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Rise Of The Dom

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Your top guide to the best of Oman, every week

OCT 03 - 09 • ISSUE 289 • WEEKLY

TRAVEL WEARY TEACHERS PLEAD FOR HELP

PLUS!

Fashion

WILD THING

01

NOVEMBER 24 / ISSUE 258

Food

32

AL ANGHAM REVIEWED

Indoors

28

FLOATING LIBRARY

40


WIN

EDITOR’S

NOTE

FAMILY TICKETS FOR BARNEY’S SHOW

The hunt is still on for the funniest photo, starring you and Barney. For a chance to win up to eight tickets for you and your friends, just take a snap of yourself next to the cardboard cutout of Barney at one the following ticket-selling locations: SABCO Commercial Centre / Oasis by the Sea / Muscat Grand Mall / Muscat City Centre / Qurum City Centre / Safeer Mall in Sohar / Lulu Hypermarket in Seeb, Darsait and Ghubra. Send the results to prize@y-oman.com by October 17, 2013. Remember – there can only be three winners.

TRENDING ARAB FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS We’re digging cool cuffs from the newly opened Dar Al Aseel boutique in Muscat.

PINK

Wear it to be bang on trend and to show your support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

THIS WEEK… Team Y have been struggling with colds, visiting Salalah and worrying about Bluenose, a sweet street dog that hangs outside our office for daily hugs and biscuits.

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

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

Fast forward

W

orld Teachers Day takes place on October 5. It is an UNESCO initiative, devoted to appreciating, assessing and improving the world’s educators. The real point of the date, however, is to address issues relating to teaching. Strangely, one of society’s most central and vital professions does not always receive the respect and support it deserves. Here in Oman, thousands of teachers find themselves placed in positions hundreds of miles away from home, resulting in long commutes, exhaustion and family division. In this edition, we listen to their stories and find out why some of the Sultanate’s public schools were reportedly shut this week. Of course, it doesn’t matter where in the world you live, most teachers protest about pay, long hours and conditions. It almost comes with the territory. But do they have a tougher time than the average private sector worker? It’s an interesting debate. Elsewhere in this week’s Y, we investigate the latest string of phone scams that have struck the Sultanate as well as exploring everywhere from Wadi Hinna to Istanbul. Enjoy!

Penny Fray MANAGING EDITOR editor@y-oman.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

follow us on:

@ytabloid

PAGE EDITOR Joe Gill PHOTOGRAPHER Jerzy Wierzbicki ART DIRECTOR Matthew Herbst DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Feroz Khan

facebook.com/ytabloid

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 info@y-oman.com

www.y-oman.com

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

OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289

03


contents

Features

18 Commuter Crisis Teachers Trek to Work

OCTOBER 03 2013

22 Rise Of The Doms Muscat vs Dubai

Your Oman

10

06 The Big Interview Peter McNally 08 Your Oman Karima Farid 1 0 News Revenge Of The Phone Fraudsters

This Week

18

14 This Week Russell Peters 16 Movie Listings Rush 17 Gallery Bank Muscat

Business & Career 24 The Art Of Delegation Learn To Let Go

Food & Drink

26 Trend Pomegranates 27 Food Review Al Angham 30 Food Cronuts

26

Cars & Outdoors

14 Health & Beauty

32 Fashion Animal Instinct 34 Shopping A Good Oman 35 Beauty Beauty Buzz

37 Destination Wadi Hinna 40 Indoors The Floating Library 42 Postcards From Istanbul 44 Y-Fi Vroom Vroom 46 Car of the Week Dodge Charger

45

34 NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE...

RISE OF THE GURU SCARLET FEVER NIGHT WORKERS celebrating eid WALKING WITH DINOSAURS


YOUR

News

Gallery

INTERVIEW

OMAN

ON THE MONEY P eter Mc N a l ly , G eneral M anager for T ravele x O man

Words: Penny Fray / Image Jerzy Wierzbicki

Summarise your career in less than a minute: I joined Travelex as a sales consultant 16 years ago, worked hard and have never said ‘no’ to an opportunity or a new idea presented to me. As a result, I have been promoted through the ranks to location manager at both Prestwick Airport and Scotland’s busiest airport in Glasgow. I am now the general manager for Travelex Oman. What have been your major achievements to date? Being involved in the project to launch our very first venture in the Middle East, in Oman to be precise, ten years ago. I was responsible for recruiting and training Omani staff, some of whom are still with us today. Also, working in partnership with Ministry of Tourism to create the Travelex Oman Tourism Ambassadors Awards, now back for the second year running. What is your business philosophy? Never see a set back as a failure but rather, a learning curve. Try to have fun at work as you spend a lot of time there and remember that you are only as good as your frontline staff. They are, after all, the most important asset that a company has. What would you say, is your ultimate ambition – be it in business or personally? To lead this organisation to new horizons, exploring new business opportunities and ensuring that my team grows and develops with us. If you had the option of an alternative career, what would it be? A musician. I love all music, especially the acoustic guitar. How would you describe yourself in three words? Calm, approachable and resolute. Who are your business icons and why? Richard Branson. He always looks for the talent in his business and develops these individuals to release their true potential. How do you chill out? Relaxing with my family and friends. Exploring new things to do and places to go in this beautiful country. PETER’S BEST BUSINESS LESSON The best leaders grow their people as they as they grow their business SUPER QUALITY

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The Voice of Oman

Karima Farid is biting back when it comes to the safety of her child

correspondence THE CUSTOMER ISN’T ALWAYS RIGHT

M

y daughter is my life and protecting her is my priority. That’s why I was mortified when I found out that certain school buses don’t always cater for the safety of their students. Y has campaigned hard to raise awareness about the importance of belting up – and I’m one mummy who has ensured that her child is properly protected in a suitable car seat. As such, I want the same care and attention to be taken when she’s of school age. I’m sure you feel the same, so check your child’s school bus. Is it safe? No? Get involved. Even the smallest contribution will make a difference. The fight back is already underway with a Drive Safe Campaign undertaken by Holding Group and led by Iman al Barwani. This campaign actively teaches youngsters about the benefits of safe driving. It’s supported by MB Petroleum Services at the Al Imam Al Muhanna Bin Sultan School in Bawshar and at Dohat Al Adab Girls School by Petrogas E&P. The campaign is also to be extended to the Hail Al Awamer School for Girls in Al Hail in the next few months. Drive safe messages have been fixed on school buses in Arabic and English, and two drive safe message boards have been installed within the school premises. There are now 23 school buses carrying the ‘Drive Safe’ signs. Each year, hundreds of youngsters are killed or injured in car crashes. Proper care and attention would protect them. It’s time to take a stand and get schools to keep your little ones safe.

Next week: rosie in the desert 08

OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289

BE KIND TO ALL CREATURES

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

I read last week’s customer service article with interest and completely agree with your view that the buck doesn’t just stop with the service provider but the customer too. Funnily enough, I was reading Y in a coffee shop in MGM when a woman came in and started behaving in a really bad way. The barista was nothing short of saintly in the way he dealt with her. Now I know that most corporate chains adhere to ‘the customer is always right’ policy because they’ve decided it’s good business to placate vile people. But in the real world, outside the land of comfy chairs and frothy coffee, adults who throw tantrums are rarely right about anything and should be ignored until they learn to behave better.

How my children cried and pester powered for a Wadi pup when they saw a photo of George in your magazine last week. I believe he’s now found a home and that’s great news. I think we should all show a little kindness to God’s creatures, just like that lady in The Wave.

Regards, Mrs R Roberts, Muscat

Ingrid, Azaiba

DOME OF WONDER

Beach vandals

Dear Editor,

Dear Editor,

I love astronomy as do my kids and was very happy to discover that the PDO had such a fascinating planetarium. Thank you Y Magazine for always reporting on such interesting places and events for my family and I to go on the weekends.

How much longer do we have to wait before the irresponsible people who are ruining Oman’s beautiful beaches are held to account? I am sick of watching as thoughtless and selfish day trippers drive their cars up to the beach and proceed to dump all the rubbish that they can find onto the sand. Then without a care, they drive off, leaving someone else to deal with it. A disgrace!

Mrs A Hassan, Muscat

WRITE TO US AND WIN A VOUCHER

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for two Afternoon tea

unge at the hotel lo test offers at Check out our la uscat /GrandHyattM

SEND US YOUR letters, photos, news and views to info@y-oman.com / @ytabloid / /ytabloid. Impress us and the winning correspondent will receive a Grand Hyatt voucher. Guests may redeem gift vouchers from the hotel’s reception. For the rest of the terms and conditions see voucher. Contact person katrina.pulusan@hyatt.com.


YOUR FEEDBACK IS IMPORTANT TO US

LETTERS

Debate of the Week WE ASKED: ‘Is the

new minimum income of RO600 for expats wanting visas to bring their families to Oman sensible and fair?’ Prajwal Haritsa

I feel it is a very harsh rule. This is because many people who want to be with their families but also want to work cannot fulfil their wish now. So expats earning lower than RO600 are forced to work alone.

Vijayalakshmi Shetty

Absolutely not fair. Family should stay together but with this rule there is going to be unbearable separation for many. Someone whose salary is RO550 will not be able to bring his family here. So close but yet so far. It’s a punishment for the families.

Abdullah Al Busaidi

How are we going to encourage international expertise to work in Oman when we have such laws? There are many who served this country and helped rebuild it. This law shows how much we respect and appreciate those who left their countries and their families to work in a foreign land that is so different to their motherland.

Stylish Asad

There should be no salary limit set for uniting families. After all, most expats from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan are not compensated adequately. Such salary barriers

E-MAILS

FA C E B O O K

will see more heartbreak, mental torture and suicides. It is already disturbing to hear that the suicide rate amongst expats employed in the Middle East is quite high. When an expat is alone, the daily trials and tribulations struggling to exist in foreign environs imposes additional mental pressures, which many cannot tolerate. If an expat has his family with him, he can share his problems and even though there may not be a solution for them, at least he can unburden himself and feel a bit relieved. Besides, poor compensation, inadequate employment benefits and the absence of a social security net all add to the simmering cauldron of anxiety for an average expat worker. Worse, expensive telecommunications do not permit most to be in Next regular contact week’s with their loved debate: ones. When was

the last time you really laughed and why? Tell us your views on Facebook.

