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Summer Stars Your astrological profile revealed

Psychology Of Success / Salut Castle World War Z / The Week’s Events Free! Bustan Village / Galleries EVERY THURSDAY Hulk: Meet the body builder 25 The putting Oman on the map


SKATERBOY: The street craze makes a comeback GREEN GADGETS: Saving the planet & your pocket

Your top guide to the best of Oman, every week

JUN 20 - 26 • ISSUE 275 • WEEKLY

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER Y’s Guide To Keeping The Kids Entertained











Trend Barometer GOING UP ELECTRIC CARS They perform better, pollute less and are just as pretty as conventional cars - no wonder Tesla has a waiting list for their sporty little numbers. We want one too!

GOING DOWN FROZEN FACES Is the Botox party over? Scientists suggest that some anti-ageing jab junkies are developing resistance to the toxin. But don’t worry – there’s a lot to be said about laughter lines – they show that you’ve lived and learned, so celebrate them.




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

Fast forward S

chool’s out and your sanity is already under attack. The kids are bored – and while you’d fight a lion with your bare hands for them – you’d rather eat play-dough than watch another episode of Telly Tubbies. We feel your pain here at Y Towers, so we’ve devised the ultimate two-part guide to keep your little ones entertained. There is something in here for all ages, interests, weather conditions and budgets – from playing in the park to ice-skating. Not only is the summer break a great time for you to bond with your family but it also gives you the excuse to be silly and do more with your Muscat stay-cation. After all, goofing around with the kids can be a great antidote to all the dull responsibilities that come with being a grown up. So, cut loose and let your adventurous side reign supreme. Also in this edition, find out more about your personality through our summer stars and professional profiling sessions. Enjoy!

Team Y have caught Oman’s footy fever and been supporting the Red Warriors with fervour. Wasps, hot weather and the taste of unripened dates have also tormented us.

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

Penny Fray

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

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

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

JUN 20 - 26 / ISSUE 275


contents JUNE 20 2013

Features 20 School’s Out Y’s Guide to Children’s Summer Activities 24 Incredible Hulk Oman’s Muscleman

Your Oman


06 The Big Interview Paul Doubleday

This Week

08 Letters The Right to Travel 1o News Oman Cancer Study

14 This Week Made to Create 16 Movie Listings World War Z 18 Gallery Oman v Jordan

Food & Drink 28 Trend Where The Chefs Eat 30 Restaurant Review Omar al Khayyam


24 Business & Career 26 Brilliant Or Bonkers Personality Profiling

Cars & Outdoors


36 Gallery Kiteboarding 37 Destination Salut Castle 40 Outdoors The Skate Escape

Health & Beauty

42 My Hood Bustan Village 44 Y-Fi

32 Fashion Green Gadgets Plane Perfect 34 Special 46 Car of the Week Summer Stars Peugeot 301








Treasure Seeker Paul Doubleday, director of the British Council Oman

Words and image: Joe Gill

What are your passions? My personal passion is the visual arts from the Middle East. I also love living in interesting countries. Give us a brief summary of your career. I finished university, got on a plane to Sudan and stayed for two years, working as a volunteer teaching English in a village. I came back to do my PGCE at Bangor in Wales, joined the British Council in Yemen, and taught in a school for two years. After the unification of Yemen I moved to Aden where I spent two years at a British Council teaching centre, then moved to Al Hudayda. In 1994, the Yemen civil war broke out and I evacuated myself and everyone working there to Djibouti. I did a Masters in Education Management in the UK, then moved to Pakistan. I was there until the Musharraf coup in 1999, then moved to Jordan, where I ran the British Council teaching programme. I moved back to Sudan as country director in 2001. I left three days after 9/11 and got as far as Frankfurt and came home again. I got there ten days later. I did a lot of work on the arts and legal sector. There was still fighting as the civil war between north and south was at its height. In 2003, I moved to Syria for five years as director of the British Council. The political relationship with the UK was poor but the cultural relationship at that time was quite amazing. I worked on some fantastic projects – the London Book Fair, Damascus Capital of Culture 2008, new playwriting from the Middle East – all of which led to real cultural relations being made. In 2008, I moved to Tbilisi as the BC director for the Caucasus. I arrived just after the war between Georgia and Russia. In 2010, I moved to Muscat. Wow! You have been to some potentially dangerous places. Are you a risk taker? No, I don’t think I take risks although other people might think so. I like adventure and I like going to interesting places. I once took a six-day camel trek through Sudan. I was young and it seemed like a good idea at the time. What are your career highlights? Redesigning the primary school English teaching programme in Jordan. Bringing a major V&A exhibition to Damascus and setting it up in a caravanserai. Working as producer on a piece of verbatim theatre called ‘Do We Look Like Refugees?’, which went on to win three first prizes at the Edinburgh Festival. What do you do in your spare time? There’s isn’t much. I like going to the Royal Opera House, art exhibitions and to the cinema. I also like to go out to dinner with friends. I don’t like travelling as much as I used to. I prefer to live in the city and get to know the place rather than dashing up and down mountains these days. Don’t you find living here is a bit quiet compared to some of the places you’ve lived in? It may be quiet but Muscat has loads to offer, some amazingly creative people quietly creating amazing art. I love living here. How long will you be staying? For another 18 months at least – maybe longer. At the British Council we are posted to countries, so we do not always have a choice of staying or leaving. What I do know, though, is that I do not want to go somewhere too cold!


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Paul’s Philosophy • Keep an open mind. • Believe in others and make them believe in themselves. • There are amazing people in the world, in places you wouldn’t expect them to be. • Don’t underestimate the power of art.

The Voice of Oman The right to travel belongs to all, says Isobel SpavenDonn


atching the thermometer rise is a national pastime when we get to June. Topping 40° usually gets me thinking of cooler tropical climes, and searching out the best flight deals. Recent news made me think of others who similarly dream of travelling but who are restricted in where they can go. Sharjah has just passed a law which restricts the movement of non-GCC national, UAE-resident women across the Dibba border, requiring them to have written permission from their male relative, typically their husband, or employer, to be able to travel. Malaysia was considering doing the same, Iran took it a step further by passing a similar law last year for women under 40, and Saudi Arabia leads the pack in terms of restrictions with their hi-tech approach to surveillance. Reports say that husbands now get a text message every time their women cross a border – even if they haven’t signed up to the service. While some religious interpretations do support these restrictions, the rest of us are left wondering why this could be considered a smart move both in terms of economics and politics. In a world where women are encouraged into education and work, and where they’ve been identified as a key indicator in a nation’s development, isn’t this just another stumbling block to progress? Women in Oman are fortunate to have freedom of travel, something for which I am very grateful as I book some summer leave.



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correspondence Restoring balance in life It was refreshing and enlightening to read ‘Tap To The Top’ (Y 274). Modern life is demanding and modern man is fragmented by all the pressures on him, seldom finding time for selfrealisation, balance and restoration of energy, leading to the manifestation of physical and mental ailments. This technique can be beneficial to the common man who can spare a few minutes in this positive thought process to eliminate all negativity, providing a ‘cathartic’ effect. This technique can control anger and allow you to handle emergency situations with confidence. Apart from thinking or diving into the self, the mantra is self-control. Communication with the self leaves us more rational, logical and reasonable enough not to drown in negative emotions, which leads to self harm. I know it is difficult in the beginning as every human being is different and not everyone is successful, but this survival therapy will work wonders and restore positivity and reprogramme both body and soul.

Dr Ritu Bali, Al Khuwair

Debate of the Week We asked:

According to estimates, at least 30 per cent of Omani men are obese. What can be done to reduce this? Belinda Wallington Try walking! Instead of blowing the horn for the laundry guy, food orders etc. Also park the car in the allocated space instead of trying to park in the doorway.

