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DEC 19 - 25 • ISSUE 299 • WEEKLY
Getting Oman out of gridlock
NOVEMBER 24 / ISSUE 258
SCORCHING AUDI R8
TREND BAROMETER GOING UP
Health awareness The Omani government’s new campaign on diabetes is fully underway. Awareness and education about the disease is on the up. Check out the article in this week’s Y Magazine.
Welcome to the new look Y Magazine your indispensable guide to everything modern Oman has to offer.
Trend spotters The number of commercial enterprises offering analysis of digital data continues to grow. Tweets, digital advertising, likes, comments and photos, browsing history and more are all increasingly scrutinised by programs to help assess trends in order to develop sales and marketing strategies.
The temperature The winter months are ushering in a period of relatively cool temperatures allowing us all to venture outside more and head off on those excursions we put off during the summer months.
Yellow cars Not that popular in the first place but have you seen one at all recently?
While most of us have been shopping for gifts for friends and family, a couple of us have taken the opportunity to carry out a bit of a makeover on our homes; new beds, sofas and decoration have been the talk of the office.
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
ith our editor, Penny, taking a well-deserved break for a few weeks, Team Y is holding the fort. Normally, our editorial energies and journalistic juices are bolstered by a selection of sweets that would put Willy Wonka’s factory to shame. But, given that this week sees the start of the Government’s health campaign on diabetes, we’ve had to take a bit of a reality check over the amount of sugar we’ve been putting away. While some cases of diabetes are, of course, sadly unavoidable, it’s believed by health experts that the onset of the disease can be affected by two factors that are entirely within our control; the type of food we’re eating and the amount of exercise we take. The latter point has also been reinforced this week by our article on public transport, or current lack of, in Muscat and, as a consequence, we’ve also been forced to consider just how much time we spend sitting in our cars each day. Nevertheless, perhaps this is a something that we can reflect on after indulging in the season’s festive treats. On that point, and given that this is Y Magazine’s last edition before December 25, may we take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and healthy holiday.
EDITOR IN CHIEF Sayyida Iman bint Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER Eihab Abutaha MANAGING EDITOR Penny Fray SECTIONS EDITOR Kate Ginn
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CONTRIBUTOR Tom Robertson PHOTOGRAPHER Jerzy Wierzbicki ART DIRECTOR Matthew Herbst DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Feroz Khan
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DEC 19 - 25 / ISSUE 299
contents D E C ember 1 2 2 0 1 3
20 Getting Around Transport In Oman 24 Sugar For Life The Diabetic Epidemic 26 Oman in 43 Objects Al Alam Palace
06 The Big Interview Simon Duffield 08 Your Oman Rosie Malcolm 1 0 News Out For The Count 14 Gallery Women Expo
16 This Week Shop Till You Drop 18 Movie Listings The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Food & Drink
Cars & Outdoors
28 Trend Merry Feastmas 30 Food Review Mani’s
Health & Beauty
32 Fashion Winter Whites
37 Destination Wadi Shital 40 Outdoors Ready, Teddy, Go 42 Postcard From Goa 44 Y-Fi Cool Things 46 Car of the Week Audi R8 V8
34 All Y Wants For Christmas Ideal, Best and Worst Gifts
34 NEXT WEEK’S ISSUE...
Y Awards review of the year HAVING A BALL TOP DESTINATIONS BEST GADGETS
12/11/13 12:22 PM
player, Azaan al Rumhy said during the National Bank of Oman Golf Classic, four years ago there was not a single grass course in the country and now there are three, full 18-hole grass courses. With a fourth grass course coming next year, the future really is bright in terms of facilities. We’re seeing many more people interested in finding out more about golf – men, women and children. The grassroots development of the sport is really vital as it’s the next generation that will really cement the game in Oman. Oman has a lot of problems with rising levels of obesity and diabetes. Do you work with the Ministry of Sport to promote sport and healthy living? We work closely with the Oman Golf Committee, which is affiliated to the Ministry of Sports Affairs, on a number of golf development programmes for children and women. These programmes promote a healthy lifestyle of fun exercise through golf so they’re dual-purpose: firstly they introduce youngsters to the game and, secondly, also encourage them to enjoy outside activity and exercise – which we sadly don’t have much of in our hot climate! Almouj Golf has just been named 4th in a list of the Middle East’s Top Ten golf courses. How do you plan to make it to Number 1? For us, one of the goals has always been to be placed in the golf rankings, not just regionally, but globally. This ranking on the Golf Digest Middle Words: Kate Ginn East Top Ten is a great start; if you look at the other nine courses ranked alongside us, we are the youngest by quite a long way and yet Tell us about your career in 60 we’ve already hosted a Challenge Tour event seconds or less: in our first year of official operation. We are I started my career in the UK constantly developing our facilities – which and have worked in Spain, the really are five star in golf club terms – and the Caribbean, Central America, Ireland services we give to our members and visitors and Egypt as general manager, are those of a top golfing experience. I firmly as well as holding directorships believe that we have set the benchmark for golf of hospitality, sport and leisure at facilities in Oman and this most recent ranking various clubs. I have also been an result shows that we’re also doing that against owner, representative and project some really stiff competition in the region. manager of a new golf resort in If we can do that after just one year of the West Indies. I was fortunate operation, then imagine what we can do over enough to work at the world famous the next few years. With an increase in the Wentworth Club in the UK and I number of tourists, Oman really does have managed Ballybunion Golf Club in the potential to turn itself in to a prime golfing Ireland - ranked in the world’s destination alongside our UAE neighbours. top ten. Golf legend Greg Norman, who As General Manager, what does designed Almouj Golf, said it ‘was your job entail? one of the best golf courses I’ve ever In golf management there are designed.’ What’s so great about it? many different aspects to the role. This course is really unique. It has all the Here in Oman, being a new upclassic Greg Norman touches in its bunkering and-coming golfing nation, there and water hazards but it really is a course that are quite unique challenges. The is very comfortable in its surroundings. From introduction and growth of the game a design point of view, it echoes the Hajar to the Omanis is a major focus, as Mountains, which you can see when you play they are the future of the game and the course and the peaks of the rough almost represent the sustainability needed to mirror the skyline of the mountains. We also support the sport in Oman. Tourism have indigenous grasses and plants, which development is the other main area ensure that the maintenance of the course is I am working hard to develop at as sustainable, and as close to its natural state, Almouj Golf. My focus on customer as possible. The 3km of pristine coastline that experience, service and standards is we occupy also adds some real magic to the a daily task because I’m committed course. to delivering first class memorable Simon’s top 3 tips to From a player’s perspective, the challenges of the lifestyle experiences for all our guests and members. being a good golfer: Championship course really make for a tough but fun round. This is a course that improves through your What attracted you to working in Practice, practice and experience – as you become a better golfer, you are able to Oman? more practice! play the course better. There is also the floodlit Academy I knew of, and had heard good things about, Par 3 course, which is great for beginners, and a putting The Wave, Muscat. So when I started to green and driving range. research what else Oman had to offer I was pleasantly surprised. Oman is a very beautiful and distinctive country with an impeccable So what do you think is the best hole on the course and why? So many! This is a hard choice but for me it’s early on in the round when status throughout the Middle East. Not many countries have such you get to the second tee and look forward to the green. It’s a simply a peaceful atmosphere about them, something that is very pleasant stunning par 3 with every element needed to make it a great hole. All I can to live and work in. As all the international travel programmes are say is, you have to see it and then play it to know what I mean. saying, Oman is fast becoming the new ‘must visit destination in the Describe your personalities in three words? world’. Dedicated, driven and focused. Golf is a growing sport in Oman - the first professional How do you like to unwind? golf tournament to be held here, the National Bank of With my wife Allynne and two children, Brooke and Brandon: they are my Oman Golf Classic, was in October – how do you see the very reason to exist on this earth. future for the game in the Sultanate? The only way is up for golf in Oman. As Oman’s number one
IN THE CLUB
SIMON DUFFIELD, GENERAL MANAGER OF ALMOUJ GOLF, MUSCAT
DEC 19 - 25 / ISSUE 299
The Voice of Oman
In this time of festivity, don’t forget the true meaning of Christmas, says Rosie Malcolm
correspondence HAPPY HOLIDAYS Dear Editor, Jingle bells are resounding throughout Muscat and its stores are decked-out with decorative items, Christmas trees and festive treats. In restaurant and cafés, Santa Claus can be found entertaining children. You can even buy Santa clothing in supermarkets. Couples are busy purchasing household items to give their home a new look for the New Year. Kids wait hopefully for their favourite toys and gadgets from Santa. In all, a feeling of festivity is in
his will be our fourth Christmas in Muscat and it feels very different this year. Two years ago, Christmas trees didn’t exist in the shops and the only baubles were a few dusty ones on the shelf. The occasional hotel would do a half-hearted festive meal. We didn’t get carried away with all the presents and commercialism that we experience in Europe. Christmas for us was about being with family. So this year when November arrived, it was a surprise to see Christmas exploding in Muscat with seasonal images, lights, trees and decorations and music too. Although I hope that the true message of Christmas isn’t lost in all this sparkle, there is a good side: it can bring us together. Last week, as I left Carrefour, a lovely young girl wished me “a very Merry Christmas” in her broken English Arabic accent. I answered quite naturally “Afwan”. Our worlds met and in that moment we both laughed at the same time. I continued smiling for the rest of the day feeling so privileged to be part of this culture. Thank you Oman for recognising and accepting us for our difference. By showing us ‘your sparkle’ this year I truly feel accepted by you.