Shyam Karani

While respecting the new rules and the unrevealed rationale behind

TWITTER

it, it needs to be said that it is not fair for the thousands of families who will be adversely affected by it. Living in a foreign land is quite stressful in the first place and those families staying apart are more prone to emotional turmoil. Hopefully, there may be a rethink on the issue when the effects begin to be noticed on other fronts.

Sunil D’Cruz

The new rule will deter new workers from coming to Oman, since many will probably prefer to stay in their own country. This will lead to many properties remaining vacant as there will be less takers. Expatriates spend most on their income here, on food, shopping, children’s education, payment of utility bills and the like which benefits the economy. Ideally the cap should be RO450.

Sarfaraz Akhtar Khan

I feel it has both pros and cons. But even if authorities are very strict in applying it, private companies are unlikely to follow it. The sufferers will be the expats as most of them have low salaries.

OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289 YWeekly FXD 21x15.5 E.indd 1

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8/20/13 5:13 PM


Gallery

Interview

Revenge of the

phone fraudsters The phone scammers are at it again, with a rise in reports from Nawras customers of bogus callers claiming to be working for the telecoms company offering prize money to lure customers into handing over financial details. Shaillaja, a Nawras customer, received two phone calls on her mobile from two separate numbers. The callers advised her to check her SIM card to see if she had a winning number – 89968031. She did and was told that she won a RO20,000 prize. The callers asked for her bank details but she refused to hand them over. Another man called with the same story the next day. In fact, all Nawras SIM numbers start with this identical number. One potential victim of the fraudsters said he had received messages from scammers using the Pakistan country code +92. Fraudsters use the information to ask for bank account details, clone mobile phone SIMs and steal people’s ID numbers. Y called two of the numbers given to us by people who had received such scam calls but no one picked up. Later, when Y called again, both numbers appeared to be out of order. One Y reader told us that he and his friends had received calls from various mobile numbers from people claiming to be calling for a mobile service provider. “They tell us that we have won a large amount of money in a lottery

OCTOBER

PERFORMANCES

spike in calls claiming to offer prizes Words: Kate Ginn and Joe Gill

draw and we need to call back to the number from which we received the call. “Myself and many of my friends have had many such calls.” Nawras has previously warned about these sorts of scams and the Telecoms Regulatory Authority has also advised the public to be wary of the problem. Nawras spokeswoman Julie Amann said: “Regrettably, we are aware of a recent increase in the number of scam calls. “We take such matters very seriously and we appreciate customers reporting their experiences to us. We are doing what we can to reduce such messages and calls and we continue to work on new ways to help with the situation.” Scammers appear to be using a recent promotion in which customers’ credit was doubled when they topped up with a recharge card to trick Nawras customers into handing over details. “All offers are shown on the website so customers can always check there or get in touch with us to check credibility,” Amann said. “If you receive a scam call or message, please ignore it, do not respond and do not provide any personal or financial details over the phone. “Please be aware that Nawras will never ask for money in order to award prizes. You can always clarify whether the call or message is genuine by contacting us. Please inform Nawras of the call or message details so that we can look into the matter for you.”

2 OctOber 2013 7.30 pm

8 OctOber 2013 7.30 pm

mArIZA

OmANI WOmeN’S DAY ceLebrAtION

tHe QUeeN OF FADO

PRESENTING

NEWS

The Portuguese art of melancholic Fado, sung by the passionate and unforgettable voice of Mariza t

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Our annual musical tribute to Omani women, featuring local and international folklore, music and a special guest appearance

9 & 10 OctOber 2013 7.30 pm

22, 24 & 26 OctOber 2013 7.00 pm

KADIm AL SAHIr

LA trAVIAtA

An evening with the Caesar of Arabic song 31 OctOber 2013 7.30 pm

Verdi’s classic opera, a tragic tale of love, social convention and self-sacrifice presented by the Italian Macerata Opera Festival

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Better Homes 20.5x27.5 E.indd 1

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Gallery

Interview

NEWS

Dubai comes to Muscat

Largest leisure and shopping complex planned

You’ve never really got the hang of the DIY thing and, without a handy Ikea store for all your self-build household items, kitting out the pad has been a bit of a challenge. Now that is all set to change with the news that the home furnishing store is coming to Oman as part of the capital’s largest shopping and leisure complex, which will be located just a hop away from the new airport. The ink has dried on an agreement between the Sultanate’s state tourism company Omran and the Dubaibased Al Futtaim group to bring a Dubai-style ‘super regional’ mall just minutes from the new airport

and the proposed new international exhibition centre. The mixed retail development will have something for everyone – Ikea for home makers, Marks & Spencer for family clothes and upmarket foodies, and every kid’s ultimate wish list outlet, Toys R Us. There will be also be an entertainment and food court complex at what will be the capital’s largest retail and leisure centre. Al Futtaim, which has been operating in Oman for 40 years, has recently opened IKEA Qatar and is in the first phase of building Doha Festival City.

The project will see many job opportunities for Omanis and expats during its construction phase and later on in marketing, sales, catering and entertainment, said HE Nasser bin Khamis al Jashmi, chairman of Omran. Al Futtain’s vice chairman Omar Al Futtaim said: “This superregional mall is designed to inject a new impetus in the local job market both in the short and in the longer

Oman supports UN deal on Syrian chemical weapons

GLOBAL STANDARDS. ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY.

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Endoscopic removal of stones, ureteric stones and bladder stones Laparoscopic surgery for kidney tumors and stones Transurethral (endoscopic) surgery for prostate (TURP) and bladder diseases (TURBT) Reconstructive urology (Open and Laparoscopic surgery) Female Urology (including stress incontinence) Treatments for male infertility and impotence Paediatric Urology (open and endoscopic surgery)

24

HOURS

BAHRAIN

OMAN

Care & Compassion 012

OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289

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terms and upon its completion it aspires to meet the increasingly discerning retail and entertainment needs of rapidly growing middle income Omanis while helping the country attract more international visitors.” The Omani National Investment Funds Company SAOC (NIFCO) was the third signatory to the memorandum of understanding for the new development.

Oman has hailed the new UN Security Council resolution to rid Syria of chemical weapons. The country also urged continued efforts to make the Middle East free of nuclear weapons. In a speech to the UN General Assembly in New York, Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, praised the negotiated solution to the Syrian chemical weapons crisis between Russia and western powers, which will see Syria hand over control of the weapons to an international team of experts before they are destroyed. Oman also supported the creation of a transitional authority in Syria to enable a peaceful resolution to the conflict, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives since protests began in March 2011. “It is necessary to convene a Geneva II conference for the negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition forces and we believe the goal of these negotiations [should be] to lead to a ceasefire and the formation of a transitional authority with necessary powers to enable it to overcome the enormous problems caused by the war,” the minister told the UN assembly. He also stressed that Oman continued to support the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, adding that recent progress toward a resolution of the dispute over Iran’s civil nuclear programme “does not come through coercive policies and practices, such as sanctions and other measures with limited frames that weaken their effectiveness.” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and US President Barack Obama spoke on the phone for 15 minutes during the Iranian leader’s visit to New York for the meeting of the United Nations general assembly. It was the first direct contact between the leaders of the two countries for 34 years. During his visit President Rouhani reiterated that Iran would not build a nuclear bomb. Bin Alawi also urged the international community and especially signatories to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) treaty, to persuade states in the region to join the treaty and subject their nuclear facilities to the supervision of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). He also pledged humanitarian assistance to the displaced Syrians and refugees from the conflict in neighbouring countries. A 20-strong team of specialists arrived in Syria on Tuesday to begin preparations for carrying out the UN resolution’s plan for the destruction of all of the war-torn country’s chemical weapons.


Gallery

Interview

NEWS

Workers find their

voice

VW Jetta_Y _25h x 15_wpost ramadan eng.ai

1

10/1/13

4:08 PM

Talent show finals at labour camps

If you hear the sound of sweet Hindi songs wafting up from a construction worker’s camp this week, don’t think you are imagining things. Across the worker camps of Oman, contestants will be ventilating their lungs for the grande finale of the Gulf Ke Sitare talent competition on Friday. Since the first Gulf Ke Sitare – sponsored by Western Union – took place in 2011, it has grown with workers from 44 camps taking part this year, almost double the number from last year. The contest is based on the popular Indian TV talent show Antakshari – the Great Challenge. A panel of judges and a voting audience will pick the winners at the inter-camp finals at the BEC Camp just outside of Muscat on Friday. “This activity provides men residing in the camps the chance to engage in a leisurely pursuit at the end of a hard day,” said Sobia Rahman, regional vicepresident for the Gulf, Pakistan and Afghanistan at Western Union. “We are practicing within our camps and are really looking forward to the finals,” said Sam Abraham, a worker at the Galfar Engineering and Contracting SAOG. “We would like to thank Western Union for organising the event. “We are enjoying every minute of it and it’s not only about who wins but also about enjoying music and socialising with others.”

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THE WHAT’S ON GUIDE October

The Voice

Cool Clay Oct 09 - 10

Legend has it that as a young boy, Kadim Al Sahir sold his bicycle in order to buy a guitar. After battling resistance from his family and his country’s cultural institutions, he established himself as a musical icon and is now considered an unofficial ambassador for his native Iraq. Rooted in both classical and pop traditions, his compositions include political works and pop numbers, while his romantic ballads – full of yearning and nostalgia – are what brought him world fame. He performs at Royal Opera House Muscat for two nights only.

Thanks to the popularity of their colour and collage workshops, GetKiko has extended the schedule after Eid and is also introducing ceramic pottery painting days. The workshops are for ladies only. Sessions are from 10am to 12 noon or 7-9pm. Fees for four sessions including all materials RO80. Call Valia on 95526438 or Kiko on 94023131 to book.

King of Comedy

THIS

WEEK

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

O C T O B E R

Hot Rocks

He’s wicked, he’s funny and he’s got a knack of making us laugh at our national stereotypes – yes, Canadian comedian Russell Peters is returning to Oman as part of his Notorious World Tour for a one-night gig at the Qurum Ampitheatre. Move fast or miss out on the comedy gig of the year. Whatever your language, he’ll find something outrageous to say about it. Tickets from RO25-RO55 from Mackenzies Café, Bose QCC, OUA MQ, MGM Atrium. Connextions Seeb City Centre.

Oct

08-12

If it’s stones you are looking for, set in fine jewellery from every corner of the planet, head to the Oman International Exhibition Centre in Seeb next week for the International Jewellery Exhibition.

