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Check out 100.9 Virgin Radio Oman’s CHAD IN THE MORNING AND TEA TIME WITH MAYA NOISE ON PAGE 6! Oman World Cup Festival IT’S A FEVER ON THE PITCH IN THE PUSH TOWARDS THE FINAL

News: NEARLY 100,000 VEHICLES ARE 10 RECALLED IN OMAN

DESTINATION: Sohar TASTE TEST: Charm Thai YOUR TOP GUIDE TO THE BEST OF OMAN, EVERY WEEK

CATCH THE LATEST UPDATES ONLY ON WWW.Y-OMAN.COM

JUL 12 - 18 2018 / ISSUE 527 • WEEKLY

Breaking THE SILENCE

PLUS!

THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS PERSISTS IN THE GCC – ARE WE REALLY HAPPY? OR ARE WE JUST NOT TALKING ABOUT DEPRESSION IN OMAN?

Y GEEK SQUAD: BEST RETRO GAMES OFNOVEMBER THE 90s 01 24 / ISSUE 258

39

ON-POINT WITH THE JEEP COMPASS

34

POSTCARD FROM TALLINN

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EDITOR’S

NOTE

Welcome to Y Magazine – your top guide to the best of Oman every week.

IN THIS ISSUE…

S

ome days the words won’t come like they usually do. Staring at the blank screen for minutes on end doesn’t will them into appearance any faster than my fingers could type. Blearily, I rub my eyes and, sometimes, question why I’m doing this at all. Thoughts of failure creep in, and insecurities grasp for a foothold in my mind, and the negative self-talk switches on. Mostly, however, I can shrug it off and say I’m having an ‘off day’. But for those battling with clinical depression there’s no such thing as an ‘off day’. It’s grip, instead, is daily and all-consuming. Depression affects 433 million people worldwide, and Oman is no exception. Here, it and other mental health disorders simply aren’t talked about openly. In this week’s edition of Y Magazine, we break the silence on the taboo of talking about – and seeking help for – depression and other mental health conditions in the Sultanate. It’s time to speak up and speak out. Flip to Page 20 to read on. On a lighter note, we’re excited to announce a new collaboration with 100.9 Virgin Radio Oman to bring you the latest music news, chart releases, and celebrity gossip in our new Page 6 column with ‘Chad in the Morning’ and Tea Time with Maya Noise. Catch them on the air-waves every morning from 6:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m. – trust us, your morning commute will rock all that much more! Finally, we head to the country’s eastern reaches to visit the ancient city of Qalhat, whose ruins have just been appointed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we explore the crumbling remains of its structures and mausoleum, we trod in the footsteps of Ibn Battuta to learn about a people and a way of life that shaped the nation. Find the story on Page 28. Until next week, happy reading!

editor@y-oman.com

EDITOR IN CHIEF Sayyida Iman bint Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi MANAGING EDITOR Ashlee Starratt

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER/REPORTER Alvin Thomas PHOTOGRAPHER Shaquel al Balushi

SENIOR ONLINE EDITOR Nishad Padiyarath

DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Feroz Khan

ART DIRECTOR Matthew Herbst

MANAGER – DIGITAL MEDIA SALES Umair Mehmood

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Write to us at Y Magazine, SABCO Media, PO Box 3779, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman. JUL 12 - 18 / ISSUE 527

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contents JULY 12 - 18

Your Oman 08 Voice Of Oman Dr. Noora al Akhzami 10

News Nearly 100,000 vehicles are recalled in Oman

12

News Omanis turned away from entry to Georgia at Tbilisi Airport.

10

2018

This Week 18 World Meditation Hour Can collective meditation really bring about world peace? Head over to Rajyoga Centre on Sunday, July 15 and find your zen!

Health and Beauty

38 Y-Fi Best retro games of the 90s

Breaking the silence De-stigmatizing depression and mental health in Oman

24 Oman World Cup Festival Finals fervor heats up in Russia 26 At the crossroads of history Exploring Qalhat, Oman’s latest UNESCO World Heritage Site

26 Food and Drink 44

Cars and Adventures 34 First Drive Jeep Compass

20

19 Movies Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is back and he’s going to save you from a burning building in Skyscraper.

19 32 Destination Sohar

Features

40 Fashion Footwear for the fellas 42 Beauty Top tips for healthy, natural lashes

Yummy Oman: Creamy dreamy cool Ice cream recipes to beat the heat

46 Taste Test Charm Thai

46

38 40

NEXT ISSUE... FEATURES / COFFEE WITH Y / NEWS / MOVIES / EVENTS / BEAUTY / DESTINATION / TRAVEL / FASHION / FIRST DRIVE


w and the latest celebrity ne , ch at w to t ts tis ar From of the week, we’ve go ts hi e at tim ul ur yo ic to mus gossip, from the pulse of the your superstar dose Radio Oman 100.9 FM world with Virgin

Liam Payne and Cheryl Cole Over the past few months there have been so many rumours that exOne Directioner Liam Payne and singer Cheryl Cole were splitting up. The couple dismissed the rumours saying that they were working on their relationship for their son, Bear. But, last week, the couple took to Twitter to announce their breakup after two years of dating: “We’re sad to announce that we’re going our separate ways. It’s been a tough decision for us to make. We still have so much love for each other as a family. Bear is our world and we ask that you respect his privacy as we navigate our way through this together.” Liam Payne has reportedly finished recording his album which was to be released on September 14, but, after news of his split with Cheryl he announced he’s planning on re-doing his record to include songs about his relationship with his ex. The album will have a more introspective and urban sound. Cardi B and J Balvin Cardi B’s hit song ‘I Like It’ featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin has become number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of July 7. Cardi B’s ‘Bodak Yellow’ was also number one for three weeks in October – now, this makes her the first female rapper with two number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Her album Invasion of Privacy makes also Cardi the first female solo artist with two number ones from a début album this decade since Lady Gaga’s The Fame in 2008. Cardi B was ecstatic after hearing the news, taking to Instagram to share her excitement. J Balvin also reacted to reaching his first number one hit in an interview with Billboard, saying: “I’m happy, happy, happy, very happy – I am totally grateful. It’s incredible, everything that’s happening, and I really have to thank God for this spectacular moment.” Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran is breaking records. He’s the first artist with two songs to be on top of the Billboard’s Adult Contemporary radio airplay chart 06

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for at least 20 weeks each. Ed Sheeran’s song ‘Shape of You’ lasted for 24 weeks at number one and set the record for second-longest chart-topper. That’s not the story. Now, ‘Perfect’ has just eclipsed 20 weeks at number one on the chart as of July 7. Ed Sheeran is the first artist to have two songs sit at number one for 20 consecutive weeks. G-Eazy and Halsey ‘Alone’ singer Halsey revealed on Instagram stories last week that her and rapper G-eazy were on a break after a year of dating. She wrote: “I normally keep this kind of thing private, but provided our public nature, I feel I need to inform my fans, G-Eazy and I are taking some time apart. I’m eager to continue the upcoming passage of time dedicating myself to my art and career, and the duration of my tour.” Fans noticed that Halsey had deleted all their pictures of the two together on Instagram, but when the announcement came out everyone was still shocked. G-Eazy and Halsey recorded the song ‘Him & I’ together in 2017 and, according to G-Eazy, a week before they announced their break-up they were in the studio together recording music. In an interview while promoting his upcoming Endless Summer Tour G-Eazy said: “We were actually in the studio just the other night and we did a couple records, we motivate each other, and we’re fans of each other’s music. And we have a similar kind of perspective, aesthetically, on creating music, so we play off each other well.” Drake Previously on Tea Time we spoke about how Drake released his fifth studio album Scorpion. It’s the first album to hit 1 billion streams globally in a seven-day period on all streaming platforms (June 29- July 5). It’s barely been a week since the anticipated release and Drake has already dropped a freestyle track called ‘Behind Barz’. The freestyle addresses celebrity and exposure and how he’s less interested in fame. The song highlights that his previous beef with him and Pusha-T is done, and he also touches on the fact that he knows a lot of things about a lot of people and he has no intentions to speak badly about anyone either.

Kygo and Miguel – ‘Remind Me to Forget’ International DJ Kygo has teamed up with AcademyNominated singer Miguel on the smooth summer dance jam, ‘Remind Me to Forget’. This track is from Kygo’s second album Kids in Love released in 2017. This is the first time they’ve work together, and fans are calling it the 2018 Summer Anthem. Kygo’s lighthearted and groovy percussion matches Miguel’s moving powerhouse vocals. Tiesto and DJ Dzeko featuring Preme and Post Malone – ‘Jackie Chan’ Tiesto teamed up with Canadian DJ Dzeko, ‘Psycho’ rapper Post Malone, and Canadian singer Preme on this fun track ‘Jackie Chan’. This is the first time these artists have worked together, and everyone is talking about the music video that’s just been released. Postie and Preme are 3D-animated 8-bit characters battling it out with an evil emoji in a Santa hat in this Tron-like world. The two little characters are beyond adorable and manage to level-up while Tiesto and Dzeko are two giant figures in the sky. The video clip is as fun as the video clip, you must see it to understand! Justin TimberlakeSoulMate JT has surprised us with a brandnew single called ‘SoulMate’. Back in the beginning of the year he went from performing at the Super Bowl to releasing his Man of the Woods album which made serious waves. He’s currently on tour but that doesn’t mean he’s taking a break from making and releasing new music! This summer song is perfect for a road trip to the beach or chilling by the pool. Be sure to keep it locked to Virgin Radio Oman 100.9 FM, and don’t miss your Tea Time with Maya Noise, daily on Chad in the Morning.


