideal for leftovers, a packed lunch or even an al fresco picnic. Price: From RO18 at Harvey Nichols in Dubai. But for a cheaper alternative visit Daiso in Muscat Grand Mall, where colourful trios can be bought for just 700b.
t’s inevitable. Shiny, spanking new gadgets enter the kitchen, alleviating stress and making life easier. Slowly and imperceptibly, we hand our lives over to them. And then, one day, BAM! You realise that you’ve reached a point where you’re prepared to pay hundreds of rials for the latest ‘lust-have’ juicer. It doesn’t matter that you’re not a liquid sucking ‘luvvie’ and haven’t seen the inside of an oven since your cupcakes blew up in a disastrous attempt at domesticity - you’ve morphed into one of those home hipsters that ditches silicone for stainless steel just because someone or other told you it’s the stylish – (or maybe the grown-up) thing to do. How the hell did it happen? One minute you’re swooning over the latest Chanel clutch, the next you’re frittering away your hard-earned salary on a Vitamix juicer just because it has a cult following among odd vegan food lovers. You whizz up a couple of smoothies before a chef chum reluctantly tells you that the Magimix Le Duo is better. And of course, you’ve got to get it before anyone else does. Just like fashion, the culinary catwalk is constantly changing. And if you’re really ahead of the curve, you’ll know that Michelangelo glasses are now cooler than Riedel and that knife mania is now rather passé. Confused? We asked Muscat’s coolest kitchen fetishists for their top five kitchen updates and here’s what they recommended:
MAGIMIX LE DUO -
The Vitamix may be in vogue with the average affluent health freak but Magimix Duo is the experts’ choice. It may not be hailed the Ferrari of blenders or pulverize steel (then again, who eats metal?) but the extra large feeding tube and turbo centrifugal mechanism means less pulp. Price: From RO183 for the extra large juicer. Go to magimix.com for stockists.
Toast bread or crumpets and warm bagels or buns with this powerful, two slice Dualit toaster that has extra-wide slots and automatic pop-up. Its design is beautiful and everyone who is anyone has one – if only for the Peek & Pop® function that allows you to check the bread without cancelling the toasting cycle. The love affair continues. Price: From RO93 for the two slice version. Visit Dualit.com for more info.
LÉKUÉ JUICER - Screw this nifty
little device into your citric fruit of choice and spritz fresh juice on your pancakes, salads and fish. It’s much more chic than bringing out the plastic Jif bottle. Price: From RO2 at Amazon.com.
LE CREUSET CASSEROLE DISH
Kitchen hipsters may eulogise the style and substance of SKK and Michel Roux Junior’s tri-ply range but there will always be a place for the classic tangerine Le Creuset dish. It’s the cooking equivalent of the Chanel 2.5 quilted bag. Plus they’re built to last a lifetime. Price: From RO9 for a small pot. For stockists go to www.lecreuset.com
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food and drink
New Restaurant Info Box
Persepolis Restaurant Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos Tel: 24699054 Appetiser, mains and drinks for two: RO14
Persian Palace Those in search of traditional Iranian hospitality will find it at Persepolis, says Noor Hyder
ersepolis was once the capital city of an ancient Persian Empire, sadly now in ruins. The Persepolis in Muscat, however, is an Iranian restaurant located in the heart of Madinat Al Sultan Qaboos – just opposite Kargeen Caffe. What was once a bustling, dimlylit Chinese restaurant is now a welllit but considerably quieter Persian place. Not that this is a bad thing if you want to inspect the grand chandelier and striking paintings that dominate the spacious dining hall. When my friend and I walked into the venue at 8pm on a Tuesday evening, we were treated like minor celebrities. A man I assumed to be the head chef - given his comical hat - smiled warmly and greeted us with genuine kindness. Then, as we sat down at our table, a friendly young waiter handed us our menus, which we browsed whilst catching up on the week’s happenings. Our server was patient and held his approach until he noticed that we were ready to order. As we anticipated a heavy meal of rice and meat, we decided to go easy on the starters, choosing instead a simple mixed appetiser plate to share. Ever the strategic eaters, we also ordered
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two mains of chicken koobideh with saffron rice and the lamb chenjeh with naan to split between us. We were pleasantly surprised to receive a complimentary starter of cream cheese, fresh rocket leaves, a sliced tomato and some walnuts. On top of that, our mixed appetiser was a decent sized platter consisting of two piping hot Irani flat breads sprinkled with sesame seeds as well as three even servings of hummus, mutabal, and tabouleh. We hungrily dived into the fresh bread, which was divine, especially with the combination of cold cream cheese and a bite of fresh tabouleh. Of course, tabouleh is a tricky thing to make right - a bit too
much garlic or lemon and the zing becomes unsavoury, but too little and it becomes goat food. This was okay, while the hummus was creamy and perhaps a little sweeter than the usual Lebanese variety I’m used to but still, it was pleasant when paired with the hot bread. After our starters were cleared and the chef was assured that we were happy, our cheery waiter brought over two steaming plates of meat. Both mains came with garnishes of side salad and a fairly large serving of saffron rice; even the buttery naan looked as though it was meant for four people instead of two. We dug into the koobideh and chenjeh, both of VERDICT:
Great service, great sides and lots of extras but the mains were lacking in flavour.