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Oct

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Gallery

Movies

Whatever your age, now’s the chance to find your sea legs as the Beach Sailing Events are launched at the weekend in Sohar, before moving to Sur next month and Muscat in December. Qualified sailing instructors will be on hand to take enthusiasts out sailing on Bahia and Vision boats, with a range of watersports and a children’s area with a bouncy castle, face painting and beach games daily from 10am to 5.30pm. The events are sponsored by the Oman Shipping Company and Omantel.

October

Wave Power

Line of Beauty

October

The Centre Franco-Omanais (CFO) starts its new season of exhibitions with Saleh Al Shukairi’s stunning calligraphy inspired paintings is now open and will continue until Oct 31. Location: 207, Al Inshirah Street, MSQ. Phone 2460 5837.

Half the Sky Ahead of Omani Women’s Day on October 17, the Royal Opera House will see a unique programme of Omani and international performers coming together to celebrate the women of the nation. Armenia’s ‘Queen of the Qanon’, Hasmik Leyloyan, will share her mastery of this complex string instrument. Her ensemble will be followed by Egyptian marimba star Nesma Abdel Aziz. Dozens of performers will include the ladies of the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, the First Royal Group for Oriental Music and Folklore, and surprise guests

OCT

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THIS WEEK

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

Rush

Sir Billi

For those who are old enough – and those who love Formula 1 – the titanic clash between Niki Lauda and James Hunt makes the current crop of champs look bland by comparison. Perhaps never since has the sport produced such clear-cut rivalry between utterly contrasting characters. So it ought to make for a gripping and thrilling drama – and it does. While it could have been a slick and flash biopic about macho race drivers, there is a lot more to this retelling of the epic contest for 1976 Formula 1 championship. To start with, you have an excellent script by writer of The Queen, Peter Morgan, which switches from the intense adrenalin rush of the race track to the off-track antics of Hunt – never far from bedding his next groupie – and the far more cerebral and calculating Lauda. Chris Hemsworth is best known for playing Thor in The Avengers series, but the Australian actor acquits himself admirably with plenty of old-style English dash and the kind of animal magnetism that the real Hunt was famed for.

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Likewise Daniel Bruhl is thoroughly convincing as the dour and singleminded Austrian who dismisses Hunt as just a playboy. The terrible burns he received at the Nuremberg Grand Prix give the story its dramatic focus, as we watch his slow recovery and undiminished determination to get back on the track and win the race. Ron Howard is not a director you necessarily associate with absorbing and memorable dramas. Not since Apollo 13 has he wrought quite such a powerful blend of seat-grabbing action and intense performances from his lead actors. To achieve a kind of kinetic hyper-realism for the race scenes, some three dozen cameras were used by cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, many of them fixed on the cars and inside drivers’ helmets. The results are such that you feel like you are in the car moving at 200mph. Like watching an exciting F1 race but with a lot more intimacy, Rush is moving and brilliant from start to finish. Review by Joe Gill

A Man of Tai Chi Keanu Reeves directs and stars in this action drama about a pure hearted Tai Chi artist (Tiger Hu Chen) who is drawn into fighting for big money in an underground club owned by a Hong Kong businessman (Reeves, playing against type as the bad guy). This is a surprisingly philosophical effort that eschews bone-crunching thrills for a morality play in which Chen battles against the temptations of money and power to keep to the pure principles embedded in Tai Chi.

What happens to 007 actors when they retire? If their name is Sean Connery, they come back as Uncle Billi, defender of the Scottish highlands, in this oddball children’s computer animation. He’s a skateboarding vet who comes to the rescue of fugitive beaver Bessie Boo, under threat from the dastardly plans of a corrupt policeman and a villainous laird (that’s Scottish for ‘lord’). Sadly, the CGI looks like a cheap, early 90s version of Pixar and a few Bond injokes can’t really salvage it.

Kikoriki: Team Invincible A feature-length animation based on a popular Russian children’s cartoon series. The distinctly round and cute characters who dwell on an island happen to watch TV for the first time

and discover there is a wide world out there. They set off on an adventure to the big bad city where their new lives begin. It’s attractively animated, smart and funny, with American voiceovers.

Mobius A Russian secret agent (Jean Dujardin) is stationed in glitzy Monaco where he is keeping tabs on a suspicious Russian businessman played by Tim Roth. In turn he’s being watched by Alice (Cecile de France), a high flying investment banker who’s also been recruited to spy on Roth. So begins a complex and convoluted tale of espionage and love among the spies as Dujardin and Alice hit it off spectacularly between the sheets. Dujardin made his name in two spoof French spy films as OSS117 and 2011’s Oscar-laden The Artist. However, his switch to playing it straight in Mobius isn’t quite as engaging. The onscreen chemistry between Dujardin and de France works up to a point, but the story is burdened with baffling plot twists.

Pusher A rather pointless British remake of the debut 1996 movie of Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, about a disastrous week in the life of a London drug dealer. After losing a large amount of cocaine, Richard Coyle has two days to find the money demanded by psychotic drug kingpin Milo, played with outstanding menace by Zlatko Buric, who was cast in the same role in the original. The best thing here is the very 90s soundtrack by dance music icons Orbital.

Y’s Film Choice CLOSED CIRCUIT

Two highly watchable actors, Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall, take the leads as lawyers with a romantic past in this intriguing political thriller. Bana is a London barrister and Hall a special advocate who together defend a terror suspect in a high-profile bombing case. They keep their private history under wraps, as their defendant (Denis Moschitto) turns out to have been a double

agent for MI5, with an establishment agenda to cover up the failure to prevent the attack. The ethical conflicts at the heart of the film are dealt with intelligently, making for a meaty slice of conspiracy drama.


GALLERY Images: Jerzy Wierzbicki

High Finance bank muscat and oman air launch new joint credit card this week Minister for Financial Affairs HE Darwish al Balushi (centre)

HE Darwish al Balushi

L’ESPACE Furniture

REINVENTING THE OLD IN TODAY’S INTERIOR’S

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Contact: 24 50 48 65 or 96 28 24 72

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For a new teacher, finding a job should be a reason for celebration, but not when it means being posted to the other end of the country. Joe Gill reports 018

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If a teacher gets married or becomes pregnant, this causes a lot of problems, as she will be separated from her husband and newborn child

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t’s Saturday night as Fatma, a teacher, packs her things and tearfully kisses her two-year-old daughter goodbye before getting into the car where her husband Ahmed is waiting for her. He drives her from their Sohar home to the airport, where he says goodbye and sees her off on her flight to Salalah. She will be gone for two weeks, working in a remote mountain school 1000km from home. This has been her routine for the last three years. It has been a terrible wrench for her and her family. She has tried many times to get a transfer to a teaching role closer to home – but to no avail. Fatma is one of the thousands of teachers who face similar journeys each week as they leave their homes for jobs far from friends and family. In remote regions across Oman there are graduates who have had to take up jobs hundreds of kilometres from their community, because there are no

positions available for them closer to home. As a teaching graduate and young mother, a first job offer to teach in Salalah presented a tough choice for Fatma, who is now on maternity leave nursing her second daughter. “It was difficult to accept it,” says Ahmed. “It was her first job. She was a woman with a young child. After a few weeks we applied for her to transfer from Salalah to North Batinah or Sohar but it was rejected.” One of the most frustrating things for Fatma is that she has no idea how long she must wait before she can be transferred. There’s nothing in writing. Even while heavily pregnant with her second child, she still had to keep flying to Salalah. Ahmed says her condition had no impact on the situation, even while some of her colleagues were able to get jobs closer to their homes. “She was nine months pregnant. She couldn’t even fly there or go by road as the doctors forbade it. Now she has delivered us a daughter, al Hamdullilah.” Of 60,000 teachers in Oman about 10 percent are travelling long distances - some 5,000-6000 cases, explains Tawfiq al Lawati, the Shura Council member for Muttrah who, as a member of the council’s education and research committee, has been looking at ways to resolve the problems facing teachers. “There are certain areas of Oman like Batinah province and Muscat where graduates in teaching and nursing are concentrated,” he says. “The number of graduates is 1.5 times the number of positions in these areas. If she is a graduate in arts teaching in Muscat, she wants to be appointed to a school in Muscat. They do not like to move.” “It is very difficult for us,” says Ahmad. “They say the conditions for a transfer from Salalah to Sohar do not apply. Recently someone told us that she would have to stay there for four years.” This means one more year – a year when she will be separated from her new baby girl and her three-year-old daughter. “My work, my family and other commitments means I don’t think we would be able to transfer to Salalah,” says Ahmad, a health inspector. “What is the solution? We don’t know.” Asked whether he thinks she will go back when her paid maternity period is over, Ahmad says he doesn’t know. Almost 65 per cent of teaching positions in schools are for women, says al Lawati. “If a teacher gets married or becomes pregnant, this causes a lot of problems, as she will be separated from her husband and newborn child. “From the first to the fourth grades, they are all ladies teaching mixed classes.” From fifth to tenth grade, classes are separated by gender, with male teachers for boys and female for girls. “The Government has two options – to keep them waiting until a position becomes available, which could be up to four years, or to offer them a position in another governorate,” says al Lawati. “Most graduates opt for shifting to where the vacancies are – in Dhofar or Salalah, Sur, Ibri, the Al Wusta Governorate or Musandam.” These four governorates do not have sufficient teachers from the local area for their local school requirements, says al Lawati. It’s not just the separation of young women from their husbands, children and families, but also the risks of exhaustion and accidents on the roads that have led to complaints about the current system. Ruqayya, a physics teacher, and her husband Yaqoub know the toll of long-distance commuting. “Last year I had to drive more than 700 km a week just to drop and pick up my wife,” he says. With hope of a positive change, Ruqayya requested a transfer to Muscat, which was granted in September. “Unfortunately, we ended up with around 1200 km driving a week just between the house in Mabela and school in Qurayyat – three and a half hours a day,” says Yaqoub. “To add insult to injury, she is pregnant and not in a good healthy condition to bear such misery – let alone the traffic jam of Muscat every morning and every noon time. “The current school is the closest possible school with a vacancy. We presumably have no choice but to wait to seek another transfer or opt for resignation. We are truly worried about the health of our first baby.” OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289

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School Protest A strike by teachers closed some public schools on Tuesday as Y went to Press. It is the first schools strike since 2011. Teachers are demanding an increase in salary, the building of new schools with new facilities and upgrading of old schools; separation of male from female students, and a major improvement in security and safety on government school buses. speaking on Oman television on Tuesday evening, minister of education H.E. DR Madeeha bint Ahmed bin Nassir al Shibaniyah asked teachers to be patient. the minister said the issue of teachers’ salaries was being studied and would be resolved in January 2014. however teachers who met shura council member tawfiq al lawati said they were not satisfied with the minister’s statement. ‘many times they have been promised action and nothing is fulfilled, so they are not confident about these kinds of general statements,’ al lawati told y.

