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Dune-bashing

THE 2019 OMAN DESERT MARATHON

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Health: WORLD DIABETES DAY - FACTS ON A SWEET EPIDEMIC DESTINATION: Adam TASTE TEST: The Golden Oryx YOUR TOP GUIDE TO THE BEST OF OMAN, EVERY WEEK

NOV 07 - 13 2019 / ISSUE 592 • WEEKLY

SICK AND

TIRED

PLUS!

EACH COLD AND FLU SEASON BRINGS WITH IT NEW STRAINS OF CONTAGION ADAPTED TO EXPLOIT THE CHINKS IN OUR BODY’S ARMOUR OF IMMUNITY – AND VACCINATION REMAINS ONE OF THE FEW FIRST LINES OF DEFENSE ABLE TO KEEP UP. WE REACH OUT TO OMAN’S MEDICAL COMMUNITY TO FIND OUT IF PUBLIC BUY-IN TOWARDS INOCULATION IS, FINALLY, KEEPING THE DOCTOR AWAY.

FIRST DRIVE: POWER IN PLAY – THE 2019 MERCEDES-BENZ 01 NOVEMBER 24 / GLE450 ISSUE 258

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POSTCARD: TBILISI, GEORGIA

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YUMMY OMAN: INSTA-WORTHY EATERIES

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EDITOR’S

NOTE

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

IN THIS ISSUE…

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ast your attention back through the ages; dust off the history book that is Google if need be and take a moment to marvel at the great scourges of humanity. Smallpox, polio, measles, haemophilus influenza B…all share a common denominator aside from loss of life; one imbued with hope: they were all either reduced, eliminated, or eradicated by vaccines – those saviours of modern medicine. It’s a sign of the times we live in when those great pandemics of old seem a threat so distant they become more like myth than matter of fact. Tell that to the 200 million souls who perished as the Black Plague of the Middle Ages swept across Eurasia in the 14thcentury. Vaccination continues to be a topic of debate world-wide with growing numbers of ‘anti-vaxxers’ making their side of the hot-button issue known – in spite of the public health risks associated. But there are two sides to every story, and it’s an argument we’re turning to the experts to weigh in on in this week’s cover story. As November nears and the temperatures begin to drop, a sleeping strain awakens from dormancy here in Oman and around the world. For most healthy individuals, it will lead to nothing more than an exceptionally bad cold with fever, aches, and other associated symptoms. But for those who are immunosuppressed, it can lead to death. It’s the influenza virus we’re speaking of – though most of us know it as the common flu. Flip to Page 12 to read on as we debate the effectiveness of vaccination – throwing light on the pros and cons – and delve deeper into Oman’s public health strategy towards vaccination programs in the Sultanate, across all fields of immunology, intended to safeguard the population from potentially deadly disease. Also, in this issue, we’re getting ready to head to the dunes with the upcoming Oman Desert Marathon, slip behind the wheel of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLE450, round up some of Muscat’s most Insta-worthy eateries, and bring you insight into the sweet epidemic gripping the GCC in our Health pages as we get ready to mark World Diabetes Day. Finally, registration for the sixth annual Y Portrait By A Nation competition is still ongoing ahead of the 49th Oman National Day on November 18. Want to know how you can enter? Thumb over to Page 18 and find out!

Team Y

Until next week, happy reading!

EDITOR IN CHIEF Sayyida Iman bint Hamad bin Hamood Al Busaidi ADMIN MANAGER Yousef al Harrassi REPORTER Hassan al Lawati

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Acting General Manager Salim al Amri We’d love to hear your news and views. For editorial enquiries, please info@y-oman.com email Want to read Y on the go? Scan our digital issue here: Download any QR reader from iTunes or Google Play to read Y on the go

Write to us at Y Magazine, SABCO Media, PO Box 3779, Ruwi 112, Sultanate of Oman. NOV 07 - 13 / ISSUE 592

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contents NOV

Your Oman 08 Correspondence Are you this week’s lucky winner of a dinner for two at the Centara Muscat Hotel’s Tiptara restaurant? Flip to Page 8 and see if your response made it onto our pages in this week’s debate!

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2019

This Week 06 On the air-waves We bring you your weekly dose of celebrity news and everything good from the world of music with 100.9 Virgin Radio Oman’s The Breakfast Show with Dan and Maya! 07 A taste of Turkey Indulge in lush Ottoman cuisine at Al Bustan Palace’s Turkuaz

Cars and Adventures 22 Destination Adam 24 First Drive The uncompromisable Mercedes-Benz GLE450 28 Game Review Fortnite levels up

06 Health and Beauty 29 Health Understanding and living with diabetes 30 Fashion The ‘Peaky Blinders’ series coins a ‘new’ vintage in men’s attire

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Features 12 A sure shot From childhood inoculations to your yearly cold-and-flu jab, perhaps nothing has been more life-prolonging in modern medicine than the advent of vaccines. As a priority to public health, Oman’s program of vaccination is one of the most stringent in the GCC. We show you why. 16 Ultimate endurance Across sands vast and dunes wide, the Oman Desert Marathon is coming up on November 15. We meet the mastermind behind this extreme expedition into the heart of Arabia. 18 Y Portrait By A Nation In the lead-up to the 49th Oman National Day, Y’s Portrait By A Nation event gets ready to celebrate its sixth edition of patriotism and portraiture. Find out how to register and take part!

Food and Drink 32 Yummy Oman Muscat’s most Insta-worthy eateries 34 Taste Test The Golden Oryx

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


brity ch and the latest celeve got at w to ts tis ar e th e’ From e hits of the week, w gossip to your ultimat from the pulse of the music your superstar dose Radio Oman 100.9 FM world, with Virgin

A Spidey sequel Since its December 2018 release, Marvel’s animated hit ‘Spider-Man: Into the SpiderVerse’ went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film, and it’s little wonder why – it’s visuals were incredible! Now producers have just confirmed that a sequel is officially in the works slated for worldwide release on April 8, 2022. What hasn’t been confirmed yet is if Shameik Moore will once again lend his voice to the character of Miles Morales. Fingers crossed!

Gaga goes Gucci Lady Gaga is slated to star in a new film directed by ‘Gladiator’, ‘Blade Runner’ and ‘Alien’ iconic director Sir Ridley Scott. The movie will follow the real-life story of Marizio Gucci – the head of the historic house of Gucci fashion brand – and his subsequent murder orchestrated by his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani. Patrizia spent 18 years in prison and earned the nickname ‘Black Widow’ for her alleged involvement in Marizio Gucci’s death. A ‘Dark Fate’ indeed… It seems that James Cameron’s powerhouse effort at reuniting two of the ‘Terminator’ franchise’s biggest stars has gone to naught, as ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ opened to underwhelming global box office ticket sales. Starring the original cast of Arnold Schwarzeneggar and Linda Hamilton, the filmed raked in just $94.6 million USD overseas and just $29 million

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domestically. With a projected overall loss of $120 million dollars this is one franchise that just might end up terminated itself… Introspective Ari Pop-star Ariana Grande is doing some reflecting on the year she’s had as she marks the one-year anniversary of her song ‘Thank U, Next’. On social media she’s said that the success of the song helped her heal during a very difficult time as it was – and still is – her most honest work. Ariana said it was a cathartic process for her to set the record straight about her past relationships via the track so that she can feel like herself again. We can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next, musically! Lorde’s loss New Zealand pop-star Lorde has been quiet of late and fans have noticed. Having not released any new music since her last album, ‘Melodrama’, came out in 2017, the songstress recently sent an update to fans via her newsletter. There she divulged that she’s been working on new music in New Zealand for most of the year and things were going well until the sudden passing of her dog Pearl which took a toll on her creatively as Pearl gave her so much joy. She also reassured fans that she’s slowly getting back into work on her next album and healing from the sudden loss. We’re sure her next album will be some of her best work yet!

Dua’s new direction Popstar Dua Lipa has revealed a new aesthetic and sound with her latest track ‘Don’t Start Now’ off her self-titled début album which was released in 2017. Over the past year, she’s teased fans with more than a few new singles off the album including ‘One Kiss’ with Calvin Harris, and ‘Electricity’ with Silk City. But with ‘Don’t Start Now’, fans can really tell her sound has definitely matured as she ushers in a new era of her music with elements of disco and funk. Cara’s collab Alessia Cara has joined Bastille on their new track called ‘Another Place’. The single comes off the band’s latest album ‘Doom Days’ which was released in June and lead singer Dan Smith has said that they always heard the song as a duet and knew Alessia would be the perfect second voice to bring it to life. She even went so far as to join Bastille on-stage during their recent show in her hometown of Toronto, Canada. Coldplay’s new album Grammy Award-winners Coldplay have announced their upcoming experimental double album ‘Everyday Life’ will finally be released on November 22. It’s the band’s first new studio release in four years and will contain two sides – the first, titled ‘Sunrise’, and the second, ‘Sunset’. Two of their new tracks off the upcoming album, ‘Orphans’ and ‘Arabesque’ having already been tearing up the airwaves and we can’t wait to get our headphones in on it! The band will also be live-streaming two upcoming concerts in Amman, Jordan at the end of the month. 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 The Breakfast Show with Dan and Maya.