THE VOICE OF OMAN

IN OUR SPOTLIGHT ON MENTAL HEALTH THIS WEEK, DR. NOORA AL AKHZAMI, A PSYCHOLOGIST AT THE WHISPERS OF SERENITY CLINIC IN MUSCAT, GIVES A BRIEF INSIGHT INTO THE THERAPY OFFERED TO THOSE SUFFERING FROM MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS SUCH AS DEPRESSION – AND HOW YOU SHOULD RESPOND IF A PERSON IS FEELING SUICIDAL

correspondence DEBATE OF THE WEEK WE ASKED: Road accidents, injuries, and death rates have all dropped, according to the latest data by the National Centre for Statistics and Information. Are drivers in Oman finally heeding the roadsafety message? What do you think and what can be done to reduce the numbers further? JASON FELIX NORONHA

While the implementation of the new, more stricter regulations has seen a decline in the number of road accidents, fatalities still happen. Rules can dictate the manner in which one drives on the road – but they can’t control human emotion or bodily functions. Fatigue still accounts for a majority of fatal accidents. Yes, people are getting more educated about the cause to make Omani roads safer, and yes, safe driving is suddenly starting to make more sense to others – but it’s still a work in progress. All of us who drive have a collective responsibility to follow and ensure 100 per cent implementation of the rules laid down by the ROP, not just for our own safety but for those who ride with us and those who drive alongside us.

MOHAMMAD OSAMA RAWAT

D

epression can sometimes be silent and it can affect anyone, at any time, over the course of their life. Treatment is based on determining which stage it’s at. When patients come to our clinic with depression, it can range from mild to moderate and, sometimes, it can be severe. The latter stage is what we classify as ‘clinical depression’ – and it’s important for that to be recognized and treated. In some cases, severe depression is treated with medicines such as antidepressants, but in most cases (even for those taking medication), therapy is vital to help the person change his or her negative thinking pattern and replace it with more realistic and helpful thoughts. Some patients who suffer from clinical depression also have suicidal thoughts – and, in these cases, it’s very serious to undertake therapy immediately. In such a scenario, the person must be brought to the therapist. The therapist will then work with the patient to recognize the thoughts leading to self-harm or suicidal intent, and then create an emergency plan that includes ways the person can help themselves and people he or she can contact for support. But if such a support system doesn’t exist, the person can call us and make an appointment to come visit the clinic.

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According to the latest data by the National Centre for Statistics and Information, accidents, injuries, and fatalities due to road accidents have dropped down in Oman – which is indeed a positive sign, but we still have to go a long way in minimizing it further. Each driver on the road has to learn to adopt the defensive driving mannerism and put all ego aside. The majority of drivers are still not bothered to slow down to allow others to change lanes. A cool, calm attitude while behind the wheel is yet to be inherited in full. I can still find people using their phone while driving – which is one of the biggest causes of distraction leading to fatal road accidents. Having expressed all my above anguish, I must admit that the message of road-

WRITE TO US AND YOU COULD WIN

safety is being conceived but still implemented at a very low pace. Though in percentage it shows a big reduction, still the figure in numbers is quite high.

CHAKRABORTY PINKY

“I hope that the regulations are completed at the earliest. Like I said before, the driver is accountable for his or her actions, and accidents can happen whether the driver isn’t concentrating, is negligent, or speeding. Some accidents just happen and you don’t know how. If drivers are hurt in their pockets, they might adhere to the law and drive responsively.

RAJESH AGNIHOTRI

As per statistics, yes, they’ve reduced from last year in the first six months of 2018, but still we see most of the accidents are due to loss of concentration, carelessness, and over-speeding while driving.

MOHAN ANANDAN

It’s heartening to note that road accidents in Oman have dropped. However, one doubts if this had anything to do with driver behaviour! The credit must go to the ever-vigilant and proactive ROP for the punitive measures initiated. Having achieved a positive impact, the concerned authorities must keep up the vigil until the desired results are achieved. It must also be added here that drivers have also responded positively to the ROP’s initiatives, as evidenced from the drop in accidents – and their cooperation and understanding is essential in making the roads

Dinner for two at Le Jardin restaurant

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DR.DAISY D APOLINAR was spotted with her favourite Y Magazine at Badr Al sama hospital in Muscat

The good news is due to the collective action from all concerned authorities. However, in order to make the reduction in injuries and accidents sustainable, a few more initiatives – like the introduction of HSE as part of the school curriculum, and making students demonstrate their understanding of how accidents can be brought down, will go a long way towards a more holistic longterm solution.

MISH MASH

One possible way to solve this problem would be to increase the amount of fines. Obviously, if governments increase the penalties on breaking traffic laws, then people might prevent themselves from breaking the rules. As a result, the number of traffic accidents would be reduced. Second, the age limit of people for driving is an essential step in reducing traffic accidents. I’d suggest that not only an age limit for young and elderly drivers should be strictly followed, but also their physical fitness, driving skills, and ability should be rigidly checked and monitored before issuing them a license.

New Debate: Mental health continues to be a taboo subject in Oman – one that often prevents those in need of treatment from seeking help. How can we address this issue as a community and change a mind-set of fear to one of openness, dialogue, and accessibility? Share your view with us and you could be in with a chance of winning dinner for two.

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Send your photo to editor@y-oman. com to be featured in our new section, Through Your Eyes. Include where it was taken, your name and a few details about your photograph, such as the camera used.

PHOTO: Ursula Springer

JUL 12 - 18 / ISSUE 527

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YOUR

OMAN

G

PLANNING TO HEAD TO GEORGIA

FOR EID? HERE’S WHAT THE

OMANI GOVERNMENT IS SAYING

eorgia has long been a tourist attraction for those travelling from the Middle East, specifically because of its relaxed visa rules that allow Omanis and other selected nationalities to enter the country with a visa on arrival. However, there have been reports of Omani nationals being turned back home at Tbilisi Airport – and the Sultanate is currently in communication with the country’s foreign office regarding the same. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported: “The ministry is in discussion with authorities in the Republic of Georgia regarding the circumstances surrounding a number of Omani tourists being sent back from Tbilisi Airport recently.” The statement went on to say that “according to the information available, this included citizens of other Gulf countries and not only Omanis. The ministry affirms that relations with the Republic of Georgia are strong and work on the continuation and development of these relations is ongoing.”

MWASALAT TRANSPORTS 2.5 MILLION PASSENGERS

COUNTERFEIT

WATCHES ON THE

RISE IN OMAN

I

f you’re in the market for a new watch, beware of the fake ones on the rise in Oman. The Royal Oman Police (ROP) arrested two people after they were caught selling high-value counterfeit watches in Muscat. “We’ve caught two people for selling counterfeit watches worth RO3,000, and some of these watches are being sold for large amounts,” a source at the ROP said. “People should be aware of these and should purchase the items only from branded showrooms with proper bills.” During the Sultanate’s census in 2010, expats were only 29 per cent of the population, a figure that quickly grew with time before its recent decline.

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O

man National Transport Company (ONTC) has seen a rise in passengers using its public buses in the first half of 2018. According to a report issued by ONTC on Sunday, it confirmed that Mwasalat has transported 2.5 million passengers from January 1 to June 30, 2018 with a growth rate of 15 per cent from the corresponding period last year. The data has been collected from all its routes within Muscat and its external routes in the country. According to the survey, around 14,000 passengers have used the public transport system daily, up from 12,000 daily passengers in 2017. Interestingly, the RuwiMabella routes recorded the highest number of passengers this year at 800,000. ONTC is also planning to expand its routes to the external parts of the country. More than 2.2 million passengers used Mwasalat last year.


NATURE BECKONS

GALLERY

Y’S INTERN HUSSAIN AL LAWATI CAPTURES PHOTOS OF FLORA IN THE WADIS AROUND SEEB AND MABELAH.

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YOUR

OMAN

OMAN AIR TO RESUME FLIGHTS TO MALDIVES

T

here’s good news for those planning their Eid Al Adha holidays. National airline Oman Air has confirmed that it will relaunch services between Muscat and Maldives in October. “We’re extremely delighted to announce that we’re resuming our Maldives route in October. Our new Maldives service offers holiday-makers the perfect opportunity to explore Muscat, the metropolitan capital of Oman before escaping to the beautiful shores of the Maldives,” said Eng. Abdulaziz Al Raisi, CEO of Oman Air. Oman Air will be flying the latest Boeing 737 aircraft to Maldives. According to Al Raisi, Oman Air will also begin operations to Moscow in October. Last week, the airline started four weekly flights to Casablanca.

PACP RECOVERS MORE

IS YOUR VEHICLE AFFECTED

THAN RO180,000 BY THE AIRBAG RECALL?

Y

ou might want to crosscheck with your service centre before taking your car on the road again, as some 99,407 vehicles were recently recalled by dealerships in Oman after it was determined they’d been fitted with faulty airbags. It’s not known if the recalled cars fall under the recent ‘Takata Recalls’ that have affected more than 50 million cars worldwide. It’s already been labelled as the ‘largest recall in automotive history.’ These airbags – upon impact – could malfunction and put passengers and drivers at risk of injuries, or worse, death, said the Sultanate’s watchdog, this week [Tuesday, July 10]. As per the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP), the recall was due to the discovery of a material, which upon decomposition inside the protective covering, could rupture the airbags and prevent their safe deployment in the event of a crash. Details of the make of the cars wasn’t revealed, but you can check with your local service centre if your car has been marked in the recall.

I

n an effort to preserve the rights of consumers in Oman, the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) has recovered more than RO180,000 in the first half of 2018. According to a statement issued by PACP on Sunday, the department in Seeb recovered more than RO183,177.50 from the labour services sector, workshops that repair cars, and the tourism services sector. “From the labour services sector, the highest amount recovered was RO74, 201.50, RO17,761 from workshops, and RO17,057 was recovered from the tourism sector,” said Ziad Al Wahaibi, director of the department in Seeb at PACP.

