Oman Air will be flying into Muscat from Heathrow in 2009. I must admit that the schedule suits me well at Heathrow – leaving at 2130 and getting in to Muscat the following morning at 0845 – the flight from Muscat at 13.20 is equally good and arrives at Heathrow at 1740. But Gatwick I found, on what I have to say will probably be only my second visit in my life, was far easier to get around and the train in from Charing Cross was so easy. I don’t expect they will run both – or will they?
Update – new times (as of 30 Aug 2009 – are depart Heathrow 22.35 and arrive 09.15 and from Muscat to Heathrow depart 13.45 and arrive Heathrow 19.05
November 18th is Oman’s National Day. This year is the 38th celebration of what is referred to as Oman’s Renaissance since Sultan Qaboos ( حفظ الله صاحب الجلالة) became ruler of Oman . The changes since 1970 have been remarkable – of course it’s human nature to say the good old days were better but I have yet to hear anyone say that about Oman.
A week ago, there was a strong likelihood that a ‘tropical depression’ would create heavy rain in Salalah. Fortunately for Salalah, but tragically for Yemen , it veered away and the last few days was over southern Yemen. The video clip http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7689795.stm from Yemen shows a river pouring through “Al Ghar Al Amar” in the centre of Mukalla . The water catchment area in Mukalla is far smaller than that of Wadi Hadhramauthttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7690463.stm or even I suspect Wadi Du’an; there the flooding might be horrific. Wadi Hadhramaut and its tributaries have extraordinarily sheer cliffs, carved by previous floods, which funnel the water in its restricted course . The article I wrote about Yemen finished …. ‘I was now left with one problem before I left, how to tackle the ascent out of the valley’ hopefully the inhabitants wont find they need an escape route.
Joining in the celebrations for a wedding in the Jebel Akhdar Oman
Making the steep climb by car up to Jebel Akhdar I arrived in the late afternoon to join the celebrations for a friend’s wedding .
The formal betrothal had taken place last year and today would be the start of married life. Of course, it was a busy affair, as all Omani weddings are, with probably most households in the village joining in. Since this was a ‘town persons’ wedding we set off, in a queue of cars , to take the bride to the grooms home .
The next day I managed to have an early morning walk through the mountains before having a very enjoyable lunch at a simple reception to congratulate the groom.
focusing on to mentor, develop and promote promising Omani and International emerging artists Al Tarhal Gallery opens in Muscat OMAN
It was a pleasure to be at the opening of what, I feel, will be a superb showcase for Omani and International Artists .
Al Tarhal is a partnership, focusing on mentoring, developing and promoting promising Omani and International emerging artists. Works by Omani artists like Naima Al Maimani, whose works I am familiar with;
join artist whose works I have yet to discover, like the calligrapher Saleh Al Shukairi. Oman has had a long tradition of traditional decorative works with silver (the exquisite Mans Khanjar and Ladies Hirz necklaces ) and wood (bold entrance doors into major mansions) . Art as pure decoration had yet to fire the imagination of many Omani’s , but with increased awareness and demand, the gallery should have no difficulty in finding Omani’s to mentor.
I uploaded some Oman and Yemen inspired magazine articles I wrote
The Arabian Leopard was the subject of an article in the new daily paper from the UAE http://www.thenational.ae/article/20081009/NATIONAL/76935597. The piece highlights how few of the animals there are – the writer covered the possibility that there might be, or might not be one Arabian Leopard in the UAE mountains. That prompted me to scan in the piece I did about the Leopard for ‘Oman Today’ along with 3 other ones .
The visit I made into Wadi Hadhramaut which Oman Today (again) published in 2007 was a wonderful journey . Seeing ‘hand made’ houses rather than ones made from mass produced material was very stimulating. Each one individual and yet harmonious . To get some nice photos I wandered around just after dawn – in Seyoun waking up a pack of several dozen ‘wadi dogs’ on a mountain slope which made me back away very carefully and in Mukalla enjoying watching the men of the old town take up their places in the tea houses . Along the coast, the scenes of fishermen chasing gulls away from drying sardines spoke volumes of their need to preserve ‘wealth’ .
Bank Muscat asks me to produce brief articles which cover towns where they have branches . I am waiting in hope that they will ask me to do one for their Egyptian branch – and of course pay my travel expenses.
The files are probably not so large with broadband – but they take a while to download from Oman
Dr Rory Wilson gave a very good talk to the Environment Society of Oman
The Environment Society of Oman was given a very good talk by Dr Rory Wilson about animal tracking.
With the support of the ‘Rolex Awards for Enterprise’ he has developed a device to track the movement of animals. Rory calls the results a ‘daily diary because, by extrapolating the information which includes 3-dimensional movement sensors and time a scientist can surmise the events of a selected animal’s day – its daily diary.
Why was he in Oman? Last January in Oman he did a small test on an individual Arabian Leopard . It is hoped that, by using this tracking device on Leopard in the wild, more information about the Leopard in Oman will be obtained and – its future made more secure using extensive information rather than limited information and speculation. I wrote about the Arabian Leopard for ‘Oman Today’
Flying from the green of an English Summer into Muscat on Oman Air
The rain of a typical British Summer has kept trees in early summer leaf (except the Horse Chestnut which, where we live, has been badly affected by the new fungus which creates an Autumn brown off in early July).
I managed to get back and see the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum. The reading room in which it is held is of course an appropriate venue as Hadrian’s Pantheon inspired its dome. Timed tickets should have been a warning – the space was probably full to its designed capacity and it was a struggle to move at my pace and see the exhibits.
For me the outstanding impact was the representation of Hadrian throughout his rule – each artist created a sculpture of a man whom the “vir in via” must have been able to recognize has they walked past him. It was wonderful that among the marble, the curators included a written plea for support, from a foreign civilian living in northern England, to the region’s governor.
Perhaps the same man had touched a large amphora, found near Hadrian’s Wall, which was displayed along with an image of a shard mountain of 26million amphora. Later, walking along Bond Street, I was surprised to see a familiar shop name. ‘Bateel’ a shop selling Dates and Date products has a branch in Muscat. Amazingly they had set up close to where a company I was general manager with 25 years ago had a shop. My surprise was not really in seeing Bateel but, with a rental of probably GBP300,000+ per year, the extraordinary volume of dates they must sell to cover costs – probably Arab Embassies are ideal clients.
Grabbing a couple of bottles of water, we set off at a good walking pace under the cloud cover of the early Khareef (Monsoon) season in Salalah Oman .
I enjoy trekking in Oman with Hadi al Hikmani, enthusiasm is always a good companion and Hadi packages his in friendliness and knowledge. On this walk, his knowledge identified fresh ‘scat’ (excrement) on our pathway – in fact Leopard scat . Fresh, in fact, very fresh – probably less than half an hour old. In the day that followed, we walked along Leopard tracks and with all our stops and starts, examining the tracks and collecting scat we didn’t catch up with our invisible walking companion.
We returned along the same path and astoundingly found more scat; the Leopard had returned to the path after we passed .
Over a year before, on another walk with Hadi, I said to him that I would write about Oman’s Leopards; as he believes that awareness is a key to its survival. So, shamed that no article had been produced in over a year, I returned to Muscat and somehow produced a piece. Wonderfully ‘ Oman Today ’ has used it in their August edition – I’m delighted of course.
Oman is a key territory of Panthera pardus nimr, the Arabian Leopard, and, with possibly less than 200 individuals in the world, awareness may well help its survival.