which were tender and thankfully not dripping in oil. The chenjeh had enough chew to qualify as lamb but not so much that we wondered whether it was still raw. The chicken dish looked and tasted juicy but something was missing. The flavouring was mild and dangerously close to being classified as bland. However, both the lamb and chicken got their ‘oomph’ from the sides. The rice was perfectly cooked and radiant with the vibrant saffron colouring, while the triangular cut naan was fried in just the appropriate amount of butter. Even Goldilocks would have been happy since the proportions of the sides were just right. We ate in silence, making mental notes of our first bites, but unfortunately the silence seemed too apparent given the restaurant was virtually empty. As the waiter cleared our table and we asked to have the few remainders packed, the restaurant manager came to ask how our meal was. After praising the food, we asked for the bill and were again, pleasantly surprised to see that it came with complimentary Irani tea. While the ‘traditional’ tea did taste suspiciously like Lipton, we were still appreciative of the hot beverage that came to help cleanse our palates. The bill rounded up to RO14, which, considering the size of the portions, seemed reasonable. If you’re looking for a quiet restaurant in a convenient location and with good service, Persepolis is the place to try. If you’re looking for something spectacular though, keep looking.
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We loved these clashing antiqueinspired prints from Anna Suiâ€™s latest menswear collection.
It was a dark yet blossoming season for menswear as designers kept the palette a little sinister for Spring. Even the patterns had a menacing edge as seen in both Prada and Haider Ackermann, making them more a matter of fleurs du mal than vacation in the sun.
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BLOKES IN BLOOM
Experience a real life fairytale romance with Creed’s Fleurissimo. A European prince reputedly commissioned the classic floral fragrance for his wife on their wedding day. A soft and feminine composition of Bulgarian Rose, Iris and Violet leaves were supposedly selected to match the flowers in the bride’s bouquet from RO100 for a 75ml bottle.
A retro mood swept through Spring as designers blended 1950s silhouettes with lush floral motifs, says Penny Fray
ach new season, if you shop wisely, there are a few key pieces that can completely renew your closet. And for men, this means embracing the floral shirt. After all, nothing says breezy Spring like a tropical print or a garden in bloom. But before you start yawning by the lack of originality, please note Prada’s brooding Hawaiian-pinstripe combo or Kolor’s urban camouflage, giving the classic floral pattern a fresh new twist. Wear it on a bomber jacket rather than shirt and you get extra style points. Of course, there’s more designer kudos for wearing statement blooms from head to toe. But if you can’t cope with Gucci’s full-on print suit, try flashes of tropical paradise on your holdall or the more manly mash-up of military and floral. Valentino did it best with its muted khaki print tee. Alternatively, stick to less flashy monochrome prints à la Dries van Noten. I loved the way his slightly bohemian cut pants were worn over a plain, slouchy sweater. Finally, for those just looking to dabble, there’s always a floral tie or handkerchief by Paul Smith.
This cotton T-shirt from Asos.com looks set to be a spring favourite. Thanks to the natural tones and retro design, this piece has a considered air and it’s a snip at RO11.5
Penny’s guide to wearing feminine fashion:
Camouflage prints are a perennially stylish choice, and Valentino refreshes the look with this version, realised in muted shades and interspersed with subtle flower patterns. This relatively understated piece doesn’t push the military theme too hard, but instead uses the design to add an almost painterly quality to the classic crew neck tee. Layer yours under a navy bomber for a sleek look. RO141 from Mr Porter. H&M shows the bolder way to wear floral prints with this eye-catching cotton shirt. Constructed for a neat fit, this piece works handsomely with tailored trousers or untucked over denim. RO22
Canvas espadrilles are the perfect slip-on-andgo option for days spent in the sun. We love this printed version from Next – from RO18
Known for an innovative emphasis on fabrics and design, Zara’s printed bomber jacket is creatively cool. RO49.90.
1. Gather round men: your plain shirts and discreet dark jeans are looking a trifle tired. It’s time to face the fear of floral print in a Hawaiian shirt – if it’s good enough for George Clooney, it’s good enough for you. 2. Scared of statement prints? We hear you. Try wearing your blooms in black. That way you can try an adventurous pattern without drawing too much attention to yourself. 3. Failing that, you can just pop on a floral scarf or a tie to address the trend but in a more minimalist way.
MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
PULSE Is it possible to diagnose illnesses by simply checking the beating of your heart? Shishira Sreenivas finds out
s I handed over my left wrist to the doctor and concentrated on my breathing, I had a momentary thought whether this was such a good idea after all. Here I was, putting myself – and my health – in the hands of a medical method that relies on feeling the blood pumping through your veins to discover how well you are. Pulse Diagnosis, or Nadi Pariksha (Pareeksha), is a unique and ancient ayurvedic practice where a person’s well-being is diagnosed based on their pulse. As you’re reading this, I presume you’re having the same questions running thorough your mind as I did when I first heard of this alternative therapy. How can you diagnose ailments through a mere pulse check? Which is how I found myself at the Sri Sri Ayurveda Clinic in Al Khuwair. Surprisingly, the idea of pulse diagnosis has existed for thousands of years. It’s only in more recent times however, that we’ve seen a trend towards a holistic approach to treating our bodies rather than subjecting it to chemical warfare. But, I must confess, I’m a product of modern medicine so the sceptic in me raised an eyebrow when asked to fast for three hours prior to the session. I was open to persuasion though. Dr Abhishek Kumar, the resident ayurvedic doctor at the clinic, explained to me that pulse reading is based on the five elements present in the body: fire, water, earth, air and space. These five elements are then grouped into three doshas (forces or body constitution): Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water and earth). “A person is considered fit and healthy when all the three doshas are in sync,” explained Dr Kumar. “However, an imbalance even in one of the doshas can eventually lead to a variety
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of diseases.” of the pulse on the radial arteries. With To be precise, the imbalance can lead to experience and education, specific ailments approximately 140 diseases. They include can be identified without prior knowledge of anything from a common cold to complex symptoms. Practitioners also claim that chronic dietary issues. diseases can be discovered in the early stages. I quickly made a list of my medical maladies I’m not alone with my problems, it seems. Dr as I handed over my left wrist to the doctor Kumar pointed out that my dietary drawbacks and waited patiently as he shut his eyes and are quite common among people living in the concentrated on my pulse. Sultanate. Obesity and high levels of cholesterol As I paced my breathing, Dr Kumar are among the top common complaints he sees. informed me that my body type was essentially He blamed the fast food culture combined with a combination of Pitta (fire) and Kapha (water a sedentary lifestyle as the root of the cause. and earth). I’d been suffering from quite a bit Guilty as charged! of acidity too, apparently. I have to say, he was According to Dr Kumar, each body type is spot on. Must be all the junk food I’ve been different and commands specialised care to secretly devouring as I watch reruns of my keep it in tip top condition. Since my basic favourite shows late into the night. element was fire, he advised me to stay away He further went on to list more health issues from spicy and citrusy foods and limit as I inwardly ticked off my my intake of fatty and mental bullet points. dairy products It almost felt as if I for fifteen days were a mischievous to achieve ① Fast for at least three hours before a reading. child being a better ② Doctors practicing Ayurveda should have valid caught redbalance degrees in homeopathic medicine. handed for all among my the bad lifestyle doshas. ③ Vata dosha (air and space) is the most vicious choices I had He also of doshas. Imbalance in this leads to about 80 made. How prescribed diseases, including arthritis and osteoporosis. could he figure organic ④ Imbalance in the Pitta dosha (fire) it all out just medicines leads to about 40 diseases. These include through my pulse? like Triphala problems with the heart and migraines. Well, the to bring ⑤ Imbalance in the Kapha dosha technique behind my digestion (water and earth) leads to about pulse reading involves problems 20 diseases, such placing the index finger, under control, as obesity. the middle finger and as well as physical the ring finger (each one activity. measures a different dosha) on So, was I convinced? the wrist to observe the blood flow I went in as a sceptic but his in the veins and arteries. An ayurvedic detailed analysis of my present doctor examines the vibratory frequency issues amazed me.
BARBRA YOUNG ANSWERS YOUR FASHION QUESTIONS
I’m a student currently visiting my Dad here in Muscat. I am desperate to find some cool vintage clobber before I go home to the UK at the end of March. I’m really into ethnic type fabrics as well as good labels. And while there are loads of designer copies here in Oman, I’m struggling to get real second hand pieces, particularly handbags. I like my stuff to last and luckily, have some birthday money to spend. Izzy.
Like you, I love fashion, especially unique pieces that scream quality and craftsmanship. But alas! The West’s obsession with vintage doesn’t seem to have taken hold here in Muscat – and what little I have found can be pricey. Thank heavens for 1stdibs.com - it’s my guilty little secret and one of the best sites I’ve come across for truly beautiful vintage couture and fashion. I think the prices are pretty fair for original, fabulous heirlooms. They cost much less than the originals or reproductions. The clothing is a bit hit and miss though. Being originals, you’ll need to find something you love and can afford before crossing the hurdle of whether or not it fits you. The bags and jewellery though fit all. My advice? Forgo the frivolous bags you would buy each season in the mall and invest in something you’ll wear forever.
If you have any fashion questions for Barbra, email email@example.com or tweet #style @ ytabloid
Limited edition silk 1930s bag.
Barbra Young, a former designer and retailer
The schoolgirl favourite has graduated into a surprisingly sophisticated separate. They’re the new shorts shape to be seen in this spring. Y particularly loves See by Chloé’s flared denim version. Or, wear this Italian-made pair from Net-a-Porter with everything from chambray shirts to nautical-inspired sweaters.
STREET STYLE Sally Davison Spotted At: Kargeen Caffe, MQ Wearing: DKNY vest, Ralph Lauren cardigan, Zara leatherlook trousers, Birkin bag, Swarovski and Chanel rings.
