Sunday, June 20, 2010


Once again I'm in sunny Salalah...actually I was hoping it would be a little less sunny but although there are some gigantic clouds looming over the mountains, it's still HOT. Bring on khareef! While here I'm having a good think about topics to write about. I've yet to rave about one of my favourite subjects, women's rights. It will be coming though! Also reading Plato's Symposium although I'm not sure I dare attempt to discuss that!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


In my last post I was grumbling about recycling facilities in Muscat...well a few days ago I found two. Both in Shatti al Qurm. Not sure how I missed them before, unless they are new. I'm also not sure how the guy at Muscat Municipality couldn't help us when we called, considering they have nice big Muscat Municipality logos on them. Anyway, I'm finally relieved of all those empty bottles!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Recycling driving me environ-mental

When it comes to the environment, Oman authorities appear to be progressing rather well. As well as nature preservation (which I may look into another time), there are various campaigns targeted at public awareness, such as trying to get people to use less plastic bags and to stop people throwing their rubbish outside. There is also the Save Energy Oman campaign with the cute Oryx mascot. They provide simple tips to save power like using energy saving light bulbs and turning lights off when not in the room. (Perhaps Lulu Hypermarket should have a little look into that and take down just some of the thousands of brightly coloured flashing lights from around their stores.)
Recycling is being facilitated to an extent. According to the non-governmental organisation Environment Society of Oman (ESO), paper recycling bins have been placed in various schools and the organisation themselves assist 40 companies with their paper recycling.
As far as I'm aware recycling for the general public hasn't had a great deal of attention. I've been having my own issues with England I always recycled what I could of my household waste. It's easy there because the local Council take it from your house for free. There isn't such a service here; according to the Ministry of Information website this scheme wouldn't be cost effective in rural areas which are remote. A fair point although they don't mention anything about Muscat and other big areas. It pains me to throw away so many recyclable things. The bins in the schools aren't much good to me because I don't have children so I'm not likely to be going to a school. A while ago my husband read that there were plastic bottle recycling bins being put up around Muscat so I started saving all of our empty water bottles and once there were a few bags full we thought we'd find out where the bins are. My husband called Muscat Municipality who had no idea what he was talking about. Now, I can see on the ESO website that there are in fact plastic bottle recycling bins around Muscat, but it doesn't say where. Someone must know where they are???

Monday, June 7, 2010

Name Shame

This one is going to sound a bit weird to non-Muslims, and in fact it was to me when I first heard it....Since coming to Oman I have had several people ask me if I am going to change my first name to a Muslim name. The concept somewhat baffles me, although I understand it's quite common, particularly for wives of Omanis. Why would anyone do that?! Is it going to make me a better Muslim? Of course not! Someone suggested it was because my name might be difficult for people to pronounce...well those that care will make an effort, I don't mind if it isn't pronounced in the Queen's accent.
It is a total contradiction to Omani culture as Omani people are fiercely proud of their names. Well, so am I. My parents gave me my name and I wont disrespect them by replacing it. After changing my religion and then moving abroad it may be a bit of a kick in the teeth!
Don't misunderstand me, nobody expects me to change my name, as I said it's common. It's just not for me. I was born Victoria and I shall die Victoria!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Phet Aftermath

The cyclone has passed and although it actually decreased to the level of Tropical Storm on it's entrance to the Omani coast, it still wreaked havoc. Each time I look at the newspapers the death toll has risen. The current toll according to the Times of Oman is 24, such a sad loss. Most of the deaths were as a result of people being trapped in wadis and pulled by the currents, disasters that the authorities tried their best to warn against.

As well as the deaths the storm caused widespread flooding, electricity blackouts, landslides and damage to buildings, roads and trees. Driving around Muscat yesterday, some of the city was in disarray. Although the water had mostly receded from the streets, a thick layer of mud was remaining and a lot of debris was strewn about. The government has been swift in setting about restoring everything and today it's much improved.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Cyclone Phet

Cyclone Phet, which has hit the North East coast of Oman is so far only affecting Muscat in the form of heavy rain. It is predicted to get closer by tonight but thankfully for now conditions are comparitively mild. If it wasn't for the humidity I could almost imagine I'm in England.
I have been really impressed with the response of officials; the cyclone has been a constant topic on both of the Oman TV channels, with advice being given in Arabic, English and Urdu to make sure everyone is prepared. Residents on Masirah Island, off the East coast, were flown off from Wednesday and an official day off has been declared by HM the Sultan on Saturday.
The supermarket was an amusing experience on Wednesday, it looked like a cyclone had hit from the inside! At least everyone appears to have made sure they're stocked up with supplies. Even without a full-on cyclone, heavy rains confine people to their homes. The North of Oman is full of low-lying parts between mountains and the sea so heavy rain causes huge floods and makes it unsafe to travel. In hurricane Gonu in 2007, people died trying to cross water-filled wadis. En sha Allah this time with such preparation and care no such tragedies will occur.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kids in Cars

There has been a lot of attention given to road safety in Oman recently including a speech from the Sultan and a 5 day Road Safety Expo. This attention is justified; Oman has a really high rate of road accidents and consequential deaths. I'm sure by now everyone is aware of this and I know the subject has been blogged to death.
My own particular concern though is that in Oman it is more common than not for children to be without seatbelts in cars (and I might add that although I have seen babies car seats in stores I have yet to notice one in a car). Not only this, but I have often seen them climbing all about the car, on the front seats and over the dashboard. I have seen a child with his head hanging out the window and 2 standing out of the sun roof! This lack of caution is more surprising because it totally contradicts the nature of Omani society, which is incredibly family-oriented.
I know it's also uncommon for adults to wear seatbelts here, but adults can make their own decisions; children need safety decisions to be taken for them. I don't understand what is wrong with sitting your child in the back of the car and clicking the seatbelt in??
And as for people holding children on their laps, I know of a test done in New Zealand where they showed that rugby players, being considered to have more than average strength, don't even have the ability to hold on to a child in the event of a car crash. So I'm sure no-one else could.
There's only one justification I've heard for this so far, that it is in Allah's hands when we die. Well....although this is true, it isn't a particularly good point. Nobody would jump off a cliff and say those words. Seatbelts are there for a reason and why why why ignore such a simple safety precaution?