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SPICE ROUTE

GALLERY

THE ICONIC SOUK IN SEEB IS HOME TO SPICES FROM AROUND THE GLOBE. HUSSAIN AL LAWATI GETS CREATIVE DURING A DAY OUT AT THE SOUK.

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YOUR

WORLD CUP FEST

OMAN

CATCH THE FINALS AND THE THIRD-PLACE PLAYOFF OF THE 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP LIVE AT THE OMAN WORLD CUP FESTIVAL IN THE OMAN CONVENTION & EXHIBITION CENTRE. YOU COULD ALSO WIN SOME ATTRACTIVE SPOT PRIZES DURING HALF-TIME.

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GALLERY

Selected photos: Hussain al Lawaty JUL 12 - 18 / ISSUE 527

015


YOUR

OMAN

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GALLERY


Photography by: Hussain Al Lawati

Location: Seeb Souq

Style: Street-Life

As I was wandering through Seeb Souq with my camera, snapping some photos, I saw this shopkeeper calling out to the people passing by to buy from him. I stopped and asked him if I could capture his photo amid his stall‌and this was the result. JUL 12 - 18 / ISSUE 527

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THE WHAT’S ON GUIDE

FUNKY FRESH THURSDAY

STEP INTO SALSA Experience the Latin rhythms of Salsa at Vantage International Muscat where you’ll learn the basics of salsa steps and turns. Workshops start at 4:00 p.m. and are open to all – no previous experience required! Contact: 2479-5476, or 9343-5226.

JULY

Get ready to feel the heat, as resident DJ Vinyl sets the floor on fire at Rumba Lattina, The Cave Complex. Free entry for couples till 12 midnight.

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WEEK J

U

WHAT TO DO. WHAT TO SEE. WHAT TO HEAR.

L

Channel the power of your inner peace and join the World Meditation Hour at Rajyoga Centre from 7:30 p.m. onwards. Held for one hour on the third Sunday of every month, the event that began in 1978 encourages people from all walks of life to meditate collectively for world peace. Email: meditate@ rajayogaoman.org.

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Y

12

MEDITATION FOR PEACE

THIS

JULY

JULY

15


MOVIES MOVIES FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TIMES, GO TO: City Cinema: citycinemaoman.net Al Bahja Cinema: albahjacinema.net VOX Cinemas: oman.voxcinemas.com Star Cinema: Tel +968 24791641

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Cast: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James

Skyscraper Cast: Chin Han, Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campell U.S. war veteran and FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson) must face the ultimate test of strength in the face of danger when disaster strikes. On assignment in Hong Kong, where Sawyer now assesses security for skyscrapers, when the tallest building

My Story Cast: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Parvathy

in the world catches fire he finds himself a wanted man on the run, trying to find those responsible and somehow rescue his family who are trapped in the burning building… above the fire line. Oman release: July 12

Fans have been anticipating fashion designer turned director Roshni Dinaker’s film My Story for several reasons, the major one being its star lead couple Prithviraj Sukumaran and Parvathy. After their successful run at the box-office with Ennum Ninte Moideen in 2015, the two join hands in a story written by Shankar Ramakrishnan. The film revolves around a struggling actor, Jay, who falls in love with his co-star Tara, an already-established actress. However, Tara is set to marry David, a business tycoon and bureaucrat who is also the producer of her movies. Twenty years later, Jay is a big movie star but is still in love with Tara and decides to travel to Lisbon in search of her. Oman release: July 12

Meryl Streep and ABBA fans alike will find a double whammy with this sequel to its 2008 predecessor. Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) learns about her mother’s past as she prepares for motherhood herself. As Donna’s (Meryl Streep) young life is told through a series of flashbacks, with Lily James stepping into the role of young Donna, Sophie realizes how much she and her mother have in common. As she’ll be a young mother too, she soon learns that, much like Donna, she’ll need to take her own risks. Oman release: July 12

!

Mission: Impossible – Fallout Cast: Tom Cruise, Rebecca Ferguson, Henry Cavill

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong – but as they race against the clock, will they soon discover that sometimes, your best intentions come back to haunt you? Oman release: July 12

N WI

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION

Who plays the role of Will Sawyer in the movie Skyscraper? LAST WEEK’S WINNER Rodney Woods

WIN FREE MOVIE TICKETS! Read our movie section and answer the question to stand a chance to win two tickets to watch movies of your choice! Send your answers to info@y-oman. com, along with your contact information. Tickets must be collected from Y’s Seeb offices in person only. For the rest of the terms and conditions, see voucher.

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WHAT’S IN YOUR HEAD…?

Rates of depression and mood disorders are on the rise in Oman. Or are they really? Mental health continues to be one of the least-tracked and least-reported-on medical statistics in the Sultanate. What we do know is that more cases are coming to light as more people begin to break the silence. Y’s Alvin Thomas asks the question: Are we really happy?

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quickly takes a turn. “If it weren’t for my mother, husband, and my child, I would’ve considered the worst [suicide]. Yes, I know it’s haram [forbidden], but from the time I wake up to the time I close my eyes, I’m consumed by pain. “Nothing brings me happiness. Absolutely nothing,” she tells us. The tears that subsequently roll down her cheeks signal the end of our interview. As per her mentor, the young mother is not seeking professional attention due to the stigma associated with mental illnesses. In truth, however, Abia is only one among many Omanis who are undergoing depression but are not treated for it out of fear of being judged – or worse, abandoned by their families.

Support for all

F

ew health conditions carry as much stigma and misconception as depression. “Depression is not the same as having a bad day,” says Abia, a 26-year-old mother of one from Bahla. “Depression is real. Depression has – and continues to – consume my mind and my life.” Abia’s fight with the mental condition – one that she says she’s “losing” – began when she witnessed the death of her father in a car accident. She was only nine years-old. The incident, she says, changed her life – and it’s rarely that she speaks of it in public for fear of judgment and the trauma it brings back. We were able to interview her with the help of her friend and mentor. Abia tells us: “My father’s passing broke down the family. My mother was never really herself after that. “She even stopped talking to us [Abia and her two brothers],” she adds. “And that’s when I saw depression for the first time ever. I classified it as that when I saw my mother break down. The doctor in our town in Bahla declared her schizophrenic. “She would see abbie [father] and talk to him, which made my brothers very sad but also angry at her. “This made the people around the village stop interacting with us…and my brothers soon left home,” she tells us. By the age of 14, Abia was already taking care of her mother while her brothers left the family, sending money home each month to support them. To those around them, it seemed that life for the family was returning to some semblance of normality. What no one realized was that Abia was hiding something deep within: Depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression (major depressive disorder) is defined as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, think, and act. Depression has been associated with feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities that a person once enjoyed. During the interview, Abia isn’t comfortable revealing further details about her condition. Instead, what ensues stuns us, as the conversation

Today, depression is recognized globally – and there are several organizations and individuals working together to help patients manage their condition and improve their daily quality of life. Talking about it is also no longer taboo. Using their spotlight as a platform, celebrities have come into the open to reveal details of their battle with depression and other mental health conditions. Actors such as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, and Angelina Jolie, are just a handful of actors who have come forward to discuss their condition publicly so that it could be talked about and, perhaps, also help others in the process. But what if you’re not a celebrity? Do you still have the chance to receive support? “Well, yes. And that’s where the misconception

Symptoms of depression: ● Feeling sad or having a depressed mood ● Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed ● Changes in appetite — weight-loss or gain unrelated to dieting ● Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much ● Loss of energy or increased fatigue ● Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others) ● Feeling worthless or guilty ● Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions ● Thoughts of death or suicide Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression. Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumour, or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression, so it’s important to rule out all medical causes.


lies,” says Dr. Amira al Raaidan, the Director for Health Education and Awareness Programs, and Head of the Mental Health Department in the Ministry of Health. “You’re not alone. We’re all here to help and there are clinics across Oman that can help you deal with your troubles. “Anyone who thinks they’re undergoing depression should consult a doctor. It’s a very dangerous condition that needs to be treated ontime, else it can progress into something far more serious. “One should also remember that depression is treatable if diagnosed at the right time,” she explains, before adding that by the year 2020, depression will take over as one of the biggest forms of mental illness. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Mental Disorders Fact Sheet for 2018, a staggering 433 million people worldwide exhibit cognitive, emotional, and social impairments (CESI). These impairments include depressive illnesses (300 million), bipolar affective disorder (60 million), schizophrenia and other psychoses (23 million), and dementia (50 million). During our interview, Dr. Amira reveals, “Depression and anxiety disorders can rise from factors such as emotional and physical trauma, accidents, relationship troubles, workplace tensions, and many other factors.” Signs of depression in children can be bedwetting, biting nails, and aggression, but it varies extensively in adults. The signs of an adult suffering from anxiety or depression can be irritation, aggression, mood swings, restlessness, emotional instability, pessimism, and hopelessness. Dr. Amira adds: “One suffering from these conditions can also experience other problems and diseases like obesity, hypertension, heart diseases

Anyone who thinks they’re undergoing depression should consult a doctor. It’s a very dangerous condition that needs to be treated on-time, else it can progress into something far more serious

and, in some cases, substance abuse.” Unfortunately, there are no statistics available of patients suffering from depression in Oman, but Dr. Amira believes that the numbers are rising as more Omanis and expats come forward to seek help.