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GRAB IT BEFORE IT’S GONE GET YOUR FREE COPY OF Y AT THE FOLLOWING DISTRIBUTION POINTS… Al Mina’a • Bait al Baranda • Bait al Zubair Muttrah • Shell Select Qantab • Al Bustan Palace Hotel • Marina Bander AL Rowdha • Oman Dive Club • Shangri La Sifa • Sifawi Beach Hotel Wadi Kabir • Al Maya Hypermarket • Lulu Hypermarket • Muscat Pharmacy • National Hospitality Institute • Pizza Hut • Shell Select MBD • Bank Dhofar • Centre pointSplash • Khimji Mart • NBO • Oman Oil Ahlain • Pizza Hut • Pizza Muscat • Shell Select CBD • Al Maya Hypermarket • Alizz Islamic Bank • Bahwan Travel Agencies • Bank Sohar • Copper Chimney • Costa Coffee • HSBC • Lama Polyclinic • NBO • Oman Arab Bank • Standard Chartered Bank • Woodlands Darsait • Indian Social Club • Khimji Mart • KIMS Hospital • Lulu Hypermarket • Muscat Bakery • Shell Select AL Falaj/Rex Road • Al Falaj Hotel • Badar Al Sama • Golden Oryx Restaurant • Kamat Restaurant • Toshiba Showroom
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Ras Al Hamra Club SABCO Centre Second Cup Starbucks Sultan Centre Qurum • Tché Tché coffee shop Shatti Al Qurum • Bareeq Al Shatti Complex • Carribou Coffee • Darcy’s Kitchen • German Eye Laser Center • Indus Restaurant, ROHM • Intercontinental Hotel • Jawaharat Al Shatti Complex • Kaya Skin Clinic • More Café, ROHM • Muscat Eye Laser Center • Oasis By The Sea • Second Cup • Starbucks Sarooj • Al Fair • Al Masa Mall • Al Shatti Cinema (Dunkin Donuts) • AYANA Spa • COSMECLINIC • Emirates Medical Center • McDonald’s • Shell Select • VLCC MQ • Al Fair • Arab Open University • British Council • Costa Coffee • Darcy’s Kitchen • Hana Slimming Centre • Kargeen Café • KFC • Mackenzies • Mood Café • Oman Oil Ahlain • Papa John’s • Pizza Hut • Saharz Beauty Saloon • Starbucks Al Khuwair • Badar Al Sama • Bait Al Reem • Bait Al Reem - Coffee Shop
Café Vergnano Centre pointSplash • Diplomatic Club • Grand Hyatt Muscat • Gulf College • Harley Davidson • HSBC • KFC • Khimji Mart • Khimji’s Watches - Showroom • KM Trading • Landmark Group • McDonald’s • Muscat Bakery • Oman Bowling Center • Oman Oil Ahlain • Oman United Insurance • OMRAN • Pizza Hut • Radison BLU • Shell Select • TGI fridays • The Kebab Factory • The Tikka Place • Zahara Travel • Zakher Shopping Mall MGM • Carribou Coffee • Gloria Jean’s Coffee • Just Falafel • Nawras • Paul Patisserie • Tim Hortons Bousher • College for Banking & Financial Studies • Dolphin Village • Modern College Of Business Studies • Muscat College • Muscat Private Hospital - Emergency • Muscat Private Hospital - Outpatient • Oman Medical College Ghubra • Al Hayat Polyclinic • Al Maya Hypermarket • Aster Hospital • Bank of Beirut • Coasta Coffee • Crepe Café
GMC - Moosa Abdul Rahman Showroom • Lulu Hypermarket • Mocha & More café • Oman Oil Ahlain • Park INN • Porsche • Stationery Hut • The Chedi Azaiba • Al Fair • Al Maha • Amara Dermetology • Costa Coffee • Golden Tulip • Jaguar - MHD • Jeep Showroom • McDonald’s • Mitsubishi Showroom • Oman Arab Bank • Oman Oil Ahlain • Peugeot Showroom • Range Rover - MHD • Sayarati • Shell Select • Skoda Showroom • Sultan Centre Azaiba • Towell Auto Centre - Mazda showroom • Volvo - MHD • Wattayah Motors - AUDI showroom • Wattayah Motors - BENTLEY showroom • Wattayah Motors - VW showroom • Yamaha Airport • Carribou Coffee • Majan Lounge • Plaza Premium Lounge Al Murtafaa • Bank Muscat • KFC • Muscat Hills Mawaleh • Chili’s • Costa Coffee • Makkan Café • Noodle House • Starbucks • Tim Hortons The Wave • Al Mouj Golf Club • Costa Coffee
• Oman Sail • Shakespere & Co. • The Wave HO Hail • Burger King • Caledonian College • Markaz Al Bahja • McDonald’s • Omantel • Starcare Hospital • VLCC Rusayl • Knowledge Oasis Muscat -1 • Knowledge Oasis Muscat -2 • Knowledge Oasis Muscat -3 • Knowledge Oasis Muscat -4 (ITA) • Middle East College • Omantel • Waljat College SQU • SQU - Diplomatic Club • SQU - College of Commerce • SQU - Students Banking Area • SQUH - Rception/ Canteen Al Khoud • AL Fair • Badar Al Sama • Pizza Hut Seeb • McDonald’s Barka • Al Nahda Spa and Resort • Lulu Hypermarket Sawadi • Sawadi Beach Resort Massnaah • Millennium Hotel Sohar • Centre pointSplash • Crowne Plaza • National Gift Market, Falaj Al Qabail • Nawras • Pizza Hut • Safeer Mall • Sohar Beach Hotel • Sohar Port • Sohar university Nizwa • Nizwa University
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Y- F i
CARS AND inDOORS
A TEST OF NERVE
The trip to Wadi Bani Awf is Oman at its most dramatic and dangerous, with stupendous scenery and a rough, vertiginous track which challenges the skills of even the most experienced offroad drivers.