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Even when transfers do occur, as in the case of Ruqayya, the distances can still be punishing. “Some Governorates are geographically very large. So even if teachers are offered positions within the same region, the distances to travel within them are still too much,” al Lawati says. Y magazine asked the Ministry of Education what it planned to do about this long-running issue, but no one was available for comment. Foreign teachers are employed in some schools but the level of salaries and remoteness of areas do not make the positions very attractive to expat candidates. “They are still recruiting foreign teachers weeks after the school year has started,” says al Lawati. “By September 18, in the Al Wusta region, two thirds of teachers recruited from outside Oman had not joined yet,” he states. There is no doubt that in the south of Oman, in remote areas, the shortage of qualified teachers is acute. Only one in 20 teachers in Al Wusta are from the region, says al Lawati. The rest are from outside. Under the current Ministry of Education arrangements, no allowances are made in the pay and benefits for teachers who are posted far from home, according to the Shura council member. “The Ministry has to come up with some ideas to resolve the situation. “We [on the committee] have proposed some special allowance to encourage teacher graduates to go to remote areas, to give them a motivation to move their families. “If you are sending a young girl from Sohar to Duqm or Mahout, you cannot treat them equally to someone who is working next door to their home in terms of mileage and risks on the road. “They are travelling every week, and by the end of the week they want to go back to their families.” Y also spoke to Murtadha, whose daughter is a physics teacher. “Her first job was in Mahout – 400km away. She was there for a year. Then she was moved to Saham, 200 km away. She was lucky to be able to

swap her job with a friend from Muscat. “Now she is back in Muscat but the position is temporary. Any time her friend wants to go back to her old job, my daughter has to go back to Mahout.” Al Lawati says the government is looking to ease the problem through recruiting more teachers in remote areas. “The government is planning to increase the number of people studying teaching to raise the number of teachers in the future, but I don’t think they will be able to find a solution. Some of these will drop out, and some don’t like to work as teachers.” A new education law is promised in 2014. “We don’t know how soon this will come. Either through the new law or through incentives, something must be done to resolve this issue.” Meanwhile, Fatma and Ahmed are losing hope that she will be transferred to a job closer to home. “They say she needs to stay here for a while longer,” says Ahmed. “Some say she needs to stay for four years. We have so many questions but no answers.” Ruqayya, who travels three and a half hours a day, is close to exhausted when she does eventually reach the school and start work. “Every morning I arrive at the school, I feel very tired and so frustrated with zero interest in teaching. “What else would one expect from a teacher after such a long, tiring drive? One day I will surely resign from this job.” * Full names have been omitted on the request of the interviewees.

The government is planning to increase the number of people studying teaching to raise the number of teachers in the future, but I don’t think they will be able to find a solution


A Tale Of Two Cities

PENNY FRAY MEET THE DOMS, THE HIP AND HAPPENING PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE FLITTING BETWEEN DUBAI AND OMAN 022

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orget about Pardons (Paris to London) and Nylons (New York to Britain’s Big Smoke), the latest batch of country hopping hipsters are Doms. No, not mispronounced Mafia bosses but people who split their time between Dubai and Oman. These party-loving professionals, shopaholics and family types think nothing of jumping on a jet to enjoy the best of both worlds. And no wonder, while Dubai has become a pleasurama of highrise hotels and mammoth malls, Oman remains deeply traditional and low key, only lightly touched by tourism and the tackiness of its bigger, brasher neighbour. Indeed, retaining the essence of Arabia, Oman boasts stunning and unspoilt landscapes, rich marine life and a culture honed by desert sands, while Dubai dazzles and distracts with its man-made objects. Of course, fast-paced development on a massive scale is a Gulf-wide phenomenon, and Muscat is no exception, with its glut of new marinas, luxury hotels, golf courses, retail outlets and prospective new airport. It is this sense of growing ambition that brought Hassan Al Jawhari, director of sales and marketing of the Millennium Resort, from Dubai to Mussanah. “I also appreciated the Sultanate’s historic, cultural and environmental heritage as well as its sense of traditional hospitality and values,” he says. “The people here are incredibly friendly and welcoming.” But despite the relatively easy transition from one country to another, Hassan still has a house in Dubai and admits that he occasionally misses friends and the familiarity of his old stomping ground. “I like the entertainment and the vibrancy of the place but saying that, I also appreciate Oman’s calmer vibe. I guess it’s about getting the best of both worlds.” Mich Rimmer agrees. “I never take a plane from Dubai to Muscat, instead I travel by car in order to appreciate the different scenery and surroundings compared to the lively city skylines of Dubai,” explains the 16-year-old student. “Every time I reach Oman, I feel as if I’m going on holiday to a natural environment filled with beautiful mountain landscapes and unpolluted beaches.” Mich is currently studying in Dubai but her dad lives in Oman, so she does a lot of desert surfing – something she’s quite happy to do. “Oman can be a very calm and relaxing place to be. It’s the kind of place I can almost ‘escape’ to and let go of all my worries. “If you think back to 20 years ago, Dubai didn’t look that different to how the Sultanate looks now. It’s incredible to see all the goats and donkeys wandering on the Omani roads and by the houses.” Jane, however, is less diplomatic about her preference for Dubai. “I work in Oman but I miss Dubai like crazy, that’s why I return almost every weekend,” says the 31-year-old former teacher. “After all, it’s home to some of the most glitzy, see and be seen nightclubs in the world. “Shopping, rather than natural pursuits, represents an integral part of Dubai life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And let’s not forget about the restaurants. I’m a real foodie and love the fact that the place is overflowing with celebrity chefs, concept restaurants and every type of global treat you can dream up. Muscat can’t really compete with that, so I leave for the brighter lights of the bigger city whenever possible.” Dr Dina Gomaa, who works in the Muscat Dermatology & Cosmetic Clinic, also spends most of her weekends in Dubai but says that she’s now overcome the initial culture shock of coming to Oman. “When I was first offered a job here, someone told me ‘don’t worry, it’s exactly like Dubai.’ They’d obviously never been to Muscat because they’re two very different cities. In fact, when I first arrived in Seeb airport, I’ll admit to being more than a little shocked. Everything seemed so low key. After a while though, I began to appreciate the chilled out vibe, the beaches and the coffee shops. I now just go back to Dubai to see my family on the weekends. And while I’m not really into nightlife, I like going there. Everything feels easier and more convenient. For instance, I love diet Red Bull and while it’s always available in Dubai, it’s usually out of stock here.” The glut of luxury brands is another draw too but many of Dina’s friends have grown out of the city-hopping routine. “The bling of Dubai has worn off them,” she concludes. “Instead, they love the natural wonders of Oman more. And that’s the thing. It’s all about choice and we’re lucky to have that.”

MUSCAT VERSUS DUBAI The Highlights Dubai: Like most young starlets, Dubai is glitzy, glam and over the top. This is a place that doesn’t know how to say ‘no’ and as such is a city like no other place on earth. It boasts some of the world’s tallest buildings, a seven star hotel, an artificial island and a myriad of massive shopping malls. You’ll either love or loathe its ostentation. Muscat: The city has a character quite different from its neighbouring capitals. There are no skyscrapers and few dazzling malls dripping with designer candy. But what it lacks in man made distractions it more than makes up for in natural wonders – from golden sand dunes and magnificent mountains to beautiful beaches and wonderful wadis. Winner: Muscat. You can add buildings and bling anywhere in the world but God will always remain the better architect. Plus, the people are friendlier in Oman (but we may be biased here).

Nightlife Dubai: Whatever happens in Dubai, stays in Dubai, because this city knows how to party thanks to its hip hotels and dizzying array of cool clubs. Dance by the sea in beachside Jumeirah or enjoy the best panoramic views in bars like the Red Lounge or Skyview. But be warned – entertainment comes at a price. Muscat: While Oman isn’t famous for its buzzing nightlife and live music scene, it does have one big draw – The Royal Opera House, adding high culture to the capital’s list of offerings. The food scene here is pretty decent too. Aside from the usual hotel options, there are some interesting independent Arab eateries, including the newly opened and very plush Al Angham restaurant at the Opera Galleria. Winner: Draw. Dubai should be victorious with its glut of amusements but there is more to entertainment than famous DJs and dazzling dance floors.

Shopping Dubai: This city virtually invented shopping. They have malls the size of small cities complete with Disney-esque theme parks. With more than 1,200 stores and every designer name known to man, Dubai Mall is the place to go but you’ll probably need resuscitating when next month’s credit-card bill arrives. Muscat: You may find everything from expensive boutiques to handcraft stalls and everything in between in the shopping capital of Oman – but let’s be honest here – it’s nowhere near the same league as Dubai. Nevertheless, Muscat has some of the oldest and most authentic souqs in the GCC. Winner: Dubai. It’s a shopaholic’s paradise.

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BUSINESS & CAREER

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Minute Mentoring

The first rule of management is delegation. Don’t try to do everything yourself because you can’t.

TOP TIPS FOR DELEGATION PHOBICS Set Your Ego Aside: You’re not the only person in the world who can do it right. You can train someone else to do it right too – and you never know, they may even do it faster and better than you. Ask For Help: It’s not a weakness. In fact, trying to do everything alone is the real weakness. It’s time to stop being a martyr and start being a manager. Set Clear Standards: Stipulate the end results you want with a deadline but let your staff do it their own way, otherwise you’ll be tempted to micro manage. If you have trust issues, do what I do and bring the deadline forward and be ready to jump in if things go wrong. Say ‘Shukran’: It is important to say thank you to acknowledge the help received. People will offer assistance again if they feel appreciated.