Winner! Reply of the Week

Afra Asafali Serve diet food in coffee shops – so that you can eat healthily instead of living on shawarma, samosas and falafel. RAHUL CHAKRABORTY I think the problem is lack of awareness. The authorities should run campaigns on TV newspaper ads and road hoardings, with proper facts on the Oman obesity issue and advice on diet and exercise. People have to be informed first before they can become healthy. mehdi ali Improve will power by regular meditation and aerobic exercise. Take light, hygienic and healthy food. Practice yoga. By the way, what does the report say about obese women? irwin serso RIO It all boils down to proper diet and regular exercise. But how eager is he to have the right attitude of eating well and reducing his weight?

This Week’s Debate: What message would you send to world leaders meeting at the G8 summit this week? Share your views on Facebook.


stephen darwish A balanced diet and regular exercise is all anyone needs to stay healthy. helen ingram There are too many fast food options in this town. Just take a look at the choices in the two main mall food courts.

Dinner For Two

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

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FIGHTING BACK Charity dance held to raise funds for children’s charity as study examines cancer rates in young Words: Kate Ginn


octors are to carry out research into the care cancer patients receive in Oman, and try to probe why some types of the disease are being found in younger age groups. A team from the Oman Cancer Association (OCA), with doctors from Sultan Qaboos University Hospital and Royal Hospital, want to collect extensive data to draw up a cancer database for the Sultanate, mapping out rates of the disease, casualty factors and survival rates. Cancers such as stomach, throat, ovarian and breast cancer are seen in far younger patients in Oman than would usually be expected. Cases of breast cancer are being found among women as young as 30 for example. Leukaemia, a cancer of the while blood cells, is also detected in much younger Omani children than in other parts of the world. “We are finding patients with certain cancers in Oman are younger than elsewhere and we need to know why,” said Dr Yasmeen al Hatmi, an executive board member of the OCA. “Cancers that are more often found in people aged 50 and over and occurring two decades earlier. “The question is whether it’s lifestyle-related. Is it to do with more fast food? Or is it diet and exercise? Is there one single trigger or are there several different factors involved? “We need to look at all this and more. It’s a long-term project but we hope to find some answers are the end of it.” As well as this, the team will also look at the quality of palliative care given to cancer sufferers. A sixmonth study questioning patients at major hospitals in Muscat and larger regions will be carried out, looking at areas such as pain relief and support. “We need to have the patient’s perspective,” said Dr al Hatmi, who is deputy director of quality and development of the Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH). “Palliative care in Oman does need to be improved. We launched a Palliative Care Team in February this year and we hope to have nurses and doctors going out into the community and visiting patients at home. We are also looking at setting up telephone hotlines for people to call for help and advice.” Money raised for the OCA from charity events such as the ‘Dance for a Cause’ show, held in Muscat at the weekend, will help fund initiatives such as this to fight cancer. Local artists and DJs played an exclusive set for an audience of young and old dancers. Until the end of the month, the private sector can also join in by taking part in the OCA’s Coffee Break for Cancer campaign running until the end of June. Aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle as cancer prevention, the idea is for corporations to hold a morning coffee break for staff at which OCA staff and volunteer cancer survivors will attend for informal chats. Nawras, Khimji’s Group and Bank Muscat are among the companies to have already signed up and the Association is hoping for more. Money raised will go towards buying an Ultrasound machine and equipment to support the mobile mammography unit. For more information


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Musafir YTabloid 24x34 E.indd 1

6/9/13 2:02 PM






Concert For Sarah

International musicians and friends come together to remember their own local star Words: Kate Ginn


s director of the Bait al Zubair museum and also an influential artist, Sarah White’s paths had crossed with many people in Oman and beyond during her life. So it was fitting that many of these were present at a musical evening to reflect and celebrate the much-loved woman whose sudden death in April left such a void in their lives. Sarah, 45 (pictured below), lived most of her life in Oman and was a passionate supporter of local artistic talent, showcasing the Sultanate’s rich cultural scene at home and abroad. She also helped create the Bait Al Zubair Foundation. This work and more was commemorated at a special concert on Saturday night at The Bosch Centre for the Performing Arts at The American International School of Muscat (TAISM). International soloists were among musicians who gave their time freely to take part in the show. Violinist Min Yang, formerly a member of the London Symphony Orchestra, travelled from Dubai to take part despite suffering from a bad cold. She played two solo pieces. Others on stage were Dan Anthony, principal horn with the British Philharmonic, violinist Richard Thirlwall, formerly of the BBC Philharmonic, and soprano Elayne Looker. “Most of the performers on stage knew Sarah in some capacity or other and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to bring people together to remember Sarah and reflect on her life,” said Anthony, who organised Violinist Min Yang played two solo pieces at the Sarah White memorial concert the concert. Looker, who met Sarah through mutual friends, said: “It was a real privilege to be on stage and to be able to do this for Sarah. I wasn’t able to attend Sarah’s funeral because I was working. It was such an unbelievable tragedy (that she died).” Split into two parts, ‘Reflection’ and ‘Celebration’, the programme featured a selection of classical musical from Bach’s Double Violin Concerto in D Minor and Vivaldi’s Double Violin Concerto in A Minor to Schubert and Brahms’ horn trio. “It was an emotional evening for us, the museum team,” said Abdullah Nasser al Busaidi, communication & public relations manager at Bait Al Zubair Museum and a friend of Sarah’s. “Some of our staff were unfortunately not here when Sarah passed away and it was an opportunity for them to say goodbye. “It was a celebration of Sarah’s life so it made us sad and happy.” In a moving speech at the concert, he also spoke of the gap that losing Sarah had left in his and many other people’s lives. “Where once we had Sarah (full of life) now we have the empty space in the parking lot, the empty chair at her empty desk in her empty office, her name is still in the list of contacts on our mobile phone. “That silence, those empty spaces, they have been the hardest things to live with and to get used to. For those who knew Sarah, she was never silent, she was never empty, and she was never indifferent. She was passionate, energetic, committed and full of life. At Bait Al Zubair Museum, we miss her every day.” While entrance to the event was free, more than RO1000 was collected for Dar Al Hanan, a charity in Muscat that provides accommodation for families with children receiving cancer treatment. 012

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T H E W H AT ’ S O N G U I D E

Fun at Falaj

June 23 to July 22




Sizzling summer is here, and cool kids wanna have fun. Al Falaj Hotel is hosting a summer camp from 23 June. Registration will be at the hotel from 7pm to 8.30pm until June 22. After breakfast, activities will include dance, clay modelling, swimming, outdoor trips, a magic show at the hotel, and movies shown in the grand hall. Contact Seema Choudhery on 99024788 or Vasudha Rao on 95260450.

What to do. What to see. What to hear.



Hot Shots

Only mad dogs and golfers go out in the midday sun. Muscat Hills and Almouj Golf Club’s 36-hole summer open begins on July 5 at 1.30pm. Entry is RO25 for members of either golf club. There are complimentary golf carts, range balls and cold towels. A light lunch is served on day one and there will be dinner and prize giving on day two.



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June 27



Lead Players

All the world’s a stage, and men and women merely players, a famous bard once wrote. Whispers of Serenity are offering you a chance to explore the potential of drama, with role-play, laughter and improvisation. This drama and acting workshop is aimed at developing confidence and self-esteem, and will assist in interview techniques and public speaking. From 4pm-6pm, RO35. Places limited.


Beach party


It’s time to pump up the bass and get down on the sand for the second annual Beach Beats party at the Oman Dive Centre. It all kicks off from 2pm until midnight. Entrance RO10 per person.

Victory Songs Nepalese artist Adrian Pradhan aims to achieve ‘Mystical Togetherness’ in a live concert with The Victory Band at Al Falaj Hotel’s grand hall in Ruwi, from 2pm. The band is known for experimenting in all genres of music, including Nepali folk, ragas, rock, funk, blues and jazz. For more details call 96449534 or 97052889. Entry RO5.