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CARS AND OUTDOORS INDOORS
Y- F i
Wadi Bani Awf Beyond Al Hoota Cave lies the start of a spectacular drive through Wadi Bani Awf and into the heart of the Western Hajar Words and Images: Jerzy Wierzbicki
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ne of the most famous locations in Oman for an outdoor adventure, Wadi Bani Awf is somewhere I visit at least once a year. My first trip there was unforgettable. I went with relatively little experience, a simple map and some generic information that I had picked up on the area. I also wasn’t in the best type of car for such a journey. It was in the first part of my adventure when I found myself bumping along a track as storm clouds gathered menacingly overhead and droplets started splashing down on the vehicle. As most of us know, being in a wadi is a very bad idea when it starts to rain. So I put my foot a little more firmly on the accelerator and headed to higher ground, where the track became a paved road. I spent the last few kilometres of my trip driving down another muddy track in the rain, which had failed to stop. Given my vehicle and the state of the road, I wasn’t sure that I would ever make it to the end. It was a defining moment in which I learnt to fully respect the mountains and I vowed to be better prepared for subsequent trips. A few months ago, I decided to make another trek back to the place, which had taught me so much about being prepared when travelling in remote areas. It was with a small group of my friends; a mix of Austrians, Poles and Norwegians bouncing along in a small convoy of three cars. All of them were experienced 4x4 drivers so we planned an overnight trip and an adventure into the back of beyond, some of which would be accessible by foot only.
We moved in the morning from Muscat and slowly drove the 120km to the entrance of Wadi Bani Awf. It had changed a lot since my first visit there. The main gravel track had been asphalted for the first several kilometres, so the adventure didn’t really begin for a little longer than anticipated. When we did reach the end of the tarmac, the track threaded us down a beautiful valley filled with green trees and massive chunks of rocks that rose up beside us. The light was soft, and visibility near perfect. My friends, Peter and Willy, from Austria crackled over the radio. They suggested venturing into some of the side valleys and slipping between the narrow cracks in the rocks to explore the quieter and more isolated valleys that veered off to the side. So at around noon, we parked our cars in the cool shade of a tree and went into the mountains for a short hike carrying just our cameras. My European friends, used to walking in the Austrian Alps, moved nimbly along the path. They picked out the details of the route before them and walked with surefooted confidence, especially when it came to the steeper parts. In this more narrow valley, the light was subdued and the contrast much lower. Nevertheless, we set up our cameras on tripods and started shooting. The rocks had been eroded by cascading water over the years and I attempted to capture some of the patterns left on the rock faces. After an hour’s walk it was time to get back to the cars and move on to a higher part of Wadi Bani Awf. As we drove on, the tracks
become noticeably steeper, switched and changed direction as the path sought to find a manageable route upwards. After a few kilometres we were amazed to see a football pitch, effectively in the middle of nowhere and was probably, I reflected, one of the highest pitches in the whole of Oman! The view from there was stunning. A dark blue sky was punctuated by dense clouds and presented the perfect opportunity for some great landscape photography. In the early evening, we finally pulled over for the night, anxious to set up camp and get some food going. Under a huge overhanging rock a campfire was set up and a modest supper prepared. Halfway up the mountain, the temperatures were noticeably different. It was low, very low. Possibly into the minus numbers and the strong wind that blew around our little party had a chilling bite to it. But it was worth suffering for. In the crisp morning air, the visibility was fantastic. We packed up and set off, pushing onwards to the end of the track. After a day’s crawling around the mountain path, we reached the top with just an hour to go before sunset. The photographer in me took over and I put my camera on the tripod once more and shot some panoramas, the details and structures of the distant hills clearly discernible. Then, with the temperature again dropping rapidly, it was quickly back to a campsite to get some warmth by a fire. Wadi Bani Awf is a place that symbolises the very best of both the mountain environment and culture. If you visit, you’ll definitely feel the very special atmosphere that prevails there and, maybe like me, head back there many times.
HOW TO GET THERE Follow the signs for Al Hoota Cave from the Nizwa–Bahla road. You’ll see a brown sign, just before reaching the cave, indicating Bilad Sayt (Balad Seet). Continue towards Snake Canyon, a popular destination for adventure hikers and climbers. From here, the main track meanders around the mountain to the exit of Snake
Canyon at 49.6km. Continue along the main track into Wadi Bani Awf ignoring the left fork at 57.2km that leads into Wadi Sahtan. Be aware that Wadi Bani Awf is located in the mountains and the weather there, especially in the winter, can be unpredictable. Check weather forecasts, keep an eye on the sky and don’t risk
venturing into wadis if there are any indications of rain. A good 4x4 car is compulsory for this route and travelling with more than one vehicle is a safer option.