Next week: YUMMY MUMMY 08
DEC 19 - 25 / ISSUE 299
the air. Signalled by the blooming of marigold flowers everywhere, the season has changed and the arrival of winter gives us respite from the scorching heat of summer. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all the readers of Y magazine and the people of Muscat a very Merry Christmas. God bless us all. Yours sincerely, Dr Ritu Bali, Al Khuwair
Debate of the Week We asked:
‘Since the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a hero and peacemaker. Who has inspired you in history and why?’ Raj Shenoy Mother Teresa has been a great inspiration to me and surely many others because of her selfless efforts to help the poorest of the poor. Farhana Akter Abraham Lincoln, for freeing slaves and abolishing slavery in America. He led his life with the utmost honesty and integrity, choosing to stand up for truth and using his expertise as a lawyer to serve the poor and stand up for injustice. MA Hashem Randy Pausch. He may not be a historical figure exactly, but we can all learn invaluable lessons from his very short life. At age 43, given just a few months to live by doctors after he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Randy embarked on a journey to do the things
WRITE TO US AND WIN A VOUCHER
he had always dreamed of, like authoring a book, experiencing free-fall skydiving and playing a few minutes in the NFL. Along the way, he motivated and inspired millions of people with his talks. He showed that the knowledge of one’s death shouldn’t be a limiting factor and come in the way of one’s dreams. We are all going to die someday, but we should always keep fighting and chase our dreams and desires. He defied the odds to live for three years and died in 2008 aged 47. Muntashir Razzak Martin Luther King Jr. He fought for the rights of black people in America and put them on the road to equality.
This Week’s Debate: What was the best thing you did in 2013, either for yourself or someone else? Tell us on Facebook and Twitter
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OMAN OUT FOR THE COUNT
If you happen to receive a visit from a stranger with a handheld gadget on your doorstep in the new year, don’t be alarmed. The chances are it’s one of the men carrying out a new population survey in the Sultanate, the first in three years. Some 6400 households in different regions across the country will be visited to collect data about families, representing 1.25 per cent of the total population. This information will update existing statistics on the age and number of men, women and children who live here. New demographic profiles for each area will then be drawn up and it is hoped that this will plug the gap in the shortage of data for women and children not covered by other surveys. Beginning in January, 37 representatives from the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI) will be out and about gathering the vital details in 380 different areas. If your household is chosen, you could receive a knock at the door during the 25-day survey. Staff will be armed with smart new tablet computers customised with special software and GPS technology. While the name of the study, the ‘Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), is a bit of a mouthful, it has a fairly simple aim: to give a clear picture of how Oman’s demographic is growing and changing. This in turn will allow decision-makers to make informed choices about transport, education and healthcare for the future. The last big population survey was the 2010 Population Census but a lot has changed since then. At that time, Oman’s population was 2.77 million. Now it’s inching towards the 4 million mark after hitting 3.8 million earlier this year, a rise 010
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ON THE RECORD:
● There are now 3.88 million people living in the Sultanate. ● The country grew by an astonishing six persons every ten minutes in 2012 ● Between 2003 and 2013, the expatriate population has risen by 11 per cent ● Expatriates now account for 44 per cent of the country’s residents – compared to 23 per cent in 2003 ● Just over half the population is men. ● Male expatriates outnumber their female counterparts 5:1 ● A huge 64 per cent of the total Omani populations is under the age of 30
of 6.4 per cent compared to last year. That’s an extra 227,708 people in the country. More people mean more cars on the road, more children in schools and a greater demand on hospitals, infrastructure and services that have to keep pace with this growth. Which is where the MICS will come in. “This updated information is indispensible due to the rapid growth taking place in Oman, in terms of new homes and buildings, and the increasing numbers of family members,” says Yaqoob bin Khamis al Zidjali, Director of the NCSI’s Social Statistics Department. The survey, he added, would help to “usher human development in the Sultanate into the new millennium.” STOP PRESS: The Ministry of Defence has signed a contract to buy equipment to manufacture ammunition it was announced this week. The Oman Ammunition Production Company is the first of its kind in the Sultanate.
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11/26/13 2:47 PM
OMAN SO NEAR, SO SPAR
Its name might not mean anything in Oman but the arrival of SPAR grocery chain in the country is a big deal in other parts of the world. In places like Europe and Africa, the familiar red and white logo with a green tree is like coming home. The world’s largest food store retailer, SPAR has a foothold in the grocer’s market in many countries. And until the might of the big UK supermarkets smashed their way into the premises of every former small shop and grocer between London to Edinburgh, SPAR stores were ubiquitous. Having somewhat retreated from British territory in the face of overwhelming force, it seems the once king of mini markets has regrouped. Choosing to take the fight further afield, SPAR has its sights set on the Middle East. And now it’s coming to Oman. Having tested the water with our near neighbours in Abu Dhabi, the Sultanate is next in line to experience the SPAR treatment. An agreement was signed this week with Khimji Ramdas to bring the store here in the near future. “We target to open nine SPAR supermarkets with 10,000m² sales area in Oman before the end of
A WEEK IN PICTURES
2016” declared Georges Mojica, General Manager of ADCOOPS, the Abu Dhabi cooperative which is working with SPAR to develop the chain across the Middle East. “The SPAR stores will provide high quality fresh foods combined with a wide selection of products, excellent service and good value. They will be a new benchmark for supermarket shopping in Oman.” Stores are also scheduled to open in Doha and Beirut in 2014. When Oman’s outlet opens, it will be part of a huge international SPAR family. The 80-year-old company – its name is a Dutch acronym meaning ‘with united co-operation all shall benefit’ – has 12,322 stores in 34 countries as diverse as Botswana, China, Malawi and Ukraine, across four continents. With the exception of Britain, SPAR has held strong in its other markets, such as continental Europe, with the imaginatively titled ‘EUROSPAR’ and it’s unique spar drive through, the even more creatively named ‘Spar Drive-thru’. Whether Oman takes to the SPAR brand, however, remains to be seen.
HEADLINING STORIES FROM OMAN AND BEYOND
UN launches biggest ever appeal for humanitarian aid to Syria
Omani youth day will be celebrated on 26 October each year after a Royal Blessing was passed this week
The Irish actor Peter O’Toole, famous for playing Lawrence Of Arabia, has died at 81
dine, party and win tickets to thailand!
Oman and British oil giant BP sign $16billion gas megaproject
Celebrate your Christmas & New Year’s Eve at Park Inn by Radisson Muscat and get a chance to win tickets to Thailand. *Terms and conditions apply
Book now: +968 2450 7888
DEC 19 - 25 / ISSUE 299
THE BIG BUS - READ ALL ABOUT IT Oman’s first mobile library is ready to hit the road. Maktabati, launched this week as part of the Dar Al Atta’a Let’s Read Campaign, will tour the country giving children greater access to books.
WE ARE SAILING
Young sailors from 19 schools battled it out on the water in the recent fourth annual Interschool Sailing Championship in Mussanah. Their dedication and skills in and out of the boat were beyond reproach as they fiercely contested the honours. There could, unfortunately, be only a few winners. Hassan bin Thabit School in Muttrah, Child Care Centre and Al Khalil bin Ahmed Al Farahidi were the winning schools. Kings of the waves were Musab al Saad, Mohammed al Belushi and Azd al Fazari. Amna Abdullah, 11, the only young female sailor and representing the Child Care Centre, was given a special award for her outstanding performance. Under the banner, ‘Your school is your pride’, the championship provided young students enrolled at Oman Sail’s three sailing schools the chance to showcase what they had learnt during the year.
PHONE THERAPY Sometimes you just need to talk to someone about your problems but time constraints can get in the way. Busy lives, work and families – the stresses of modern living - can make it difficult to find some ‘me’ space to sort through troubling issues. Now a well-being clinic has come up with the answer. Whispers of Serenity, based in Muscat, is now offering phone counselling to those who cannot always make it in person. People who are always on the move, those who can’t travel or live far away from Muscat can now take advantage of the new service. “You can speak to our psychologists from the convenience of your own homes and get the required consultation,” said the clinic. For more details, call 24 614 268/99359779 DEC 19 - 25 / ISSUE 299
Celebrating women’s empowerment at the 5th international exhibition in OIEC
Sayyid Aymen Al Busaidi and Sayyida Basma Al Said
HE Sheikh Khalid bin Omar al Marhoon
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Ministry of Agriculture and Omran launch a promising brand for rural women’s products
STAL GALLERY OPENING
New Centre for Visual Arts Showcasing Arab Talent
We make your beautiful smile, dazzle!
Sayyida Susan Al Said (left) and Ahmed al Serkal (right) cutting the ribbon at the openeing
Introducing Sherry Poole, our American Dental Hygienist.
Oman Oilâ€™s 10th anniversary at Al Bustan Palace
Special 10% Discount for General Cleaning until Jan 31, 2014.
Villa 1301, Shatti Al Qurum, Way 3017, Muscat, Oman Tel: +968 24 600 664 Fax: +968 24 600 993 GSM: +968 99 884 804
Faisal al Shanfari (left), Omar bin Ahmed Qatan (centre) and Nabeel al Ruwaidhi (right)
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THE WHAT’S ON GUIDE
HAVE YOUR CAKE Qurum City Centre is five years old. Help the much-loved shopping destination celebrate at the official Cake Cutting Ceremony. It’s a whole-day family affair with cartoon characters, fun balloon play and face painting. There will also be prizes and, of course, a piece of cake. * Five-year-old children born in December 2008 also have the chance of an extra treat by registering at Qurum City Centre’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/QurumCityCentre) with the first 50 registrants receiving a special goodie bag.
Dec 21 Get into the holiday spirit with the official lighting of the Christmas tree at Shangri-La’s Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa. It’s bound to be a magical moment for all the family marking the start of the festive celebrations getting well and truly underway. Starts 6pm.