More facilities in the pipeline

As per WHO-AIMS (World Health Organization- Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems), the “density of psychiatrists in and around the largest city (Muscat) is 2.42 times greater than the density of psychiatrists in the entire country”; meaning, mental healthcare is harder to access in other areas of the country. That’s worrying, considering that depression, on average, affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7 per cent) in any given year, and one in six people (16.6 per cent) will experience depression at some time in their life. The greatest pitfall is that depression can strike anyone at any time, but on average, the first onset can appear during the late teens to mid20s. Studies conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) also show that women are more likely than men to experience depression. “But the infrastructure is slowly starting to take shape,” says Dr. Amira. “We’re in a transition phase as [Oman] develops the behavioural consultation facilities in the country. It’s not an easy process – and it should take a few years. “We’re in dire need of human resources to conduct all of these services too. But we’re going to be bringing in more specialized doctors from the country as well as from abroad to help meet our needs,” she adds. Aaron Prince, a part-time life coach and a marine living in Muscat, tells us, “There are several reasons why we see many individuals keep their feelings bottled in. The primary reason is people think that they can solve the problem themselves. “But these people only begin to suspect that they’re depressed when it reaches a stage when they have to actually face it. Until then, most people don’t suspect a thing. 022

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One suffering from these conditions can also experience other problems and diseases like obesity, hypertension, heart diseases and, in some cases, substance abuse

are yet to be updated by the Ministry of Health, but it must be noted that the suicide rate in the Sultanate is below that of the world average. Close to 800,000 people die worldwide due to suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds. Many more attempt suicide but fail to succeed. Oman bore witness to the suicide of international DJ Avicii in April, stunning the music industry. “Avicii’s death rings so many bells surrounding depression,” says Aaron. “Even the most popular of celebrities can be struck down by this condition which forces them to take their own lives.” “What you need to realize is that you’re not alone. Not now. Not ever,” he adds.

Who can you talk to?

Anyone in need of medical attention can make use of health facilities such as the Al Masarra Hospital, Whispers of Serenity Clinic, and Al Harub Medical Centre among several other healthcare clinics in Oman. And for those who take to social media in a cry for help, Facebook is also making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to track individuals contemplating suicide. The number of Facebook users who see support content for suicide prevention has reportedly doubled since the company switched on a detection system. But keep in mind that if social media is the root cause of your depression or anxiety, it’s best to stay away from it. Unfortunately, there’s no suicide hotline in Oman for those who are in need of assistance. If you feel that you’re contemplating self-harm, reach out at once to your nearest healthcare clinic or hospital’s emergency department for immediate assistance. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by opening up – so let’s talk and break the silence. ■

“And often, people who come to me for help have single episodes that usually can be treated even without the need for a medical professional. “Then, we have those who are suffering from moderate to severe depression – and that’s a whole different scenario. “Sitting down with patients who suffer from severe depression can be difficult, as most of them have been bottling down their feelings and emotions for years, if not decades. One therapy I make use of is the ‘Primal Scream Therapy’ – and sometimes it helps these individuals face their feelings. “This form of therapy is one where the patient recalls a disturbing experience and expresses their anger and frustration through unrestrained screams or hysteria. It’s like reaching into the core of your problem and setting it right. “Sadly, most patients who seek my help and are under severe depression are those who were assaulted sexually or physically during their childhood. These scars are ones that usually stick with you for life and can also change your mind-set during your formative years,” he adds. Recalling the story of one of his patients, Aaron tells: “Back in 2015, when I had just started coaching one particular patient, I remember him telling me about how he was assaulted by a family member as a child. “The trauma from his childhood stuck with him and there were multiple instances when he tried the unthinkable; he tried to commit suicide. It was the first time I had come across such a situation and I knew that I had to help him out. “It took two years – and several sessions of therapy with a medical professional from a leading medical center in Oman – but he came back on-track and decided to make an effort to live a normal life. “I still keep in touch with him, and I only respect him for coming forward and accepting that he had a condition to fix. “That has made him the man he is today,” he concludes.

The statistics

Unfortunately, examples like Aaron’s are not the case for the 25 people who decided to take their lives in Oman in 2016. The statistics JUL 12 -18 / ISSUE 527

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PRESENTS

THE GAME OF FOOTBALL IS FILLED WITH SURPRISES AT EVERY TURN – AND WITH FAVOURITES BRAZIL AND URUGUAY OUT OF THE RUNNING, IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS WHO’LL BE FLYING BACK HOME WITH THE TROPHY. WHETHER ‘IT’S COMING HOME’ OR IS GOING ELSEWHERE IS A QUESTION FOR NEXT WEEK, BUT ONE THING’S FOR SURE: THE FIFA WORLD CUP WILL STAY IN EUROPE

A tragic finish The emotions are clear from the tears that trickle down from his eyes: He may be regarded as one of the most celebrated footballers currently in the game, but there’s no masking the grief of 26-year-old Neymar Jr. – and his teammates – after their loss to Belgium. Brazil may have only lost the match by one goal, but it made all the difference in the world. They were sent home packing post-match – a pity, considering they outdid the Belgians on all fronts: ball possession (59 per cent to 41 per cent), shots on goal (27 to nine), and pass accuracy (88 per cent to 80 per cent). However, in the end it was the second goal – the one that Kevin de Bryune propelled past goalkeeper Alisson and into the far corner of the Brazilian nets – that took Belgium into the semi-finals of this year’s FIFA World Cup. The loss also marked the end of South America’s World Cup dream – a dream that had been hanging in the balance for 12 years! And the fans out at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC) for the Oman World Cup Festival were faced with the prospect of waiting patiently for another four years. Football is a cruel sport… Shaukat Ali, a Brazilian supporter at the Oman World Cup Festival tells us: “This has to be one of the most disappointing games in this rather disappointing World Cup. All the best teams have been knocked off and all those remain are the European teams. “And even then, the only team worthy of taking the trophy home now is France,” he adds. This further asserts the European teams’ dominance in international football, but it’s still far from a cake-walk for those teams left in the running. Belgium – who were placed among the favourites – had to take on a sturdy France, while the Croatians had to take on a rather lucky English team led by Gareth Southgate. Termed as a recap of the 2004 FIFA World Cup, save for the early exit of Brazil and Germany this year, the competition is now giving countries such as England, Croatia, and Belgium

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a hope for glory. As we progress closer to the finals of the cup, it’s still too soon to tell who could take it home – right now, it’s anyone’s guess. But as responsible football enthusiasts, what we can do – and rightly so – is recap where the South American countries went wrong.

Where it all went wrong for the South Americans Old isn’t always gold

Let’s begin with the most obvious advantage the European teams had over the South American and Asian teams this year: age. Staggeringly, the average age of the players in the Argentinian team was 29.3 – and don’t forget that their trump card Messi is now 31 years old! Mexico are no different, coming in at an average age of 29.4, while both Brazil and Uruguay came in at 28.1. In retrospect, teams such as France and Germany came into the championship with young teams averaging at 26 and 27.1, respectively. Football analyst and editor of Koooora Wa Bas magazine, Fahad al Tamimi, says: “Young players mean faster legs in the game. These boys are hungry for winning and will do all it takes to send the ball into the nets. “Aside from the Brazilian team, I think most South American teams lost out on speed, thereby giving the opponents a good chance to open the field up and try for a goal,” he adds.

There’s no ‘I’ in ‘Team’

Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., Cavani, Coutinho, Luis Suarez, Marcelo, and Sergio Aguero were some of the big guns from South America that made appearances in the World Cup matches this year. And while that should’ve spelled well for their teams, it didn’t – not even a little bit! In fact, the teams were left crippled by the lack of chemistry between players. For instance: There were moments when Marcelo was seen advancing with the ball while the strikers and mid-fielders were laying low. This was also the case with Argentina, when Lionel Messi was caught out dribbling by opposition defenders due to the lack of backup offered by the Argentinian mid-fielders. Sure, there were moments of magic here and there, but in the end, it showed us that World Cups aren’t won by individual performances alone.


Ball possession amounts to nothing

We’re not playing football in kindergarten, so keeping possession of the ball for longer doesn’t amount to much but a pat on the back. That said, the obvious benefits of ball possession are tremendous, but somehow it didn’t translate to many goals in this year’s World Cup. Attacking and risk-taking has been the order of the month, and teams such as Belgium and France, which had a possession rate of under 41 and 39 per cent, respectively, proved our points right with wins over Brazil and Argentina. Fahad tells us: “It’s hard to pin-point what went wrong with Brazil – they did take risks in the final game and they played well. But there’s also the luck factor, and Brazil were denied multiple times by Belgium’s T. Courtois. “Also, the last penalty that the referee didn’t grant Brazil can be put down to Neymar. His immature actions on the field – the diving and the unnecessary actions – in previous games meant that the referee was quite harsh on him. “If I’m being completely honest, they probably would’ve tied the match if they’d been granted that penalty. “But that’s what they say: You win some and you lose some,” he shrugs.

Catch the final matches live!

They said that a World Cup final without Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and Portugal wouldn’t amount for much – but, they were wrong! Two games await you this week – the third-place play-off and the highlyanticipated finals. You too can join the action live and interact with fans at the largest screening of the World Cup games at the Oman World Cup Festival presented by Ooredoo, on now at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre (OCEC). The matches are screened in English and Arabic, and you can catch them on seven of the largest screens in the country that present viewers with a 360-degree experience.

Who scored the 115th minute equaliser for Russia in their match against Croatia? ● Stand a chance to win a JBL GO Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker.

Tickets are on-sale online at tickets.virginmegastore.me or onsite at the OCEC and at Virgin Megastore – Seeb City Centre and Oasis by the Sea. For more details, visit www.theagency. co.om/sae-worldcup.

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DIGITAL

FOOTPRINTS

What advice does one of Oman’s leading tech entrepreneurs and voices in media have for those looking to grow the nation’s IT industry? Y’s Nishad Padiyarath sits down with Knowledge Oman’s Chairman of the Board of Directors Tariq Hilal al Barwani to find out 026

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with tablets. What does that mean? Sooner or later, we’ll see these children stop going to schools and instead opt for E-education. I used to drive all the way to Seeb to pay my traffic fines, but today I can sit at home and pay these bills. From the banking sector to education, technology has transformed efficiently in the last few years in Oman. Y: When take stock of GCC countries, Oman’s IT sector is still in a phase of growth – and we’re not finding many Omanis in this industry either. What inspired you to be a trailblazer in this field? TAB: I have to credit my father who used to work in a bank in the early 90s where IT was one of the key departments and he was its Operations Manager. Even back then, he felt that technology would be the key to the future. But what inspired me were these technological creations. During those days my thoughts were – ‘How I can create something special?’ From computers, you can create programs that can help people and that’s when I created virus-cleaners. So, the love of creating new things is what inspired me to get into IT.