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LEARN TO

Let Go

Penny Fray discovers how to master the difficult art of delegation

WHAT THE EXPERT SAYS: TAKE THE STRATEGIC APPROACH TO DELEGATION

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re family dinners, box set marathons and general life outside the office being pushed aside as your bulging workload creeps into evenings and weekends? If the answer is ‘yes’ and it’s followed by the excuse that doing something yourself is easier than delegating – you have a problem. I know because I have it too. I’m convinced that the world will suddenly stop turning if I take time off. But guess what? It won’t. Learning to let go and empowering others with responsibility is an important skill and yet it remains one of the most underused among managers. In fact, a recent study on time management found that almost half of the companies surveyed were concerned about their employees’ ability to delegate. “We can find it hard to hand over the reins at work and I think there are two main reasons for that,” says careers coach Beth Reacher. “As ambitious professionals, we tend to pile pressure on ourselves and we may think of delegating as a sign of weakness and being unable to cope. It’s also about not wanting to relinquish control.” In my case it’s about needing to lead from the front and not over stress my staff. Warning signs that you have delegation issues, according to the expert, include working round the clock, feeling frightened of taking time off and allowing unstretched staff to keep regular hours. If this sounds familiar maybe it’s time to see sharing the workload as a sign of strength – not softness. “If we’re juggling all the balls on our own, something is going to give and if we’re stressed to breaking point while our colleagues have nothing to do, clearly something needs to change,” says Cucuil Stedmann, an Executive Coach based in Muscat. Accepting that you can’t do everything yourself is the first and critical step to delegating. The second is learning to trust your team. “Handing work over to others shows that you recognise your colleagues’ talents,” adds Cucuil. Avoid the mistake of ‘passing the monkey’ by ensuring that your people have the right skills and are motivated to get the job done properly. “There are great benefits in delegating some form of work to everyone on your team,” adds the expert. “If you push projects as far down the hierarchy as possible, you will free up time and help your staff members grow.” Just give a clear outline of what you expect, when the deadline is and make sure you give feedback afterwards. “While you don’t want to tell people how to do the job, you must be in a position to evaluate their performance and development,” says Cucuil. From personal experience, I know delegation is a difficult process. But you have to learn from your mistakes and be willing to keep tweaking your approach until you get the balance right. Move away from the ‘I’m going to do everything because it’s quicker’ mindset to the ‘I’m going to let people learn’ approach. It may take a while, but the payoff is more personal time and a better-motivated team.

The art to a successful delegation process requires five simple steps: ➀ Plan before you delegate ② Decide whom to assign what ③ Communicate in writing and verbally confirm receipt, setting deadlines and resolving priority conflicts ④ Manage and evaluate ⑤ Reward Remember - results that are recognised get repeated. Cucuil Stedmann, Executive Coach, Muscat

BUSINESS BUY If your desk is anything like mine, it’ll be crammed full of gadgets, leaving you little space to do any actual work. Plus, if your laptop has only two measly USB ports, how are you supposed to keep it all juiced up? Grab one of these aluminium clad USB hubs and connect 7 devices in one for maximum efficiency. Available from satechi.net

C oNen n e c t e d

twork fro with Y’s newm your desk weekly profile .

Name: Rebecca Position: Sales Cox mOre Cafe, Mum & Marketing Manager for Character: Advtaz Mahal and Woodlands tolerant. My motto enturous, assertive, versatile and eagles or peck with is: Do you want to soar with the favourite question. the chickens? It’s my dad’s Would Like T professional caterino Meet: People who need Failing that, Colin g or are interested in the food and dr Contact me o Farrell, Robbie Williams and Len ink industry. n: 94147730 or n email: rebecca@aky Kravitz will do. gc.net

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POMEGRANATE POWER

This home grown fruit has enjoyed a rebirth in the past couple of years. Its ruby like seeds have been touted as an elixir while the edible gems can be used to decorate dozens of dishes. Divine.


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OMAN’S SUPER FRUIT

It’s featured in the Quran and some of Shakespeare’s greatest plays - but the pomegranate is more than just a pretty fruit, as Penny Fray discovers green mountains, farms grow these seeded apples before selling their wares by the roadside to passing tourists. Near the peak, I bought four pomegranates for less than a rial and they tasted incredible – unfortunately, they’re also horribly messy and many a white top has been ruined eating the blood-like pellets. If you want to avoid a Hitchcock-like scene, here’s one local farmer’s solution: fill a large bowl with water. Make a couple of cuts through the leathery skin with a sharp paring knife, not cutting too deeply so you don’t break too many seeds. Hold the pomegranate under water and pull it apart. Run your fingers around and through the sections to separate the seeds, which will sink. As you pull them away from the sections of pith inside the pomegranate, the white fibre will float to the top. Scoop off as much of it as you can and discard it, then pour the contents of the bowl through a sieve to catch the seeds. The best part of this technique is that you can then freeze the seeds in a bag to use later for salads, or puree them in a blender to make juice and smoothies. The options are endless – and delicious.

Image: Kate Ginn

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hen domestic goddess Nigella Lawson revealed her love of the pomegranate, its sales shot up by more than 100 per cent. Since then, chefs from all over the globe have put this Middle Eastern fruit back on fashion’s runway. Not only are the ruby-like seeds pleasing to the eye and mouth, they’re also good for the heart. Why? Well, according to research, the pomegranate is naturally high in polyphenol antioxidants, which help your body’s cells resist damage from free radicals – otherwise known as destructive molecules. In fact, just drinking a glass of pomegranate juice daily can help lower cholesterol, preventing certain cancers and counteract the effects of ageing. That’s why it’s found in so many lotions, potions and perfumes. A culinary friend of mine once poetically described the pomegranate as the Fabergé egg of fruits because once opened, it bursts forth with hundreds of edible and gloriously perfumed gems. Inspired by the description, I went up Jebel Akhdar in search for Muscat’s homegrown variety. Here, in the lush,

POMEGRANATE SORBET Ingredients:



• 5-6 pomegranates • 150g caster sugar • 3 tbsp lemon juice

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Method

❖ Cut the pomegranates in half and reserve a few of the seeds for decoration. Squeeze as you would a lemon or an orange, to produce about 500ml of juice. Sieve to remove any pips or pith. ❖ Stir the sugar and lemon juice (1tbsp of grenadine being optional) into the pomegranate juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the mixture into a plastic freezer container, preferably square or rectangular, with a flat base – a 1-litre capacity clean and dry ice-cream container is ideal. Then cover and place in the coldest part of the freezer. After about one to one and a half hours, the mixture should have frozen around the edges. Use an electric beater or balloon whisk to beat the sorbet until it becomes a uniform slush. Quickly return to the freezer. ❖ Repeat this process twice, leaving the mixture to partially freeze between each beating. After the final stage, the sorbet will need at least 45 minutes of further freezing before serving. To serve, decorate with reserved pomegranate seeds.

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OMAN’S

FINEST The city’s bon viveurs are lining up for a table at Al Angham, and Penny Fray discovers why 028

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thanks to its elegant arches and authentic wooden panelling but it’s the attention to detail that will really blow you away. The napkin holders are made from old-style rings while some of the wall mosaics have been handmade in Iran. Point at almost any item in the room and you’ll be told its impressive provenance. Being the first to arrive that evening afforded us the luxury of a mini tour from the super friendly maître d’. The main private dining area oozed elegant extravagance thanks to its wonderful wooden paneling, gold coving and expensive crockery. You can smoke here but it’ll cost you as the room hire charge is in excess of a thousand rials – which isn’t too bad when you consider that you can sit more than 10 people, bringing down the price to around RO100 per person – an absolute bargain compared to most Michelin starred restaurants. The only thing that rivaled the traditional Omani décor was the customary Arab hospitality. The servers, all from the Sultanate, were exceptionally sweet and each delighted in telling us about their uniform and how it represented the traditional dress of their region. Attentive and informative, they felt more like upmarket hostesses than waitresses. They knew the menu inside and out and were determined to keep our expensive crystal glasses topped up at every opportunity. When it came to the menu, I wasn’t impressed. My personal bugbear is laminated food lists – and in a posh place like Al Angham, it seemed incongruous. Nevertheless, the content was imaginative yet authentically local. Despite the amazing a la cart options, I decided to play it safe and go for one of the set menus. Mr Big followed suit with the Al Majlis, starting off with the harees and lamb soup, while I settled for the tomato and dry lime dish. And oh my, it was delicious. Packed with a rich tomato flavour with subtle citric tones, this was certainly an impressive introduction to the feast that was to follow. The selection of Middle Eastern salads, featuring tabbouleh and fattoush, looked like something from a contemporary art gallery, while the contents of the breadbasket were sweet and seriously moreish. Next came the dish I was most excited to try – the Omani shuwa – an elaborately prepared piece of lamb that’s been wrapped in banana leaves and buried in a hot pit to cook slowly over a couple of days. The meat was so deliciously tender and succulent that little groans of satisfaction kept emerging from my mouth. And the more I complimented, the more food came my way, including a triple helping of the samak mtafai, otherwise known as king fillet cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce. VERDICT This was the highlight of the meal for both Mr Big and : I. The fish was fabulously fresh with clever spicing. The The p 10 heavy chunks of lamb were also good but a little too for erfect p c e hether it’s water, spicy for my palate. I think the only dish that I wasn’t that Omatraditionla al n hospiitfood and handbags, or gossip, fussed about was the garlic jareesh – creamy broken wheat ality most of the time it’s with milk and onions. The consistency seemed a little better to get things straight too much like porridge – but that’s a personal issue and from the source. So when Muscat’s rumour mill shouldn’t detract from the quality of the preparation. went into overdrive about a new restaurant that By dessert time, I felt a little full but Hamida, our server, was was supposedly decorated by the Sultan and cost so enthusiastic about the homemade ice cream that I couldn’t more than a thousand rials per table, I knew I had resist a scoop of the date flavour. It was creamy and yummy. to visit – even if it blew my designer bag budget. I had definitely made the right choice because Mr Big’s goat In fact, since its September opening, Al milk version wasn’t quite as nice. He enjoyed it though. Angham has attracted more myths than ancient Then, just as we were patting our bellies with satisfaction, a Greece. In less than two weeks, I’ve heard tall selection of the most stunning looking sweets came from the tales of rare royal visits, partying footballers, kitchen – compliments of the chef. I’m not quite sure what armed guards and waiting lists longer than René we did to deserve such special attention (restaurants do not Redzepi’s Noma, most of which are untrue. know that they’re being reviewed, so I can only put it down to Okay, so getting a table wasn’t easy but one call Mr Big’s influence). Anyway, the mini halwas and sweet mini from Mr Big got us in. And yes, when you arrive, pastries were sensational – but by that point I expected little there’s a rather impressive looking doorman with less than perfection. a clipboard and kanjar but it’s hardly Fort Knox. The evening ended with two nice surprises – the bill and You just give your name and you’re through to the pure rose water that was poured on our hands as we what is essentially a tastefully decorated space were leaving. Despite not knowing the price of the food we filled with traditional Omani artifacts and the were ordering, the set menu cost just RO35 each. A veritable finest crystal chandeliers. bargain considering the standard of the food you’re eating. There is a hint of the Kasbah about this place Will I come again? Try stopping me. Not all gossip is bad. AL ANGHAM RESTAURANT Opera Galleria, Muscat Tel: 22077777 Website: www.alanghamoman.com Dinner for two, including soft drinks, service charge and tax: RO100

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food and drink

THE FOODIE

FILES David Todd, General Manager of InterContinental Muscat What dish do you miss most from your childhood?