PIPE UP Dec 19 It might not be too late to grab yourself a seat at a musical evening devoted to the pipe organ. An assembled list of performers from around the world, including Oman’s Rashid bin Salim al Rashdi, will showcase the instrument’s capabilities enhanced by the acoustics of the Royal Opera House Muscat. From 7.30pm. www.rohmuscat.org.om
SHOP TIL YOU DROP
What to do. What to see. What to hear.
If you still haven’t had enough shopping after the festive whirl, flex your card or cash at the Family Shopping Exhibition at the Oman International Exhibition Centre in Muscat. With lots of stalls, there will be plenty of products and goods on display to get your retail juices flowing. Tickets from www.omanexhibitions.com
D E C E M B E R DEC
20 - 21
FESTIVE GETAWAY Who fancies escaping the hustle and bustle of crowded malls at this time of year? We don’t blame you. You can’t get much further away from it all than up the 3,075 metre high Jebel Shams, the tallest mountain in the Sultanate. Join Guide Oman on a two-day trip, overnighting at the Sunrise Resort for games, a bonfire and festive treats. For more info, call Rebecca Mayston 98038820 or email Rmayston@theguideoman.com
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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
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Ben Stiller directs and stars in this comedy loosely based on James Thurber’s story of a man whose inner fantasy life is a lot richer than his real one. With a big budget and special effects lavished on the epic imaginings of Stiller’s Mitty, a photo negative manager at Life magazine, it’s a visually impressive but strangely hollow affair. Unlike the irreverent Danny Kaye adaptation from 1947, Stiller’s version can’t decide which way it wants to go. The film shows corporate sharks coming in to close down the venerable magazine but some very obvious product placements undercut any conviction about the film’s message on bad business. The same confusion applies to the major plot shift halfway through. When a negative from the magazine’s all-action photographer (a brilliantly cast Sean Penn) goes missing, Mitty embarks on a series of globetrotting escapades in pursuit of the ultimate
cover shot. These adventures are a chance for him to impress his office crush, played by Kristen Wiig, who thankfully enlivens the film whenever she appears. But they also undermine the very foundations of the story, as Mitty’s real life suddenly becomes as exciting as the fantasy life he had as an office nobody. Stiller is known best for starring in feel-good comedies and family popcorn movies (from Zoolander to Night in the Museum), and Mitty is directed in the same vein. Aside from a hilarious age reversal gag, the fantasy sequences, while spectacular, are too slick and gorgeous for their own good – and tend to blunt any comic effect. In the end, Stiller sticks with the rom-com formula and as long as you don’t expect something more interesting, it’s a decent enough two hours of diverting entertainment. Review by Joe Gill
A Stranger in Paradise A highflying trader (Colin Egglesfield) is sent on a vacation to Bangkok by his boss but while he’s away his hedge fund comes under investigation for money laundering. Meanwhile his holiday turns sour when his brother’s shady business ties with a ruthless Thai gangster puts his life in danger.
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The late Paul Walker of Fast and Furious fame plays a father who’s child is born prematurely following a difficult birth. He finds himself trapped in a New Orleans hospital when Hurricane Katrina strikes, leaving him alone in his endeavors to keep his fragile newborn alive in the face of lethal floods and looters. Walker is just fine in action movies but seems not to be so comfortable in a movie all by himself and in one that requires real emotional depth.
Blood of Redemption Dolph Lundgren stars in another action flick as an ageing but still ass-kicking icon of the 1980s. There has been a spate of releases bringing back the tough guys of previous decades and in this one you also get the ultimate cockney hardman Vinny Jones, as well as Billy Zane as the young mobster who Lundgren teams up with to stop Jones taking over the family business. Slow moving, clunky and not very thrilling..
Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas It’s the eighth outing for Tyler Perry’s Madea, the fast-talking and wisdom spouting old lady from Atlanta. Here, she’s heading to Alabama for Christmas and a whole heap of southern stereotypes, with gags on racial prejudice and bad taste in spades. Even by Perry’s standards, this is more akin to an unedited home video.
Y’s Choice Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The death of its subject makes the release of this biopic of Nelson Mandela especially timely. Idris Elba is not an impersonator of the real man but brings the required gravitas and charisma to the role. The film follows Mandela’s life from rural upbringing to his gradual radicalisation as a young lawyer and then his imprisonment on Robben Island. With so much to pack in, Justin Chadwick’s film has to skate over a lot, including 27 years in jail, to take us up to Mandela’s election as president in 1994. Occasionally it feels like broad-brush history but it’s an important story that many will now discover through this film.
Y’s Christmas Classics
Joe Gill picks his top five festive movies
The familiar voice of Louis Armstrong or Bing Crosby, a bearded bloke in a silly red suit or the reaffirmation of goodwill to your fellow man. These are some of the ingredients that make a Christmas movie. Essentially, it’s got to have a feel-good factor for all the family and leave you with a warm glow after the seasonal blowout. I may be biased, but for some reason they’re mostly from the 80s.
The Snowman (1982)
Based on Raymond Briggs’ book, this is probably the most magical of all children’s movies. The beautiful and wordless animation takes place on Christmas Eve when a snowman comes to life and takes a boy on a magical flight across the world. Poignant and touching, it will always be associated with the ‘Walking in the Air’ title song.
Trading Places (1983)
A couple of evil old bankers decide to settle a nature vs nurture wager by seeing what would happen if a pompous commodity trader and a poor black street hustler were to swap places. This heartwarming comedy is rightly compared to Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life and works brilliantly thanks to the outstanding performances of Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd, the latter proving to be an unforgettable drunk and suicidal street Santa.
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The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
The Muppet’s version of Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol sees Kermit the Frog take the role of Bob Cratchit in this hugely entertaining moral of Christmas generosity. Loyal to the original story, Michael Caine plays Ebeneezer Scrooge who receives a visit on Christmas Eve from three spirits who help to show him the error of his stingy ways. An humorous and thought-provoking version for the whole family.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Jack Skellington, the king of Halloweentown, accidentally discovers Christmas Town and wants to bring it back to his ghoulish home. Everything in Tim Burton’s stopaction animation looks strange and wonderful. The richness of the animation is breathtaking and the story and characters are delightful but be warned - it may scare the wits out of the little ones.
In an idyllic American small town, a father buys his son a super cute gremlin for Christmas from a shop in Chinatown. Except it isn’t so cute after all. What they don’t know is that feeding it after midnight or getting it wet turns it into a nasty – and rapidly multiplying - beastie. A witty modern fairytale that cleverly sends up a lot of Hollywood movie cliches. AND here’s one you may not have heard of:
* Dinner for One
Filmed as an 18 minute one-take sketch in 1963, this English comedy written by British author Lauri Wylie has entered the history books as the most frequently repeated TV programme ever – yet many people in the UK remain unaware of its existence. Starring Freddie Frinton and May Warden, the seemingly timeless comedy is shown to families amassed round the TV predominantly in Germany on December 24 while countries throughout continental Europe and even South Africa either screen the original or have their own national version.
11/17/13 5:25 PM
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As plans for a new public transport system in Muscat begin to emerge, Joe Gill looks forward to a new golden age of commuter travel, and asks, how long will we have to wait?
uscat, December 2023. You get in your car for a short hop to the Al Hail North metro station. It’s true, you could probably walk the 400 metres to where you catch the line down to Mina Al Fahal, but you’re running a bit late and it feels hot today. The station is busy but you easily catch the first train. It’s a 20-minute ride to work, then a short bus hop to your office. The buses are frequent and regular. On the metro you get a seat and check emails and read reports on your tablet, occasionally glancing out the window to the busy highway and the new mega Muscat airport glistening in the distance, or to your left at the sea. You’ve lived in Muscat long enough to remember the bad old days when the highway almost stopped moving and your ride to work in your car took an excruciating 90 minutes during rush hour, sometimes longer. When the government first announced its plans for a public transport system including light rail, bus and ferry services, you like many people, were sceptical. And it’s true – it took six years before the first line actually opened, from Muttrah to Muscat airport. For the long-suffering residents of Ruwi, the arrival of the metro was like a revelation, a rebirth. They had become fatalistic about ever seeing an end to the nightmarish congestion and impossibility of getting around town without wasting hours stuck in seemingly never ending queues of traffic.