GPS location of the top of Wadi Bani Awf: 23°10’1.73”N 57°24’54.78”E
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CARS AND OUTDOORS INDOORS Mezzo-soprano Alessandra Volpe from Italy Photo: criben
Liberate Your Libretto
Before this seasonâ€™s programme at the Royal Opera House Muscat comes to an end, get a taste for some glass-shattering singing, says Penny Fray 040
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Y- F i
A HISTORY OF OPER A IN LESS THAN A MINUTE
The Barber of Seville / Photo: Igor Bulgarin
irst things first – get rid of that ridiculous impression of a rotund singer with a horned head. This clichéd image comes mainly from children’s cartoons, not opera; well, maybe Wagner, but the uninitiated should stay clear of him. I know, the world of classical music can appear a little daunting with images of, ahem, larger than life characters and posh audiences who’ll scoff at you for clapping in the wrong places. But shatter the stereotype and you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful new world of culture. Let me help you on that journey because I used to hate opera too. It just took a little learning and a lot of live performances to convert me. In fact, I reckon you’ll be amazed by how much opera you already know through commercials and sporting events. The 1990 World Cup theme of Nessun Dorma, for instance, is from Puccini’s Turandot and the Flower Duet, the music from that famous British Airways advert, is from Delibes’ Lakmé. Of course, many operas are written in Italian, French and German but it doesn’t really matter if you’re not a multilinguist. No one’s testing you on the meaning of ‘a un dottor della mia sorte’ besides, most opera companies display the text translations on screens above the stage or on the back of the seats in tandem with the action. The idea is to ‘feel’ the performance rather than deciphering the words of an aria (otherwise known as the main solo song). After all, most operas were the pop music of their day and were written to amuse audiences with singing, dancing and costumes. That’s why even the best CDs will never
really match the intensity of a real orchestra, voice or set. Still unconvinced? Dip your toe into the genre with a grand story and an even bigger tune something like Carmen, Madame Butterfly or even Bellini’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, which will be on at the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM), later this month. My personal recommendation to opera novices, however, is the Marriage of Figaro, because it’s the most widely performed of Mozart’s operas and fairly easy to follow. Once you get past all the trilling sopranos warbling their way through the scales, you’ll find a lot more passion and scandal than your average Hollywood movie. Before you go to a performance it pays to find out the story. That way you can follow what’s happening. You don’t need to buy specialist books, just look on the Internet and do a little light reading - Wikipedia is great for this. When you’re ready to attend a live performance, book in advance. You’ll get the best seats at the best prices. Contrary to belief, tickets to the ROHM don’t cost a king’s ransom. In fact, you can usually get them for as little as RO5. Wherever you go, never worry about sitting in the gods (cheap seats) because you’ll often get a great aerial view of the whole setup and if the soprano’s singing reminds you of cat squalling, it’s a lesson learnt and at not much cost. So what are you waiting for? Give opera a go – after all, you’re lucky to be in a city that holds a world-class venue like the ROHM. Not impressed? Then think of it as a great excuse to dress up and sparkle in faux diamonds.
Opera began in late 16th century Italy, perfectly matching the mood of an extrovert era. Composers wanted to bring the style of their heroes, the ancient Greeks, to the stage. Dafne by Jacopo Peri is believed to be the earliest composition. It was written around 1597, largely under the inspiration of an elite circle of Florentine humanists. By the 1700s, opera had become divided between the serious and lighter stuff. The big names of the romantic period, however, weren’t big on comedy. Wagner and Verdi, for example, excelled in dramas and tragedies. Modernism meant a move away from traditional tonality and into the sphere of neoclassicism as defined by the work of Busoni and Stravinsky.
THINGS EVERY WANNABE OPERA BUFF SHOULD KNOW RECITATIVES are the talky-singy bits where lots of dialogue and action is crammed into a sort of aside. ARIAS are usually elaborate melodies that allow the singer to stretch and exploit their vocals skills to the max. PLOTLINES in a nutshell: - La Bohème is about being down and out in France - Madame Butterfly involves a Geisha girl getting involved with a US Navy lieutenant - Carmen is the hot heroine that turned Maria Callas into an operatic icon MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
Magnificent Mughal Commissioned by the
sixth Emperor, Aurangzeb, Badshahi Mosque is a relic from the Mughal dynasty. it’s just one such example of the period’s architercture found throughout the city.
Top 5 Places To Visit: 1. Badshahi Mosque 2. Shalimar Gardens 3. Lahore Museum 4. Food Street 5. Lahore Fort
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I n d o o r s postcards from
Shabila Chaudhry, recommends
Lahore, Pakistan D
e s p i t e having lived in Oman for the past three decades, L ahore is my city, my home. I can’t help but feel exhilarated when I return and meet my excited family and smell the aroma of freshly cooked samosas is in the air. Due to the current political problems, people can sometimes get the wrong view of Pakistan. So
here I’d like to share with you the beauty and magic hidden in this tumultuous city.