Cock-a-leekie soup, a Scottish dish made from leeks, chicken stock and thickened with barley. It marked the beginning of the weekend for me in that I’d come home from school on a Friday afternoon to its comforting aroma.

What’s your favourite item in the kitchen? My wife!

Does that mean you can’t cook?

Yes. I guess I’ve been spoiled in my career as a manager. Sheer laziness is also a factor – but I made pancakes with the family the other day, and I was really proud when my son made his own burgers from scratch. It’s progress.

What’s been your best ever meal?

There have been many but I’d have to pick the fruits de la mer in a seafood restaurant in Saint Malo, Brittany. The dish was really, really fresh with the added benefits of that holiday feeling and stunning location.

I’ve been to that very same restaurant – and it’s amazing. But what if you could eat any dish, by any chef and in any location in the world? It would have to be a simple fillet of sole made by Rick Stein and eaten whilst overlooking a Scottish loch.

Who would be your dream dinner party guests – dead or alive?

Mahatma Gandhi because he’s one of my historic heroes; Stephen Sackur from BBCs HardTalk for his intellectual probing; Mary Queen of Scots to find out what really happened to Rizzo in her apartments in Holyrood Palace; Audrey Hepburn for her elegance; Billy Connolly because he’s funny and last but not least, Annie Lennox because she’s fabulous, Scottish and I love her.

Are you a pudding person? If so, what’s your favourite?

Yes, and I love them all, especially rhubarb crumble.

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CRONUT CRAZE

Muscat finally takes on the hybrid cake, discovers Penny Fray

I

n what has been described as the most exciting thing since the invention of the cupcake, an Omani bakery has just launched its own version of the ‘cronut’. Caramel’s interpretation of the croissant-doughnut hybrid is set to come in several cardio-clogging flavours including vanilla, coffee, chocolate and strawberry. For the bargain price of 500b for the plain version and 800b for the ones with glazing and cream, Omani customers will finally be able to sample the baked delicacy that has taken New York by storm. When the Dominique Ansel bakery launched the original in the US last year, hybrid hysteria swept social media sites. Reports emerged of queue brawls as customers became restless waiting to sample the mouthwatering masterpiece, resulting in Dominique Ansel introducing a two-Cronutper-person limit on purchases. Now the super-delicious invention is being mimicked all over the globe, including Oman. 
”We visited the USA this summer and saw the success of the cronut,” explains Eloise Traboulsi from Caramel in al Azaiba. “It tasted amazing in that it’s quite sweet, so we thought it would please our customers here in Muscat. Also this is the new must-have cake in the pastry industry.” Eloise is now hoping for similar success with their take on the classic NYC cronut, having spent nearly a month developing her own layered technique to create a doughnut shaped pastry. “After a lot of practice and work we’ve succeeded in making very good cronuts,” she reveals. “The most complicated part has been frying the croissant dough, which is normally cooked in the oven. The cronuts are fried like the doughnuts. Moreover, they take more than two days to create, as the dough needs to rest for several hours and be prepared several times before frying. In other words, this is a long process, with each cronut being made manually and individually.” The bespoke nature of the cake means that customers can request special sizes and flavours. “Every month we will add a new flavour as per the comments and desires of our customers,” says Eloise. The next Caramel venture, Y can exclusively reveal will be the ‘Marvellous.’ “It’s a cake based on meringue with fresh cream, covered with chocolate chips,” adds Eloise. “It is very good.”


GALLERY

FAUCHON

French food boutique opens

Latest addition to Opera Galleria

The Official Opening Ceremony

HH Sayyid Kamil Al Said and Ishan Dhramsey

OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289

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HEALTH& BEAUTY

Health

Beauty

WILD THING

Designers explored their wild side this season with animal prints. The leopard look may prove the most versatile to wear but everyone from Versace to Michael Kors experimented with everything from yellow giraffe spots to faux snake skin.

Model wears outfit from Marks & Spencer

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fashion


ANIMAL INSTINCT

Animal print scarves can be found in most of Muscat’s souqs and malls – even so, you can’t really beat McQueen for iconic style status. RO165

From classic leopard to snakeskin, fashionistas are exploring their wild side this season, says Penny Fray

C

attiness, as a quality, is just not something I can get behind. But as a fashion statement, I’m all for it. That’s why I’m practically doing cartwheels at the news that the classic leopard print is back in vogue this fall. Okay, I know for many it’s hard to disassociate faux animal skin from its barmaid roots. Thankfully, this most feline of looks has been given a chic makeover with ladylike dresses and just flashes of spots on accessories. Seen everywhere from Christopher Kane and Burberry to Roland Mouret and DKNY, this trend is totally wild with elegant shifts, trench coats and subtle detailing like lining and inserts. Having reservations about looking more Bet Lynch than Marilyn Monroe? You’re not alone. After all, not everyone can carry off that va-va-voom D&G pencil skirt with vertigo inducing heels. Follow the yummy mummy route instead by adding big cat flats with ankle grazing jeans and a silk tee or an oversized McQueen scarf to your regular ensemble – just enough to show that you’re in the know. Model Kate Moss does it best. Granted, she can get away with anything, but somehow she throws an animal print at an outfit and makes it look like it was meant to be there. Finally, if you’re one of those fabulous fashion creatures who regard ‘low key’ as a dirty word, you might want to follow in the fierce footsteps of Giambattista Valli by pairing zebra print with a calfhair coat. Viva la eccentric.

A keyhole neckline and flattering pleated waistband elevate Burberry’s sleek silk dress to standout status. Maximize the edgy animal print with a studded clutch and ankle boots. Available from Net-A-Porter for RO360

This skirt from Zara looks great with simple accessories like a white t-shirt and heels. RO19.90

Lanvin’s clutch contrasts fierce leopard-print calf hair with sleek black leather. The snake-chain wristlet strap adds an edgy element to the ensemble. RO408

I love these snake stacking rings from Iosselliani. RO102

JUNGLE FEVER: Penny’s tips on wearing the wildest of prints:

These sandals from Matalan add a pop of animal print to any outfit. And you can’t really go wrong with the RO10 price tag

1 Embrace retro glamour with 1950s silhouettes and impeccable tailoring. 2 Regard the loud print as you would a neutral, adding it to leather and other fierce offerings. 3 If large blocks of leopard still aren’t your thing, don’t shy away from this timeless print. They make leopard print versions of almost anything you can imagine from iPad covers to nail stickers.

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HEALTH& BEAUTY

Health

A GOOD OMAN Eastern accents never fail to enchant the home, says Penny Fray Western interior designers and socialites have long embraced eastern styles and ornaments - but the trend is going to be even more prominent in stylish homes this season as hip owners get a taste for the exotic. Muscat is fast snapping at Marrakech’s heels as the go-to place for inspiration in that it offers opulence as well as bohemian allure. Think large metallic chargers, intoxicating incense and colourful, clashing textiles and crockery. Indeed, the days when the last word in chic was white and minimal have long gone. Now it’s about

Fashion

BEAUTY

piling layer-upon-layer of authentic, patterned and hopefully mismatched covers to either your bed or sofa. Thankfully, Oman has a fantastic array of embroidered linens and bright, sumptuous silks. So, mix Indian printed cushions with hand woven pieces for something quite spectacular. Another must have from the Muscat market is the traditional carpet. Whether its camel or goat hair, patterned or natural, weaving is still one of the Sultanate’s major handicrafts and a skill that’s passed from one generation to the next. The SABCO Centre has some amazing options but be sure to set a budget as a rug’s origin, material and intricacy of design, will all dictate its value. Touchable textures are seriously in trend at the moment in that they help you engage with your home. Suede, wood and hammered metal are huge this autumn, so search antique and art shops for artifacts that not only look good but feel great too, The must-have metallic finish is warm, polished copper – use it with large wall chargers to give your home a gorgeous rosy glow. Hand sketching and wall writing is making a comeback this year, as graphic artists collaborate with interior designers in creating original wall imprints. Imagine your favourite message or saying elegantly written in Arabic on your walls or ceiling. Finally, with Christmas just around the corner, I’m already shopping for gifts for friends back home in Europe. And traditional Arab pieces make for the coolest of presents. Head for the souq for home knick-knacks like tea glasses, bright Arab lanterns and perfume. Frankincense and musk originated from this region but you’ll find hundreds of similarly heady concoctions vying for your attention. As for candles, I love Amouage’s luxe collection but The Flower Shop has some pretty chic brands too.

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THE URGE TO SPLURGE Bored of saving? Penny Fray is too

Happy days. Spending money on something stunning but completely unnecessary is good for you, according to research. Yup, a couple of psychology ‘spods’ have recently discovered that people who splurge on themselves are happier in the long run than those who squirrel away their baisas for a proverbial rainy day. Of course, I didn’t need a Harvard professor to tell me that. I already knew. I mean, who hasn’t experienced the euphoria of buying something frivolous but feel good like a bunch of flowers or silk scarf just because they can? In fact, purchasing the most expensive version of every day basics like a bar of soap can feel fabulously indulgent. But let’s get one thing straight – this isn’t about closing your eyes and blowing a month’s grocery budget on a bit of Balenciaga. You know what happened to Madame Bovary, don’t you? This is about guilt-free shopping. Let me guide you through the art of joyful spending: ■ Ask yourself whether you deserve a treat. Reasons to answer ‘yes’ include clearing your credit card bill or having been frugal for months. ■ Spend your hard earned cash on something beautiful yet useful – that way you can justify the price tag. ■ Going for a designer purchase? Wait for the sale. You know your inner accountant loves a bargain. ■ Pay in cash. That way you’ll know whether you can afford it. Next time: It’s a man’s world Sponsored by


Health

BEAUTY BUZZ

Fashion

BEAUTY

Penny Fray finds out what’s hot in hair and make-up for October

L

et's be honest here. Some seasons, runway make-up looks more wacky than wearable. Thankfully, autumn was not one of them. Instead, crazy creations were put aside in favour of traditional techniques like flawless skin and perfectly kohled eyes – as seen at the recent Abeer al Yaseen show in Muscat’s Al Bustan Palace (right). Cat and Cleopatra flicks also work well. Alternatively, get inventive with liquid liners by using it as an eye shadow to fill the entire eyelid. Get it right and this strong, graphic eye will complement monochromatic fashion palettes and punk-inspired looks. Skin should be super smooth and sculpted. But unlike the early days of film when contouring was done with deep terracotta shades - today's artists use contrasting, reflective and matte products to highlight the outlines of the face.