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Now they can simply walk from their homes to the feasibility study into setting up a public transport system, metro station, climb on board and watch the world go by. based on the results of a recent Master Traffic Survey that It seems almost impossible to imagine the city without pointed to the clear need for solutions to help ease the the light rail system and the new red and green buses that growing congestion on the capital’s roads. you can hop on and off at your convenience with the The capital is not the only city in Oman casting eyes at Oryx card, topping it up as you need to. its infrastructure. This week in Duqm, which is expecting a A few years ago the city appeared to be in gridlock, population explosion of more than 50,000 people, a group and it was only decisive government action and massive of young minds from the Muscat Youth Summit (MYS) investment that finally meant Muscateers could leave their have been re-thinking the city’s transport system to meet cars at home and get to work in good time. this increased demand. It was the mayor of Colombian capital Bogota, Enrique Helping them is Peter Oborn, board member of the Penalosa, who said: “A developed country is not a place Royal Institute of British Architects, and Haitham al where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use Busafi, Omani architect and graphic designer. Their task is public transport.” simple: to create a public transport network that serves the And it’s true, there is a new kind of sociability with the everyday needs of residents, businesses and visitors. It also metro, as young and old, Omani and expat, all share pride needs to promote road safety and reduce urban congestion in this wonderful achievement of sustainable transport and pollution. that has made the city a much more liveable environment, While the challenge is part of the Youth Summit, there’s while also helping to curtail carbon emissions from cars. no reason why any of their ideas couldn’t be incorporated Now let’s come back to the present, December 2013. into a future transport template. There is no shiny new metro or buses whisking commuters “As part of our MYS challenge we’ll also be considering around the city. Roads remain choked with traffic. The ways to encourage people to use public transport – nudge future public transport system still feels like something them in the right direction, if you will,” comments Oborn. we can only imagine. But things are starting to move in Alya al Hosni, MYS project director, believes we need to the right direction. This week, the Ministry of Transport learn from other countries. signed a deal for a Spanish company to carry out a six“The car has become synonymous with the modern month study to assess the transport Omani way of life,” he says. problems in the Sultanate, possible “But despite the long history of solutions and how to implement auto-centric planning, recent trends them, starting early next year. It will suggest public transport in the US not be a moment too soon, as any is on the rise, particularly in commuter will testify. urban areas.” ● This month, across the Arabian Sea in Even the three-year-old According to a 2011 McKinsey Mumbai, the city of 20 million expects Expressway, which was built to report, 600 cities will generate about to celebrate the opening of the first line make life easier for the capital’s two-thirds of the world’s GDP by of the metro system. Congestion and population and reduce pressure on 2025 and this is a group Oman pollution in the city are notoriously bad, other highways, is already suffering aspires to be part of. “As Duqm and the old rail network is creaking and from overload at peak times. As the expands and attracts investment, extremely overcrowded, carrying seven economy and population grows, this talent and visitors, an efficient public million passengers per day. congestion will only intensify. transport network will be key to its In Ruwi, commuting is a daily success,” remarks Oborn. ● The metro project has run into delays grind for residents. There is no time Raithaa Nasser al Zidi, a and problems over the acquisition to lose and the authorities know it. student of the Higher College of of land from existing residents. The Recently, HE Dr Ahmed bin Technology who is talking part in scheduled inauguration of the first line Mohammed bin Salim al Futaisi, the MYS transport task, hopes to be of the metro system, a public private Minister of Transport and a part of that in some small way. partnership, is only the beginning. The Communications, admitted that the “We hope the transport ideas we full network will be constructed in three transport system in Oman did not put together will be heard and have phases over 15 years. live up to the aspirations desired by a positive impact on the future the Sultanate and the pressures on of Duqm.” the budget and road system were Dubai’s experience of designing increasing, making public transport a “must-be” solution. and building the Gulf region’s first urban railway holds To this end, from the beginning of 2014, the state-owned some important lessons for the construction of a similar National Transportation Company will be transformed system in Oman. Remarkably, it was only four and a into an integrated public transport company, the half years between awarding the metro contract in May minister said. 2005 to a consortium led by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy “We are discussing with some international operators Industries, and the opening of the first line in September the missions of the new [public transport] company… 2009. There were challenges along the way, not least the all plans are in the phase of detailed studies,” said His global financial crisis, but it still managed to open on time. Excellency. “We hope the vision will be clear during the Of course, all this comes at a price. The cost of the next year.” Dubai Metro grew from an initial budget of $4.2 billion to A lot of the responsibility for making sure the new $7.8 billion, and the completion of 36 stations on the first integrated public transport system goes from dream two lines was delayed by the financial crisis. to reality will fall on the shoulders of the Ministry of But any doubts about car-loving Emiratis and expats Transport’s new director of land transport, Engineer not wanting to set foot on a metro were dispelled quickly. Ahmed Suleiman al Yaarubi. The number of passengers grew steadily to approximately The task is “the development of a master plan charting 290,000 users per day in 2012. More than 125 million out a strategy for an integrated public transport system for passengers have used the Dubai Metro to date, according the capital area,” asserts Engineer al Yaarubi. to contractor Mistubishi Heavy Industries. Oman is contributing $5 billion out of the $15 billion This month should also mark the opening of a metro budget for the new GCC-linked rail network that will in one of the world’s most congested cities – Mumbai. connect the country’s industrial and export centres from It comes not a moment too soon for a city whose roads Sohar to Salalah with more than 1000km of dual track. and creaking rail network can no longer cope with a That project alone is expected to generate 70,000 jobs. population of 20 million trying to go about their daily lives However, the primary purpose of the new rail network (see box). is to increase economic integration with Oman’s There’s no doub that an integrated public transport neighbours. The passenger capacity will be limited and system is the answer to Muscat’s growing congestion services and stations will not be targeted at the commuter problems as it is in other major cities around the world. population of We know it; the government knows it. It’s time to bite The Muscat Municipality is also carrying out a the bullet.
LIFE LINE FOR MUMBAI
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Muscat ‘s airport reaches 40th anniversary – in the shadow of the new mega project that will one day replace it.
landmark moment will be reached on Monday (23) when Muscat International Airport turns 40. Celebrations will no doubt be held to mark the occasion and rightly so, but those who work in or for the airport will be only too aware that the spotlight will not be shining on it for too much longer. Its mantle as the country’s major airport will be passing over to the new multi-million rial terminal, which is springing up close by. The future of the old terminal building in Seeb remains uncertain with reports it may be kept as a low-cost carrier post or a domestic airport. One thing is for sure; whatever happens, the old airport will always be held in great affection by Oman.
t a cost of a predicted $1.8 billion, the new Muscat International Airport is the largest project to ever be undertaken in the history of Oman. A state-of-the-art Passenger Terminal Building, 28 gates and two runways will transform air travel in the Sultanate. Officially it’s due to be completed in 2014 but delays may mean this date is pushed back. When ready, it will be capable of handling 12 million passengers a year. Further expansions are planned in three stages, boosting capacity to up to 48 million, according to the Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC).
peaking at official inauguration of the new airport in Muscat on Sunday, December 23, 1973, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said said: “There is no doubt that our opening of Seeb International Airport this day is considered a major step in the history of modern Oman’s renaissance.” It was certainly a huge change from the very first airport in Oman, which was not much more than narrow dirt track landing strip. Bait Al-Falaj Airport in Ruwi dated back to 1929. In 1959, it became the principal airfield for the newly created Oman Air Force. It served as the country’s only civil airfield until the new Seeb one opened.
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An aerial view of Muscat International Airport, Seeb, in the 1970s. Credit: OAMC
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos opens Muscat International Airport on December 23, 1973. Credit: OAMC
Almost one in every eight adults in Oman has diabetes and the number is rising every week. But the Ministry of Health is fighting back to stem the tide, reports Kate Ginn
n the stroke of 8am, eight thousand pairs of feet begin walking in tandem. Each step was, in their minds, another blow against a disease that’s taken hold in Oman and the Gulf region. Diabetes is reaching ‘alarming’ levels in the Sultanate with over 13 per cent diagnosed with the disease. Health experts have warned that it will only get worse, reaching epidemic proportions unless measures are taken now. Some of the participants who joined the ‘Beat Diabetes’ Walkathon in Muscat earlier this week are suffering from the illness – usually classed as a lifelong chronic disease – and many have friends or family who have been diagnosed with it. Today, Thursday (19), the Ministry of Health, in partnership with the Oman Diabetes Association, is launching a two-day campaign to raise awareness of diabetes, offering free testing and advice on preventative measures. It’s not a moment too soon. Last month H E Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Obaid al Saeedi, the Minister of Health, warned that today 13.5 per cent of Oman’s population is diabetic. “That’s the official figure but I am sure it is much higher because there are many who haven’t been diagnosed,” he admitted. Dr al Saeedi wasn’t just talking the talk. He was walking the walk too, registering to take part in the 2km Walkathon last Friday and publicly taking a blood sugar test to prove a point. Rhetoric is one thing, of course, but it’s action that’s needed. If the dire predictions from international experts are anything to go by, Oman may be sitting on a ticking diabetes time bomb. Fast forward to 2030 and the number of diabetics in Oman is forecast to rise a staggering 124 per cent, according to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF). The World Health Organisation paints an even bleaker picture, claiming the rise could in fact be as much as 190 per cent by 2025. “It’s a big problem in Oman,” says Siham al Maskari, public health nutritionist and physical activity specialist at the Ministry of Health. “Every household has a diabetic or someone in their family who is diabetic. We need to raise awareness that this is a preventable disease. Even if you are genetically predisposed to diabetes, you can delay or prevent the onset of symptoms.” Most at risk are the 40-59 years age group but the disease is now being detected in far younger people than would normally be expected. “We usually see diabetes in people above 40 but now, with an increasingly unhealthy modern lifestyle, we can see it in the younger
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generation, which is alarming,” says Ms al Maskari. “The predominant factor for this is unhealthy living, i.e. eating junk food and not doing any exercise.” Part of her job, along with promoting wellbeing and disease prevention, is identifying public health problems associated with lifestyle and developing strategies to tackle these at ground level. Hence the two-day diabetes awareness event on the 19th and 20th at the Oman International Exhibition Centre in Muscat. That more than 8,000 supporters joined the Diabetes Walkathon, organised by the Landmark Group, suggests that the message is getting through, albeit to only a small percentage of the population. Still, small steps can lead to big changes. “With the support of the masses we can spread awareness and beat diabetes and live healthy lives,” says Dr Noor al Busaidi, President of the Oman Diabetes Association. As well as promoting awareness, the association works tirelessly in the community with support groups for diabetics, including a mobile group for patients with special needs, workshops for doctors and open days. “Diabetes has become a very serious concern across the globe and especially here in the Sultanate, where the incidence of diabetes is extremely high,” says Dr al Busaidi. It is not just the long-term consequences for the patient – kidney and heart diseases are two possible complications – but there's also the economic burden on the country of treating sufferers. It was revealed that Oman’s first victim of the MERS virus, a 68-year-old man from Nizwa who died last month in hospital, had been suffering from diabetes related health problems. But Oman isn’t the only country in the region to be facing a diabetes deluge. In 2011, 32.8 million adults in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) were diagnosed with diabetes. Most are suffering from Type 2 of the disease, which requires drugs and later insulin. Incredibly, four of the six GCC countries feature in the Top 10 list of those countries with the highest prevalence of the disease. Only Oman and the UAE do not appear. “Being diagnosed with diabetes does not mean the end of your life,” says Siham al Maskari. “It’s about managing the disease and living with it. If you eat well, practice exercise and healthy living, diabetes needn’t be an enemy.”
