Etihad to Muscat

A flight to remember for a lifetime

Taking Etihad from Heathrow to Muscat I was lucky to have a brand new plane, an Airbus 340 . It was a flying advert for the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix later this year.

As is often the case in The Gulf the flight attendants were from all over the world, mostly Far East, and I’m not certain if there were any Emiratis.

Will Smith in “I Robot” looks over my Etihad meal
Will Smith in “I Robot” looks over my Etihad meal

The meal was frankly poor – with rubber like Pasta – made worse by being served a couple of hours into the late evening flight. I found the entertainment selection extraordinary – 70films, 100 TV entertainment programs, no idea how many news Channels and presumably as many Audio choices. For a new plane it was a shock to have an aborted landing – with good recovery, thank you Mr  Pilot– because a wheel door apparently would not open. Our second attempt succeeded and it was comforting to see the fire tenders moving back into their sheds.

Arriving for transfer at Abu Dhabi into the new Terminal the Muscat flight was waiting in the old terminal – very nice because it’s distinctive. Flashing up on the TV – BBC breaking news Michael Jackson died. I can remember where I was the night Elvis (Presley) died and now will be able to add Michael Jackson to my life’s time line, through this flight.

The Jackson 5 and later Michael were not my favorites but his Music from ‘Off the Wall’ to ‘Thriller’ was so good. What a shock to his family and fans . He visited Oman a couple of years ago and I must say in Oman Michael Jackson was sooo popular that many people here will miss him.

New Ferry Terminal in Khasab Oman

Good news for car drivers

Oman’s Transport & Communications Ministry has confirmed that it will build two ferry terminals in Khasab and Shinas .

The 'Shinas' in Mina Sultan Qaboos
The ‘Shinas’ in Mina Sultan Qaboos

These will take the Ferries, enabling cars to be taken on board. Certainly Musandam is not the easiest of places to drive to – it involves 4 border posts each way and a dreadful drive through Ras al Khaimah .

I presume Mina Sultan Qaboos’s quays are good to unload and offload vehicles.

Oman Air adds new routes

Oman Air adds some good new routes this autumn

Frankfurt and Munich will be connected to Muscat by a direct Oman Air flight in September according to Reuters. Then, in October Oman Air will fly into Paris .

Oman Air over Muscat
Oman Air over Muscat

The London flights seem to be a success – my flight this June from Muscat to London was busy – Paris and the German cities are also natural links for Oman Airs target clients – holiday makers.

East Anglian Summer Solstice

Cycling though the East Anglian countryside.

Though the Summer Solstice in East Anglia wasn’t a bright sunny day there was no rain; so we enjoyed cycling around the back lanes on the Essex Suffolk borders.

A field of bright yellow (Rape ) and reds (Poppies) with a few yellows and whites ( Ox-Eye Dasies ).
A field of bright yellow (Rape ) and reds (Poppies) with a few yellows and whites ( Ox-Eye Dasies ).

Having had snow recently and a fair amount of rain, the fields are perhaps a bit behind the normal growing season. Poppies seem to be making a comeback – here mixed in a field of Rape .

A thatched and white washed Cottage
A thatched and white washed Cottage

There is of course a downside to lush vegetation – Aphids by the million drifting across lanes and onto clothes and body.

There are so many nice sights on the route we took; one of my favourites is this picture perfect thatched cottage – complete with dove cots

Shah ‘Abbas in London – Sultan Qaboos in Iran

A bit of Persia in London and Oman in Iran

Walking into the Shah ‘Abbas exhibition in the British Museum’s Reading Room was almost a sense of  ‘déjà vu’ as the very English Sir Robert Sherley & wife Teresia gaze down as they did in the Tate’s ‘Lure of the East’ exhibition last year .

The British Museum’s Great Court
The British Museum’s Great Court

This time they were not included because of the gorgeous costumes but for Robert Sherley’s role as Persian Ambassador from Shah ‘Abbas to various European Courts .

China Blue and White
China Blue and White

In 2007 President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque which of course has a very Persian flavour to it  with the style of Shah Abbas’s dynasty throughout the interior of the building.

As Sultan Qaboos seems to like Persian art he will enjoy his visit to Iran this month. Perhaps the visit by the Omani Minister of Tourism in May to Homs and other Iranian cities was a build up to this visit – one trusts that the current political uncertainty will not affect His Majesty’s visit.

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As an update – His Majesty’s visit did not take place at the end of June but Sultan Qaboos now should visit Iran during mid-July

The new Cultural Complex in Muscat

A startling new style of building for Muscat

The Architects of the Embassy of Oman in Paris have won a proposal for very modern Cultural Complex in Muscat – dramatic, low rise and probably intended to be Iconic.

The winning design by Architecture Studio will create the National Archives, the National Library and the Omani National Theatre.

The project will be designed on a 40,000 sqm area – broadly the same as the building size of the Grand Mosque. Its estimated budget reaches OMR 40 million.

New services from Nawras in Oman

Nawras Fixed Line phones in Oman

A Royal Decree finalizes Nawras’s fixed line permits. They appear to have permission for a full range of services . Their 3G internet has been my fall back when OmanTel’s internet connection is not working . Will they have number transfer for the fixed line ?

A new Train in Oman

A replacement train for Hoota Cave

The Oman Ministry of Tourism looks as if it will replace the Train in Hoota Cave. A tender has been issued for supply of a new train with the documents being opened end of July . I must admit that I preferred the walk from the ticket office to the cave as it’s a relatively short one and looks over a nice vista.

I wonder what will happen to the old one ?

Tropic of Cancer in Oman

I chased the sun through Oman along the Tropic of Cancer

A crawl up the slopes of Jebel Misht and then a very tired stumble back into the car – sunset in the Rub Al Khali and a puncture on the way out  – the link – all on my search for the Tropic of Cancer in Oman.

Tropic of Cancer Wadi bani Awf
Tropic of Cancer Wadi bani Awf

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