PLUM

JOB

For an instant update, take inspiration from Pantone’s colour of the season: acai. This deep plum shade with a hint of cherry adorned mouths and nails on countless runways this season.

SEEING SPOTS

Some of the season’s hippest nail trends include tweed and animal print effects. Our favourite? polka dot claws – fashion boy wonder Henry Holland has just collaborated with Elegant Touch nails to create stick and go spots.

GROWN UP GRUNGE

Smelling a little less like teen spirit and more pretty than gritty, 1990s grunge is back. From dusky rose at Marni to russet red at Gucci, pink-hued eye shadows may seem a little scary, but it is incredibly beautiful once you've found the right shade. Try this wearable version of a pared down pink and purple by Tom Ford.

BED HEAD

With minimum effort, the maximum impact of tousled waves were seen on several runways, and can be achieved at home. Just tong sections of hair at random and resist the temptation to create the perfect curl. And voila – you’ll look like a Just Cavalli model.

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My Hood

CARS AND inDOORS

Cars

Wi-Fi

Indoors

TREE OF LIFE

It looks like a gigantic upside down carrot and isn’t native to Oman. So what is the Baobab tree doing here?

OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289

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CARS AND OUTDOORS INDOORS

My Hood

Cars

Wi-Fi

Indoors

Destination

Wadi Hinna

in dhofar the boabab tree, native to africa, has found a home in oman

Words & images: Jerzy Wierzbicki 038

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A hoard of visitors were jumping on a small tree, clicking away taking photos with a mobile phone as screams echoed throughout the area. It was too much. I was afraid a similar sight would greet me in Wadi Hinna. Things looked hopeful, however, as I parked my car on the end of a muddy track. All I could hear was silence broken only by the melodic sound of a small stream of water trickling from on high. Perfect! With my dog Trop on a long leash, I grabbed one camera with an ultra-wide angle, short telephoto lens and a small bag. We moved quickly, I was eager to see the Baobabs. My first glimpse was as incredible as I’d hoped. While the Baobabs from Wadi Hinna are much smaller then those in Madagascar, they still dominated the area, dwarfing all neighbouring trees. Their trunks, scarred with age, are massive, measuring 18 metres thick (60 feet). Their coat of green, on skeleton limbs, stretches up to 25 metres into the air (82 feet). They looked exotic and out of place. Known as ‘The Tree of Life’, the baobab is an icon of the African Savannah, seen as a symbol of survival and positivity in a landscape where little can thrive. Capable of living for several thousand years, it is at the heart of many traditional remedies and folklore. The Arabian legend of the Baobab is that ‘the devil plucked up the Baobab, thrust its branches into the earth and left its roots in the air’. Its thick, corky, trunk is fire-resistant and capable of storing water during the rainy season to sustain it during the long hot months ahead. There are several baobabs in Wadi Hinna, all located in the same valley and divided into two groups by the muddy track. I took around 100 shots but there is not a lens wide enough to show the enormous size of these trees. Trop looked like a tiny dark spot, an ant, as he ran around between them. Afterwards, I set up camp and prepared something to eat with a big cup of strong coffee, and sat back to admire the view. In the foreground, there was a rolling green swathe and in the distance, the ocean with the white foam of waves. You can even see the outskirts of Mirbat, shimmering on the horizon, with a long lens. It was as unforgettable as the mighty Baobab tree. And not another person in sight.

travel guide

W

ith their massive trunks and root like branches reaching up into the air, it is little wonder that the Baobab is known as Africa’s giant upside down tree. This curious phenomenon is quite a sight to behold. And I couldn’t quite believe that I was seeing it in Oman, so far from its natural habitat. These distinctive looking trees are usually found in Africa – the nearest relatives of the ones in the Sultanate would be East Africa. My first sighting of a Baobab tree was many years before in a National Geographic magazine, featuring a valley in Madagascar. I will never forget the spectacular pictures of those oddball trees. So when I heard that Baobabs were here in Oman, I knew that I had to find them. Where else would these strange creations of nature be found but in Dhofar? Dhofar, Oman’s southernmost province, is also known for being a bit of a peculiarity in the Middle East. Sandwiched between the Indian Ocean and the Arabian desert, it benefits from the rains during the Khareef season, spreading a carpet of green across the brown, and the strong sun scorching the ground the rest of the year. This gives the Dhofar Mountains a distinct, almost microclimate of its own, creating a rich and diverse natural life. Sometimes you get to see things here that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the Sultanate. After two days of travelling – I slept in the Empty Quarter on my way to Dhofar – I reached Salalah, and after a quick lunch, freshen up and petrol refill, I headed to Taqah. Located just several kilometres from Salalah, it is a popular destination for visiting families so it was absolutely packed. Now I’m a bit of a lone wolf to be honest. I like to travel away from civilisation to discover a sense of inner peace. Nothing makes me angrier than masses of people tramping around gorgeous places, where the solitude, purity and silence are my very reasons for going. On the way to Wadi Darbat I saw the traffic queuing up, similar to the jam in Wadi al Kabir every afternoon. I turned back as quickly as I could. Just 10km before Mirbat, I headed to the mountains again. I pulled over my car just next to the road and witnessed one of the worst views I could imagine.

From Salalah, take the road to Mirbat. Approximately 10 kilometres before the town, you will see a turning on the left, the only turning. Take this and follow the road to Wadi Hinna. A muddy track will take you to the edge of the valley, from where you can explore on foot.

GPS location of the road to Wadi Hinna N17003’8” E54036’38”

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CARS AND OUTDOORS INDOORS

My Hood

Cars

Wi-Fi

Indoors

A Fair Wind Blows The floating book fair Logos Hope is bringing the joy of reading to Muscat for six days this week. Joe Gill reports

A

s you climb up the gangway on to the towering white vessel, you feel a sense of anticipation before you get a first glimpse of the ship’s precious, unusual cargo – books, thousands of them. Somewhere in the galleys of the ship you will find just the titles to give you – and your children – hours of escapism and enlightenment. If the world was flooded, and all the books lost, at least we know that the 5,000 volumes stored aboard Logos Hope will be dry and safe. It could be a phantom vessel from the pages of a novel, or perhaps from the imaginary worlds of Terry Pratchett or Jeanette Winterson. But the floating book fair is not fictional, it’s real and has arrived in Muscat this week. Book festivals have become essential high points in the international events calendar,

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bringing tens of thousands of avid literary types to the UK’s Hay Festival, Frankfurt and New York fairs. Oman has an annual international book fair, while the major literary events in the Middle East include Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, Beirut and Alexandria, Egypt. While some love a fashion show or a concert, the bookish amongst us are rarely happier than leafing through a collection of old paperbacks, any one of which could open up a whole new world of stories and characters. For lovers of the printed word, book fairs and literary festivals are opportunities to get up close and personal to the writers who have thrilled you on the page, hear readings by celebrity authors and pick up some sought-after tomes to add to your collection in the hope that at some point you

might actually read them. When she berthed at Port Sultan Qaboos on Tuesday, Logos Hope was bringing some of that excitement to Muscat. On its last visit to the Sultanate in 2011, over 26,000 people came on board the ship, the fourth vessel leased by the German charity Good Books For All since it started its mission to take the joy of reading to all corners of the globe in 1970. This year, the charity expects 30,000 or more visitors over six days from October 2. “In our 43 years of history there have been four ships, and we are expecting the 43 millionth visitor during our time in Muscat,” says project manager Madeleine Paulsson, who is one of a crew of 400, all volunteers. “In the first year I was working in the kitchens,” says Paulsson, “and for the last two years I have


been travelling ahead of the ship to prepare for its arrival at the next destination.” One hundred new crew members joined the vessel at Colombo, Sri Lanka, its last stop before Oman. Logos Hope began ploughing the seven seas for GBA Ships since 2004. Every penny spent raised from sales goes toward the running the ship and providing for the volunteer crew. Funding for the unique venture comes from the volunteers, their friends and family, as well as the book sales and individual donors and sponsors. Visitors can watch a short movie and interactive displays, and get refreshments at the on-board café. Thanks to donations and discounts on many of the books on Logos Hope, the prices are kept low, making the books affordable to all.

The collection includes many children’s titles, fiction, dictionaries and atlases. Different language groups are catered for, with books in Malayalam, Arabic and Tagalog as well as English. “At the weekend, we will have something a little more special where the public can see other decks of the ship, and we will put up some information on what life and culture on the ship is like,” says Paulsson. “We also have an international café so people can interact with each other. One thing I’ve noticed about Muscat is that there are so many different nationalities working and living together.” After Oman, the ship continues its way around the world with a tour of Gulf states Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

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CARS AND

INDOORS

BLUE MOSQUE

This magnificent meeting place of East and West has more amazing attractions than it has minarets (and that's a lot).

Top 5 Places To Visit: 1. Maiden's Tower 2. Hagia Sophia 3. Topkapi Palace 4. Basilica Cistern 5. Galata Tower

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Cars

Wi-Fi

I n d o o r s postcards from

Denise Friesl,

a language teacher and translator based in Muscat, recommends:

ISTANBUL

‘Marhaba’ from my home city of Istanbul. Founded by Constantine the Great and once called Constantinople, it is the only city in the world bestriding two continents. A place where Asia meets Europe, Istanbul has a strong cultural identity, making it one of the most challenging yet interesting cities to live in. With its 3,000-year history, the city has been an inspiration for authors from Agatha Christie to Ernest Hemingway. Indeed, Istanbul's strategic location has attracted many a plundering army over the centuries. The Greeks, Persians, Romans and Venetians all took turns ruling before the Ottomans stormed into town and decided to stay - physical reminders of which are found littered across the city. Despite having been the capital of three great empires, it is not the capital of modern day Turkey - that’s Ankara. Still, it remains a cultural powerhouse. Home to more than 13 million people, it serves as a bridge between the Islamic world and the West. As Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “If the earth was a single state, Istanbul would be its capital."