Spirit dance

Ladies are invited to the Art of Living’s dance and yoga event with international teacher Asmaa Khalis. The event is only RO1 to attend, from 10am11.30am at the Art of Living Centre, ground floor of the Mosaic Tower, Al Khuwair.

June 20

June 23 to July 04

Head down to the OIEC Muscat to find all the latest in accessories for you and your family. The show stretches across both halls of the exhibition centre.

Made to Create

Bait Al Baranda is launching its summer ‘Made to Create’ event at its Muttrah seafront location. This year’s children’s workshop is aimed at school-age students and will feature art classes across a wide range of mediums including recycling, sculpture, installations, jewellery making and painting. An exhibition featuring the artworks will be held on July 4.

Summer Reads After the sensational success of Fifty Shades of Grey, along comes What Women Want, a popular science book by Daniel Bergner about female desire, its origins and the science behind the differences between men and women. It’s not at all what you might expect. Published by Harper Collins and available on Amazon.

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World War Z

Just when it seemed that nothing new could be added to the zombie genre, along comes World War Z to prove there’s still life in the undead corpse. Tense, thrilling and imaginative, WWZ plays like an environmental thriller in which Brad Pitt’s United Nations veteran, Gerry Lane, now a stay-at-home dad, has to save his family from the frenzied hoards in Philadelphia. In the horror equivalent of the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, a mass of zombies tears through a downtown traffic jam, unleashing mayhem on terrified commuters. These are smart and aggressive flesh eaters, with exceptional hearing and the ability to smell blood a mile off. After a nerve-shredding night in an abandoned apartment, Pitt manages to get his wife (the excellent Mireille Enos) and two young daughters onboard a naval aircraft carrier. He is then immediately thrust into the urgent effort to find ‘patient zero’, who could hold the

cure to the pandemic. There is nothing slow-moving about the narrative, with the action unfolding at a heart-thumping pace as it becomes clear that the plague has spread rapidly across the planet. Clever touches include a battle to keep the zombies from bursting out of economy into first class aboard a passenger jet. Pitt’s quest takes him to Korea, then to Israel, and finally to a research lab in Wales for a brilliantly choreographed climax. While the US quickly descends into chaos, Israel builds a huge wall to keep the hoards out, while North Korea keeps infections in check by extracting millions of teeth. It makes a change to see the hard-pressed survivors acting mostly in a co-operative manner, rather than the usual descent into panic and selfishness that we have come to expect. To maintain the tension, the scriptwriters wisely favour the use of quiet terror over endless action. The end result is an edge-of-yourseat chiller that also engages the heart and mind.

If you’ve seen Meet the Parents or any other family culture clash comedy, Peeples will hold few surprises for you. Wade (Craig Robinson) is a Manhattan children’s entertainer whose girlfriend Grace (Kerry Washington) comes from an affluent family. His plan to surprise her at the family’s beachside retreat in the Hamptons before asking for her hand goes badly wrong, leading to a weekend of mishaps and not so shocking revelations. Formulaic and lacking in any believable characters.

Monsters University Pixar’s prequel to its 2001 hit Monsters Inc takes us back to college where a pair of buddies – one huge and lazy, the other small and nerdy – are learning the art of being scary.

The themes of ambition, persistence and friendship are all there, but the that fact this is set in a world without humans removes it from something we can relate to. Still, it’s fun and full of incident, even if it lacks the emotional punch of the original.

The Heat Sandra Bullock teams up with the unstoppable Melissa McCarthy for this action comedy from the director of Bridesmaids, Paul Feig. Bullock plays an obsessive FBI agent who is looking for a career break. She has to show superiors that she’s not a loner by working with McCarthy’s loud-mouthed Boston cop, to take down a local drug lord. The Heat is a buddy-buddy comedy that relies too heavily on McCarthy’s foul-mouthed tirades for laughs. Unfortunately, swearing is not the same as comedy.


PREVIEW White House Down

Is something up? It’s at least the third movie this season featuring the White House under siege. After Olympus Has Fallen and GI Joe, Roland Emmerich, who destroyed the White House in both ‘2012’ and ‘Independence Day’, is at it again with his action-packed addition to the set. Channing Tatum stars as a cop looking for a Secret Service job who gets the ultimate trial when the White House comes under attack during a tour. Jamie Foxx plays a kick-ass president who can fire a rocket launcher and take down the bad guys, as long as he’s wearing his glasses.


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Aashiqi 2

In a sequel that has been a long time coming, Rahul Jaykar plays a pop star plagued by the demons of drink, self-doubt and the likelihood of spinning into obscurity. Then he spots the raw talent and beauty of Shraddha Kapoor covering his songs at a bar in Goa. He whisks her off to Mumbai to start a professional singing career, but the combination of love, booze and fame leads to conflict and heartbreak.

For more information and times, go to: City Cinema: Al Bahja Cinema: Star Cinema: Tel +968 24791641


Call 800 77077 or SMS AK to 90303 路 The earlier you deposit, the more your chances to win. 路 Minimum average balance of RO 100 for 30 days is required to participate in the prize draws. 路 Interest bearing accounts are also available. Terms & Conditions apply.

The What’s On Guide


NIGHT OF AGONY oman’s world cup dream ended in amman this week - but there’s always russia 2018

Oman fans in Amman


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inding things to do with a threeyear-old is an important measure against insanity. Days where we just chill out at home are never relaxing and by 4pm, still in our pyjamas and both sporting bad hair, we look at each other in despair. I’m sure she’s thinking what I’m thinking – why didn’t we just go out? Going out is not just about what you are doing, it’s about meeting people, sharing experiences, hearing the birds sing, sitting down to lunch somewhere new and relating to each other differently and finally, enjoying coming back home again. Going out with your little one is like doing exercise: do it when you wake up and the rest of the day feels brilliant. I often find that, if we have quality time together early in the day, then when we get home Amali is


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happy to entertain herself. I’m new to Muscat and don’t drive (yes, shock horror, I never learnt how to) so going out as the days get hotter takes that little bit of forethought. Standing by the side of the road in the blazing morning sunshine trying to find shade for your toddler is not anyone’s idea of fun. Luckily, through trial, error and a neardeath experience, I found a taxi driver I trust and call him whenever I need to leave the house. It’s worth familiarising yourself on Google maps with where you are going – don’t presume your taxi driver will know where everything is. They often don’t! Here are the places Amali and I (with a little help from Muscat Mums) would recommend for having some fun.

Muscat Grand Mall


Sun-Weds 10am-10pm Thurs 10am-12 noon Friday 12am-12pm 300bs-RO1.5 per ride

fter sharing a falafel lunch in the food hall and a yoghurt ice cream, I simply cannot avoid taking my daughter to Happy Land. This is not for the faint-hearted or the epileptic. Full of flashing lights, chaotic rides, noise and children rabid with joy, this was the first time I saw the killer instinct in my sweet angel as she discovered zapping things to death on a kiddy screen. It tested my unconditional love – it might be happy land for her, but it was I’d-rather-stick-pins-in-my-eyes land for me. It’s costly and noisy, so kids love it. Eventually Amali found the soft play area, more suited to her age group, where she rolled around in coloured balls, squealing with delight and refused to leave until the manager had to climb up and fetch her. Just like nappies, places like this are an unavoidable part of childhood.

Muscat City Centre


Sat –Weds 9am-10pm Thurs-Fri 10am-midnight RO1.5/hour

his is a great way to combine your shopping and fun for your little one. Amali insists on being escorted in one of the mall’s Cuddle Carts, which are RO1 per hour. This way I can whizz her around and see what I need to do before transferring her directly from the cart to the Pinkberry café, with a yoghurt ice cream in her hand. There is a cinema, which often has films for young children and, of course, Magic Planet. It’s similar to Happy Land but quieter and not so flashy. Rides, climbing m aze (kids must be minimum 150cm ), vid games an eo d carousel

Softplay coin opera area, ted ri large rides des, , video gam es, party shop, part room, kid y s hair saloon

Markaz Al Bahja Mall


Sat-Thurs 9am-11pm Fri 2-11 200-800bs/ride

f a similar ilk to the Softother kids’ play areas coin play area in the main malls, i.e. lots large operated , of rides, noise and flashing haun rides in rides, lights. Amali loves the ball disco, ted hou cluding se, m dodg pits, as most children (and rolle em cars, ini r kidults) do and the dodgem and coaster mini bum cars are always a winner boat per . with any age. It’s also pretty good value.