FLAVOURS OF THE DEEP

THE WHAT’S ON GUIDE Looking for a taste of something different? Dive into a great seafood dining experience at the Crowne Plaza Sohar every week at their Seafood Tuesday night. It’s here where you’ll experience some of the best fresh seafood from Omani waters with an array of live cooking stations to tempt you. From grilled prawns, to rich Omani lobster and a premium selection of fish ready to be filleted onto your plate, dinner prices start from just RO14. For more information or to book your table call (+968) 2685-0850.

THIS

WEEK

A MUSICAL REGALIA

NOV

07

Ongoing As part of its celebratory lead-up to the 49th Oman National Day, ROHM dazzles audiences with a proud display of military pageantry in ‘Military Music: Oman and the World’ as hundreds of men and women from the Royal Guard, the Royal Oman Police, Oman’s Royal Army, Navy and Air Force, and the Combined Group of the Royal Cavalry and Camel Band will march in formation on the opera house’s maidan while playing classic military music in colourful dress uniform. A heartstirring experience, this unique performance allows spectators to witness the flawless military precision of the tattoo, to hear the bagpipes and trumpets, and to share heartfelt patriotism with thousands of others. In an expression of friendship symbolizing Oman’s global outlook, musicians from Mexico will enrich the concert. Performances begin at 7:00 p.m. To book your tickets visit www.rohmuscat.org.om.

A TASTE OF TURKEY

Ongoing

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

N O V E M B E R

Evoking the wealth and opulence of one of the world’s most ancient precious gems, Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel is delighting guests once again with an experience straight out of the Ottoman palaces, permanently re-opening its popular Turkish Restaurant and Lounge, Turkuaz. Chef de Cuisine, Mustafa Onder, is leading the team to cook up an array of colourful and aromatic dishes using local ingredients – from heavily-spiced meats to pistachio-topped sweets. As well as a newly designed dinner menu, guests can enjoy an authentic Turkish tea and coffee service indoors or alfresco, until late, all served with the traditional warm hospitality that the meltingpot nation is known for.

Delve into one of Turkuaz’s glorious signature dishes and be transported to the land of the crescent moon. From aromatic stuffed vine leaves, traditional flatbread, ‘pide’, and succulent kebabs, to dessert favourites like ‘kunefe’ and ‘baklava’, both Turkish food fans, and newcomers to the fare, will relish a tantalizing fusion of the classic and contemporary. Enriched with a sense of hospitality and heritage stemming from nomadic traditions that have been passed down generation after generation, Turkuaz is the perfect place to experience the cuisine in the traditional way, with family and friends. For more information or to book your table call (+968) 2476-4444.

NOV 07 - 13 / ISSUE 592

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correspondence

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WE ASKED: As cold and flu season approaches, what is your stance on vaccination against influenza and other diseases? Are there pros and cons to both sides?

With the 49th Oman National Day approaching, what do you think has been the biggest milestone marker of success and growth under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said?

Share your view with us and you could be in with a chance of winning dinner for two.

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receive a voucher for a Thai set dinner at Tiptara Restaurant, Centara Muscat Hotel. Vouchers must be collected from Y’s Seeb office in person. Only one winner per week; editor’s decision is final. For other terms and conditions, see the Centara Muscat Hotel voucher.

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BER 2019!

WE KEEP YOUR FAMILY PROTECTED!

EM

SYED MOHAMMED SHAHID

Focusing on vaccination as a precautionary measure, as modern medicine and better treatment become available to the public, yes, vaccination

is a safe and easy move as we prepare for the unknown and high chances of flu or disease every year. As such infections don’t always come with a warning, as adults we must find and know what measures need to be taken – and the Ministry of Health must also help to educate residents who don’t have easy access to knowledge surrounding the benefits of vaccination. Once vaccinated, then chances are we may not need to worry about these diseases for a long time, and I highly recommend governmentsponsored vaccination as a precautionary measure in the prevention of disease. But there are some disadvantages as well – one argument being that we should first try to build our immunities through changes in lifestyle and living conditions. We must let our immune systems grow naturally and, though we may have the knowledge, not always be so quick to jump towards a medical

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PARUL JAIN

NOV 07 - 13 / ISSUE 592

/YMAGAZINE

New Debate:

‘Nothing but its own rust destroys iron’ – this is the logic behind vaccination. Vaccine is a small dose of weakened or killed germs. When they’re injected, or taken orally, our body starts producing antibodies for that germ, entering into combat with it to destroy it. Due to the presence of these antibodies in the blood, when the germ attacks next, we don’t get infected as our body already has the fighting power. Vaccines against bacterial diseases are more effective than those for viral diseases – which is the reason why we need boosters and need to repeat vaccination for certain diseases like influenza. Prevention is always better than cure, and ‘flu shots’, as they’re called, need to be taken every year for control of the disease. Some people might develop fever or itchiness at the injection site – but not to worry, we should never avoid vaccination. Sanitation, medication, and hygiene also play a role in administering public health along with vaccinations. It’s better late than never – gear up for the winter and get yourself and your loved ones vaccinated.

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@YTABLOID

cure for minor illnesses – but rather let our body’ s own capabilities kick in. It also pays to educate our children about other precautionary measures to avoid illness such as the do’s and don’ts of cleanliness so that their immune systems can become stronger and not so easily vulnerable to the common cold or flu.

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A SURE

shot WHILE UNPLEASANT, THE QUICK STING OF A VACCINE JAB COULD POTENTIALLY SAVE YOU FROM LIFE-THREATENING ILLNESS. Y INVESTIGATES THE DEBATE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE TABLE WHEN IT COMES TO VACCINATION AS A MATTER OF CHOICE – OR A PUBLIC HEALTH REQUIREMENT.

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he difference between being immunized or avoiding the sting of its needle can, sometimes, be a matter of life or death. Vaccinations have, over their centuries of existence, proven themselves; saving countless lives and continuing to do so from otherwise incurable diseases that have the power to cripple nations and their people for generations – and leave many more fighting for their lives. Diphtheria, tetanus, polio, measles, mumps, rubella, Hepatitis (and its harmful strands), influenza, and many other diseases form a long list of infections among those that could potentially harm an individual or take their life. Take the matter of Sara*, who contracted polio when she was only eight months old, prior to her vaccination. Sara, now 30, was initially diagnosed with polio by the local health authorities and spent much of her life in a quarantine ward. That made her one among 118 polio cases in 1989 in Oman and, worse still, she continues to suffer from its effects to this day. Having experienced symptoms of the disease on the sixth day of its incubation period, Sara is thankful to not be paralysed from the virus. Polio, or poliomyelitis, is a disease caused by poliovirus and is spread from person to person, typically through contaminated water. 012

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It can attack the nervous system and, in some instances, lead to paralysis. Although there’s no cure, there is a safe and effective vaccine. Her father (who wishes to remain anonymous) tells us [translated from Hindi]: “I’ll always hold Sara close to my heart. She is my baby – and what she’s going through is because of our mistake and ignorance. “We were young parents who weren’t educated about vaccinations enough, because of which our child suffers. We will take care of her until our last breath.” But their mistake has since led them to disseminating information about vaccinations with others in their community. Her father adds: “Today, if anyone asks us about vaccinations, we will stand for it one hundred per cent. And, after Sara’s case, all other children in our community have been vaccinated and they’re all fine till this day.” This can largely be attributed to Oman’s polio vaccination programme, which prepares a child’s body to build antibodies against the deadly virus. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, almost all children (99 out of 100) who get all the recommended doses of vaccine will be protected from polio. This has resulted in the global eradication of polio cases by 99 per cent, though Type 1 polio is still prevalent in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has infected a total of 88 people this year. But polio is only one of many diseases that vaccinations can help prevent. To understand how a vaccine works, we speak to Dr. Askar Kukkadi, a senior consultant in pediatrics at Starcare Hospital who is also a member of the Royal College of Pediatrics & Child Health, in the UK. He says:


“Vaccination is the process of administering an antigenic material – which we call a vaccine – into an individual’s body to develop their immune system and boost immunity against a foreign pathogen. “Vaccines are effective and, without any doubt, have helped a great deal in reducing the number of diseases that would normally have no cure such as hepatitis B, polio, and some 25 lifethreatening diseases in total.” He’s right. As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), vaccination is one of the most effective ways to prevent diseases, as it helps an individual’s immune system to recognise pathogens such as viruses and bacteria – and fight them. The mechanism, says Dr. Kukkadi, is incredibly simple. “For something that will take only minutes to administer, it can save you a lifetime of worry and pain. There’s really no reason to skip a vaccination; it’s a crime in today’s day and age to do so. “By doing so, not only are you putting yourself at risk of contracting diseases, you could also pass it on to your future generations – and in turn undo the efforts of doctors across the world who are fighting to stop the disease from transmitting across a global scale.” Despite that, there’s an increase in the number of anti-vaccination communities across the globe, including a handful of those in Oman who believe the negatives of a vaccination often outweigh its positives. In an earlier interview with Y, Sameera* al Mahrooqi, a 32-year-old Omani and motherof-four had stated her concerns on vaccinations – citing an allergic reaction to neomycin, an ingredient in the hepatitis B vaccination, during her childhood. She told us: “I don’t remember much but my parents tell me about how I had seizures three times after the vaccination. Moreover, I also developed hives on my face – and it keeps recurring up to an extent that I’ve grown to detest vaccination in general.” Sameera has since avoided inoculations and remains among the 2.8 per cent of the population in Oman who haven’t completed their courses. In our investigation on the topic, Y learns that both expats and Omanis could face strict punishment if they fail to have their child vaccinated. As per Article 19 of the Child Law (Royal Decree 22/2014), a child shall have

the right to free immunisation with serums and vaccines against contagious diseases in government health institutions. Having said that, not all vaccines are mandatory – like the flu vaccine that can potentially fight the influenza virus. And even as flu season kicks off in Oman with mercury levels dropping to the mid-20-degreeCelsius mark across the country, not many visit their local health centres for their annual flu jab we learn – while even others are let alone unaware of the existence of such a vaccine. Moreover, those who are aware of it refuse to take the jab owing to its ‘high cost’ and ‘lack of necessity’. But what may set you back RO4 (plus consultation charges) at a private hospital initially could save your life – and life, as Joshua Caleb Anderson’s parents know, is priceless. Joshua, aged 8, passed away from H1N1 influenza on March 21, 2018, and was Oman’s last known victim to the virus. But, as his parents told us in an interview with Y, his life could’ve been saved if he had taken the flu jab. Hazel Anderson, Joshua’s mother said in her statement: “We were behind in our knowledge of the influenza vaccine and never had taken it before. A part of us coming forward to talk to Y Magazine is to share the message that the flu jab is available in Oman and it costs RO4 in places like Muscat Private Hospital. “You’ll need to check with the doctors or pharmacists whether there are stocks before heading there as there’ll be a consultation charge of RO25. Though, we can tell you that these jabs are available all over Muscat.” As per the WHO, the flu vaccine contains inactive or weakened strains of the influenza virus and must be administered either nasally (available only in some countries) or via an injection. However, its effectiveness is largely questionable, as a 2012 study titled ‘Efficacy and Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccines’ in the US provided to us by Dr. Kukkadi remarked that the vaccine was only effective 67 per cent of the time. Still, the disease affects anywhere between five and 15 per cent of the global population every year. Statistics of flu jabs in Oman aren’t readily available, though it’s known that 291 cases of influenza patients were reported in the country in 2018 – which is a drop of 71 per cent from the previous year. And, as Imran al Balushi, a pharmacist based in Muscat says: “A large part of this drop is due to increased education on flu vaccinations, and better etiquette. Influenza is an easy virus to transmit, and much of it can be eradicated by simply following healthy practices… such as isolating yourself when you’re ill. “Still, as per data I compiled from the CDC in the US, I can say that nearly 80 to 90 per cent of the world’s flu cases can be stopped because of herd immunity. This can reduce the number of fatalities too every year. Currently, it’s believed that 12,000 to 79,000 people have died from influenza since 2010, worldwide. “From those numbers alone, we can tell how important it is to vaccinate people for flu every year from the disease. “Vaccination has received some bad press in recent times, mostly from the anti-vaccination groups in Europe and the US. “But the reality is that vaccines can be treated as medicines too. And they happen to be some of the safest of them all. While they could cause mild interactions with your body – such as causing mild fever, headaches, and rash at the injection site – the chances of them causing serious harm is extremely small. “Also, vaccines aren’t given to children with known allergies – health professionals are always up-to-date with current vaccines and how they must be administered.” This has led to the eradication of diseases such as measles and polio, and smallpox by 99.9 per cent and 100 per cent respectively. “I think this alone is a testament to the success of vaccines,” says al Balushi. “There’s no real excuse to not being vaccinated in this day and age. It’s the one thing all human beings around the world do in common. “And if it amounts to the greater good of society, I can’t see why anyone must have a reason to shoot it down. The reality is simple: vaccines will be extended to many more diseases, and we’re slowly creating a world that’s resistant to a multitude of pathogens. “We’re helping in creating stronger humans.” ■ *Name changed to protect identity. (Images for illustrative purposes only. Photo credit: Shutterstock)

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Celebrate Oman’s 49th National Day! Y Magazine is holding its annual painting competition “Portrait by a Nation” for children to create a unique piece of art.

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WARRIORS

of the sands IF YOU THOUGHT STAYING FIT FOR A MARATHON WAS A TOUGH TASK, IMAGINE THE LIMITS YOUR BODY WOULD BE PUSHED TO IN THE OMAN DESERT MARATHON. COFFEE WITH Y SITS DOWN WITH THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THIS ENDURING SPORT EVENT DEEP IN THE SANDS OF BIDIYAH

W

hat’s life without action and adventure? To some, that would mean cozying up on their couch with their favourite Netflix series, while to others, it means never venturing outside their comfort zone. But there remains a faction of people who believe a life without adrenaline isn’t a life at all. Said Mohammed al Hajri is one among a select few in Oman who walk the talk and practice their penchant for the extreme while living life on the edge – even if he is an unassuming-looking 50-year-old who works for the government. Perhaps that’s what gave birth to his latest project: the Oman Desert Marathon 2019. ‘A new project in an otherwise untouched genre of extreme sports here in the Sultanate’, we think to ourselves, heading to our interview with Said. Butbwe’re proven wrong as he reveals how the marathon is now in its seventh year. Said tells us: “The Oman Desert Marathon was born in 2013, after three years’ of careful

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planning for the event.” That makes it one of the oldest and longestrunning marathons in the nation; outdating in age even the prestigious and international Al Mouj Muscat Marathon. “I started developing the idea behind this marathon in 2010 when I worked in the desert,” elaborates Said. “One evening, I thought to myself: why don’t we have a race in the desert? It’s so large, vast, and picturesque – and it would be the perfect location for a marathon. “To fulfill my dreams of setting up the race, I travelled to Europe to get inspiration from extreme-sports enthusiasts and formulate some

ideas. So, what you see today is a culmination of my ideas [along] with some of the best ones from parts of Europe.” And ideas he has. This isn’t the first event Said is


s

organising on his own. He conceptualised the famous Sand Dune Race in Oman in the early 2000s, where rally-readied cars would take to the desert for some head-to-head racing action. The high-octane event has since been turned (in 2010) into a club and absorbed by the Oman Automobile Association. Much of his passion for such activities, he says, is embedded in his blood. “I run marathons; shoot pistols and rifles in competitive sports across the GCC; race cars, horses, and camels – and I’ve been doing it since I was a little boy.” Said even has his own set of race camels that he takes around the GCC for events. But he confesses that he’s shifted his priorities to the desert marathon – an event which will host some 100-odd participants from over 22 countries – including runners from all over Europe, the Americas, and even the GCC. “The curve for the desert marathon is going upwards as the event piques interest among more people,” he states. “A lot of them want to come here to experience the Omani desert and be a part of a group that can explore so much in just a few days.” This year’s event will witness six stages and cover a total distance of 165kms – all in the Bidiyah desert – and broken into self-sufficient stages of 21kms, 25kms, 28kms, 29kms, 42kms and 20kms. The event will run from November 15-22. “Bidiyah’s desert will awe participants with a variety of landscapes and sand conditions,” Said explains. “It’ll also give the runner a complete desert experience, including a night stage that will take [them] through the magic of the desert, illuminated by stars from the desert, to the beautiful beaches of the Arabian Sea, which is the finishing point for the race.” But if there’s one hindrance througout, Said says it’s the lack of sponsors. He tells us: “As the conceptualiser and organiser of this race, I face a lot of challenges – and most of them are financial. “We don’t have many sponsors,” he says, before adding, “Most of what you see, I have to pay from my pocket. And this becomes especially harder due to logistics. We must also transport all the people and draw them into camps for the night. “All that requires a lot of people. We currently have

more than 90 people for logistics alone.” Despite that, Said and his team are generously welcoming families to partake in the 21km Half-Marathon and the 3km Run for Kids – all of which will be free for the public, and include free lunch and water. He adds: “The idea behind this event was never to make money. It’s to help the economy of the country by bringing in more people, and propagate the beauty of Oman through these people to the outside world.