A

n award-winning IT expert, a motivational presenter, a public speaker, and radio jockey? It sounds like a lot of hats for one person to wear – but that’s Tariq Hilal al Barwani. He’s Oman’s top technological expert and, by far, the best in his field. From creating Knowledge Oman, the largest community platform empowering the country’s young entrepreneurs, Tariq has come a long way. “But I still have miles to go,” he says in an interview with Y. As a technologist, Tariq has won several awards including the Global Knowledge Management Leadership Award at the World HRD Congress in 2018. Today, he’s part of the Microsoft Reconnect program supporting Microsoft on community-related initiatives. We sat down with Tariq to learn more about the direction Oman’s technological growth is headed. Y: You’re an established IT expert in the country. How is Oman’s digital strategy progressing? TAB: In 2008, while addressing the Council of Oman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said stressed the need to develop the technological and practical skills of citizens in Oman and provide them with the right resources. Since then, a lot has changed in terms of awareness, applications, and transformations. In the early days, when I used to display and speak about computers and devices, people used to be curious. Today, a child aged 10 knows more than what we do about technology. We used to go to schools carrying bags, but these days children go to school

Y: You founded Knowledge Oman (KO) in 2008 and it’s gone on to become the biggest knowledge-sharing platform in the country. Where’s it headed next? TAB: The call of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to transform Oman into a knowledge-based society is what created KO. This platform has both Omanis and expats collaborating who share their valuable knowledge related to technology. In the last ten years, KO has helped people to create, share, and promote knowledge through online-based and community-driven initiatives. Knowledge Oman also reaches out to empower social entrepreneurs, facilitate nation-wide knowledge transfers, and promote private-public partnerships in the country that serve society’s progress. Y: Where do you see Oman’s IT industry in the next five years? TAB: It’s changing every day. From the way we think, to the way we behave, technology is growing faster. Look at where it’s brought us – from artificial intelligence to Blockchain, the world of IT has come a long way and it’s only getting stronger. Y: On the one hand as we talk about technological advancements, on the other there are also those who misuse technology for illicit gain. What measures can be taken against this? TAB: If you’re talking about cyber-security, Oman has emerged first in the Arab world, and fourth in the world, for cyber-security. From a legal perspective, Oman has issued laws to combat the misuse of technology. People should be made aware that technology should be used for the betterment of society and not otherwise. Want to know more about Tariq Hilal al Barwani and the work of Knowledge Oman? Visit www. knowledgeoman.com.

JUL 12 - 18 / ISSUE 527

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The ancient city of Qalhat has just gained UNESCO World Heritage Site status and is slowly gaining traction as a tourist destination in Oman. But, there’s more to this ancient city than what’s told in the history books. Y’s Alvin Thomas talks to residents about the stories and myths that surround it to round up the facts

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E

The time-worn mausoleum of Bibi Maryam is a tourist attraction today.

THERE ARE SO MANY STORIES THAT ARE TOLD ABOUT QALHAT. BUT, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS OPEN YOUR EARS TO THE STORIES THAT THE BUILDING TELLS YOU. THESE WALLS HAVE SEEN FAR MORE THAN WHAT ANYONE COULD TELL YOU Ayez, built the tomb in the 13th century in honour of his wife. The shrine measures in at about 30m in length and 25m in depth, with a basement or underground corridor beneath. Access is denied with a large metal door that seems to have escaped erosion – unlike much of the tomb. We then talked to some youth relaxing by the beach about how important Qalhat has been to them. Shabib al Wahaibi, an undergraduate student, said: “The city defines our life –as I remember as a child we all had to sit and learn about it from our parents. “It’s like a tradition for those who were born here – sitting on the ground and hearing abbie (father) talk about it comes back to my memory. Back then, we didn’t have electricity either, so we felt that the place on top of the hill [Qalhat] was very scary. Some of my friends also made up scary stories, so we wouldn’t go up there very often. “To be honest, the first time I went up there was with my friends when I was 21-yearsold. Until then, all I knew about it was Bibi Maryam’s tomb that you can see from down the hill,” he added.

The tides of history

ntering the ancient city of Qalhat, the thought of standing on grounds that once bore the weight of some of the world’s most powerful minds such as Ibn Battuta, and dictators such as Bahauddin Ayez, brought shivers down our spines as we passed through its battered gate. Today, the 920-year-old abandoned city is a recipient of electricity and, that harbinger of digital modernity, 4G connectivity. But it’s there, deep in the heart of Al Sharqiyah, that lies a mausoleum so desolate that even those living around it are completely oblivious to it. Little do they know that the ruins of what remains of the ancient city of Qalhat is, today, putting the Sultanate on the map. For the handful of those who visit the town for its historic value – or rather to catch a glimpse of the ruins that remains of the city – Qalhat is a sight to behold; much like how awe-struck Ibn Battuta would’ve been when he first visited the city in 1311. Little wonder it’s become a talking point around the globe. And, as of this month, Qalhat will also rank among the 1,902 sites across the world protected with the prestigious World Heritage Site status by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The ruins of Qalhat Today, the only remnants of the ancient city – which dates back to the early 11th century – is the tall mausoleum of Bibi Mariam, also known as ‘Lady Maryam’, who ruled the city of Qalhat and Hurmuz after the death of her husband Ayaz. Virtually all other portions of the city now remain in rubble, save for a few structures peppered across the sandy terrain. The sands of time have taken their toll on the structure that dominates the otherwise rocky skyline, as the mausoleum now stands without its dome, and the wrinkled remains of its stone and sand walls have forced authorities to shut the site around it from tourists and adventurous teenagers. Still, the beauty and mystery surrounding the city remains. And each structure that remains along with it has a story to tell those who would listen. At least that’s what Sulaiman al Kindi, a 74-year-old resident of Qalhat told us when he saw us scouting around its perimeter. “You really shouldn’t be so close to this building,” he said initially, as he advanced towards us as we clicked photos of the tall tomb. “Even the slightest of disturbances can affect the structure. The building is also very weak, so it’s best to stay far away from it,” he added. Owing to his knowledge on the building, our translator proceeded to question him about the significance of the locale to Oman. He answered: “There are so many stories that are told about Qalhat. But, you should always open your ears to the stories that the building tells you. These walls have seen far more than what anyone could tell you. “This is where Bibi Maryam was buried. And who knows, it might be her spirit that speaks to you as you walk around the town,” he said with a teasing grin forming on his wrinkled face. But there are conflicting stories about the mausoleum, as some say the structure is a mosque that was built by Lady Maryam herself, while others say that her husband, Bahauddin

The earliest recorded history of the city dates back to the 11th century, when Qalhat was known to be an important stop in the wider Indian Ocean trade network, and also the second city of the Kingdom of Ormus. The Kingdom was established by Arab princes in the 10th century and was developed into a major port of the east coast of Arabia, but soon changed powers after the arrival of the Portuguese. The latter also marked the end of an era for the beautiful city, for Sulaiman believes that it’s the Portuguese who ransacked Qalhat, burning most of the ships and buildings as they went along – while the rest of the damage over the years is owed to time, environmental factors, and man. But standing there it’s hard to avoid looking at the ever-present sea and think about all the life – the hustle and bustle – that once kept this city alive. Time, for Qalhat, has been the ultimate custodian of change – an ancient city which, upon its ruins, once thrived a dynamic civilization that underlines the very core of Oman.

JUL 12 - 18 / ISSUE 527

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Gaming

THE COMPASS

Jeep’s latest take on the sub-compact SUV segment is helping the company break into a niche market dominated by the Europeans and Japanese. -P34

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CARS AND OUTDOORS ADVENTURES

D E S T I N AT I O N C a r s

P o s t c a r d s Fr o m

Y- F i

Gaming

Destination

SOHAR THIS SEA-FARING CITY ON THE COUNTRY’S NORTH-EASTERN EXPANSE NEEDS NO INTRODUCTION. Y’S SHAQUEL AL BALUSHI LETS ITS SUBLIME LANDSCAPE SPEAK THROUGH HIS LENSE 032

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ohar beckons, as always. Upon visiting Oman’s picturesque port city, you’ll find it’s a destination steeped in history and tradition amid the trappings of modernity – a perfect place to nourish your senses and uplift your spirit. On the long drive to this warm and friendly Omani outpost you can’t help but leave your cares behind and focus on the road ahead. As always, I set out early in the morning with my friend Hassan who was my copassenger for the day. With some soulful music loaded on our playlist and our cooler box well-stocked, we hit the road, taking the Muscat Expressway to beat the morning rush, although traffic was light. As we meandered along the highway, the weather was on our side this unseasonably cool July morning and we took it as a good omen. Every time I travel to Sohar be it for work or leisure, its energy engulfs me and on this day it was no different. Known as the mythical birthplace of Sindbad the Sailor, Sohar was once Oman’s ancient capital that served as an important Islamic port town. We decided to take a tour round the historic Sohar Fort – considered one of the most important in the Al Batinah North Governorate. Dating back to the 14th century, it played a critical role in the Sultanate’s history and is set upon a striking swathe of greenery, making it the perfect spot for a picnic. It’s also very close to the beach and it’s here we rested to soak up the tranquillity of our surroundings. Even at 10:00 a.m. the only sound we could hear was the soft call of birds in harmony, punctuated by the gentle crash of the waves that lapped against the shore. Have you explored this maritime retreat? If not, you’re missing out on one of the most idyllic spots to explore in the Sultanate.