Near The Wave behind the Al Maha petrol station


Qurum Commercial Centre (upstairs)

Sat-Thurs 10am-1pm, Softplay lay 4.30pm-10pm areas p Friday 4.30pm-10pm gym, loads of toys. RO2.5


nother one for the tiny tots and over, it is not the largest play area but it is fully loaded with plenty to keep the kids amused while mum (or dad) has a rest with a coffee.

great location for families in The Wave and the surrounding area, this is good for the very young and crawlers. It’s small but very clean and tidy with lots of equipment to keep the most active youngsters entertained. Food and drink are available too.

Bareeq Al Shatti Mall


Softea, play ar ms, oo r d e them ctivities a , g in d rea lots uzzles, table, p toys of

Sat-Thurs 10am-1pm, 4.30pm-10pm Fri 4.30pm-10pm RO2.5

Sat-Thurs 8.30am-8pm Fri Closed RO2.5 (with Muscat Mums membership)

y Softpla play it, p d n a area, s ping castle, m gym, ju mes, small a video g ted rides, air a r e p o mall coinand a s hockey g wall. climbin

his is perfectly placed to leave your children to play while you potter in the mall. It has little chairs and tables and a small canteen for the children. Again, they have lovely facilities including a craft table, dressing up trunk and toys. It didn’t have the same joyful atmosphere of Busy Bees but Amali was more than happy with her new toys. She didn’t want to leave so I asked her if I could leave – “yes” she said, as she turned her back and wheeled another car through a garage. Yippee! Off I went straight to a coffee shop in hearing distance of the crèche and back to my book with a cuppa. They even called me to ask if it was ok to give her an apple juice! I love this place.

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Madinat Qaboos (same building as Costa Coffee and Subway)


Activity classes, ba ll reading/T pit, play kitch V area, en, room, pla girls’ play y gym and activities room

Sat-Thurs 8.30am-8pm Fri Closed RO2.5 (with Muscat Mums membership)

his was our favourite place of all. The simple detail of a glass shop front and natural light made this a joyful, yet calming place to be. The colours were not garish, as often children’s activity zones are, but soft pastels, designed and decorated with love and care. It is beautifully arranged with many different stations, reading and craft areas. It is also very comfortable for the grown-ups. I don’t want to be a helicopter mum (one that is always hovering overhead). My grandmother had 12 kids and one leg and I’m sure she didn’t make sushi out of play dough and sing the hokey cokey. So while Amali was playing with pretend fruit and a shopping basket, I curled up on the cosy cushions and read my book. I thought of my grandma peeling individual chickpeas and vowed to never complain again. Afterwards, we went to MacKenzies Deli next door, the Scottish gourmet café with tartan sofas. It is also brilliantly equipped for children with books and painting area.

the eastern end of Azaiba beach road (Way 36)


n the evening, as it cools down and the city unwinds, you can head to one of the many parks and enjoy night picnics and play, illuminated by lights and the moon. When the humidity dips, it should be more bearable for longer stretches. Amali and I loved Azaiba Beach Park. What better way to end the weekend as a family than on the green and by the sea? While the children play on the slides and swings you can listen to the Arabian Sea, or watch large families preparing barbecues. We were there with our sandwiches but this is a very pretty place for both children and adults to hang out. There is also the beautiful Qurum Natural Park and Al Sahwa Gardens near the airport.


f you are going to have a home day, then make it fun and make sure you have at least one activity together. I’m not the kind of mum who gets on her knees and pretends to be a horse. I simply can’t do it, but I love cooking and share that pleasure with my daughter. Baking bread is always a winner. I make a smaller dough for her to knead and shape as she likes for maximum creativity. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have fun at home. Use everyday things around. Why not make tunnels and camps with cardboard boxes and sheets? Invite kiddie friends round for play days or lunch. For extra fun, make it themed with pirates or fairies.


he beach is always magical, even more so at night. Amali and I often spend our early evenings collecting the exquisite shells that can be found on Muscat’s beaches, and sitting down with a coffee for me and strawberry milk for her, watch the sunset and practice our new Arabic words together. The next morning you can glue the shells onto card or paint them.


am not a big fan of getting wet but Amali loves playing in the pool – in fact, she would stay there all day if I let her. It might be too hot for swimming in the sea during the day, but you could try pools with shaded areas, such as Dolphin Village (on the main road through Bawshar) or Oman Dive Centre. Most of the larger hotels have toddler-friendly pools while a number of hotels in Muscat have indoor pools.

ENJOY MEGA SAVINGS OF THIS SEASON! Shop at any K.M. TRADING & K.M. HYPERMARKET Outlets across OMAN and Enjoy discounts on







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He’s Oman’s answer to Arnold Schwarzenegger and has just won two trophies at a major bodybuilding event. His next goal is to be crowned Mr Universe. Very impressive – even more so as Issa al Hasani has achieved all this without any help or financial assistance. Kate Ginn meets him.


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hen Issa al Hasani holds his two trophies in his huge shovel-like hands, you get the feeling he could crush them both with ease should the urge suddenly come upon him. His bulging biceps seem to be doing their best to burst out of the restrictive confines of his t-shirt and as for his thighs – well, suffice to say, they are quite a sight to behold. Oman’s leading bodybuilder is a magnificent physical specimen – 170cm (5ft 7ins) and 90kg of solid muscle with not an inch of fat to pinch. He claims not to know his measurements but his thighs alone look like the same span as my (not inconsiderable) waist. “Some people are scared when they first see me,” he admits. “When I walk down the street, people will start taking photographs or come up to me and touch my muscles to make sure they are real.” It’s true that he may be a little intimidating in the flesh. My male colleagues were clearly feeling a bit insecure in his presence when he popped into the studio at our sister radio station, Al Wisal, even though his impressive body was covered up. In person, however, he’s a gentle giant, softly spoken and rather sweet. That said, I wouldn’t want to make him angry. Thankfully, he’s in a very happy mood when we meet, having just returned from the World Bodybuilding & Physique Federation (WBPF) Grand Prix in Hungary with those trophies. Issa, and his massive oiled body shown off in red posing trunks, triumphed with a first place in his weight class and second place overall. “Winning these makes all the hard work and sacrifice worth it,” he says, clearly proud of his latest triumphs. This is very much a personal success story with what appears to be a baffling lack of interest in his achievements in his home country. His prize money from the wins totalled $600 (RO231) but he claims it cost him more than RO6000 out of his own pocket to compete. Despite once being part of the Oman national bodybuilding team, there seems to have been little support from the Oman Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Committee (OBWC) or, indeed, the Ministry of Sports Affairs. “I did it without any sponsorship or assistance from anyone,” says Issa. “I paid for everything little compete, from the airplane tickets and stays in hotels, to my coach and training. “I sold my land and sold my car to find funds to continue my career. “No one is supporting me. It would be nice to get some sort of acknowledgement.” Issa, who works at the National Bank of Oman, says his employer is very generous with time off to compete in the bodybuilding events. This is not the first time that the Omani muscleman’s physique has brought him rewards. From his first local competition in 2003, he went on to bag the 85kg gold in the second Muscat Asian Beach Games in December 2010. This was Oman’s only bodybuilding medal at the Games – after four teammates failed drug tests and were disqualified from the competition. The following year, Issa, 33, won bronze in the inaugural Amateur Mr Olympia competition in London. He has also won various titles from GCC competitions. He’s certainly come a long way from the skinny and shy

teenager who first took up bodybuilding at the age of 17. Back then he tipped the scales at just 58kg. Now, he owns his own gym in Al Mabela, the Royal, where he spends up to five hours a day working out with cardio and lifting weights, with his loyal coach, Fahd al Yousufi, and burning his way through 2,000 calories a day. Leading up to a competition, he cuts out oil and sugar completely from his diet for four months, fuelling up on rice and steamed chicken. As the date nears, he reduces his intake of carbohydrates and salt. Not a drop of liquid passes his lips for three days before the contest – a dehydrated body improves muscle definition, he says. “It’s not easy but I am driven by wanting to win,” he adds. “My six kids love it. They think I’m their hero. My wife likes me to bulk up too.” His next goal is the Mr Universe title, an amateur bodybuilding contest once won by his hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger. “It’s my last dream. I would love to be like Arnie.”