“We’re also trying to spread the news of healthy living [by] going out to the open to exercise with this mission. I will be running the 42kms night stage with the participants – it’s one of my favourites. “I began my marathon adventures in York, England in 1989, and I don’t want to simply stop doing that. As I said, this is in my blood. And by doing so, I think I’m fulfilling my destiny to chase my dreams and get closer to nature. “You should too.” ■

How to participate

To register for the Oman Desert Marathon, head to www.marathonoman.com/enroll or www.worldsmarathons.com/marathon/oman-desert-marathon. The registration fee for the individual and team 165kms races will be RO641. NOV 07 - 13 / ISSUE 592

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Powered by

Presents

49

In Association with

Support Partners

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’s Portrait By A Nation returns for its 6th annual competition alongside Presenting Sponsor Ahlibank in honour of the 49th Oman National Day on November 18. Powered by Mazoon Dairy and Asian Paints Berger, in Association with Mall of Muscat, Minara, OSCO Shapoorji Pallonji, Staedtler, and with Support Partners Nizwa Grand Mall, My City Centre Sur, Crowne Plaza Resort Salalah, and City Centre Sohar, young artists from schools across the Sultanate will come together to create a unique piece of art as a lasting tribute to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. This week we’re introducing readers to some of our sponsors and partners that make PBAN possible. We sat down with Powered By sponsor Mazoon Dairy’s Chief Support Officer, Mr. Ahmed Al Ghafri, to learn why artistic expression among youth is crictical in fostering the growth of the nation’s cultural identity.

Y A

: Why is it important for Mazoon Dairy to be a valued partner and Powered By sponsor for the 6th Annual Y Portrait By A Nation event? AG: It’s part of our strategy to be closely engaged with the community – especially those promising initiatives which target kids, families and youth. It’s part of our culture to support new ideas and social initiatives as an element of our broader plan of social responsibility.

Y A

: Do you feel that art-centric events, such as PBAN are important in fostering a culture of creative expression among youth in Oman? Why, why not? AG: Yes; because this is part of the Omani culture and heritage – and for Mazoon we are part of that culture and legacy of Omanis. We are beyond a normal dairy company – we are a part of this society, its success, its future, and promising and strategic initiatives. And the arts, of course, are part of those components. Historically, Oman and Omanis are well-known for that – and you can see our artistic inclination in our branding activities and in the labeling on our bottles – we are constantly striving to reflect the Omani sense and authenticity of Omani culture. So, this is why we’re happy to be part of this initiative.

Y A

: In what ways is Mazoon Dairy committed to cultivating its ties with the community here in Muscat. AG: From the first day Mazoon was created and announced, what we noticed as employees and as part of the Mazoon team, is that people were very excited about the

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As the Sultanate gears up to celebrate the 49th Oman National Day, Y Magazine is bringing the nation’s young talent together once again to paint their patriotism with the 6th annual Portrait By A Nation competition. project. They were so happy that Oman’s food security program has started and Mazoon was the first project. So that national momentum, which followed us through all steps of the project phase – right from construction – was something that we are proud of. It raised the bar and expectations for our team and put us under positive pressure – because when you see that level of expectation from the people you must be responsible for what you’re doing. This is why management was able to complete the project in 24 months. We are part of this society and we debated and challenged each other every step of the way to make sure we are local – from our content, labelling, and branding activities, to the shape of our bottles. We are Omanis – so how do we reflect the real Omani culture in the way we’re doing business. This is why, even when our first Tweet went out saying ‘Good morning to our families in Oman’, people were very proud and happy to be part of that moment. So, this is a daily activity and debate – how do we connect more and more to Oman. And I mean Oman as a country – not only Omanis, but our friends who are living, working, and staying in Oman. It’s an aspect we are taking seriously, considering the diversity Oman enjoys; we have nationalities from around the world and they’re our friends who helped build our country and we take that into account in all of our decisions.

Y A

: What words of encouragement do you have for this year’s batch of PBAN participants? AG: First, Mazoon is created and made for them. Children are part of Oman’s future, as they’re the ones who will be creating it. And such initiatives are very important to connect kids to their nation – to the pride of their nation and what has been achieved in five decades. And they are to continue this mission. I think such initiatives as PBAN will help link them to the real meaning of what has been achieved during these decades. So, they are the future of Oman and Mazoon is part of that future as well.


Ahmed Al Ghafri

Y

: Do you think Oman can be doing more on a national level to foster and provide a platform for Omani artistic talent? Why/why not? AG: Yes, of course. I think there are a lot of ideas and activities needed around Oman – not only in Muscat. Such initiatives should target children around the country. Y Magazine has been doing smart work and the way it has engaged itself with this event is brilliant -- especially partnering with schools.

A

Y A

: What would you like our readers and PBAN participants to know about Mazoon Dairy as a brand? AG: Mazoon was built to be the market leader and we don’t define that by how much we sell – we define it by how close we are to our society and community and the social impact we’re making in this society.

About Y Portrait By A Nation

O

ne of the biggest events of the year in Oman, Y’s Portrait By A Nation saw an impressive number of more than 2,800 entries received from children ages 5-17 years-old from Muscat, Nizwa, Sur, Sohar, and Salalah last year. Children will receive a different sized canvas and a different portrait of His Majesty, across three age categories of competition: 5-9 years – Canvas size 20cm x 30cm 10-13 years – Canvas size 30cm x 40cm 14-17 years – Canvas size 40cm x 50cm Forty-nine (49) finalists will be selected from participants – 17 from the ages 5-9 category, and 16 each from the ages 10-13 and 14-17 age categories, with three winners chosen among them from each age category, for a chance to win prizes worth a total of RO2,550. Each winner will win a prize worth RO500

in each age category, while runners-up will win prizes valued at RO250 in each age category, and there will be RO100 for third place in each age category. Championing the patriotic heart of the nation through the artistic expression of the young generation, Y’s Portrait By A Nation will be featured across all of SABCO Media’s platforms, including Y Magazine, Merge 104.8, Al Wisal, and Virgin Radio Oman 100.9 FM.

25 and will see sponsors interacting with the 49 finalists from the three age categories. The finalists, along with their families, will be invited to be awarded commendation certificates and prizes. The event will be followed by dinner.

Portrait by A Nation Milestones:

Special Coverage in Y Magazine After the competition, there will be special coverage in Y Magazine’s issue on November 28 which will feature the works of the young artists along with their interviews, and those from sponsors and eminent local artists.

On-ground Competition The competition will be held on Friday, November 8 in Nizwa and Salalah, Saturday, November 9 in Sur and Sohar, and on Friday November 15 and Saturday, November 16 in Muscat as, over two days, hundreds of children create their own special pieces of art on the canvasses given to them with a pre-printed sketch of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. This initiative not only encourages talent but provides children with a platform to bring out their best artistic efforts while taking pride in their work. Timings

Location Date/Day Nizwa Friday, Nov 8 Salalah Friday, Nov 8 Sohar Saturday, Nov 9 Sur Saturday, Nov 9

Time 1:30 p.m. 10:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m. 11:00 a.m.

How To Register

• Register online at https:// www.y-oman.com/pban2019/ • Call (+968) 2442-6900. • Or scan the QR Code right here Registration for participants in the capital area of Muscat closes November 9, 2019.

Judging Panel Judging will take place on November 18, and the Y Portrait By A Nation judging panel will include sponsors, eminent local artists, and representatives of Team Y. The panel will select 16 winners from each age group for a total of 49 finalists. Awards Function Conducted in a 5-star venue, the Y Portrait By A Nation awards function will be held on November

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GRAB IT BEFORE IT’S GONE GET YOUR FREE COPY OF Y AT THE FOLLOWING DISTRIBUTION POINTS… Capital Region Azaiba • Amara Dermatology Clinic • Audi Showroom • Bentley Showroom • Costa Coffee • Al Fair • Jaguar Showroom • Jeep Showroom • Al Maha Petrol Station • Mazda Showroom • McDonald’s • Mitsubishi Showroom • Oman Arab Bank • Oman Oil Petrol Station • Peugeot Showroom • Range Rover Showroom • Sayarti Auto Care • Shell Select • Skoda Showroom • The Sultan Center • Volkswagen Showroom • Volvo Showroom • Yamaha Showroom Bawshar • College of Banking and Financial Studies • Dolphin Village • Modern College of Business and Science • Muscat College • Muscat Private Hospital (Emergency and Outpatients) • Oman Medical College CBD • Al Maya Hypermarket • Alizz Islamic Bank • Bahwan Travel Agencies • Bank Sohar • Copper Chimney Restaurant • Costa Coffee • HSBC • Lama Polyclinic • NBO • Oman Arab Bank • Standard Chartered Bank • Woodlands Restaurant Darsait • Indian Social Club • SPAR