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FIRST DRIVE

CARS ADVENTURES

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he compact SUV has to be one of the most overcrowded and lucrative segments in the automotive sector right now. It’s a well-known fact that a greater number of people are now demanding more from their vehicles – the need for a vehicle that can offer utilitarian functions alongside regular commuting duties is what dictates a sale now. In short, more buyers are now upgrading to larger crossovers and SUVs in lieu of dishing out money for a sedan or similarly-sized hatchback. This is why the Jeep Compass makes perfect sense in the GCC market. Originally introduced in the U.S. and Indian markets, among various others in Asia, the Jeep quickly rose to cult status. India, a market known for its compact-segment even ousted other entry-level luxury competitors to post 19,000 units sold in the span of just eight months. If the rumours ring true, the Compass has already been booked out in Oman too – and why wouldn’t

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J E E P C O M PA S S

The baby SUV in Jeep’s lineup has come of age. Y’s Alvin Thomas throws every test he can at the Compass – only to find its direction stays true it? It’s a peppy little SUV that comes with the typical Jeep charm and allure, as you’d expect. For a compact SUV, it even looks wellproportioned, albeit, you’d want to shell out a bit extra for larger wheels to suit the look. The Japanese can take a couple of leaves out of the Americans’ book. The Compass dons the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s design ethos for the most part – looking like someone passed the larger sibling through a photocopier at 60 per cent. All of that works out for the best though, because the Grand Cherokee-esque headlights, coupled with the traditional Jeep grille, and the plastic panels on the lower portions, complements the rugged look it’s aiming for. Where my tester really faltered was in the size of the wheels. Simply put, the 17-inch alloys don’t do justice to the Compass’s overall design. The posterior, meanwhile, has no surprises up its sleeve, although the wide tailgate does make way for easy loading of goods. The luggage space is generous for this segment (770 litres or 1,693 litres with the rear-seats folded down). Speaking of which, there’s ample leg- and headspace for all passengers – even those in the rear. There’s reportedly 7cms of added leg-room as compared with its sibling, the Jeep Renegade. The rear seats can easily host three people with enough room to breathe. Inside, you’ll find that soft-touch plastics comprise of much of the panels you’d normally access during your commute, with only a few padded surfaces covered in decent-quality leatherette. The steering wheel, however, is wrapped and stitched in highquality leather. The dashboard is uncluttered – and

an 8.4-inch touch-screen takes up much of it. The infotainment screen runs on the same UConnect system you’ll find on Dodge, FIAT, and Alfa Romeo products, and is easy to use. It’s also the closest you’ll get to a faultless Android experience without fitting an aftermarket unit yourself, since the Android Auto feature doesn’t work in Oman for some unexplainable reason. Other features inside the cabin include a dual-zone A/C, an excellent audio system with decent bass and treble, and Jeep’s terrain select system that allows you to switch between ‘Auto’, ‘Sand’, ‘Snow’, and ‘Mud’ modes. The upper variants should also come with a sun-roof and leather seats, among other


Destination

P o s t c a r d s Fr o m

Y- F i

Gaming

CARS

JEEP COMPASS Specifications: • Engine: 2.4-litre ‘naturallyaspirated’ in-line four-cylinder • Transmission: Nine-speed automatic • Power: 184hp • Torque: 321Nms Four-wheel-drive Speed limiter Cruise control 8.4-inch touchscreen with UConnect Leather-wrapped steering wheel Auto-dimming rear-view mirror Sunroof 17-inch alloy wheels Locking differential Selectable drive modes Apple CarPlay Electronic handbrake

bells and whistles. Where the Jeep really makes a stride is in its performance. The engine – a 2.4-litre in-line four-cylinder – has been updated to now produce 184hp and 321Nms

of torque. While the figures don’t necessarily sit well onpaper, the vehicle performs admirably on the tarmac. The light 1.5-tonne body, along with a smooth (albeit, slow) shifting nine-speed automatic transmission makes sure you hit the 100kph mark a whisker before the 10-second mark. But, there’s plenty of torque from about 2,000rpm, which makes perfect sense when you’re kicking up dust in the mountains. The chassis is tuned well to provide the right amount of balance between rigidity for when you go off-road, and softness for those times you’re cruising down the highway. Still, the Compass possesses a substantial amount of body roll when corners are taken at speeds of 40kph. Sure, the Germans can do better in corners, but I must point out that none of them at this price-point can perform nearly as well as the Compass off the tarmac. Besides, should things go out of hand in a corner, there’s also a torque-vectoring (brake-based) system to

THE COMPASS DONS THE JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE’S DESIGN ETHOS FOR THE MOST PART – LOOKING LIKE SOMEONE PASSED THE LARGER SIBLING THROUGH A PHOTOCOPIER AT 60 PER CENT help you bring the vehicle back into its original stride. The brakes are top-class, too. There’s also not much in the line of wind noise when cruising at speeds of up to 130kph, which in itself is an achievement. That, along with the high profile tires, makes way for a very comfortable driving experience that’s light-years ahead of the Jeeps of old. That’s also the order of the day, as the Jeep Compass impressed us on almost all fronts. It may originally have been intended to sit in the lineup as an entrylevel SUV – a baby Grand Cherokee of sorts, but we’ll tell you this: It does that… and more. For that very reason, we think of the Compass as a wellrounded SUV that deserves far more credit than it’s already received. We here at Y are eagerly waiting for the soupedup Trailhawk variant next!

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CARS ADVENTURES

TALES FROM TALLINN

Revel in the medieval splendour of the Estonian capital’s ancient Old Town

1. Explore the art collection at the Kadriorg Palace. 2. Meditate in St. Mary’s Cathedral 3. Head to the Estonian Open-Air Museum to learn about the ancient fishing techniques of Estonia. 4. Grab a ferry for a day-trip across to Helsinki, Finland. It’s a 3-hour journey and your EU visa stamp allows you easy entry at the port. 5. Spend an afternoon relaxing with your mates in the Kadriorg Park.

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Destination

Cars

Y-Fi

Gaming

POSTCARDS FROM

Alvin Thomas recommends

TALLINN, ESTONIA

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he medieval town and capital city of Tallinn in Estonia looks as though it could be plucked from the renderings of a fairytale. Fans of the Harry Potter series would be forgiven in thinking they’d stumbled into the town of Hogsmeade - half expecting to see ‘big man’ Hagrid down at one of the taverns. This is the beauty of Tallinn - it mirrors what you imagine a rustic, medieval town should look like. Whether you’re exploring the alleyways in the city, interacting with the good-humoured locals down at the central square, or taking a tour of the many iconic churches dotted throughout the cloisters of its old city, Tallinn consistently delivers on the picture-postcard quotient. Much like Omanis, the Tallinnians are a proud people, and that can be seen in the way they preserve their buildings, traditions, and their beliefs. The Gothic Town Hall and the 64m-high tower that surrounds it, was built in the 13th century, while other landmarks from the era - such as the St. Nicholas Church - exhibits awe-inspiring ecclesiastical art. Tallinn’s history dates back to the year 1248 when it first received city rights, though human settlements date back nearly 5,000 years. Since then, it’s switched powers - initially being ruled by the Danes, before alternating between Scandinavian and German rule. Tour guides will also take you around the early landmarks and spoon-feed you with details straight off Wikipedia, but really, it’d be best to ditch them and head out for a walk around the town like you belong - and that’s what you should do. The residents of Tallinn - especially those in the Old Town - are incredibly welcoming and will rattle off places you should visit.

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USEUM OP E N A IR M

My favourite place Toompea. This limestone hill is a challenging climb, but with a great reward at the top. There, you can catch a glimpse of the Old Town and ponder how the locals lived during medieval times. The Old Town is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights

The quiet halls of St. Mary’s Cathedral and St. Olaf ’s Church that were built in the 13th and 12th centuries respectively, should help you connect with your spiritual side. St. Olaf ’s Church has quite a history, believed to have been the tallest building in the world from 1549 to 1625, and has been hit by lightning around 10 times – of which, it burned down to rubble three times!

Lowlights The temperatures during the winter months can unsettle those travelling from the Sultanate. And those staying at smaller inns or hostels should make sure their rooms are bed-bug-free.

Souvenirs Tallinn is home to several boutique shops that sell Estonian jewelry and clothing. Try getting your hands on the patterned earrings and socks – they’re creative, and incredibly funky. Freshly-made Tallinnian jams are also worth bringing back home. Getting there There are direct flights from the Sultanate to Tallinn. You can fly from Muscat to the city with Turkish

Airlines for about RO171.

Where to stay With over 4.3 million tourists visiting Tallinn annually, hotel stays can be a bit expensive. One night in a three-star hotel can set you back upwards of RO35, however, there are several inns and hostels that cost between RO10 and 20. If you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you can also find cheap stays at Airbnb.

B A L T IC SEA C R U IS E ESTON : TALL IA T O H IN N , E L S IN K I, F IN L AND

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-FI THE TECH IN YOU

Destination

Cars

Gaming

Y-FI

BACK IN TIME The Y Geek Squad is throwing it wayyy back this week with some blast-from-the-past retro gadgets that are making a comeback!

LUCIANO BLUETOOTH SPEAKER For the steampunks out there who are starting a movement to bring back the phonograph, innovators New Black have just launched the Luciano ceramic Bluetooth speaker inspired by just that! Crafted with components typically found in Hi-Fi stereo systems, Luciano’s casting is done in Nove, an Italian town that’s been famous for its ceramic work since the 1700s. It doesn’t get more retro than that!

ULTRA GAME BOY TGaming outfit Hyperkin.com is set to launch its revamped version of the widely-popular Game Boy. Temporarily called the Ultra Game Boy, it comes with LCD display, a pair of stereo speakers, and a USB-C charging port. With a six-hour battery life, get ready to take your gaming experience to a whole new level.