Topka

pi Palac e

My Favourite Place:

Whenever I want to escape the crowds, I find myself in Basilica Cistern. Once a water filtration system for the Byzantine Palace, it is my perfect place in Sultanahmet Square. At the back of the cistern, an upside down Medusa head welcomes you. Why it is upside down has always been an issue of intrigue but Istanbulites believe that it wards off evil spirits. Afterwards, as you’re already in the heart of the city, I recommend walking around this historic district. On the eastern side is the Blue Mosque, with its extraordinary six minarets, while to the north is the astonishing Hagia Sophia. This was the greatest church in the Christian world for almost a millennium until its conversion into a mosque in 1453. It is now Istanbul’s most visited museum. On a snowy winter’s day, it looks stunning. However, the perfect time to enjoy Istanbul is spring when the city is at its most picturesque during the annual Tulip Festival. If you happen to be here in the summer time, just like many locals, take a night time cruise on the Bosphorous – it’s the best way to feel yourself on the cusp of two continents.

Highlights: There is no denying that Turks love their food and for good reason. Although the first thing that comes to mind is the infamous kebab, there is more to Istanbul than that. Turkish cuisine takes in the best of both continents, giving you a diverse menu of flavours. The streets are packed with eateries and the locals are generous in that they love to stuff you with delicious mezes. In fact, there is often competition between the restaurants to lure you inside. However, I prefer the small lokantas, which are often sensational. Try a ’balik-ekmek’, a traditional fish sandwich and a cup of Turkish coffee. This is special. It is neither the way it is grinded nor the way it is served that makes it unique, but the fortunetelling ritual performed just by looking at the cup. This custom is as old as the coffee itself.

Basilica Cistern

Lowlights:

As with most European cities, watch your pockets and avoid wearing colours associated with the three biggest football clubs, especially on match days. Consider Istanbul’s busy traffic when making any plans – it will always take much longer than it looks on the map, plus you will be cut off and honked at constantly. The transit system can also be difficult to figure out. You often have to transfer and pay another fare. Wherever you go in the city – even in less touristy areas – it is teaming with people. Although I find the crowds overwhelming, I still love the buzz.

Souvenirs:

No visit to Istanbul is complete without wandering through the Grand Bazaar’s chaotic labyrinths. It is the oldest covered market in the world, housing over 4,000 shops. If you know how to bargain like a Turk, you can make excellent deals for authentic items like carpets and ‘kilims’. ‘Lokum’ – Turkish delight – is top of my list though.

Where to stay:

Although the top sights are in the Old City district, most visitors stay in Taxim–Pera – the entertainment hub of the city with its majestic 19th century architecture. Bosphorous Palace on the Asian side is your chance to stay at a ’yali’ or seafront house that’s faithful to the Ottoman style. However, if you want the best of both worlds, consider Les Ottomans, one of the more opulent hotels situated along the waterfront. It maintains that old-time maritime feel.

Maide

n's Tow er

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-FI THE TECH IN YOU

Postcards from

Cars

Indoors

WI-FI

VROOM VROOM

The right accessories can add a little of your personality to crosstown traffic jams and long desert drives. Matt Herbst finds the gizmos that rev up your engine. EASY RIDER

Okay, it looks like something out of The Wacky Races but there is something undeniably awesome about this Hamaka Trailer Hitch Stand and Chair Combo. Attach it to the tow hitch on your truck or 4x4, and kick back in this hybrid chair-hammock and watch the world go by. The frame is made of powder-coated steel, and the hammocks of braided cotton rope. Just don’t be silly and try using this while bouncing along the beach. www.wayfair.com RO104

SOME LIKE IT HOT

There is nothing quite like a hot mug of your favourite beverage close at hand. Some prefer the luxury of sitting at their favourite cafe with their drink of choice while reading a good book, but failing that, how about a thermos mug that plugs into your car’s lighter - or your laptop – and keeps your drink good and hot for as long as you want. Available at Al Ain Gift Market Seeb - RO5

ALL IN ONE

It can be a pain having to check the tyres before a long trip and it’s easy to forget when you’re in a hurry. But not when you have a 6-in-1 Tire Pressure Gauge Multi-Tool. It’s like having a mechanic on board. Additional features include a pressure gauge (5-100 PSI, 0.5-7 BAR), tread-depth gauge, colourcoded LED flashlight (100,000 hours), push button control, bottle opener and flat screwdriver. www.thinkgeek.com RO3

EDITOR’S PICK DOn’t miss a thing

THE Front and Rear Recording Dash Cam captures both points of view When you’re on the road. This handy device plugs into your cigarette lighter and mounts on the windshield or dashboard to record all the sights and sounds from the road with time and date stamps. Two separate lenses rotate 180° to record anywhere you like — even side views. Includes 4GB micro memory card with full-size adapter for approximately two hours of recording time. from www.sharperimage.com for RO78 044

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FIND OUT WHAT’S HIP & HAPPENING IN GADGETS

UNDER PRESSURE

The Instant Flat Tyre Sealer And Inflator is an essential travelling companion – it patches and inflates a flat tyre in just ten minutes without requiring you to lift the car or even remove the tyre. Its built-in compressor pumps air and sealant through the flat tyre’s air valve to simultaneously patch and inflate. Simply plug it into your car’s DC outlet. All the components are housed in a lunch box-sized container. It’s also good to know that patched tyres can be driven up to 125 miles. www.hammacher.com RO23

NEW! Google Nexus 7 It claims to be the world’s sharpest 7” tablet screen that fits in the palm of your hand. Thinner, lighter and faster with a mix of power and portability, the range is as follows: 16GB – RO88. 32GB – RO103 and the 32GBLTE RO134. Available from www.google.com Screeen 7.02” 1920x1200 HD display (323 ppi), 1080p HD IPS, Scratch resistant glass Audio - Stereo speakers and surround sound, powered by Fraunhofer Processing - CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro, 1.5GHz, GPU: Adreno 320, 400MHz

APP OF THE WEEK

We’ve all seen it or done it - trying to answer an important text message while driving. But even doing this while in a slow traffic jam can cause accidents. Y has found the safe answer - Vlingo! This App does several things to minimise driver distraction. You can dictate text messages with accuracy, call a contact from your phone book, integrate with Facebook and Twitter accounts, perform web searches and find businesses and locations, all with two hands on the wheel and eyes where they should be. And it is FREE from iTunes.

Wireless – Dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4G/5G) 802.11, NFC (Android Beam) and Bluetooth 4.0 Ports and connectors - microUSB, SlimPort enabled, 3.5mm audio, microphone, power and volume buttons Sensors - GPS, Gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, ambient light

THE GIRLY GADGET

Cool iPhone cases are all the rage, but the costly novelty soon wears off. Luckily, the iFoolish doodle case for iPhone is as good as a change. It’s styled like an Etch A Sketch case and comes with a stylus, while also providing excellent protection for your iPhone. Go ahead, doodle away! www.gadgets.co.uk RO9.5 OCT AUG0315- –0921 / / ISSUE ISSUE289 282

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CARS AND INDOORS

Postcards from

Wi-Fi

Indoors

C ars

Dodge Charger Rallye 2013

Engine: 3.6L V6 Horsepower: 305 Transmission: Five-speed AutoStick transmission 0-100kph: 7 seconds Price: 3.6L from RO10,790 and 5.7L from R011,990

Car of the Week Power, luxury and head-turning style as standard. Cast your covetous eyes at the Dodge Charger that Kate Ginn got to drive

I

t’s my first time in the driving seat of a Dodge Charger and I’m reminded of a song by the B52s, ‘The Love Shack’, which includes the line ‘I’ve got me a car it’s as big as a whale.’ (I’m actually listening to it on YouTube while writing this). Anyway, that’s exactly what crossed my mind as the grey Dodge Charger Rallye and I slip into the traffic stream. This car is big. The bonnet seems to stretch endlessly in front of me, taking up the whole lane, and feels as wide as, well, a whale. In fact, it’s 6ft 3in in width (more than 1.9 metres), making it significantly broader than similar shaped cars. This car has an aggressive personality to boot. Even its unmistakable front black mesh grill has something of the growl about it. Funnily enough though, according to the local dealer, Dhofar Automotive, women are big buyers of the model (one of my Omani female colleagues is a huge fan and owner) and it’s easy to see why. When you’re driving something this big and solid, there’s a sense of being infinitely more safe and

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OCT 03 - 09 / ISSUE 289

protected than in any old saloon car. Having such power at your fingertips, or rather foot pedal, is also something of a thrill. This muscular machine may have the slightest of hesitation before it responds but when it really gets going, it’s an exhilarating ride. I like a car to be challenging, requiring a certain level of commitment from the driver, and the Charger demands your full attention. Speaking of attention, I was getting quite a bit of it on the roads during my weekend test drive. This car wants to be noticed. The design and bold looks all whisper a promise of something special. The steering can be a touch on the heavy side but the handling and performance is faultless. While the Charger is renowned for its vibrant exterior styling, the interior is no slouch either, with everything your eye can see looking good, from the beautifully stitched black leather seats (optional) to the cockpit-like dashboard gauges. I especially loved the futuristic way the steering wheel and car seat were positioned when you started the

engine, pulling the wheel down and pushing the seat forward as if you were being strapped into a fighter plane ready for battle. We made light work of the omnipresent heavy traffic in Ruwi on the way to an evening function at The Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa, barely breaking sweat. The Charger Rallye munches miles in the way a big cat chomps through meat. I could almost imagine the Charger licking its lips in that front grill as we ate up the kilometres. Parking had the rear assist to help, although I did find the width a bit intimidating at times when squeezing into some of the rather less generous spaces at one shopping mall. Still, we got there in the end without a scratch on the shiny grey bodywork. When I returned from the shops, a little coterie of male admirers had gathered round the car. Did I imagine it or did my walk turn into something more of a strut as I approached to claim ownership? That’s the thing about the Dodge Charger. You can’t help but feel a better person when driving it.

They say: ‘Turn the wheel and heads will follow’ We say: ‘Live life to the full.’

Check this out

17” alloy wheels Keyless ignition/entry LED illuminated gauges Six-speaker sound system with CD player Touchscreen infotainment Leather-wrapped steering wheel with integrated speed and audio controls iPod/USB interface


Y Magazine #289, October 2, 2013  

Y Magazine - Your top guide to the best that Oman has to offer.

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