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• Students Banking Area • Reception/ Canteen Wadi Kabir • Al Maya Hypermarket • LuLu Hypermarket • Muscat Pharmacy • National Hospitality Institute • Pizza Hut • Shell Petrol Station Wattayah • Ahli Bank • Best Cars • BLS International Services • Chevrolet/GM showroom • Ford Showroom • Hatat House • Honda Showroom • Hyundai Showroom • Kia Showroom • Lexus Showroom • National Travel & Tourism • Passage To India Restaurant • Shell Petrol Station • Subaru Showroom • Suzuki Showroom • Toyota Showroom Al Mouj Muscat • Almouj Golf • Costa Coffee • Oman Sail • Shakespeare & Co. • Al Mouj Muscat Head Office Other Regions Barka • Al Nahda Spa and Resort • LuLu Hypermarket Nizwa • University of Nizwa Sohar • Centrepoint (Splash) • Crowne Plaza • National Gift Markets • Ooredoo • Pizza Hut • Safeer Mall • Sohar Beach Hotel • Sohar Port and Freezone • Sohar University

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Adventures

CARS AND ADVENTURES

Cars

Y- F i

Gaming

SANCTUARY

Imbued with an ambience of calm, the archways of a mosque in Adam glow with grace

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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

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Destination

ADAM

Aftab H. Kola finds solace in Oman’s last oasis on the edge of the desert. 022

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HOW TO GET THERE

TRAVEL GUIDE

H

istory is carried on the breeze in the borderlands of Ad Dakhiliyah and Al Sharqiyah; blowing across the dunes to the tenacious green enclave of Adam. Considered the last oasis before the desert sands unfold, the Wilayat of Adam is perched at the crossroads of both governorates, 234 kms from Muscat at the southernmost stretch of Ad Dakhiliyah. Some say its name originates from the Arabic of ‘adim al ardth’ – meaning ‘the Earth’s surface’. While others posit that its meaning is derived from ‘the fertile land in the heart of the desert.’ Its etymology aside, Adam’s significance as one of the Sultanate’s historic desert hamlets shouldn’t be overlooked. With archaeological discoveries within its borders dating back as far as 7,000 BCE, Adam’s most magnificent specimen of traditional

agricultural endeavours in the village include weaving, iron works and honeymaking; the plentiful natural resources of the nearby Jandali, Rakhim and Ministry of Heritage, stand adorned Nama spring – located respectively amid with intricate carvings and in mute the foothills of Jabal Salakh, and the testimony to the founding roots of latter on the banks of Wadi Halfain – our nation. providing sustenance to their cause. Also worth noting on your Abutting the vast expanse of the Al day’s itinerary is a visit to the old Sharqiyah sands, tourists are flocking watchtower – an Adam landmark; more often to Adam, venturing out into and its local mosque, known for its the barren region beyond to explore the elegant ‘mihrab’ – a niche in the nomadic life practiced by the Bedouins. wall that indicates to supplicants the This influx in tourism offers prime direction in which to pray, and often insight into a growing awareness of the decorated with colourful mosaic area’s rich cultural heritage and its link tilework. There is also a restored to the larger heritage of the Sultanate. castle in the village which is now For it’s here where a green oasis still drawing visitors after a long time teems with memory and life, even as the spent in repair. shifting sands blow through its ancient A verdant retreat during the dwellings, whispering tales of life on the Sultanate’s hot summer months, edge of the desert and the people who Adam is also known for its ‘barastis’ – still call it home. Omani mud architecture can be temporary summer houses favoured found at Harr Al Jamii. by locals which are constructed Here, ancient mud structures from palm fronds and boast simple seem caught in a time-warp – their facilities. Known locally as ‘areej’ rudimentary mud-brick exteriors here in Oman, these temporary eroded smooth by the desert winds abodes are also popularly inhabited and their colour mirroring the surrounding sands. One of the largest during the date cultivation season. And for those who like a bit of of such dwellings is the 18th-century mystery thrown into the mix, a stop residence of Imam Ahmad bin Said by the Bani Ruhu mosque will be Al Busaidi (1744-1783), founder of of particular interest. Steeped in the Al Busaidi Dynasty. Crafted in enigma, its story is a complex one. the traditional style of the period, these earthen houses kept their living The people of region differ as to quarters on the upper floors, while the when it was built – or by whom, and ground floor housed washing quarters how—and is now colloquially known and facilities to draw water from wells. as ‘the mosque which built itself ’. With a host of harrats (traditional A village of farmers and neighbourhoods), such as Al craftspeople, in Adam you can find Sumairat, Bani Shiban, and Al Rahba local artisans fashioning handmade in the vicinity, surrounded by lush jewelry and even silverware – an groves of palms and fertile acreage, occupation that was once slowly a visit to Adam is a trip back through dying out in Oman but finds a the centuries as these ancient homes, foothold still in Adam. many now under restoration from the Other craft industries and

A two-hour drive from Muscat, connect onto Route 15 from the Seeb/Al Khoudh area and follow it until you reach the interchange with Route 31 at Nizwa. Connect onto Route 31 and follow it for another 37 kms until you reach Adam. GPS Coordinates: N22.3865° ; E57.5250°

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CARS ADVENTURES

MERCEDES-BENZ GLE450

FIRST DRIVE

C

omplicated naming nomenclature aside, Mercedes-Benz 4x4s have done quite well in recent years – standing as a palpable upgrade when pitted against its rivals from Europe. Whether you snag up the baby GLA or the monstrosity that is the G-Wagen or the GLS, or anything in between…or anything in between what’s in between (think the ‘Coupe’ lineup), there’s always an SUV on the roster to suit your needs. All that’s left for you to do then is shell out the big bucks to buy in to the three-pointed star lifestyle – one that’s lucrative enough to warrant a big switchup from what’s already out there from Asia and, even, much of Europe. This regal-ness carries over to the 2020 variant of the GLE-Class – which is the second generation of a replacement vehicle that traces its roots back to the ML-Class. But, for this model year, it’s had a bit more than just a face-lift – it gets a thorough overhaul. From appearances, the GLE450 tester we received took a more butch approach than its predecessor.

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The all-new GLE-Class SUV takes the three-pointed star to new heights while refusing to compromise on elements that made it a crowd favourite when it entered the market decades ago

The headlights are rounded, soft, and LED-laden with HID lamps – though the grille and intakes are gaping, and the logo large enough to give it a macho appearance. Meanwhile, the side profile is muscular, with pronounced haunches by the front and rear fenders and soft character bulges by the doors to effectively hide its size. The rear, on the other hand, can be a love-orhate affair – with sharp, LED tail-lamps that crease closer to the rear quarter, and sporty-looking vents to channel air and reduce air pressure by the rear wheel wells. We particularly took a shine to the overall styling, though online auto pundits seem to be divided on the topic. Be that as it may, the GLE remains a complete car: an 80mm stretch in its wheelbase makes way to accommodate room for five adults, and there’s enough tech in the cabin to outclass just about any other SUV in this segment. The interior is resplendent. Tick the right boxes and you’ll receive two colossal 12.3-inch screens – one housing the highly-customisable and

intuitive instrument cluster, and the other for all your infotainment controls. The latter can also be manipulated via a control pad that offers haptic feedback to help you get through system menus and the like. It’s complex at first glance, but the smooth page transitions, AI interface and voice assistant, and navigation system with augmented reality steps up the game beyond your regular play pool of German SUVs – with Audi coming closest in terms of whizbang gadgetry. Talk cars with us a decade ago and we’d have pointed right at ‘The Jetsons’ cartoon with these specs – but, if anything, Mercedes proves that the future is indeed now. Leg and head room are available aplenty for five passengers, even if the front seats are set all the way back. The cabin in our GLE450 also came fitted with soft and high-quality leather and real woodgrain inserts on the dashboard by the large screen and door sills, while aluminum inserts made up much of the curved linings upfront. Lower portions of the car were finished in harder (but still soft touch) plastics, plus lighting to set the mood inside. Other features include a thumping 13-speaker


D e s t i n at i o n

Po s t c a r d s Fr o m

Y-Fi

Gaming

CARS

MERCEDES-BENZ GLE450 Specifications: • Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 • Transmission: 9-speed automatic • Horsepower: 362hp • Torque: 500Nm • Top speed: 250kph Four-wheel drive 360-degree camera Leather upholstery EQ Boost mild-hybrid system 13-speaker Burmester audio Rear entertainment system Rear Cross Traffic Alert Active Parking Assistant Interior mood lighting Lane Keeping Assist Two 12.3-inch screens Panoramic sunroof Heads-up display Wood trim