POLAROID ONESTEP2

EDITOR’S PICK

Polaroid has unveiled the OneStep2 – an instant analog camera that will help you get those snap-photos in their old glory. Its features are simple – and you can even adjust the flash or set a timer to get the best shot. While the film is expensive at RO6.15, the camera’s a steal at RO38.

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NOKIA 3310

HOW MANY OF YOU OWNED A NOKIA 3310 AT THE TURN OF THE MILLENNIUM? DUE TO DEMAND FROM CONSUMERS, FINNISH COMPANY HMD GLOBAL HAVE RELAUNCHED THE ICONIC MOBILE FROM THE YEAR 2000. PRICED AT RO23, THE HANDSET COMES IN FOUR COLOURS AND, YES, YOU CAN PLAY THE SNAKE GAME!

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Retro revival: Our top 5 games of the 90s!

There’s something about old, glitch-ridden, two-dimensional games that appeal to the inner child in us. This week, Y’s geek squad member Alvin Thomas picks out the top five games that helped give rise to a new breed of gamers. NEED FOR SPEED: HOT PURSUIT III YEAR OF RELEASE: 1998

violence into the scene. Of course, many moons have passed since then, and newer titles have taken away any exclusivity that was left in this genre. But, the competitiveness of the game, coupled with the eerie in-game commentary etched a mark on the lives of those who played it.

People don’t rave about retro games for nothing. These games defined a whole generation of gamers – and they deserve credit for that! Sitting atop our list of favourites is Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit III, the game that began our relationship with arcade racing. It gave car-fanatics like us the hope of driving a Lamborghini or a Chevy Corvette without shelling out the big bucks, and also the thrills of slamming into gates and other cars METAL GEAR SOLID to avoid the cops. Sure, the graphical interface was patchy and YEAR OF RELEASE: 1998 the physics engine was irritatingly glitch at times – but it gave birth to a new breed of car-racing games that we now love and Metal Gear gave rise to a new genre: adore. Stealth games. And if that isn’t worth a nod in itself, then we don’t know what is. Metal Gear Solid SONIC THE – the eighth game in the series HEDGEHOG – can be considered a relatively straightforward third-person YEAR OF RELEASE: shooter stealth game by today’s 1991 standards, but the twists and indepth plot – though quaint now – were enough to have younger Kids from Gen Z (children audiences in the 90s hooked. Also, you could smoke (at the born after December 2000) expense of losing your health) in the game to help reveal laser will never know the frustrations of playing on a console until beams. Brilliant! they’ve given Sonic the Hedgehog a go. Negatives aside, though, the game gained popularity due to its catchy titlescreen music and storyline. The spiky blue sprinter soon ROAD RASH became a hit with the youth, with many even crowning it king alongside the classic Super Mario. YEAR OF RELEASE: 1991

MORTAL KOMBAT YEAR OF RELEASE: 1992 Mortal Kombat broke more friendships than any other game in the 90s. Apart from that, this one-on-one fighting game severed several norms in gaming; it brought blood, gore, and

It’s safe to say that Road Rash is the game that gave Electronic Arts its footing in the gaming industry. This title gave gamers an opportunity to delve into – in staggering detail, we might add – the lives of bikers in the U.S. Leather clothing and heavy metal music galore (among several other details that we can’t quite mention here), this game was quite a hit among youth of the era. JULY JUL0312 -- 09 18 / ISSUE 527 327

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HEALTH& BEAUTY

Health

Beauty

IN HIS SHOES

FASHION

Boys, put your best foot forward with some stylish footwear that will help you go the distance – no matter what the occasion. We especially love this slick combo from Burton!

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aran K e tin hris C , t ry tree esto s o h h g s e hi rmy h a t e o t H end e look. ram h g g hi th the to get n Insta m Fro s you tine o is help w Chr o Foll

T t Ge

Just like a well-fitted suit is crucial to any man’s closet, stylish, fitting shoes are important too. These formal black lace-tie shoes from Dune Men, are the perfect pair to don for that dealcloser of a meeting, or extra-special occasion. Get yours for RO56.

These Navy-Blue Derby pair from ZARA are the perfect eye-catcher – chic, stylish, and we’re loving their super attention to detail. Grab them now for RO18.

Men, a little velvet never hurt anyone. In fact, this maroon pair from River Island will add a punch of pizazz to your feet and style in every step. Make them yours for RO25.

Make a statement in some faux-crocs. These black leather Oxford shoes embossed in mock crocodile finish will up your style quotient instantly. Find them at ZARA for RO18.

Has your boss invited you to his country club? Not sure how to style your look or which shoes to wear? We recommend these slip-on leather shoes from H&M. Easy on the pocket and super-stylish on the feet. Make ‘em yours for RO33.

Add a pop of colour to your office’s Thursday casual day with this summery pair of shoes. These mustard-coloured Bounty Drivers from Office should be a must-have in your closet collection. But them for RO 31.

These tan shoes from River Island are perfect to style with a dark-blue suit or a pastel beige one – a perfect color palette for summer! Buy them for RO18.

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HEALTH& BEAUTY

Health

BEAUTY

Fashion

Home

Family

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f eyes are the windows to the soul, then our eyelashes are the curtains. How we take care of them plays a big part in putting our best face forward. Rather than shelling out money on sets of disposable falsies, invest in what your Mama gave you and take care of your lashes, naturally. Here are a few simple steps to incorporate into your daily beauty routine: ❶ Remove your make-up properly How many of us remove our makeup completely before we go to sleep at night? Maybe you’re one of those guilty few who even sleep in their makeup! After washing our face, make-up particles can still stick to our skin – especially in places like our lashes. With volumizing mascaras and fake lash glue it’s even more important that we take the extra time to remove our eye makeup properly..

❷ Brush your…lashes? We brush our hair every day – why not our eyelashes? This important habit helps stimulate natural growth for fuller, longer lashes. Use a clean mascara wand and brush your lashes gently every day for a tangle-free, wide-eyed look. ❸ Don’t rub your eyes We all do this without even thinking when we’ve got something irritating our eye or when allergies kick in. But harsh rubbing of the eye can also push dirt and irritants into our sensitive lash area and can even cause them to fall out. Opt for washing your face and splashing water in your eyes or use a gentle daily eye-drop solution. ❹ Condition your lashes Just like you’d condition your hair, it’s important to condition your lashes as well. Apply a peanut-sized amount of castor oil, coconut oil, or petroleum jelly to your lashes before you go to bed with a clean mascara wand or a cotton ball. Rinse it off gently the following morning with lukewarm water.

Do you fake-it-till-you-make-it with a set of falsies? Or is an au naturale look more your style? However you like to frame them, your eyes say it all! Here are a few top tips to help you keep your lashes looking luscious, longer! 042

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❺ Go bare! Opting for a make-up free look isn’t as painful as you think ladies. Not only is it healthy for your lashes, but it also gives your skin time to breathe. At the end of the day, we all want naturally long lashes – but you don’t have to fake it to get the look. Take care of your natural lashes with the above tips and you can stow away those falsies once and for all!


Beauty

HEALTH

Fashion

Home

Family

HOW TO TELL IF YOU’RE HAVING A PANIC ATTACK

A panic attack can strike at any time and without warning. For those experiencing this distressing event for the first time it’s easy to confuse its symptoms with a cardiac episode. Here’s what you need to know in order to mindfully assess and contain a panic attack

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our hands may twitch, and you may experience difficulty breathing – like there’s a weight sitting on your chest. You could also be sweating profusely and experiencing chest pains. These symptoms could signal that you’re having high blood pressure – or, more seriously, a cardiac event. But they could also signal that you’re having a panic attack – and it’s essential to know the difference. ‘Panic attack’ is a medical term that’s often used loosely. Many people claim that they’ve suffered a panic attack at some point in their life when they really were just nervous or experiencing stress. A panic attack is much more serious and could require medical attention. What does it feel like? A panic attack, according to medical website Healthline, is a sudden, intense surge of fear, panic, or anxiety. It can be overwhelming and have physical as well as emotional symptoms. People with panic attacks may have difficulty breathing, sweat profusely, tremble, and feel their hearts pounding. Some people will also experience chest pain and a feeling of detachment from reality or themselves during a panic attack, so they may think they’re having a heart attack. Others have reported feeling like they’re having a stroke. It will only last for a few minutes – although, it can be terrorizing enough to cause subsequent events. How is it diagnosed? Never self-diagnose. Always seek medical help if you think you’re having an episode. Doctors and medical professionals look for at least four of the following signs when diagnosing a patient: sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a choking sensation, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, fear of losing your mind, fear of dying, flushing, feeling that danger is nearby, a racing heart (heart palpitations), and feeling an intense need to escape. . How to stop a panic attack If you realize you’re having a panic attack and have no means to reach out to a medical professional, there are steps that you can take to help

stabilize yourself: ❶ Take deep breaths Hyperventilating is a symptom that can increase fear. Deep breathing can reduce symptoms of panic during an attack. If you’re able to control your breathing, you’re less likely to experience the hyperventilating that can make other symptoms — and the panic attack itself — worse. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and belly and then slowly leave them again. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four. ❷ Practice mindfulness Mindfulness can help ground you in the reality of what’s around you. Since panic attacks can cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality, this can combat your panic attack as it’s approaching or actually happening. Focus on the physical sensations you’re familiar with, like digging your feet into the ground, or feeling the texture of your jeans on your hands. These specific sensations ground you firmly in reality and give you something objective to focus on. ❸ Use muscle relaxation techniques Much like deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques can help stop your panic attack in its tracks by controlling your body’s response as much as possible. Consciously relax one muscle at a time, starting with something simple like the fingers in your hand, and move your way up through your body. ❹ Picture your happy place What’s the most relaxing place in the world you can think of ? A sunny beach with gently rolling waves? A cabin in the mountains? Picture yourself there and try to focus on the details as much as possible. ❹ Repeat a mantra internally Repeating a mantra internally can be relaxing and reassuring, and it can give you something to grasp onto during a panic attack. Whether it’s simply ‘This too shall pass’, or a mantra that speaks to you personally, repeat it on a loop in your head until you feel the panic attack start to subside. Source: Healthline JUL 12 - 18 / ISSUE 527

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Trend

New Restaurant

Reviews

YUMMY

BRAIN FREEZE!