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Ever been faced with someone so senseless that you wonder if they should be in a psychiatric unit rather than an office? Recognising your professional personality and how you work with people of similar and indeed opposite types can be vital in improving office dynamics. It can also be useful in improving your own personal effectiveness, increasing productivity, engagement and ultimately, your career development. Find out your Myers Briggs type for free at


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Minute Mentoring



Minute Mentoring


Or Bonkers?



t doesn’t take a genius to work out that Albert Einstein never combed his hair. In fact, one look at him on Google Images should tell you that the eccentric physicist disregarded everyday minutiae in favour of the bigger picture – like developing the theory of relativity. “The only valuable thing is intuition,” he explained. I agree. And while I’m no Einstein, I have been known to leave the house with my hair looking like a bird’s nest. Why? Because I’m a big-picture thinker who finds life’s little details way too boring to bother with – not that anyone would guess. I carefully hide my scatty ways with detailed lists and colour-coordinated spreadsheets. My colleagues think I’m a control freak. I know differently. I’ve just trained myself to pay attention to detail in the same way I’ve learnt to smile and socialise in networking situations. It doesn’t come naturally for the simple reason that my inherent personality type is both introverted and intuitive. These definitions, along with others, have been widely used by psychologists as a way of dividing personality types in the workplace. One of the most popular assessments, the Myers Briggs test, considers extroversion and introversion in terms of where an individual gets their energy. This was a relief, because the introverted bit of my assessment bothered me until I learnt that it meant I was self sufficient rather than a wannabe hermit. In other words, I draw on my internal world for inspiration rather than my interaction with others. After answering dozens of online questions, I also discovered that as an INTJ, I love ideas, hate being late and dislike inefficiency. Er, I knew that already. So how does all this help my career – or indeed yours? Well, now that I’ve been profiled, I’ve been given more certainty about my preferred way of working and how I can learn to fit in with others. In fact, personality analysis is a powerful benchmark in deciding how colleagues will get on together and on which kind of projects. Want to discover what type you are? See the test link on the opposite page. Alternatively, try the Colour Code created by Dr Taylor Hartman. The main idea behind this personality assessment is that we all possess one of four core motives and these are classified into colours. Which one are you? Red: You are assertive, action-orientated, disciplined and determined. You have to be right and often dominate and criticise those who are weaker than yourself. Unsurprisingly, CEOs and the world’s power wielders tend to fall into this category. Blue: You are compassionate, committed and creative. As one of life’s do-gooders, you strive to be the best person possible but can feel resentful if you’re not loved and understood in return. Your biggest flaw is your moodiness. Yellow: Fun, enthusiastic and spontaneous in nature, you develop friendships with ease. On the flip side, you can be superficial and self-centered, often starting new projects but rarely finishing them. White: You are kind, considerate and patient. And while you may be happy to listen to other people’s woes, you won’t readily share your own views and feelings. Your business flaws include self-depreciation and a reluctance to work at other people’s pace.


KNOW THY SELF AND OTHERS “Personality assessments within a company can help individuals know themselves better, so that they can position themselves optimally in the workplace. Assessment tools also help management to know more about both team and individual characteristics. Strengths, limitations, blockages to success, personality clashes and communication issues can be identified and addressed in both team and individual context, to enhance performance and work satisfaction.” Janet Nel, Psychologist at the Al Harub Medical Centre


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food and drink


New Restaurant



We’d love to hear about your favourite food experiences. Tweet us your 140-word restaurant review to @ytabloid by July 1, 2013 and the best write-up will receive dinner for two (including soft drinks) at Mokha Café in the Grand Hyatt Muscat. Standard terms & conditions apply.

“If I could eat anywhere in the world, it would be at The Dining Room in Park Hyatt Sydney. This restaurant has stunning views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour – plus, the food is delicious. The seafood, in particular, is incredibly fresh. Muscat, however, has a wealth of amazing restaurants, most of which are worth exploring such as Kurkum in Muttrah. With its different décor, great ambience and authentic Indian food, it’s difficult to resist, especially since the restaurant overlooks the beautiful harbour.” Garry Friend, general manager of the Grand Hyatt Muscat


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TREND New Restaurant



Penny Fray reveals the restaurant recommendations of Muscat’s most fabulous foodies and cooks. And just in case you’re wondering – they’re not allowed to mention their own venues.


s a French man who has been a chef for more than 15 years, food is part of my DNA. I’ve discovered many cuisines, techniques and dishes from around the world but the best food still remains ‘soul food’ prepared with passion and hospitality. I really miss the ‘Casse Croûte’ organised by friends at home with some regional specialties like cheese. As for Muscat, I arrived here four months ago and don’t have a preferred place thus far. However, the Turkish House Restaurant is a great place to have grilled fish or prawns and enjoy a great mix of people. And the fresh bread is just too good to miss. Sebastian Vincent, former chef and general manager of the Ibis, Muscat


n Oman, I like to visit Trader Vic’s and enjoy their Wonton Soup, Beef Cho-Cho (thinly shaved beef on bamboo sticks) and I absolutely cannot resist the crispy duck pancakes with all the trimmings. Of course, I must have a classical Mai Tai cocktail before dinner. Originally created by Victor Van Bergen, the founder of Trader Vic’s, it is always spot on. Otherwise, I would love to visit Nobu Restaurant in Hong Kong. I have one of their chef ’s renowned cookbooks, which has inspired me for years. I would start off with some innovative Sushi and Sashimi dishes such as the Blue Fin Tuna followed by a King Crab tempura and a succulent Black Cod accompanied by some of the fine and extremely rare sake offerings. To finish off, I would try Nobu’s signature Bento Box which consists of hot chocolate fondant and Matcha ice cream (green tea flavour).” Reiner Thieding, executive chef


f I could dine anywhere in the world, I’d go to Eataly in New York. It’s the largest artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in the world. This mega food court on Fifth Avenue caters to all tastes – from vegetarians to meat lovers. And the service is great too.


he Beach Pavilion at the Al Bustan Palace is an absolute treat. The fresh seafood is sumptuous with uncompromising flavours. The service is excellent but not overbearing and it has its own amazing private beach. Tyron Dean Lumley, chef at More Café at The Opera Galleria


want a restaurant that offers ambience, home comforts and good food. Cafe Barbera in Al Shatti gives me all that. I love their chicken alfredo penne. But if I were given a chance to go anywhere, I would go to Osteria Francescana, in Italy. I have read a lot of good reviews about the place and would love to experience it for myself. I’m fascinated by their culinary culture and cooking techniques. Vianney Antonio, PR & Executive Secretary for Park Inn Muscat Hotel

of Millennium Resort Mussanah

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food and drink


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





et me introduce you to a little secret of mine. For years I have been eating in an unassuming looking place called Omar al Khayyam, mostly during my lunch break. It’s located just next to the main road in Al Khoud, by the Oman Oil petrol station, making it a handy place to nip into while out on photographic assignments. I’m a busy man so I need somewhere I can get a good meal with the minimum of fuss. I first stumbled on the OAK (as it’s locally known) in Al Khoud back in 2009, a year after it opened. I’ve been going back ever since. The reasons why are straightforward: the place is clean and simple, the food quality and selection is good and the prices are reasonable. The first OAK restaurant opened in Ruwi in 1973. Now there are three branches. They service mostly Arabic, Indian and Chinese cuisine. I am not a big fan of very spicy foods, so I mostly order Chinese or Arabic meals – but my friends who are crazy about Indian food have been ordering from the takeout menu for many years and swear by it. The restaurant is also a favourite lunchtime hangout with working people from the Al Khoud and Seeb areas. I often see the same faces when I go. A sizeable attraction is the large portions, which are enough to satisfy even the most ravenous of oilfield engineers looking to fill their bellies with some quick and delicious food. At the weekend, you’ll find Omani families celebrating their time off with a good meal too. There is an extensive starter menu, with