DIABETES - THE FACTS
◆ More than 371 million people have diabetes in the world ◆ China tops the diabetes league ◆ Kuwait has the 6th highest rates of diabetes among the age group 20-79 years with 23.9 per cent of the population. Saudi Arabia is 7th (23.4 per cent) followed by Qatar (23.3 per cent) and Bahrain (22.4 per cent) ◆ Half of people with diabetes don’t know they have it ◆ Half of people who die from diabetes are under the age of 60 ◆ 1 in 9 adults in the Middle East and North Africa region have diabetes, a total of 34 million.
What is Diabetes? Diabetes is a long-term disorder characterised by a raised level of glucose (or sugar) in the blood. How do blood glucose levels rise in the body? The pancreas (a gland in the body near the stomach) makes a hormone called insulin. Insulin helps glucose move from the bloodstream into the parts of the body, which need it most to make energy. When you have diabetes the body doesn’t make enough insulin. Without insulin there will be too much sugar left in the blood (high blood glucose). Type of Diabetes: Type 1: When your body can’t make insulin or most of the insulin producing cells have been destroyed. Type 2: When your body can’t make enough insulin or the body can’t use the insulin it makes properly. Usually occurs later in adult life. Gestation Diabetes: Occurs in some women during pregnancy. After childbirth, the blood glucose level usually returns to normal. Symptoms of Diabetes: Frequent urination especially at night Increased feeling of thirst Increased feeling of hunger Tiredness and weakness from minimal exertion Weight loss or gain over a short period of time Complications of Diabetes: Cardiovascular diseases Kidney diseases Nerve diseases Eye diseases Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes: Giving insulin through an injection or pump Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes: Anti-diabetic drugs, diet, exercise and insulin in the later stages Source: Oman Diabetes Association
Abeer’s * family has a history of diabetes – her mother and several aunts were diagnosed – but admits to have being blasé about the risk of developing the disease. While a family history does not automatically mean a genetic predisposition, Abeer, 53, from Muscat, says her diet and lifestyle did play a part in her eventual Type 2 diagnosis. With a sweet tooth, she rarely exercised. She was diagnosed in 2005 after realising she was drinking far more than normal. A test at the doctor revealed the truth. Initially, being careful with food controlled her condition but the mother-of-two now relies on tablets to regulate her blood sugar levels. Her diet is also monitored now and she tries to take a daily walk. * Name changed Oman Diabetes Association: www.omandiabetes.org Tel: 24 489 951 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Toll Free: 9600044
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OMAN IN 43 OBJECTS
Al Alam Palace With its ornate decoration and distinctive pastel colours, Al Alam Palace is an instantly recognisable sight in Muttrah. While visits are not allowed, the exterior alone is striking enough to warrant a trip out. Built in 1972 as the Sultan's palace, it is largely reserved for ceremonial functions and hosting visiting dignitaries. There is a hint of Islamic architecture but the design is quite unique, the multi colours standing out in a country of predominately white buildings. This wonderful shot combines the formality of the national emblem of Oman with delicate stained glass and brickwork. Al Alam overlooks Muscat harbour, where the walls are guarded by 50 big orange-red guns, but you can also take some photographs at the entrance through the Kebir Gate.
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food and drink
TURKEY & TRIMMINGS
For that perfect festive feast, it has to be the big bird with all the usual extras
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food and drink
MERRY FEASTMAS So you haven’t headed off to other shores for the holiday and feel that you might be missing out on the main event? Y can help with our special tinsel-covered guide to the best places in Muscat and beyond to get your helping of merriment and mince pies
Al Sawadi Beach Resort & Spa, Barka
Al Bustan Palace, Muscat
Celebrate in elegance and style at the beachfront resort.
Festive High Tea FFor a festive afternoon tea, try the magnificent Atrium Tea Lounge. There are cascading 18-metre crystal chandeliers, a four-metre gingerbread house, live entertainment and a visit from Santa Claus. RO15++ for adults, complimentary for children up to 12 years (one child per adult) From 2pm-5pm daily until December 31
Festive feast in laid-back beach surroundings December 24 & 25
Special buffet with the sound of the sea. RO35 per person For details, contact 26 795 545 or email
Al Khiran Restaurant. Dine on the terrace overlooking the stunning infinity pool. There’s a live cooking station and a children’s corner with a gingerbread house and yummy buffet. RO22++ per person, RO11++ per child, 6.30pm-10.30pm Beach Pavilion Enjoy a four-course dinner with spectacular views of the Sea of Oman. RO45++ for set menu (excluding beverages) 7pm-11pm
Radisson Blu Hotel Muscat
China Mood Celebrate with a touch of East Asian flair at the award-winning restaurant with delicacies from different provinces in China with a five-course set menu. RO45++, 7pm-11pm
Brunch at Al Khiran Restaurant Join friends and family for a grand brunch buffet. Santa will be there, along with live entertainment. RO34++ including soft drinks RO55++ including bubbly and house beverages RO17++ per child 12.30pm-3.30pm For more information and advance reservations, contact 24 764 000 or visit www.ritzcarlton.com/albustanpalace.
Al Nahda Resort and Spa, Barka
Head to this oasis of tranquility for a relaxing day or two. December 24 & 25
Top spot to treat yourself and the family or friends. December 24
Olivos Restaurant & Terrace Special seasonal dinner., RO28 net per person, including Santa visit. Book early for a coveted seat on the terrace. Until midnight
Olivos Restaurant & Terrace Seasonal lunch. RO28 net per person, including unlimited bubbles, Santa visit, magician with table tricks and face painting (children under five years free) 12noon-3pm 50 per cent discount for children below 12 years. For reservation contact 24 487 777 or email email@example.com
Special menus, priced at RO 17.9++ including a glass of house grape for Dec 24 and at RO 15.9++ also including a glass of house grape for Dec 25. There will surprises for children on Christmas Day, plus a visit from Santa during lunch.
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For information, contact 26 883 710 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For something different why not try:
TREND New Restaurant
Millennium Resort, Mussanah
Almouj Golf at The Wave, Muscat
Enjoy warmth, happiness and a jolly good time.
The Chedi, Muscat
Grand Hyatt Muscat
Enjoy five-star treats in stylish surroundings.
Add a touch of luxury for a day or night to remember. Mokha Café Tuck into a delightful buffet dinner. RO28 per person with soft drinks and juices, RO35 per person with glass of sparkling drink, RO16 for children aged between six and 12 years 7pm-11pm
Traditional festive brunch with special seasonal treats. RO30 net, including welcome glass of spiced mulled beverage or fresh juice 12.30pm-3pm
For more details, contact 24 524 400 or email email@example.com
For reservations, call 26 871 518 or 95752508
Gala dinner. RO50 per person
Special dinner with all the trimmings. 6.30pm-10.30pm
Tuscany Four-course menu featuring traditional Italian specialties. RO42 per person with a sparkling drink, RO21 for children aged between six and 12 years. 7pm-11pm
Perfect venue for a family get-together.
Safari Rooftop Grill Delectable festive dining under the stars with a hand carved slow roast US Butterball Turkey served with traditional trimmings. RO28/RO35/R0 per person (inclusive of appetizers, salad, desserts and unlimited selected beverages) 7pm-11pm
Musandam Restaurant Buffet. RO26++ adults, RO13++ children under 12, 7pm onwards
Trader Vic’s Four-course dinner. RO28++ adults, Special kid’s menu available, 7pm onwards
Mokha Café Festive brunch at the hotel gardens, where Santa will be making an appearance. RO37 per person for brunch with a glass of sparkling wine RO18 for children aged between six and 12 years 12.30pm-3.30pm
Tomato A la Carte, plus a special three-course festive menu., 7pm onwards
Musandam Restaurant Brunch RO30++ adults, RO15++ children under 12, (under 6s free)
Tuscany Magical Italian lunch. RO45 per person for set menu with a glass of sparkling RO22 for children aged between six and 12 years 12.30pm-3.30pm.
For information, call 24 680 000
For reservations, contact 24 641 234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org All prices inclusive of taxes and service charge
Sifawy Boutique Hotel, Jebel Sifah
Perfect getaway for festivities in an exclusive location.
Park Inn by Radisson Muscat Hotel
Soak up the joyous ambience and good food. December 24
RBG GRILL Tuck into specials and favourites for a memorable evening.. Minimum of two persons can dine for RO50 net. 8pm-11pm Call 24 507 888 or email info. email@example.com
Dinner with complementary selected beverages, carols and a visit from Santa. Make it even more special with a sunset cruise on a traditional dhow before the meal at Al Sabla restaurant.RO35 per person for dinner only RO45 per person for dinner & dhow cruise (Rates subject to 17 per cent tax and service charge) From 7pm
P.s If you can’t make it to any of these or want to eat at home, don’t despair. How about a festive takeaway? Grand Hyatt Muscat is doing a dineout seasonal menu between December 15 and 31. Orders need to be placed 48 hours in advance and can be picked up from Mokha Café. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your meal requests.