No matter how you scoop it or stack it, when the mercury hits the high notes, ice cream hits the spot. What’s your favourite flavour?

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Chocolate Ice Cream Servings: 8 Ingredients: § 2 cups heavy whipping cream § 1 can sweetened condensed milk § 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder § 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Method: § Stir together sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Set aside. § In the bowl of your mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form (don’t over beat).

§ Fold the sweetened milk mixture into whipped cream. Pour into a 2-litre container, cover and freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Servings: 8 servings Calories: 326 kcal

Sugar, spice AND EVERYTHING ICE! Lick it, slurp it, or spoon it – just don’t let it melt! As the temperature rises, we turn to our favourite summer treat to beat the heat – ice cream! Try your hand at homemade with these refreshingly simply recipes that will have you running for the nearest cone

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orget about those sugar-laden tubs of ersatz dairy in the frozen food aisle of your local grocery – whipping up your own batch of luscious ice cream at home is easier than you’d think. In fact, ice cream is an easy treat to make – and when done at home, you can also opt to go nice vs. naughty, with low-carb and fat-free options. Keep it simple with refreshing flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Or if you want to crank your dairy game up a notch, you should be able to find flavours such as cheesecake, caramel, cherry, and Key Lime pie at your local Lulu Hypermarket or Carrefour outlet. What are your favourite flavours of the season? Get mixing and matching with these three summer-worthy varieties.

Ingredients: § 6 Tbsp butter § 1/2 cup zero-calorie sweetener § 2 Tbsp coconut sugar § 1/2 tsp vanilla extract § 3/4 tsp sea salt § 1 1/2 cups whipping cream § 1 cup unsweetened almond or cashew milk § 4 large egg yolks § 100g sugar-free dark chocolate, or high cacao chocolate, chopped Method: § Set a medium bowl over an ice bath and set aside. § In a large saucepan, combine butter, sweetener, and coconut sugar. When

butter has melted, whisk to combine well. Bring to a boil and cook 3 to 5 minutes, being careful not to burn it. § Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. § Slowly add cream, whisking constantly. Mixture may bubble vigourously. Stir in almond or cashew milk. Return to medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until mixture reaches 170F. § In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Slowly add about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Then slowly return egg yolks to hot cream in saucepan, still whisking constantly. Continue to cook until mixture reaches 180F. § Pour custard into a bowl set over an ice bath and cool 10 minutes. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours. § Pour mixture into the cannister of an ice creammaker and churn it. § Once churned, transfer half to an air-tight container and sprinkle with half the chopped chocolate. Top with remaining ice cream and chocolate and stir to mix in well. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm but not rock hard, about 2 hours.

Homemade Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream Servings: 8 Ingredients: § 1 3/4 cup coconut milk § 2 medium oranges § 4 Tbsp sweetener § 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Method: § Peel and section oranges. Lay flat on a tray and freeze until hardened. § In a blender, add coconut milk and half of the frozen orange sections. § Blend until smooth. Add the remaining oranges and continue blending. § Add the sweetener of your choice (honey, powdered sugar, maple syrup) and vanilla extract. § Blend.

§ Pour into a freezer-safe container and freeze until solid. § When ready to serve, let it sit out for a few minutes to make it easier to scoop. Enjoy!! Recipe sources: Super Healthy Kids, Chocolate Chocolate and More, All Day I Dream About Food

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FOOD DRINK

ge

Ran p o T

CHARM THAI

Tr e n d

New Restaurant

REVIEWS

Info Box

CHARM THAI

Lower level, Crowne Plaza Muscat OCEC Opening hours: 6 ‫ ‏‬:00 p.m. till 2:00 a.m., daily Contact: (‫ ‏‬+968) 9065-4364 Dinner for five: RO82.4 Verdict : 7/10 SERVICE 9/10 FOOD 9/10 AMBIENCE Thai restaurant serving up authentic regional offerings, coupled with classic Thai favourites Y Magazine reviews anonymously and pays for its meals

ASHLEE STARRATT TUCKS IN TO A TEMPTING TASTE OF THAILAND AT THE CROWNE PLAZA MUSCAT OCEC AS THEIR NEW SIGNATURE RESTAURANT, CHARM THAI, OFFERS UP SUMPTUOUS DISHES BRIMMING WITH FLAVOUR FROM THE LAND OF SMILES

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estaurant, or temple? As you enter Charm Thai, you wouldn’t be wrong to say ‘both.’ Located on the lower level of the Crowne Plaza Muscat OCEC, the décor of their flagship signature restaurant is a testament to the architectural heritage and rich cultural tradition of Thailand – the Land of Smiles. A golden statue of the princess Suphankanlaya greets guests at the entrance to the restaurant’s cloistered foyer, while a waterfall curtain of Thai coins shimmers like iridescent fish-scales at the entryway. Wood reigns supreme throughout the space, with varnished beams inscribed with Thai scriptures juxtaposed against wall paintings of ancient deities from Thai mythology. The low banquette tables adorned in cushions of jewel tones offer unimpeded sight-lines straight down the spine of the restaurant to the kitchen, where the colour palette is a wash of robin’s egg blue. Diners tonight are surprisingly sparse, given that it’s a Friday night – clearly word hasn’t got out fast enough for Muscat foodies to make the trek over to OCEC to sample the wares. Trust us, it’s worth the venture. Run by an all-Thai, all-female staff, under the culinary vision of Head Chef Shakriya Kanasasanat (who, by the way, comes out to greet every table…), the restaurant is as much a feast for the eyes as the senses with its lush décor, intimate outdoor terrace, and all ingredients and elements imported directly from Thailand. We’re seated at a large banquette table in the centre of the restaurant, with royal purple cushions and a table-top crafted from crystallized glass and driftwood. The menu is an ample culinary journey crafted around regional dishes and favourite Thai classics. The waitress brings us a refreshing welcome drink of jasmine rice water with ginger and lemongrass. It’s sweetly nutty

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round-off the crunch factor to pack a textural punch. Our must-try dish of the night was the Ped Tod Num Makham (crispy duck in tamarind WITH A STELLAR AMBIENCE AND ALL-STAR sauce). So sticky-sweet and delicious was it that LINE-UP OF THAI FAVOURITES. CHARM we demolished two portions. The duck skin was THAI DELIVERS IN BOTH TASTE, OVERALL crisped to perfection and the meat juicy, tender, EXPERIENCE and drenched in sweet tamarind. Off-setting this was a bed of delicately deep-fried Thai basil leaves that were crunchy-delicious and ideal fodder for sopping up the remnants of tamarind sauce from the plate. We also indulged in an order of Kiew Whan Gai (Thai green curry), bursting with piquant flavour and fiery chilis, the balance of coconut milk, creamy eggplant, and Thai basil brings an earthy depth of flavour to this classic Thai favourite. served atop a steaming bed of fragrant jasmine rice. Capping off our meal was a and the perfect palate-cleanser for what’s to come. portion of Pla Saam Ros (deep-fried fish) served with a Thai chili jam sauce. While the jam was We begin with some starters – sharing portions smoky and luscious with the right ratio of heat-toof Tod Mon Pla (Thai fish cakes), and Gai Satay sweet, the fish – we weren’t sure what kind it was – (chicken satay with peanut sauce). Both entrées was slightly soggy and could have done with more arrive piping hot and beautifully-presented. The fish cakes, served on a lemongrass skewer are light, crunch to its light, delicate batter. With a stellar ambience and all-star line-up flavoursome, and herbaceous with peppery notes of spring onion, infused with the same lemongrass, of Thai favourites. Charm Thai delivers in both taste, overall experience and, to some extent, and garnished with a drizzle of sweet chili sauce. price-point. While menu items are priced quite The satay is unctuous, the morsels of chicken reasonably, be aware that the service charges, stained with turmeric and falling off the skewer municipal fees, and tourism tax can quickly add – the perfect vehicle on which to drive home the depth of flavour in the creamy peanut sauce, while up – especially if dining in a larger group. Our an additional tumbler of pickled onions and brined overall taxes and surcharges tacked on an extra RO10 to our final bill. chilis offers a welcome balance of tartness to cut Will that stop us from coming back? Probably through the sweetness of the peanut sauce. Two of my dining companions opt for warming not. As with very few options in Muscat for an bowls of Tom Kha Gai (chicken in coconut milk), authentic taste of Thailand, Charm Thai is a and Tom Kha Talay (seafood in coconut milk) unique contender in a market that’s ripe for the soups which arrive fragrant and hot, with depths picking. ready to be plumbed – and every surfacing a laden Do you have a favourite restaurant that you’d like to see spoonful. reviewed? Let Y know at editor@y-oman.com We chose to stick with the sharing concept for our mains as well, order several dishes off the menu that caught our eye. A richly-comforting Massamun Naeu (massaman beef curry), packed with toothsome cubes of slow-roasted beef, buttery potato, and peanuts for that added crunch factor. The curry was sweet and evenly spiced – not too heavy-handed for those who fear the heat. Tassels of delicately-fried onion sprinkled atop the dish


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Y Magazine #527, July 12, 2018  

Your top guide to the best of Oman, every week!

Y Magazine #527, July 12, 2018  

Your top guide to the best of Oman, every week!

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