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Good honest food and value for money in a relaxed setting makes Jerzy Wierzbicki a very happy man





Cheap cheerful. and G for its pri ood ce range

everything from vegetable spring rolls and onion bhajis to tomato soup. I always go straight for the mains. My usual is chicken vegetable (RO2.4) and vegetable fried rice (RO2.4) from the ‘Across The Chinese Wall’ menu. All the favourites are on offer from sweet and sour chicken to beef chopsuey and chilli prawns. If Indian cuisine is your thing, an extensive menu covers chicken korma to mutton Rogan Josh and everything in between. Otherwise, there is rice, fish, omelette and steaks and chips. Basically, there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes, although such a broad menu can be a little overwhelming at times. I normally skip dessert but they do have a small selection with fruit salad, trifle or crème caramel. It is acceptable but not fine dining. The service and waiters are fair but could be a little more organised. Once, I had to wait more than 20 minutes for my food and sometimes I have had to repeat parts of my order because the waiter forgot what I requested. Not great if you are in a hurry. Takeaway and home delivery is available and the restaurant also has a fantastic, award-winning website (which you have to check out). Since I’ve been eating at the restaurant, the standard and taste of food hasn’t changed. I hope it never does. I want it to stay just the way it is.

Info Box

Omar al Khayyam restaurant Address: Gulf Crown Hotel, Way 5117, Al Khoud, Muscat Opening Hours: Weekdays: 11am-3.30pm, 6pm-12 midnight Friday: 1.00pm-3.30pm, 6pm-12 midnight Phone number: 24535001/24539718 Price (lunch for two with soft drink) RO10






“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” Never has a politician spoken such truth as Al Gore on this matter. Even the most seasoned traveller can go from looking crisp to crumpled in just one long-haul journey. The answer? Change on the plane. The moment the seatbelt lights go off, rush into the loo and emerge looking comfortable in cashmere sweatpants, jumper and slippers. Then, before you disembark, swap into something easy and elegant like jeans, blazer and a designer scarf – à la Elle Macpherson.


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A globetrotter’s trunk wouldn’t be complete without a tunic – an enduringly elegant piece you can wear alone with a tan and slip over a swimsuit or shorts. Model wears outfit from Betty Barclay.


Block out the sounds of crying babies, roaring engines and snoring neighbours on the plane with these funky headphones from Marc Jacobs

Penny Fray guides you through the art of getaway glamour


e it plane, train or automobile, sometimes you just need to get away – especially when you’re practically melting under the intensity of the Muscat sun. But what to pack when you have limited suitcase space? The art of holiday dressing is a tough one to master unless you’re Kate Moss, happy to loll a-top a super yacht with nothing but a fag and flip-flops to accessorise your summer basics. Sartorial style on vacation requires comfort and discipline. This is no time for indecision (or four-inch Jimmy Choo shoes). This is a time for fashion frugality – after all, airlines are getting depressingly draconian with their weight restrictions these days. If you’re going on a beach vacation, your staples should include a structured swimsuit, sunglasses, sun-protection, sandals and a kaftan – while a city break requires the basics of ballet pumps, a day-to-night dress and vest tops to go with a neutral cardigan and pair of jeans. Keep silhouettes simple, fabrics natural and the colours coordinated – and voila – the rest should be a doddle. High-street stores such as H&M, Gap and Promod are great for stylish separates, while M&S tends to be brilliant for figure flattering swimwear. I always visit Muscat’s souks for pretty cotton kaftans, pashminas and boho-style jewellery because they’re such great value compared to the malls.

These fashion forward leather sandals from Mango go with almost everything – RO32

D&G glasses that dazzle.

Cover your passport in designer elegance from

This maxi kaftan from Zara is blooming marvelous – RO40 This ruched swimsuit from M&S hides a multitude of sins – from RO25.


Keep suitcases lightweight for even more packing power. These colourful ones are from Tripp – but you can find a good selection of Samsonite pieces from Khimji’s Luxury & Lifestyle Stores.

1 To pack light and fast, limit yourself to three complementary colours. 2 Roll rather than fold clothes for unwanted creasing. 3 Be layer savvy when dressing for the airport. Make sure all pieces can be worn again in different guises. JUN 20 - 26 / ISSUE 275




Find out what the hot season holds for you with Arianrhod – Y’s celebrity astrologer.

ARIES March 21 - April 21

About You: Your ‘frenemies’ say it’s all about you, you and you. But it’s only natural that you regard yourself as ‘numero uno’. As the first sign of the zodiac you’re dynamic, fearless and absolutely fabulous. Your confidence knows no limits at the moment. The Months Ahead: You’ll catch the success you’ve been chasing in early August. Don’t be disheartened by July’s setbacks – there is always darkness before the dawn. You just need to learn a little patience.

TAURUS April 21 - May 22

About You: You’re a penny pincher with panache. In other words, you believe that the best is worth waiting for. Fortunately, your patience is legendary. Add a dash of practicality and a sprinkling of opportunism into the mix and a lovely lifestyle is yours for the taking. The Months Ahead: You’re saving up for something special but someone’s irresponsible behavior is holding you back. Be firm and say no to a loan request. Love is also on the cards for single bulls.

GEMINI May 22 - June 22

About You: At best, you’re quick, adaptable and hugely entertaining – but at worst you’re fickle, garrulous and irritable. One thing that you’ll never be accused of, however, is being boring. The Months Ahead: Say ‘yes’ to a friend’s offer of help. They can open useful doors for you this July. Remember, this is a summer set for adventure and exciting new beginnings. Use your mercurial intelligence and adaptability to make the best of an otherwise difficult situation.

CANCER June 22 - July 24

About You: You know a thing or two about food – but some tidbits are strictly off the menu, like your tendency to be moody, defensive and manipulative. Don’t get upset. They’re just shadows of your best traits, which include compassion, tenacity and hospitality. The Months Ahead: Unexpected sacrifices will have to be made in late summer. Luckily, you know how to grit your teeth and make the best out of a bad situation. Expect a family celebration in early August.


July 24 - August 24

About You: You’ve been known to make a scene or two. And while your performance may be applause-worthy, it’s best to leave the dramatics to the ‘pros’ and show the world what a sweetie you really are beneath all that pomp and ceremony. The Months Ahead: More often than not, your loyalty to friends and family knows no bounds. This summer however, you need to put yourself first and let loved ones fight their own battles. You’ll be more effective once rested. Single lions should expect a special relationship with a fellow fire sign. 034

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August 24 - September 24

About You: Virgos are never satisfied with anything and are their own worst critics. The result includes needless worry and a demanding sense of duty. A positive synthesis of these qualities, however, makes you efficient, caring and hard working. The Months Ahead: An easy-going relative is stressing you out with their lack of work ethic. Don’t panic, they’re not as lazy as they seem. You have better things to do with your time – like embarking on an interesting course or hobby.


September 24 - October 24

About You: The scales, the symbol of your sign, resonates so deeply with your peaceable personality, that you’ll do anything to avoid discord. This sometimes leads to false accusations of superficiality and cowardice. The Months Ahead: You may not like confrontation, but you certainly won’t hesitate to speak up against a perceived injustice against a close friend or colleague this August. Single Librans should be vigilant because love comes in an unusual guise this summer.