Lahore is the capital of the province of Punjab, and the second largest city in Pakistan.
While Islamabad is the actual capital of the country and Karachi the financial hub, Lahore wins hands down as the cultural centre, making it the perfect place to visit. The vibrant
character of the city is accentuated by its evocative mix of Mughal monuments and faded reminders of British rule. With 12.5 million inhabitants, Lahore is also one of the most
densely populated cities in the world.
Lahoris like to celebrate, and every day is a celebration in the Pakistani city that never
sleeps. One of the few places to see seasonal changes quite clearly, the summers are hot and humid with highs of 40 • C and lows of 27 • C, much like Omani summers. The winters however, usher in shiver-inducing lows of -1 • C and pleasant highs of 20 • C. Every year there’s a kite flying festival - Basant - to mark the coming of Spring. Rich,
multi-coloured kites fill the skies as children run around and families gather to enjoy some hot chai and a few pakoras.
And for those who love sports, Lahoris are wildly ecstatic supporters of the game of
cricket. Coincidentally, the city is home to former cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan.
It’s easy to get to Lahore, with multiple flights from Muscat International Airport to Allama Iqbal International Airport. Commuting within Lahore itself is quite easy thanks to an array of public transport including buses and railways. For adrenaline junkies, there’s always
the ubiquitous rickshaws for a ride you’ll never forget. However, it’s usually the cheap and
numerous taxis that prove to be the preferred mode of transport for those visiting the city.
My favourite place
If you want a piece of shopping heaven, the Anarkali Bazaar is the place to go. Lahore’s answer to the Omani Souk, ladies flock to this open market for traditional Pakistani clothes, intricate pashmina shawls, and dazzling jewels. If you don’t mind a bit of hustle and bustle, this market is the best place to release your inner shopaholic.
M in ar -e -P akista
Highlights Food, glorious food. Lahoris are known for their love of cuisine, and every meal is treated with respect, patience and indulgence. One of the city’s most coveted dining spots - The Cuckoo’s Den - allows a spectacular view of the Badshahi Mosque and the densely populated old city. Every dining experience is accompanied by enthusiastic storytelling and infectious laughter. They’re the perfect accompaniments to a delectable meal of buttery naan, kebabs and mouth-watering chicken tikka. Lowlights
Despite the beautiful gardens and charming monuments, pollution has long plagued the residents of Lahore. Dust has a tendency to collect on the viciously busy streets and the heavy traffic combined with the summer humidity can be hard to bear at times.
Pakistan is renowned for its handmade goods, so a beautiful wooden jewellery box and a wellcrafted leather wallet would be the perfect gifts for your mum and dad. You could go the traditional route and get a ‘Pugri’, which is a Lahori turban, or stick to a fashionable Kurti.
E MUS EU
Where to stay The Pearl Continental Hotel is not only a high end stay, it’s also smack in the centre of the city, allowing easy access to all bazaars, restaurants and tourist sites. For those who want somewhere a bit quieter, Lahore has gorgeous guesthouses surrounded by exquisite gardens. MAR 06 - 12 / ISSUE 310
-FI THE TECH IN YOU
Matthew Herbst explores the viability of turning your home into your own personal and plush cinema. Life just got very comfortable
BE SMART Meet the Samsung F8000 Ultra slim smart LED HDTV, a sleek way to screen your favourite movies in full 1080p HDTV. With picture processing such as Micro Dimming and a 240Hz refresh rate, it’s offers superior viewing for video games, action movies, and sports. Best of all this, smart TV has gesture controls and a built-in camera. It can also stream content from the Web. What else would you need? From any major home electronics supplier or from Amazon.com. Price range starts from around RO889
SEEING INTO THE FUTURE
You dont always need a television to view your most loved films. These days tech lovers are more inclined to link up a good projector with a portable hard drive or PC. Projectors may or may not always give you the crisp imagery an LCD can provide but the luxury of a huge screen might appeal to you. Adjustable image projection and a whole slew of convenient home theatre features make the JVC X55 an option for a great cinema-like evening. Check out this award winning projector at www.jvc.com for around RO1,540
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First Class Being comfortable on movie night is almost as important as picture quality. There is nothing worse than shifting around during the entire film in search of a comfortable position. In terms of sofas and recliners, the choice is vast. I suggest nipping over to a home furniture store of your choice and trying every sofa and recliner out to find the ‘one’ for you. Sofaland on Amazon.com is my choice, or Home Centre here in Muscat has a great selection. Price depends on choice of style.
wired for sound What better way to enjoy the best in videos and movies than with 3D surround sound? Samsung’s Vertical Surround meets DTS processor to create real 3D audio that will make your living room feel like the inside of a cinema. With enhanced rich tones and less distortion, the Samsung Blu-ray Home Entertainment System is sure to take your viewing experience to the next level. www.reliantdirect.co.uk for RO 779
FIND OUT WHAT’S HIP & HAPPENING IN GADGETS
App of the
Make every night movie night. This carnival style kettle popcorn cart makes hot fresh delicious popcorn just like at the cinema. The Nostalgia Electrics - Retro Kettle Popcorn Maker features a large stainless steel kettle with a builtin stirring system and pops up to one gallon of popcorn per batch. Includes a measuring spoon for oil and measuring cup for popcorn kernels so every batch pops perfectly. Popcorn has never tasted so good at home. www.bestbuy.com for only RO30
DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE
Disney is about to launch a digital movies App ‘Disney Movies Anywhere’ that allows fans to store movie purchases online and play them back over Apple devices. The launch coincides with the release of hit film Frozen on all digital platforms and users who link the App account to Apple’s iTunes digital store will receive a free copy of The Incredibles. I am sold.