Brunch with free-flowing sparkling beverages and seasonal songs overlooking the marina. RO25 per person for lunch only RO45 per person for lunch & dhow cruise (Rates subject to 17 per cent tax and service charge) From 12.30pm For details, contact 24 749 111 or email email@example.com
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food and drink
Mani’s Gourmet Café First floor, Jawharat Al Shatti, Shatti Al Qurum, Muscat Tel: 9987 0702 Opening hours: 7am - 7pm Food and drinks for two: RO26
Y Magazine reviews anonymously and pays for its meals
A pleasant surprise awaits you in an unlikely location, writes Tom Robertson
he great thing about walking into a café tucked upstairs at the back of a small shopping centre is that expectations are low. Choosing to dine there at 6pm, just one hour before closing time and in what is obviously intended to be a lunch or breakfast spot, makes the choice even braver. And my friend knew this as we took our seats in a lifeless dining area whose clean lines and décor erred towards sterile. The placing of ‘Gourmet Café’ after the restaurant’s name was, at this point, looking a little ambitious. Just two minutes into our little escapade, there was already a look on my friend’s face that, having dragged her along with me, already said ‘You owe me’. Yet with the arrival of our drinks, so began an hour of pleasant surprises. I’ve come to learn that good, fresh juices are ten a penny in Oman and if you expect something special you’re probably going to be disappointed. Coming in at RO3, my strawberry and melon ‘Detox’, simply had to be good. Very good. It was. Alarmingly fresh and full of flavour, and served with just the right amount of crushed ice, it came within a whisker of a justifying its steep asking price. But the star of that night’s humble juice show was the lemon and mint ordered by my yet-to-be-convinced friend. Thick with freshly ground mint and a zingy dash of lemon, the almost sweet mixture started to sooth away our anxiety over the coming food. My now could-be-convinced friend took arrival of her grilled chicken breast with pepper sauce and French fries. In my experience, some pepper sauces can be obnoxiously strong, overpowering the meat that lies beneath. Almost seemingly aware of this common pit fall, the chicken had a strong grilled – not burnt – flavour and the sauce was rich and creamy. The temptation to smash in a thousand peppercorns had astutely been cast aside by the cook. Furthermore, the chips were cooked to perfection. Having lived in Belgium for eight years, a country famed for its frites, I consider myself laughingly to be somewhat of a
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If yo u deliv value com e prett red dishe petently y loc s ove a the p tion, this r a lace is to head for.
chip connoisseur. But what a surprise to be confronted in a small shopping mall café by a bowl of my long lost potato friends, the likes of which I thought I would never see again. They’re never going to be double fried in goose fat but as standard fries go, they could not be faulted. My own choice that evening was a Thai beef, beansprout and mango salad. To be honest, I had envisioned a wilted offering with limp lettuce. Instead, it was all bright colours and bouncing greenery as fresh as a daily. If you’re the type of person who likes more earthly salads, with root vegetables and herbal seasoning, this probably wouldn’t be to your liking but if, like me, you prefer the sweeter, fruitier salads, this would be a wise choice. Juicy mango pieces popped up time and time again among the fresh cherry tomatoes and crunchy bean sprouts. The only criticism I would harbour is that the beef was a little overcooked for me. I prefer mine on the rare side. Next up were the deserts. The chocolate gateaux made with yoghurt was an interesting twist on paper but sadly not one that materialised in reality. While perfectly pleasant, it lacked the creamy texture one might have hoped for. There is, admittedly, the very real danger that it was over-shadowed by its counterpart on the plate next door. The carrot cake was in a league of its own. Thick and full in body, it brought a squishy serving of moreish flavours to the table that resulted in the sound of fork pinging against fork as both I and my being-convinced-friend clashed over the last pieces. I’m not sure if it was the seemingly fair price (RO26) for a two- course meal for two people, or whether our expectations were so low that anything short of an unmitigated disaster would have been a pleasant surprise. But surprised we were. Very good food, attentive and efficient service and reasonable value quite rightly outshone Mani’s unfortunate and somewhat lacklustre location. If the proof is in the pudding, let me tell you that the next time I met my now-convinced friend for lunch she had but one question; ‘Back to Mani’s?‘ She obviously has good taste.
SABCO Centre HOSTS THE POP UP RESTAURANT
ON DEC 28 Featuring The Jungle Restaurant Delicious dishes ranging from RO1.50 to RO2.50
The culinary festival starts from 1pm onwards
IT'S GONNA BE WIL D
The trend may conjure up images of weddings, Narnia and polar bears (or maybe that’s just my jumbled fashion mind) but white dominated the catwalks this winter. From Valentino’s ethereal lace gown to Isabel Marant’s ice-rock look, white always manages to ooze understated cool. Swap your LBD for the LWD this season and you’ll be bang on trend.
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CRÈME DE LA CRÈME Practical it’s not, but layering snowy shades looks luxurious – even in the desert sun, says Penny Fray
Ice up your togs with this statement necklace from Accessorize. RO14
ulling off the whiteout look can be tricky to say the least. But we’re happy dodging coffee splatters and sand sludge every day of the week if it means looking effortlessly cool. An expensive essential or a modern classic, call it what you will, it’s worth forking out to get the right Little White Dress (LWD) – even if you’re not getting married. Take Valentino’s lace dress or Derek Lam’s modest sheath gown. Expensive? Undoubtedly. But when you consider how quietly glamorous you will feel, you will surely see Y’s point. Ditto cashmere coats from MaxMara and Giambattista Valli. Exquisite craftsmanship, luxury fabrics and creamy colours: these are the criteria for pieces you will wear again and again and never regret spending proper money on. To avoid bridal connotations, contrast textures and wear minimalist make-up. For a little urban hip, try skinny jeans over an oversized jumper. But your must-have accessory should be the ankle boots – it’s the seasonal equivalent of the white stiletto. A bit of bling is always good too. Ice up your t-shirt with statement jewels or go neutral for longevity.
Rag & Bone’s cotton-blend, highstretch jeans fit close like leggings. We adore this super skinny pair styled with an oversized sweater. RO100
Welcome to the shape of things to come – round, retro and seriously cool. H&M sunglasses from RO6
Nicholas Kirkwood’s off-white pointed leather boots have been handcrafted at the brand’s expert Italian ateliers. We love the quirky gold and white resin hexagon - from RO493 at Net-A-Porter.
This sequined sweater from Zara oozes style and versatility. From RO29
How cute is this Matalan lace dress? Vote with your rials. From RO16
This Mango tote is great for daytime glamour. RO25
Penny’s guide to being pale and interesting:
1 Chic, easily accessorised and cool in appearance, the LWD signifies a wardrobe shift from easy-breeze summer to reserved winter. Dressed up or down for work or the weekend, the LWD is a must try trend. 2 The LWD is a perfect canvas for statement jewellery. Easily transform from day to evening by adding a few big sparkly rings and a bright pair of earrings or a bold collar necklace. 3 Add a bold, red lip for a little va-va-voom glamour.
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ALL WE WANT FOR CHRISTMAS It’s that time of year again when, if you’re lucky, festive gifts will be landing in your lap from friends and family. Receiving and giving presents in this season is a joyful pleasure. Or rather, it should be. Get it right and the recipient will be forever grateful but slip up with a turkey of a gift and that feeling of goodwill could burst like a balloon spiked with a piece of holly. Here Team Y tells of their dream gifts, as well as the ones that have stuck in their memory for ALL the wrong reasons.
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inn always Kate G s Editor of year y of my e m ti n is o Secti ring! Th turn to a famil me and e gement
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an’s d cially b ift: A p t of goo Ideal G lot around Om complete se uiser 76. Espe . Failing that, a r y I drive a be great to get Toyota Land C the end of Ma ph Oman’s k e y ld g c m u for hoto ra s a boo s sin it wo er STTs than 30,000km ra so I could p soulful, such a floods. p o o C e as e me Orleans ing mor en mor r my ca I’ve driv water body fo maybe someth i after the New me her old r r e an unde coral reefs, or Robert Polido my mum gav . I can still y d d g b n n in a la n z o ke P 96 ama raphs ta asy. It was 19 ery popular in lmost burst. g to o h p e rainy of is v t’s tIa ift: Tha a model that so happy tha after only one ing to G t s e B t, s h ripped night try ss. I wa mall Fia car, a s er my happine ping bag, whic spent half the once gave me I e o b remem ift: A small sle st years ago. Someone als nge. I didn’t . a re G tr m t fo s r s a it e r w b o th t W as a ht in to ge w ig t it n h g o li ld s a o sician and c mall bonfire ot a mu s keep a msticks. I’m n ru some d e any drums! v a even h
Joe G Contr ill ibuto ra
nd Y’ Ideal s form Gift: A er pa bedtim r o b o t ge ed Best e stories (I that wash itor e G ’m like a ift: An aco the fathe s up, cook s r lovely ock star – ustic guitar r of a toddle dinner an d if only f s r h o o m u lder b best p my wif r daughter reads I’d ke a ) p r . e g e t it an from m that ju sent was y Y Te up. In seco d friends. I s m t y k eeps first K n Wors giv indle am colleag d place, is felt t (again ues a a jumpe Gift: Noth ing. nd from m in trying r from your g could be y wife my third to be a ). It’s cool. unt when worse than a gift you’re a sup a teen er squ ager d a esper re ately JOIN IN. What is your Ideal/Best/Worst Gift. Drop us a post at facebook.com/ytabloid or tweet @ytabloid
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CARS AND OUTDOORS
SHOOTS OF LIFE
Nature is flourishing after the recent rains cause places like Wadi Shital to come alive.