SCORPIO October 24 - November 23

About You: Okay, so the black beast gets a bad ‘rep’ - but there’s plenty that’s good about you too, including your magnetism, passion and drive. When the going gets tough, you’re usually the last one standing. The Months Ahead: Try not to pick fights with those who can harm you. You have plenty of better things to do with the time and energy it would take to undo the potential damage to your reputation.

SAGITTARIUS November 23 - December 23

About You: A rebel with a philosophical cause, you don’t easily give in to peer pressure. Awkward stares make you smile and conservative thinkers irritate the hell out of you. But that’s a good thing because a stifled and silenced Sagittarian is a sad sight. The Months Ahead: Don’t let a manipulative water sign influence you to do something you might regret later. Stay strong. Surprising developments will bring success by September.

CAPRICORN December 23 - January 21

About You: Goats may have bad facial hair and give serious attitude but they’re also ‘kinda’ cool in that they’re sassy, single minded and strong. Simply put – you climb mountains because

you can. The Months Ahead: Re-direct all that negative energy to a positive cause this July. Get involved in charity or work to complete an exciting new project that will earn you brownie points with the boss.

AQUARIUS January 21 - February 20

About You: You often go out of your way to break the rules – mainly because your need to be different can’t be underestimated. Fortunately, most people forgive your contrary nature because you’re so friendly. The Months Ahead: The sweet smell of change is in the air and you can’t wait to follow it, especially if it brings you wealth, health and happiness. Family matters, however, take a complicated turn early August.

PISCES February 20 - March 21

About You: Your motto: If at first you don’t succeed, pretend you never made a mistake in the first place. You hate facing reality and prefer to escape into an idealistic world where everything’s delicious

and dreamy. The Months Ahead: Sometimes your ostrich technique of sticking your head in the sand serves you well, especially when it comes to personal issues. A difficult relationship can become a positive one with patience. JUN 20 - 26 / ISSUE 275


My Hood










MoH No. 140/2013





New Laser Hair Removal Treatments Available For appointments and details, please call: 24760100 / 200 / 300, 92877190 Email:




Care & Compassion 036

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Photos: Jerzy Wierzbicki



My Hood






There are many layers of Oman’s history in the rocks and sand at Salut Castle, a 3,000-year-old site near Bisyah.

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Jerzy Wierzbicki visits this ancient defensive settlement near Bisyah


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The architecture of the castle is fairly typical for the Middle East, consisting of mud bricks and stone. On top of the hill are some impressive reconstructions of the old houses to give visitors a sense of how the place was in centuries past. I took an old path up some stone stairs to a large, circular tower-like edifice. The structure dates from the first millennium BC and was inhabited up until the 18th century. Walking around it, I felt myself to be retracing the steps of its ancient inhabitants. From the top of the hill you get a great panorama of the area, including the outskirts of Bisyah and the local palm plantations. Last but not least, although the specialists have excavated the site, there are still a lot of historical remains to be found, including Neolithic stone tools and shards. Please do not remove these artifacts. They are all part of Oman’s precious heritage and it is illegal to remove items or damage any part of the site.

travel guide


f you are looking to discover Oman’s rich history, the area around Bahla is as good a place as any to start. There are so many sites that I decided to ask the advice of a good friend who happens to be an archeological expert on the region. He suggested that I visit Salut Castle near Bisyah, in the Dahkhilya region. I arrived at the castle around midday. With a clear, blue sky and blazing sun, it was not the best of conditions for taking photographs. However, the weather in the mountains is changeable and, as luck would have it, some clouds appeared. I parked next to the ramparts of the old castle and took my camera with me into the ruins. Its location on a small hill definitely suggests a defensive purpose, and I was reminded of the many archeological excavations I have visited in ancient sites in Syria, Turkey and Iraq. According to the Oman Heritage website, Solomon, son of King David, visited Salut some 3,000 years ago.

Go to Bahla by road 21 from Muscat. Just before Bahla, turn left at Jabrin and go straight to Bisyah. Salut castle is just a few kilometers before this small town. A brown sign directs you straight to the archeological site. A 4x4 is not required. GPS Location: N22’44’50 E57’13’59. JUN 20 – 26 / ISSUE 275


MMyy HHoooodd




It has a huge underground following in Oman and now skateboarding is about to go mainstream with two Omanis chosen for a high-profile event in Malaysia. Kate Ginn reports


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ith the grace of a dancer, Hytham al Wahaibi leaps off some concrete steps and flips his skateboard in mid air before landing perfectly on the ground with the casual nonchalance of someone in complete control. The teenager, 15, is one of a growing number of skaters on the flourishing underground scene in Muscat, a community that is beginning to command some respect on the Middle East skateboarding map. This standing should be boosted further when Hytham and another Omani skater head to Kuala Lumpur at the end of the month to take part in the Asian Extreme Sports Championships, along with 22 fellow enthusiasts from the Middle East. “I get a real adrenalin rush from skating,” says Hytham. “I forget everything else and just focus on what I’m doing. It’s just me and the board.” Joining Hytham in Malaysia from June 2830 will be Firas Ahmed al Hinai, 17, who is currently in the UK. Without a proper skate park in Muscat or, indeed, anywhere in Oman, it becomes a matter of improvisation and making use of the streets. For Hytham, the streets of Ruwi, near where he lives, have become his playground. What may seem just a handrail or a ledge to us, presents endless opportunities to him and other skaters. Street skaters see themselves as very distinct from stunt skateboarding or the ‘old school’ style skaters who use purpose-built ramps and bowls. “The street is an open canvas,” says Warren Stopforth, a long-term skateboarder who set up the Oman Skate Facebook page to bring together all the skaters out there. “We don’t just see stairs, we see a host of chances to do tricks. To me, skateboarding is an art form, a way of self-expression.” Skateboarding has been a life-long love affair for Warren, 33, who began skating when he was eight years old growing up in Cape Town, South Africa. He may be all grown up now with a full-time job as

a green keeper at Muscat Hills Golf & Country Club, but he remains as passionate as ever about his hobby. “I lead a double life,” he says. “I’m a green keeper but at the end of the day, I love a sport that gets my heart beating. “When I’m not working or chatting to golfers, I grab my board and head off down the park or the streets.” Among other favourite ‘street’ destinations for these urban skaters is Qurum Natural Park, outside Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat, and the Corniche in Muttrah. “Street skating is the raw, almost dirty side of skateboarding,” says Warren, who has his own company, Technique Skateboards, supplying boards and wheels in Oman. “In Muscat, it’s really out of necessity as there isn’t a skateboard park to use. In somewhere like Dubai, they are really set up for skateboarders with several proper parks where they can go. “Our goal is to persuade the Ministry of Sports Affairs to build a skate park in Muscat.” An average professional board costs around RO70RO80. The appeal of skateboarding is that it crosses ages, generations and classes. The youngest skateboarder with the Oman Skate gang is just eight years old and the oldest is over 40. There are a couple of girl skaters, including a young Omani who is said to be a real talent. Skateboarding is said to have been ‘born’ in the late 1940s or early 1950s when surfers in California wanted something to do to keep the adrenalin flowing while waiting for the waves to return. The golden age of skateboarding was the 1970s and 1980s. It took a dip in the next decade but enjoyed a renaissance at the beginning of the new century. Now it’s as big as ever. It even has its own culture with skater talk and clothes. All tricks are built on the platform of a basic move called an ‘Ollie’, lifting the board off the floor. Master this and the rest will follow. Interested? Go to For tricks, check out P.S. Did you know there were 18.5 million skateboarders in the world, according to a study in 2002! Go to f/YTABLOID for photo gallery and videos

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Al Bustan


The Good, The Bad & The Beautiful

In this exquisite village, local women still wear the traditional colourful clothes. The fishermen moor their boats on the sand just next to their houses. There is a lot of green and open space, and it appears that the villagers take great care over the flowers and trees, with some cultivating pretty gardens. Many of the houses feature traditional decorative doors, with one house painted in bright colours, probably by children. It all gives off a positive, happy energy.

