Oman is a destination for migratory birds during Spring and Autumn. Some pass through, others like White Storks and Steppe Eagles overwinter in Oman using it as a food larder and return to breeding grounds to the north. But there are some that come to Oman and breed, and included in these are the Sooty Falcon, Falco concolor.
The Sooty Falcon is a medium-sized falcon with, as its name suggests, a colour that is a shade of grey, perhaps slate grey. It’s a relatively rare bird whose world population is estimated as 10,000 of which some 500 breed in Arabia. Though the bird was first studied in Oman in 1978 its only since 2007 that an in-depth analysis of this Falcon has taken place with core research undertaken from 2008-2014 by a team, including Waheed Al Fazari of Sultan Qaboos University and Dr Mike McGrady of International Avian Research.
Iran is rapidly become a key element in Oman’s economic and political future. On Wednesday 15th February 2017 Iranian President Rouhani will pay a brief visit to Sultan Qaboos in the morning before flying to Kuwait, which is the next chair of the GCC. Both Oman and Kuwait have important Shia Muslim populations, in Kuwait these are focused in business; my employer in Saudi whose family is Shia being perhaps the largest private company in Kuwait.
Oman’s Al Bustan Palace, though remaining open throughout 2017 will have restricted room bookings for 7 months. There will be limited number of rooms available from 1st March – 30th November 2017 and no room bookings at all between 1st May 30th September 2017.
Buying a souvenir of Oman can be problematic, with a key question ‘is it authentic’? However one area has been dealt with today. Oman’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry have today issued details to support a Ministerial Decision issued last year.
The Oman government has published the Budget for 2017. Not unexpectedly, given the country’s reliance on oil, it shows a substantial deficit which is anticipated to be 28% of Government Revenue. The deficit during the remaining years of the government’s 5-year plan to 2020 is again projected to remain between 25-30% each year. The government is anticipating a rise in its expenditure from a projected Omani Rials (OMR) 11,165Billion in 2017 to (OMR) 14,100 in 2020.
Reports in many media including separately by Reuters and Bloomberg say that Oman is joining the Saudi-led ‘Islamic alliance against terror’. This alliance is widely assumed a force lead by Saudi Arabia against Iran, despite any doubt suggested by its name.
In Oman’s north-west is the small town of Tanam, which was a small part of Oman’s Oil production leap. Its just about to feature again as the much talked about Saudi – Oman road seems about to open early 2017; Tanam is the last anything before the border.
After a drive from Muscat, via Nizwa, we arrived in Dhofar where the tail end of a weak Khareef (Monsoon) season was still evident. Most of Dhofars beaches are soft white sand, beloved by Humans and not surprisingly animals.
Up until now there has been no direct road linkage between Oman and Saudi Arabia, despite the border between the two countries being some 700 kilometers long. This is all about to change with the finish of the Saudi section of the road link about 70 kilometers south-east of the international border intersection between Oman, Saudi & the UAE.