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CARS AND OUTDOORS
IT’S USUALLY DRY AND DUSTY BUT THE GIFT OF WATER HAS GIVEN LIFE AND A SPLASH OF GREEN TO WADIS, FINDS JERZY WIERZBICKI
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a torrent of heavy rains. The next morning, my way back to the asphalt road had become a streaming mud bath. It took more than two hours to make the 12km drive having become stuck in the mud on more than one occasion. It taught me a lesson: always be prepared for the unexpected. Now, I always carry equipment for rainy days – even in the depths of summer when the chances of a downpour are zero. You never know. Travelling around the Sultanate, whatever the conditions, is always rewarding. Sometimes, you have to look hard for the hidden gems. Magical locations are hidden between the rocks and sand all over central Oman. Some of them are very close to the main tracks but only a few know of their whereabouts. The Al Wusta desert is a place of many secrets, some jealously guarded. Wadi Shital, however, is one place that is ostensibly easy to explore – weather permitting. Its abstract rocky forms will captivate anyone who loves geological history or just wants to take great photographs. A wide valley bordered by two long dark hills of pale lemon sand form a long but not too steep line of sand dunes. Between the rocks are cracks, some big enough to drive a big 4x4
itting on a sand dune, a swathe of green was spread out before me, something you don’t usually expect to see in a normally barren desert. It was quite a sight. Amid the dark craggy rocks that jut out of the yellow sand, little shoots of life could be seen making their way into the world along with the usual trees and shrubs. These were the fruits of the recent stormy weather, which brought rains lashing down onto the arid ground and in turn, allowed life to find its way into the earth. In the middle of the valley of Shital, this little oasis was like a kingdom of greenery. With the sun gently warming my back, my lofty position was the perfect place to take in the beautiful transformation of this wadi. It was certainly markedly different from the last time that I was here in the autumn of 2011. That time, my camp was washed out by heavy storms and flooding, which turned the valley into an inhospitable muddy mess, making for a rather dirty but unforgettable experience. All had been quiet when I retired to my bed early in the evening. In the night, however, I was woken up to find a passing storm had unleashed
through. Look closer and you might spot clues to the origins of the rocks, created in the sea millions of years ago. The last time I was here, muddy streams had sculpted a way through the rocks and dunes. This time, nature was bursting into life with lush shoots and foliage emerging between small cracks in the sand. I had never seen Wadi Shital so green before. With a bird’s eye view from atop my sandy perch, I could see nature cutting a green path across the valley floor. For local Bedouin, the greenery provides feed for their animals, goats and camels. During this recent visit, I stopped the car in the same place that I did two years ago. As my dog, Trop, had decided to stay under the car and snooze on a blanket, I moved into the valley with my camera. The wintery light was absolutely perfect, emphasising the natural beauty all around. It captured the solid forms of the rocks and dunes divided by a slither of sand, coexisting peacefully together. There is an almost mystical quality about this place. I have no doubt that it will inevitably draw me back to Wadi Shital and the region in the near future.
Wadi Shital is located near Road 32 between Mahout and Duqm. The total distance from Muscat is 450 km. Like all locations in the deserts, you’ll need a reliable 4x4 to visit Wadi Shital. There is a track in the centre of the wadi but higher up the valley’s sides, all wheel drive cars can easily move around. You might find the sand harder than entire sand dune deserts. Don’t forget to reduce tyre pressures before driving in sand.
GPS location for entrance to the wadi: 20° 8’46. 56”N 57°43’15. 85”E
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CARS AND OUTDOORS outDOORS
THE BEAR NECESSITIES With the countdown to the holidays fully underway, there remain just a few shopping days left in which to get that perfect gift in the bag. If you have little ones to keep happy, this could be the answer, says Kate Ginn
s soon as you walk through the doors of the Build-A-Bear shop, it’s clear that you’re entering a magical world. At once, the customer is enveloped in a maelstrom of children (lots), soft toys (even more), bright colours, music and screams of excitement. It looks a bit like a manic version of Father Christmas’s workshop on the eve of the big day. Welcome to the first of its kind; a stuffed animal retail experience in Oman. To the uninitiated, this means a toyshop like no other that you or your offspring might have been to before. Why? For a start, you don’t just buy a furry toy here. You make one. Or rather your child does. Already a global brand, the Build-A-Bear store in Muscat’s Grand Mall is the first in Oman and the sixth in the Middle East. There are already outlets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Kuwait. Such was the excitement among knee-high shoppers at the arrival of the concept here in the Sultanate last month that the opening was broadcast live on national radio. Company mascot ‘Bearemy’ the bear was on hand with advice and a cuddle if required. So, how does the concept work in practice? Firstly, if you’re thinking of Build-A-Bear as a Christmas present, remember that the whole idea is to take the child along. They’re going to be making the bear after all so, perhaps give one of the available gift certificates and an invitation to the store. Once there, you’ll realise that Build-A-Bear is not just about bears. There are so many different cuddly toys to choose, from little ponies to rabbits and everything else in between, and available in a bewildering array of colours. Once chosen, the child’s imagination takes over. After they’ve helped to ‘stuff ’ their toy, it’s up to them (helped by Mum and Dad’s credit card) to decide how they want their new toy to look – from the clothes, colours, accessories, smell (yes, different scents are available) to musical additions, a beating heart, and, of course, a name. It’s a cuddly customisation of sorts. Afterwards, the newly formed furry friend is even given a birth certificate. Apparently, the current GCC stores repeatedly appear in the top five grossing Build-A-Bear stores out of 400 globally, so its appeal to the young generation has a proven track record. Keep an eye out for young ones wandering around with their newly made creations in the special ‘Cub-Condos’, their temporary home in which to carry them back to their new one. Not only does it make for an extra special Christmas treat but it’s also guaranteed to keep the little ones amused for hours, which as any busy parent knows, is always a good thing.
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I N doors
READY, TEDDY, GO! I
couldn’t find Build-A-Bear at first but then I heard it. A loud, upbeat music emanated from the store and was complimented by a warm welcome from assistant Marcy Mugwaru. Marcy has come from Dubai where they have four successful stores and is now enjoying introducing Omani customers to the concept. My three-year-old daughter Amali chose a rainbow bear after I managed to steer her away from the ghastly pink that she loved so much. For those wondering how a threeyear-old actually builds a bear, well, she doesn’t really. It’s more a case of her choosing how she’d like to customise her New Best Friend. Marcy takes Amali around the various ‘stations’. First of all we stuff the bear. It’s like a popcorn stand full of moving white stuffing and Amali pedals whilst Marcy controls where the stuffing goes. She’s amazing with kids, squeezing Amali’s tummy and the teddy’s tummy, then getting Amali to cuddle the teddy to see if she is full enough. Before I know it we seem to have embarked upon a not-inexpensive, merry Frankenstein trail of different stations: Choose Me, Hear Me,
I N doors
Tanushka Marah took her daughter, Amali, to Build-A-Bear at Muscat Grand Mall and watched her fall in love with her creation
Stuff Me, Fluff me, Dress Me, and Name Me, Take Me Home. So we set about installing heart beats, scents, tunes (be careful which one you choose – you will be hearing it all the time!) and even an internal bar code in case she ever loses her bear and some good Samaritan thinks to bring it back to the shop. There are many ‘scentiments’ (the bear’s scent) to choose from, including strawberry ice cream and bubble gum. Nothing comes without a ceremony: the heart ceremony consisted of rubbing hands, rubbing of cheeks and rubbing of brain and tummy. Then the bear was pronounced ready, and teddy and Amali are going to be best friends forever. My British sense of irony was being tested against this happy American sentimentality but my daughter was in another world. I was tested further with having to close my eyes and give a prayer from mummy, which was also inserted into the bear. After the bear was showered with air, clothed and accessorized, it was given a birth certificate, and my daughter was crowned ‘Mummy’. When I, being the strict mum I am, threatened to confiscate her teddy for a night a few weeks later, she vehemently reminded me that the lady said she was the bear’s mummy so I couldn’t take it away! I declined on the passport. However, it’s a good idea: you can take it into any Build-A-Bear in the world. You could be among the first to create a Build-A-Bear with an Omani passport. Finally, I witnessed my daughter making her pledge to love and look after her teddy, named Ruby. Again I baulked at this very American gesture but my daughter loved the whole experience and a month on, she still goes to sleep hugging her creation.
COME TAKE PART IN A HOST OF ACTIVITIES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY TAKE PHOTOS WITH SANTA | PERFORMANCES GOODY BAGS | MAGIC SHOW | POP CORN CANDY FLOSS CORNER | FACE PAINTING AND MUCH MORE Al Araimi Complex Telephone 24 566 180/185 www.alaraimicomplex.com
20 Dec 2013 th
Al Araimi Complex
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Standing like a colossus, what's left of the 46-metre high St Augustine Tower stands amid the remains of the church complex built by friars who arrived in Goa in 1572.
Top 5 Places To Visit: 1. Candolim Beach 2. A flea market 3. Taj Exotica resort 4. Chinchinim 5. Alorna Fort
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Cars Aaliya Khan
O u t d o o r s postcards from
‘Dev Boro Dis Dium’ (good day) and a warm welcome to Goa. This little piece of heaven on earth is a home away from home, quickly captivating anyone who visits. It’s a place to open your mind and soothe away troubles like a breath of fresh air for the soul. With stunning sun-drenched beaches and a relaxed vibe, it also happens to be the perfect holiday spot. Located on the west coast of India –the country’s smallest state by area is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. People come from far and wide to enjoy the wonderful environment and weather. On top of this, Goa is rich in history, which you can discover by exploring forts and fantastic churches built with a fusion of Indian and Portuguese architecture (Goa was a territory of Portugal until 1961). There are two distinct sides to India’s smallest state; in the south, Goa is green and calm and an altogether more tranquil experience than the north, which bustles with tourists and lively markets. The best time of the year to visit is mid-November to midFebruary when the weather is comfortable, dry and pleasant. Goa offers long stretches of beautiful coastline with a diverse selection of beachside accommodation. There’s something for everyone, from five-star resorts and hotels for luxury lovers to more modest bed and breakfasts and hostels. If you prefer to spend your holidays doing more than just lazing around on the beach, there’s plenty of water sports in the tropical waters to keep you busy. But Goa is not just about golden sands. It offers a fascinating mix of culture, great hiles with spectacular scenery, wildlife sanctuaries, equatorial forests and thriving markets. Goans are the friendliest, most peaceful and kind, fun-loving musical people you will ever meet. They also love a good celebration. All they need is a reason to celebrate, whether it’s carnival, Shigmo (Spring festival), Christmas, Ganesh Chaturti, Diwali, Eid or New Year. It all adds up to a magical place that will draw you back time and time again.