Living There Peace, quiet, great views, clean streets and some very attractive villas. It also feels very neighbourly, with most of the inhabitants coming from established fishing families. On the left site of the village is a big garden and stylish old villa hidden behind the rocks and the palm trees. It is a paradise for birds. There are a few new buildings under constructions but little sign of properties for rent. 042

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Photo by Jerzy Wierzbicki

The LowDown It may not be at the heart of things, but this is a prime location on a beautiful stretch of coast between Muttrah and the Al Bustan Palace. It offers cleanliness, quiet and great views. There are very few places in Muscat where the streets are so free from rubbish. The view from the beach includes the dark Swiss chocolatelike mountains and, of course, the Al Bustan Palace hotel next door. The village is right next to a couple of ministry buildings and is just across the street from the imposing Majlis parliament complex.

Next to the Al Bustan Palace on a stunning stretch of coast, this fishing community is peaceful and beautifully kept




My Hood

Why I live here: This area is very quiet. Most of the people who live here are local fishermen, from the Wahabi family, and a few foreigners. Ahmed Al Wahabi, fisherman

HangOuts This is a residential village with little to do other than head for the beach or tend your garden. On the beach, local youngsters have established a football pitch. There is a pretty park on Sidab Street just above the village, and just down the road are Marina Bandar Al Rowdha, the Capital Yacht Club and the fishing port of Sidab.

Places of Interest Undoubtedly the local architecture with fresh white walls and the blue-framed windows and gardens are reasons enough to come here. The beach spreads between two dark rocks and the views of the Bustan Palace and the rocky shore are another attraction. From the road above Bustan, you can enjoy an overview of the entire area with the shoreline and ministry buildings close to the main road. The new parliament building and the Al Bustan roundabout with its characteristic dhow boat installation are the other major landmarks.

Shopping The atmosphere can feed your soul, but definitely this is not a place for shopping, consumer debauchery or other commercial distractions. Local roads are very good and you are just minutes from shopping in Wadi al Kabir or Muttrah. There are no restaurants or shops, except a place for foodstuffs and a coffee shop in the middle of the village.

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My Hood





Penny Fray explores a selection of planet-savvy tech.

THE TECH IN YOU BAND AID MP3 players don’t get cooler than The Skinny. Powered by body heat, it sticks onto the skin like a plaster to play instant music. And because it’s hands free, it’s ideal for exercise. Available from iTunes.

WATER WONDER Despite living in the desert, we waste an awful lot of water every day. To find out exactly how much, just place this clever little pebble near the plug of your shower or bath. Once it’s measured and memorised your initial usage, it’ll gradually train you to use less H2O with flashing lights. For more information, go to

LIGHT BULB MOMENT Thomas Edison would be envious of this 10-watt alternative to the conventional LED bulb. Not only does it save you money, it’s won a prestigious award for its eco credentials. Philips won the L Prize because it could potentially save a country like the US more than $3.9b worth of electricity and 20m metric tons of carbon emissions every year. Buy it on Amazon from RO28. CUTE AS A BUTTON This simple but smart computer power saving device can reduce electricity usage and prevent CO2 carbon dioxide from being wasted when your computer is left idle. Get one from

EDITOR’S Pick ECO BLUE How stylish is this ecofriendly keyboard with Bluetooth capability? Answer: Very! Made almost entirely out of bamboo, it’s recyclable, renewable and rocks any office. For more information, go to


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JAN 16 – 22 / ISSUE 253


FIND OUT WHAT’S HIP & HAPPENING IN GADGETS FUN AT FIRST SITE With over 150,000 movies and shows instantly available, Roku 3 delivers the perfect title to match your mood. Start with the best Netflix experience out there, featuring up to 1080pixel HD video. Current TV shows? Try Hulu Plus. Hundreds of free movies from Crackle? Check. The latest Hollywood releases? Right there, on Amazon Instant Video and VUDU. In the mood for signature period dramas or mysteries filled with eclectic characters? Tune in to Masterpiece Theater on PBS. For more information go to

NEW! Kobo Aura HD The latest version of the e-book platform offers a completely immersive reading experience with its paper-like display and extra large, high-resolution screen. Scratch resistant and glare-free, it has a breakthrough front-light that’s perfect for reading in any lighting condition. When it came to crafting the perfect device for avid readers like yourself, Kobo designers took their inspiration from the same place as you - books. As such, it fits perfectly in your hand, and with a 1 GHz processor, page turns are seamless.


Remember the days when MySpace was much, much cooler than Facebook? In its continuing effort to make a colossal comeback, the social networking site has just launched an app that offers free, unlimited streaming of radio stations programmed by stars such as Justin Timberlake and Pharrell Williams. Plus, it allows users to connect with those of similar musical tastes as well as make short, stop-motion images to share. Available from Apple iTunes

Customising your reading experience is simple. TypeGenius allows you to select your preferred font from a choice of 10 styles and 24 sizes. Pack up to 3,000 eBooks in your carry on and enjoy up to two months of uninterrupted reading on a single charge, depending on your package. With 4 GB of built-in memory, the option to expand with up to a 32 GB Micro SD card, and a longlasting battery, Kobo Aura HD was designed for mobile reading.


These lips are made for talking and that’s just what they’ll do… okay, that’s enough of exploiting Nancy Sinatra’s song. But who could resist this H&M pout cover for their iPhone?

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My Hood




Peugeot 301 Engine: 1.6L petrol Horsepower: 115 Transmission: 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic Starting price: RO4,995

They say: “A family vehicle that is both safe and reliable” We say: “A cut above the sedan standard with good road handling and plenty of room inside.”

Check this out

Car of the week

For the family sedan driver, the new Peugeot 301 offers elegance, safety and lots of space, says Joe Gill

W •• • • •

Wheel base of 2.65m Overall length of 4.44m MP3 audio system with Bluetooth hands-free kit and USB connection Safety: ABS, emergency break assist, ISOFIX Boot space of 506 litres with remote opening


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hat marks out the new Peugeot 301 from others in the crowded sedan class? Elegant styling and length (the 301 is 4.44 metres long) help it rise above the anonymous functionality that you too often see in this segment. The sleek lines and chrome elements add a touch of refinement. Of course, that length is felt on the inside. Drivers and passengers get a sense of space and legroom in both the front and back. On the dashboard, the digital display is useful, incorporating the radio frequency, speed gauge and other features. Audio quality is excellent, with Bluetooth and USB connection. With temperatures rising daily – and melted tyres bursting in front of me on

the road every day – it is something of a comfort to know that the 301 was tested for extreme road conditions. The powerful air conditioning leaves you in no doubt that it will keep you cool even as everything outside melts. Another thing that a European family car needs more of in Oman – because of the kind of driving that is required here – is oomph. It needs to be able to speed up quickly, to overtake, and it needs good road handling because you never know what the person driving next to you will do next. The 301 comes with a 1.6 litre petrol engine, 115 horsepower and automatic or manual transmission. In the model we drove, there was a slight delay in the transition from the low gear as you accelerate to higher

speeds on the highway. There is a moment when you put your foot down in which the fuel ignites and the engine roars that I felt could have been smoother, with less apparent effort exerted. Once the 301 gets going though, it glides along comfortably and powers in the fast lane with ease. The road handling is solidly reassuring. Peugeot safety features include emergency break assist and up to two airbags. In fact, the brakes are impressive, responding instantly to the foot and bringing the speed down without any jerks or jolts. The boot is top of the range at 506 litres – you can throw almost anything in there and then climb in yourself. All in all, the new 301 has everything you need from a sedan, with enough extras to make it feel like a classy ride.

Y Magazine #275, 19 June 2013  

Your Guide to the best that Oman has to offer.