Burmester audio system, nine airbags around the cabin to cocoon you if things go wrong, a large panoramic sunroof, a rear entertainment system, heated and ventilated front seats, a drowsiness monitor, 360-degree camera, active lane-keeping assist, radar-guided cruise control, blind-spot monitor, automatic pre-crash braking, and our favourite, an optional E-Active body controlling suspension that turns your SUV into a bouncy castle – to help you maneuver through tricky desert sands using an electronically-actuated air suspension system. Powertrain is completed by a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 motor that’s assisted by a 48V mild-hybrid system that

even ditches the alternator for an integrated-start generator for backup power when the engine start/stop function is switched on and you’ve cranked up the A/C. There were even a few occasions when we thought we’d have to manually start the car when it was already running. Can’t pay a higher compliment to idling refinement than that. The motor’s good enough for 362hp and 500Nms of torque, and power is put down to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission and a centre-locking differential. And, with fuel efficiency readout flirting by the 12km/l mark, it’s a no-brainer to opt for the GLE450 4Matic powertrain as opposed to any other. In fact, the 2.2-tonne GLE450 is more fuel-efficient than the author’s 1.6-tonne VQ35-powered V6 sedan. Power is put down efficiently, with the SUV scampering to the 100kph mark in some 5.7 seconds as it squats down in a showdown between mass and inertia. It’s quick – properly quick for a family-hauler. Ride quality is unrivalled for a vehicle in its segment – and is miles ahead of the bouncy SUV that is its predecessor. Much of this has to do with the high-profile tyres and well-tuned suspension system that irons out bumps to a great extent. Opt for the E-Active air suspension and expect further ride refinements and cornering eagerness.

THE INTERIOR IS RESPLENDENT. TICK THE RIGHT BOXES AND YOU’LL RECEIVE TWO COLOSSAL 12.3-INCH SCREENS – ONE HOUSING THE HIGHLYCUSTOMISABLE AND INTUITIVE INSTRUMENT CLUSTER, AND THE OTHER FOR ALL YOUR INFOTAINMENT CONTROLS. We didn’t have the car long enough for a thorough test, but driving feel is reminiscent to its other SUV siblings. The electric steering muffles any feedback and remains light in ‘Comfort’ and ‘Eco’ modes, and easily tightens up as you throw the setting into ‘Dynamic’. The latter setting does create a sense of eagerness in the throttle, gear, and steering response. Still, as you lumber along all the metal on the highway, it’s best to leave the car in its softer settings. It just feels at home when it’s not poked with a stick – well-behaved and frugal in its use of resources. There’s never been a better time to buy a GLE450 than now: it’s refined in the way it drives and packs a good punch in performance, while having cracked the code in offering superior fuel economy and looking its part as a polished and sophisticated Mercedes-Benz product. And all of this comes at a time when some of its European neighbours are still trying to find their footing in design and incorporating technology. The GLEClass steps things up a few notches – and we’d like to see how quickly others in the luxury market can play catch-up.

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CARS ADVENTURES

MOUNTAIN VIEW Gateway to the Caucasus, Georgia is experiencing a renaissance in tourism with its eye on the GCC market.

1. Sample Georgia’s national dishes – Khachapuri and Khinkali. 2. Wander through the lush vineyards and orchards of Kaketi. 3. Take a relaxing boat ride down Tbilisi’s Mtkvari River. 4. Trek through the majestic caves of Vardzia. 5. Take a cable-car up to the ‘Kartlis Deda’ statue in Tbilisi – also known as the ‘Mother of Georgia’.

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Destination

Cars

Y-Fi

Gaming

POSTCARDS FROM

Rishika Singh recommends,

TBILISI, GEORGIA R

esting within the cool embrace of the Eurasia’s Caucasus Mountain region, Georgia is a hidden gem in plain sight. Georgian culture is as exotic as it is ancient; stretching back millennia it adopts elements of Anatolian (Greek), European, Russian, Persian, Arabian, Ottoman, and far eastern cultures that have influenced the country’s identity and its hospitality. Georgia is at once home to the captivating rapture of the Caucasus Mountains, and idyllic villages alongside its Black Sea beaches. Tbilisi, its stunningly vibrant capital houses a bustling liveliness that expands outwards beyond its borders to offer travelers a wide array of touristic activities all around the country - so even the pickiest of backpackers can find something to do - or not do. Indulge in some retail therapy at one of Tbilisi’s expansive shopping centres, go skiing in the Caucasus at either Gudauri (the international resort for all), Mestia, (a far-away paradise), Goderdzi, or Bakuriani (kid-friendly and more local), or even venture for a swim in the Black Sea - the possibilities are endless. If you’ve arrived in Georgia seeking a sporty, active adventure, head to Kazbegi where you can go paragliding in the Caucasus or visit the unique tombs in the cave monastery site of Vardzia. If it’s a more luxurious experience you’re after, then a visit to the country’s vineyard regions in the mountainous province of Kakheti and enjoy a crisp bite of their fresh fruit - ripe for the picking in the brisk mountain air. While you’re on the road, it’s worth a detour to the country’s famous mineral water springs in Borjomi to drink from their mountain source. (Borjomi also happens to the name of Georgia’s most popular bottled water brand.) Also, foodies be flagged - you absolutely can’t leave Georgia without trying an array of sumptuous local delicacies such as: Khachapuri (cheese-stuffed Georgian bread), Khinkali (Georgian dumplings), Shkmeruli (chicken in garlic sauce), Ostri (spicy beef stew), Nigvziani Badrijani (fried eggplant, spiced walnut, and garlic), Lobiani (Georgian-style beans), and Churchkhela (candy made of walnut halves dipped in grape juice). If it’s a more spiritual experience you’re after, Georgia has numerous spectacular and historic cathedrals, churches, temples, and monasteries that sure are worth a visit. You can find several of these breathtaking structures in Kazbegi - a mountainous region also known for its luscious green scenery and paragliding. Other locales worth adding to your itinerary are Kutaisi, known for its stunning gardens, Kakheti, popular for its vineyards, monasteries, and castles, and the capital of Tbilisi proper - renowned for its gorgeous museums, street art, and buskers.

THE PR IM O R D IA CAVE MONAS L FAÇADE O F T E Y IN V A R D ZT H E IA

I T GERGET A IN V IE W A T N OU M E I H G T BE EAR KAZ CHURCH N

My favourite place

While paragliding over the Caucasus Mountains in Kazbegi can be quite terrifying when you first take off, as soon as you’re airborne the feeling you experience is unlike any other as you glide over the magnificent peaks like a bird. Being up in the air and feeling completely weightless is a beautiful experience that allows you to bask in the glory of nature with a bird’s-eye view – the mountains covered in luscious grass and blossoming flowers beneath you, and the clouds above…so close, yet so far away.

Highlights Georgia as a country is extremely safe – a huge plus for solo travelers, women, and children. Theft and other crime targeting tourists is remarkably low, but still exercise your usual caution as you would when travelling in a foreign country.

Lowlights Georgian traffic can be very dangerous with several areas in the capital of Tbilisi lacking traffic lights – so make sure to cross the street only at the designated zebra crossings. Souvenirs Enamel jewelry, traditional blue tablecloths, Georgian drinking horns, and local khmeli-suneli blend of spices. Getting there Fly Air Arabia from Muscat to Sharjah in the UAE and onwards to Tbilisi. Or fly Emirates from Muscat to Dubai to Tbilisi, and Qatar Airways from Muscat to Doha to Tbilisi.

Where to stay Courtyard by Marriott in Freedom Square (aka Liberty Square), Tbilisi is an ideal central home base, though you’ll find many other options for accommodation on Booking.com, Trivago, or Kayak.

K H IN K A L I (G E O AND O R G IA THER T R A D N D U M P L IN G IT IO S) C U IS IN N A L G E O R G IA E N

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-FI THE TECH IN YOU

D e s t i n at i o n

Cars

Gaming

Y-FI

Fortnite

Info Box

FORTNITE CHAPTER 2 Developer: EPIC GAMES Genre: SURVIVAL, BATTLE ROYALE, SANDBOX Platforms: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE, MACOS, NINTENDO SWITCH, IOS, AND ANDROID

The Y Geek Squad takes on a new chapter in a Battle Royale staple that has the online gaming community in its grip

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s far as milestones go, this was the gaming world’s equivalent of the Big Bang with the online community erupting midOctober when world-famous game Fortnite was plunged into darkness, reduced to nothing in a (virtual) black hole. It’s perhaps the first time in digital history that millions of people around the globe hopped onto Google to search for theories surrounding black holes and the Big Bang theory after Fortnite gamers were left stunned by darkness in their beloved game after the ‘Fornite event’ on October 13, 2019 saw a meteor that had hovered around the game’s event horizon for months, slam into the game’s landscape sucking the Fortnite map and everything in it into a gaping black hole. Gamers, who had just lost their character skins and weapons (which they paid money to acquire), maps, skillsets, and in-game friends – were left