My Favourite Place: There isn’t just one place for me. The whole of Goa is my favourite place. Every place is as beautiful as the next and everywhere you go, you’ll think it’s the best spot in Goa. Being there makes you forget the pressures of everyday life and you start to enjoy every second of every day.
l im B e ach
Anjuna flea market
Highlights: Candolim beach in the north of Goa is one of the longest beaches in the state and the area is home to one of the most popular resorts. It’s calm, peaceful and a great place to take a break. From the beach you can see the remains of the bulk carrier River Princess, which ran aground just offshore in June 2000 during a cyclone. If you’re up for a party, the Sunburn Festival during December attracts people from all around the world for the music, entertainment, food and shopping. Lowlights:
While the country does have an international airport (Dabolim Airport), it doesn’t have the most modern of terminals, so don’t expect top-notch facilities. Not all international flights are direct so most visitors have to stop in Mumbai and then take an internal flight to Goa.
Souvenirs: Goa is known for cashews so as well as a sack full of memories, take a bag full of nuts for a fraction of the cost that they are in your home country.
Where to stay:
Goa is famous for the beauty of its hotels and resorts, meaning it has something for everyone. In the north, it’s nice to stay in a cottage near Baga Beach, a short stroll from the sandy paradise where you can recline in one of the shacks and relax. For the south, try Chinchinim on the banks of the river Sal, where you can enjoy a taste of Goan village life.
Panor amic v iew of Old Goa
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There’s nothing like owning one of the latest hot gadgets. Matt Herbst does the work for you and finds the best
THE TECH IN YOU
Baked with a little something extra, these ‘cheeky’ bake cups are sure to be a hit. As batter rises during baking, it spills slightly over the waistband of each jean-shaped cup, creating that ‘muffin top’ look. The cups are made from durable, heat-resistant silicone and come with handy baking tips. RO6 www.amazon.com
Your smartphone’s camera may perform better than your old snapper from years ago, but it still leaves much to be desired. One day, good camera hardware will shrink small enough to fit inside ever-thinning smartphones. For now, the Sony Cyber-Shot QX Lens cameras offers a more feasible alternative. It looks like nothing more than those add-on magnetic lenses you attach on top of a phone’s camera sensor, but it’s actually a standalone camera. That’s right, you get shot quality that will put your smartphone’s camera to shame. You can use it on its own or pair it with a smartphone, so you can use the phone as a viewfinder, controller, and backup storage. Brilliant. From RO191 at www.amazon.com
So, you bought a bicycle to use for exercise. Shortly after bringing it home, you suddenly realised just how much you hate riding on roads where cars don’t see cyclists, and promptly forgot all about it. Now you can convert that bicycle into a stationary bike with the eTrainer Universal Bicycle Trainer, an aftermarket home system that lets you set up any standard pedal pusher for indoor cycling and lose calories without fear. Ranges from RO29. www.amazon.com
EDITOR’S PICK LASER SHAPER
I HAVE ALWAYS said that everything is better with lasers. As it turns out, even hair clippers ARE NOW SHOOTING LASER BEAMS. IF YOU Don’t believe ME, CHECK OUT the awesomeness that is the StyleXpert Beardtrimmer 9000, by Philips. NOTE that the lasers won’t actually remove the strands of hair on your face, so it’s only half-awesome. Instead, they serve as a guide, so you can give yourself a manicured shave similar to the bearded villains in action movies. RO39 WWW.AMAZON.COM 044
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FIND OUT WHAT’S HIP & HAPPENING IN GADGETS ACTION CAM
SKULLY Helmets has recently announced the P1, a high-tech helmet with an integrated HUD (heads up display). The P1 provides GPS navigation, accelerometer, a gyroscope, a compass, rearview camera and Bluetooth connectivity to your smartphone’s music and phone - all managed via voice control. Thus you’ll be as connected on your bike as you would be in a modern car. www.skullyhelmets.com. Price yet to be confirmed
NEW! Samsung Galaxy GEAR Samsung’s Smartwatch is here. Sporting a relatively underwhelming design, it’s far from the hottest timepiece you can strap around your wrist. But it does have hi-tech appeal for those early adopters. For RO136 at www.kingsouq.com If you can embrace the aesthetics though, the functionality just might win you over. As expected, the Samsung Galaxy Gear will pair with Samsung phones and tablets to deliver notifications straight to the device’s 1.63-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display. It comes with a built-in speaker and mic for hands-free calls, as well as support for Samsung’s S Voice, which lets you place calls, draft messages, create calendar entries, set alarms and more, using nothing but voice commands.
APP OF THE WEEK
iKettle WiFi can be controlled using your smartphone - But do you need a smart kettle? Probably not. Nevertheless, with everything else getting wired into a semiintelligent automaton, we might as well embrace our ever-connected future. So put down that decade-old plug-in thermos in the kitchen and make way for the iKettle. RO62 at www.firebox.com
There’s also a 1.9 megapixel camera onboard for quickly recording photos and videos, which you can upload to other websites directly from the watch. Other specs include Bluetooth 4.0, 4GB of onboard storage, an 800 MHz processor and 512MB of RAM. Unfortunately, the 315 mAh rechargeable battery is only good for a single day of use.
THE GIRLY GADGET
This Swarovski Heart Ware USB Memory Key is disguised as a beautiful pendant and may make a charming, practical gift for your girlfriend or wife. It’ll make a statement at the workplace too. One half of the heart is fashioned from stainless steel and contains the USB connector. The other consists of asymmetrically-cut silver shade crystal. The USB memory stick touts a high-speed USB 2.0 interface and has a capacity of 1GB [approximately 250 songs or 1,000 photos] RO130 www.amazon.com
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CARS AND OUTDOORS
Audi R8 V8
Engine: V8 4.2 FSI Horsepower: 430 Transmission: Six-speed manual transmission or optional seven-speed Audi S-Tronic, both with Audi Quattro all-wheel drive 0-97 km/h in 4.4 seconds Top Speed: 302 km/h Price: Starting from RO42, 560
Car of the Week
It’s gorgeous to look at and drives even better. This is a car designed to exhilarate and it does it so well, says Kate Ginn
nvy is the word that springs to mind when looking at the Audi R8. It’s not just the breathtaking look of it – although that in itself would be enough to make me part with my rial without even stepping inside – or the staggering performance and brilliant handling. No, what makes the R8 such a desirable car, for me at least, is the fact that I could use it every day as my regular vehicle. It’s not like some other supercars, which are totally impractical to drive or handle on the roads most of the time. Let’s start with the performance. You like speed? Both engines will have you weeping with joy, whether it’s the 4.2 V8 or the barnstorming 5.2 V10, the latter of which takes you from 0 to 100 km/h in a blistering 3.5 seconds. With the optional S-Tronic semi-auto transmission at your fingertips, you’ll also be making lightning quick gearshifts. It’s easy to tell that this model has its roots in racing - an Audi R8 prototype won the gruelling
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24 hours Le Mans race five times, while a road version made its debut at the 2006 Paris Motor Show. Since then, it’s been tearing a path through the midsize supercar market. The latest incarnation is more dynamic than ever with new features all round. Thanks to a taut suspension, the drive is firm with excellent cornering but feels surprisingly safe. If you fancy more of a rough ride, the hardcore V10 Plus will do the job. All models now come with all-LED headlights as standard. It also has nifty new dynamic turn signals at the rear, much like a Mustang, in which 30 lights activate sequentially. Inside, the Audi R8 is all about the driver. Whether it’s the angle of the instrument cluster or the flat-bottom steering wheel (for easy entry and exit), this car seems to fit around you. Speaking of fitting in, the rear engine design means that luggage space is somewhat limited. Head
and legroom is good though and the low-slung driving position looking over the sloping bonnet offers a good view of the open road. All the essentials you would expect in a car costing this much money are there – leather interior, climate control, touchscreen and a navigation system. There’s a superb entertainment system and lots of goodies to choose as optional extras, such as bucket seats and personalised door trims. With further customisation, you can opt for a bewildering array of different options, from the leather stitching in your seats down to the colour of the bodywork. And, of course, it’s all wrapped up in that wonderful, luscious flowing shape that makes you take a little intake of breath every time you see it. Beauty and the Beast (the beast being that throaty engine). I���m a fan, as you can probably tell. Audi, if you are reading this and happen to have a spare R8 knocking around without an owner, I’m here for you.
They say: ‘Explosive performance and exotic presence.’ We say: ‘Scintillating sports car for the purists.’
Check this out
Full LED headlight technology Electrically adjustable mirrors Exclusive leather upholstery and trim Customised paint finish Hand-made luggage sets with R8 embossing CD changer (optional) Navigation system with 6.5inch TFT colour display Bang & Olufsen Sound System Bluetooth interface Deluxe automatic air conditioning Side impact protection 19” Alloy wheels in cast or forged aluminium