Sony Wireless Personal 3D Viewer
Forget televisions and projectors - be your own home cinema system with this head-mounted Sony HMZ-T3W Personal 3D Viewer and experience truly immersive entertainment, anywhere. Listen to clear 360˚ audio thanks to its 7.1-channel surround sound. Gamers will also enjoy the headset’s wireless conenctivity and a near-zero screen response time. Check it out at www.sony.com. RO384 Personal cinema - It is like having a multiplex movie theatre with you wherever you are, Comes complete with full 7.1 channel surround sound and a virtual 750inch screen viewed from around a 20 metre distance. Extreme entertainment - Adding the superb visuals and complete surround sound, films become as pulse-pounding as the director intended in 3D or traditional 2D. Dark Scene mode - The gaming advantage is yours when you can see deep into shadows or night environments. Choose your sound - Choose your own audio setup using headphones for a totally immersive experience or in-ear models for portability.
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CARS AND INDOORS
Y- F i
Renault Twizy Specification
Electric Motor: 13Kw Horsepower: 20bhp Range : 85km Capacity: 2 persons Price: From RO8,166.00
car of the week It’s unlike anything we’ve seen on the streets before, so move aside big SUVs – there’s a little electric Twizy coming through. By Tom Robertson
o, it’s not from the future. It’s here in the GCC right now. Unlike the Kwid we covered two issues ago and that still languishes on the Renault drawing board, this concept car actually made it to production. It’s not been a short journey though. The Twizy was first unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in 2009 before first going on sale in Europe in March 2012. Having become the fastest electric car that year, the boys over at Renault have decided that it’s time to launch their cute little creation in the Middle East. When you first walk up to the two-seater the first thing you notice is its size. Compared to the average family saloon, it’s very small indeed. Put it next to some of the monsters on our roads, like the Ford Raptor or GMC Sierra, and it looks positively minute at just 2.3m long and 1.2m wide. That said, Renault claim that a four-point seat belt, passenger airbag and tubular steel chassis will keep the occupant safe within. Futuristic scissor doors lift up vertically to allow the driver and a passenger into the vehicle. That’s if your friend is content to wedge him or herself into the little rear seat. It’s when you slide in you realise that whereas one might ‘sit’ in a
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car, the driver is ‘encapsulated’ in the Twizy, but equally the feeling prevails that you’re in a little mobile pod, ready to hit the road and explore. Be warned though, driving this ‘quadricycle’, as it’s classed, is unlike anything you’re used to. If you’re accustomed to putting your foot down and feeling a 5 litre V8 power you into the stratosphere, then think again. The Twizy’s Lithium-ion battery puts out a very modest 20bhp. That’s enough to propel the driver along nicely with the other traffic, but after that, things could get a bit hairy; the motor won’t be enough to keep up with the other cars haring along on the Sultan Qaboos Highway. What it does do, is allow you to pootle confidently around Azaiba. Driving the Renault is a cinch. There are no gears - just one button for forward, one button for reverse and pushing the two together sets the car in neutral. This feeling of driving minimalism is a design ethos that seems to run throughout the whole vehicle. The cabin is an exceptionally plain affair, with just a simple display to show speed and battery charge and a soft seat helps to absorb some of the bumps and jolts from the arguably hard suspension. But it’s a responsive and agile drive. One in which you feel as
though you can nip through the traffic and be confident in finding a parking space due to the tiny size of the pocketmobile. Once you’ve been out and about there’s just the small matter of recharging, a concept that many of us will simply have to get used to. The underseat battery takes three-and-a-half-hours to reach full charge using a 220-240 volt supply. And you’ll have to find a socket that’s within range of the three metre charging cable. So will this radical vehicle appeal to Middle Eastern customers? One can’t help but get the feeling this is at once a car perfectly suited for Oman and yet at the same time might struggle to find a secure foothold in the market. With full doors optional and a feeling of being close to the road, it’s a liberating drive you can confidently make in the great all year-round weather. But the fact remains that the range of a fully charged battery is just 85km and as such, isn’t even enough to get you from Seeb corniche to Muttrah souk and back. Furthermore, because of the absence of speed, you wouldn’t be able to travel there by the most direct route, along the highway. What is the Twizy? It’s a sign of things to come, but it’s not necessarily a symbol of the here and now.
They say: ‘It’s about to set the trend in the Middle East.’ We say: ‘It may be some time yet.’
Check this out
Choice of four colours: Blue, white, red & black Colour and trim styling options available Rear parking aid Four-point seatbelt Driver’s airbag Disc brakes 50,000km warranty