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questioning the future of the platform. Just like that, there was no virtual flossing, electro shuffle, robot, or best-mates dance moves; and Twitch and YouTube streams had come to a standstill – millions of dollarsworth of content hung in the balance. The enigma that was the days that followed, soon revealed a new phase: Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 1 – the latest in its sequence of Battle Royale games. The theme of the season revolves around a completely-revamped map and alter-egos of the characters. As expected, there’s significant gameplay changes too. For instance, the new map is more elaborate but also challenging, and there are new weapons and items that’ll help you progress through games. With hundreds (or perhaps even thousands) of hours of gameplay

promised, the new chapter comes packing a new challenge system and a more intuitive Battle Pass system that allows gamers to earn exclusive in-game rewards such as new outfits, gliders, wraps, harvesting tools, back-blings, contrails, and even more trivial content such as loading screens by playing Battle Royale. While the gameplay largely remains the same – you follow a cooperative path, but with a shooter-survival outlook against in-game zombies, and the Battle Royale which will pit you against 100 other gamers whose intentions are to slay you and remain the last one standing. Developer Epic Games continues to work around Unreal Engine 4, which means it’s still superior when compared with games such as Realm Royale and Mortal Kombat 11, though the latter would be an unfair comparison. The new title is still catchy and quirky, and Chapter 2 isn’t devoid of its own meme content that has the potential to go viral. While Fortnite still stands a step under games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and the like, it does have its strong moments that grip us – and that’s what sets it apart from other similar Battle Royale titles in the market.


HEALTH

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Home

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The sugarcoated truth How to prevent diabetes

A silent disease with the potential to kill, diabetes is quickly becoming one of the world’s deadliest diseases. Y’s Paul Reddington sheds light on a sweet epidemic as Oman gets set to mark World Diabetes Day on November 14

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magine throwing a party for some of the biggest names in music, cinema, politics, and sports: Nick Jonas, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Larry King, Randy Jackson, Salma Hayek, James Earl Jones, Theresa May, Kamal Haasan, and Wasim Akram. It’d be a lineup to behold; a star-studded attendance that would warrant rolling out the red carpet – but these stars, while renowned for their accomplishments in their fields, are also known for their fight against diabetes. It isn’t shocking considering how the disease continues to be growing public health concern worldwide – and how today, diabetes is quickly becoming one of the greatest threats to our collective health. As per a 2017 World Health Organisation (WHO) study of people from 45 countries, currently nearly 415 million people are living with diabetes worldwide. More worryingly, the numbers are expected to increase to 642 million by the year 2040. As per statistics revealed by the Oman Diabetes Society (ODA), the Sultanate currently has 367,700 diabetic patients (nearly 10.7 per cent of the population) registered and receiving treatment from private and government hospitals. In an interview with Y, Dr. Muhammad Muneer, a diabetologist at the Green Apple Medical Centre (formerly Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre) in Muscat explains: “Diabetes isn’t a localised disease, but a global one that has the potential to impact just about everyone around us. “And while diabetes itself distinguishes itself in different types, we can take steps to protect ourselves from its effects. And, if you take the necessary precautions, you could prevent its onset

for years…even if you fall under a high-risk category.” Before we delve into the specifics of diabetes, we need to understand its implications on the human body. As per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases portal, diabetes is a serious condition where your blood glucose – also known as blood sugar – level is too high. It adds: “Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. “Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough – or any – insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells.” Although diabetes is a disease that has no cure, patients can take steps to manage their condition and stay healthy for years. Though, as per the WHO, in 2016 an estimated 1.6 million deaths worldwide were a direct result of diabetes. Dr. Muhammad elaborates: “There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2, alongside some rarer types of diabetes too.” As per the International Diabetic Federation (IDF), Type 1 diabetes or ‘juvenile-onset diabetes’ is usually caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defense system attacks the cells that produce insulin. The disease isn’t age-dependent, but usually develops in children or young adults. This means, patients will require injections of insulin every day to control the levels of glucose in their blood, failing which could result in death. Type 2 diabetes or ‘adult-onset diabetes’ accounts for most diabetes cases diagnosed globally. It’s associated often, but not always, with obesity, which is known to cause insulin resistance and lead to high blood glucose levels. The diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes can occur at any age – but it can remain undetected for many

1. Cut sugar and refined carbs from your diet 2. Work out regularly 3. Drink water as your primary beverage 4. Lose weight if you're overweight or obese 5. Quit smoking 6. Follow a very-low-carb diet 7. Watch portion sizes 8. Avoid sedentary behaviours 9. Eat a high-fibre diet 10. Minimize your intake of processed food years, and the diagnosis is often made when a complication appears, or a routine blood or urine glucose test is done. Doctors also report of a condition known as prediabetes, which means your blood glucose levels are higher than normal. And when your blood glucose levels reach a certain level, you’ll be classified as having diabetes. Renjith*, 27, an entrepreneur based out of Muscat, is among those adjudged as pre-diabetic in his early 20s. He says: “Death, taxes, and diabetes: those are the three things modern generations can be certain they’ll face at some point in their lives. “I got to testing myself when I was young only because my (late) father also had the condition, and I got to see his struggle with the disease. “Perhaps, a great part of me accepted the disease because I saw him go through it all. Because of that, I’m very careful of how I manage my diet. “I rarely eat sweets, and even if I do, I try to burn the glucose immediately by hitting the gym or going for walks. Else, if I go to sleep after having sweets, I’ll have dizziness when I wake up. “Thankfully, things are under control now. And as per my doctor, if I continue with this lifestyle, I can delay the onset of diabetes for years. “But, being a part of this lifestyle is one that you can avoid if you’re careful enough. And, as one among those who have a higher chance of being diabetic, I can tell you this: take care of your body and don’t end up being a statistic.”

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HEALTH& BEAUTY

‘PEAKY’ POPULAR

From waistcoats and tailored trousers, to Oxford brogues and trendy caps, fellas are fetching up at fashion’s doorstep in dapper droves as the vintage ensembles of the 1920s get a chic revival – all thanks to the BBC’s popular series, ‘Peaky Blinders’.

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Health

Beauty

FASHION


T t Ge

k o o L e h

, reet ook t s l gh e hi get the h t d to you to n e gh ps e hi att hel h t rr Fromlee Sta Ash

In the 1920s, dapper gents from Birmingham stepped out in style in their fitted waistcoats and mid-length car-coats. Shrug on this navyblue wool version from GAP and you’ll be ready to face the wind! Own it for RO87.6.

Upgrade your day-to-night look with a vintage vibe that will carry you through your next board meeting, right into an after-work social session with your mates. Making a classic comeback is the waistcoat – and this houndstooth version from M&S has Tommy Shelby written all over it! Price: RO34.

Hats are hip for fall. Not only do they keep you warm, they keep you looking good too. Opt for a classic style that makes a statement all its own – like the raspberry beret from Don it for RO6.9.

The ultimate gentlemen’s accessory, no waistcoat is fully dressed without the gilded accompaniment of a pocket-friendly timepiece. Keep this Hicarer quartz variety in-hand when you’re running late for that dinner date! Snag it for RO4.9 from Amazon.

Level up your look with a modern twist to a retro fit. Case in point? These tailored trousers from H&M in a bold two-tone checkered print that draws your eye along the whole ensemble. Wear them for RO19.2.

Tip your hat in true ‘Peaky’ style with the baker boy cap that started it all. Jump on the trend-wagon with this simple, yet classy grey tweed hat from Max for just RO3.

A pair of suspenders can say a lot about your personality. Opt for an eye-catching pair in a colour that will hold you up – and lift your mood. These cherry-red pair from H&M are just the ticket. Grab them for RO3.8.

Who says the ladies get to have all the fun when it comes to being well-heeled? Stride along in a pair of these tan brogues from Clark’s for RO63.6 that will have you looking nothing less than surefooted.

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Tr e n d

New Restaurant

Reviews PICTURE PERFECT

In our perpetual foodie quest for the perfect pic, do we ultimately end up sacrificing flavour over form?

YUMMY

Sweet and

SNAPPY From quirky eateries and over-the-top cafés, to restaurants with the ultimate Insta-worthy view, we’re rounding up some of the capital’s most social media-friendly spots to get your eat on.

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e all have to eat to live – and sometimes, only a break from our usual foodie surroundings will suffice. Call it marketing brilliance, call it a groaning gimmick, or even call it art, but at some point, we’ve all fallen victim to the lure of what’s trending. From our favourite foodie accounts on Instagram overflowing with freak-shakes and rainbowlayered cakes, pop-culture latté art, or origami-like sushi plating – the FOMO hits us hard. (That’s ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ in socialmedia speak.) We often think – where do they, these foodies and influencers, find these places? And could we ever frame a salad in such an alluring

#968 The Food Studio Location: Al Khuwair

way? So, we’d thought we’d do some delicious digging to bring you some of our tastiest and most Instagrammable spots to chow-down in and around Muscat. But, full disclosure: in no way are we advocating that simply because a restaurant ‘looks good’, does that mean its menu falls in the same category. As a rule, it’s generally the tinier hole-in-the-wall outlets who have been serving up for years their signature dishes crafted almost to perfection, that leave us with the best taste in our mouth. Plus, pictures on social media almost never tell the full story. And while you can’t judge a book by its cover, your attention can most definitely be diverted. It’s keeping it that’s a matter of taste.

(think butter crunch and Nutella bombs, to Oreo crumble and LA-glazed), these aren’t your average Boston creams here. We also love their seriously Instagrammable matcha lattés and the funky selfie wall of their newest outlet in Al Khuwair.

Beach Pavilion

Location: Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel

Oman’s capital is blessed with miles of pristine coastline, making the social media-savvy spoiled for choice. With abundant options for foodies to sit, snack, sip and snap it takes a special spot indeed to stand out. Enter Al Bustan Palace’s nautical-inspired Beach Pavilion restaurant. Tucked away on a grassy beachside corner of the property, this relaxed eatery is almost Maldivian in its sea meets sky colour palette and décor. Come for its Friday brunch with endless displays of fresh seafood, and decadent dessert spread – which are Insta-worthy enough on their own. Or, sit outside and drink in the view of where the Al Hajjar Mountains touch the azure blue waters against the backdrop of the equally majestic hotel itself. Any angle you aim for, is Insta-goals.

From crispy chicken served on the head of a shovel, to its towering ‘Jenga’ brownie stack, is there a hipster foodie trend this concept restaurant hasn’t jumped at? Self-described as ‘where food meets stories’ you can expect more of the same from the rest of its menu. With a warmly lit wood interior and splashes of colour from its pop-art accent walls, (spot their Mumbai chaiwala mascot!), #968 The Food Studio tries to capture a fleeting sense of place and nostalgia with street food-inspired Indian cuisine conceptualized for the social media age.

(Photo credits: www.instagram.com/968foodstudio)

Copper

Location: Shatti Al Qurum

Industrial grit meets culinary chic at this Qurum establishment. With its rustic, stripped-down interior and seriously moreish meals it’s Instagame is strong. Their open-plan kitchen means you can watch them flame up the grill while your barista pours the perfect cold-brew. An equal mix of healthy/ wholesome and stick-to-your-ribs indulgent, Copper is a perennial crowdpleaser on both the online and actual foodie fronts. Don’t forget to snag your selfie next to the candy-apple red Johnny Pag Pro Street motorcycle by the entrance.

(Photo credits: www.instagram.com/copperrestaurant)

3rd Street Donuts

Location: Seeb & Al Khuwair

This sweet spot opened up its first location in Seeb late last year and has just welcomed a second branch in Al Khuwair. Capitalizing on a market with a major sweet tooth, this local startup has quickly risen in popularity – packing a pastry punch to boot. From its colourfully quirky varieties of donut

(Photo credits: www.ritzcarlton.com)

Roselle Bakery Café Location: Qurum

Self-proclaimed as Oman’s ‘first Instagrammable bakery’, one step inside Roselle Bakery Café and you’ll understand why we had to include it on our list. Decked out floor-to-ceiling in pink upholstery, with living walls of blooming roses and cherry blossom ‘trees’ the space is like the secret garden of a Disney princess come to life. Everything from the décor to the menu items have been painstakingly curated for the lens. From picture-perfect pastries, to lush mocktails and colourful lattés adorned with edible flowers, it’s almost impossible to take a bad photo here. Whether it’s your cup of tea, is up to you.

(Photo credits: www.instagram.com/ roselleoman)

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New Restaurant

REVIEWS

Info Box

THE GOLDEN ORYX Al Burj St., Ruwi, across from the Muscat Bakery Markets Opening hours: 12 noon till 3:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. till 12 midnight (Sun-Thurs) 1:00 p.m. till 3:30 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. till 12 midnight (Friday) Contact: (+968) 2470-6128 Lunch for two: RO24

Verdict : 7/10 SERVICE 7/10 FOOD 8/10 AMBIENCE

Pan-Asian cuisine with a focus on Chinese, Thai, and Mongolian barbecue at a reasonable price point and an ambience ideal for families and large groups

THE GOLDEN ORYX TEAM Y HAS HIGH HOPES FOR A LONG-TIME RUWI STAPLE THAT’S BEEN SATISFYING THE SULTANATE’S CRAVING FOR AUTHENTIC PAN-ASIAN CUISINE FOR THREE DECADES

Y Magazine reviews anonymously and pays for its meals

Oryx noodles, and a platter of garlic fried rice at our waiter’s recommendation. The dishes arrive with their own warming hotplate to go with it and we happily tuck in. The ginger fried rice is fluffy and satisfying, the n the case of The Golden Oryx it was an burnished slivers of golden garlic adding depth instance of reputation preceding it – which, of flavour to the other dishes, when mixed. The as any foodie can attest, sets the bar rather signature Hong Kong chicken reminds us of a high. We’d heard friends from all corners of the Chinese version of Thai cashew chicken with capital speak of the restaurant with the same sautéed onions and cashews, and lightly breaded ‘must-try’ tone of fervor – insistent and cajoling. cubes of chicken all doused in their signature fiery A Ruwi institution for the last 30 years, its sauce. While filling, our palate longs for a kick of longevity is a promising sign that its stalwart sweetness to balance out the heat – but perhaps status has, indeed, been earned. To stand the we’re simply too accustomed to the saccharine, test of time in an ever-fluctuating foodie market cherry-red syrup of those sweet-and-sour chicken is no small feat. And with this in mind, so it balls served everywhere in Chinese take-aways was that we found ourselves passing through its throughout North America. Their menu is vast, but we opt to stick to the golden gates and temple-like door one Friday But the star of the spread were the absolutely Chinese side of it, going for an array of dishes afternoon for an early lunch. moreish Golden Oryx noodles. Fresh from the wok, they’re best known for. We begin with starters of The restaurant interior is vast – with a bank lusciously stir-fried hakka noodles were tossed with of windows stretching down the city block. But their hot and sour soup, and a portion of their fresh veg, well-seasoned morsels of chicken, and it’s also a cavernous space, adorned in the usual vegetable spring rolls. While the restaurant is extremely quiet – with just plump prawns – and every bite elicited a delicious chinoiserie and deep, rich mahogany wood tones smoky sweetness. Piping-hot and made fresh-toone other table seated next to us, arriving shortly with Asian-inspired lanterns hanging from the order, we fill our plates and take the leftovers home. ceiling. We imagine that during the evening the after us, the service seems a wee bit askew. While Overall, our experience at The Golden Oryx we wait an inordinately long time for our starters restaurant would be a cozy spot indeed, with and soft drinks to arrive, the table next to us receives was mixed, but because you can never truly judge its claret-red upholstered chairs and banquette a restaurant on one visit alone – especially not with both their soup course and mains before us. We seating. a menu as expansive as theirs, we would definitely We’ve arrived just as they’ve opened for their chalk it up to our dishes being prepared fresh – come back to explore what else they have to offer. which is a good thing – and hunker down. lunch service and there’s just one other table The tables around us seemed to be enjoying their The soup course arrives first and we tuck in. dining in as we’re seated in a lush banquette While tasty, with a deep meaty broth base, a hot and meals to the fullest and the service, while a bit slow, table towards the back of the restaurant – was friendly and courteous which was a definite though two more dining parties come in shortly sour soup it’s not. It’s consistency overly glutinous plus point. We’re not ready to write off this Ruwi and without a hint of its namesake sour pungency, after. favourite just yet. We’ll be back – and bringing our the soup lacks in seasoning and flavour. There are With an array of what we’re describing appetites with us once more. ■ no delicate wisps of egg that give it its essential (although rather broadly) as pan-Asian cuisine, appearance and, rather than using fresh or dried The Golden Oryx’s specialties run the gamut Do you have a favourite restaurant that you’d like to see shiitake or wood ear mushrooms as is its authentic from its signature Chinese dishes, to Thai reviewed? Let Y know at editor@y-oman.com. preparation, the mushrooms at the bottom of our options, and even Mongolian barbecue. bowls clearly came from a can. For our dining companion, it’s a bowl to their liking – and we happily offer to share ours. ‘Different strokes’, as the saying goes. The vegetable spring rolls also leave us wanting more; dense and rather dry, they come stuffed with an unseasoned mélange of shredded veg that isn’t helped much by the side accompaniments of a garlic dipping sauce and a sweet chili sauce. Hoping our main courses deliver the flavour punch we seek, we order a portion of their Szechuan ginger beef, their signature Hong Kong chicken, a portion of their house specialty Golden

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Y Magazine #592, November 7, 2019  

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

Y Magazine #592, November 7, 2019  

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

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