For many years the Expats of Muscat have assembled complex pieces of engineered steel and rubber, and blasted - as only hydrocarbon man can -
across the steep desert dunes of the Sharkiya sands, traveling across the barren sand expanse, East to West [aka the hard way], in just 2 days.
That always necessitates a night camped beneath the stars, and the ability to take with you the essentials of survival.
And for many years, one of the best parties IMHO, dare I say it, on the planet I have attended (fortunately many times), is the party that happens in the middle of the Wahiba challenge.
It's awesome. The cars, the raw beauty, the success, the comradeship, the stars, the music and yes, the beer, all combined with the fantastic place Oman is to explore and camp in, and that always made it special. And the event was rapidly getting almost semi-pro, with over 100 people in lots of 4x4s, professional catering, and of late even mainstream sponsorship [google it. I've read Blue Chi's article]. By now, competitors include many Omani's.
Someone even did it this year on an NRI Gardener's 124cc street bike, as a normal bike was insufficient challenge, and he made it. [google that yourself too. Its worth it. Hint: Wahiba Challenge Gardener].
However, this year, it was somewhat novel that someone decided it would be a great idea to play a movie at the camp site, on a big screen with a beamer, in the middle of the desert, that was hard core. And I'm talking about sand and off-tarmac hard-pounding action.
Beach volleyball players. Female beach volley ball players, in bikinis. And then, after 5 mins, it apparently got ...a little steamier. (Lucky they weren't Malaysian, I thought.)
For the next few minutes at least, the Sharkiya sands have undoubtedly never before seen such a display of sexy things occurring between girls that would be illegal in so many countries (including Malaysia, and I think this one... Blue Chi? Legal Consult?), especially when publicly displayed (even in the USA).
[I know, how often do you get to actually legitimately blog about "lesbian sex in Oman" twice in a week??? First Essa in Times of Oman, now this! I'm always honoured to take a lead from the Times Of Oman].
Honestly, I'm not making this up. On the Wahiba Challenge a couple of weeks ago, someone played girl on girl porn, on a big screen, openly enough for someone to get offended enough to complain. And big enough that lots of people are talking about it and sending public emails around.
Now, I'm a big fan of such things in their place, don't get me wrong. But here in Oman,... it was a long way too far past what would ever be acceptable if someone was going to get offended. And there were so many people that someone was bound to get offended. I mean, at least booze is legal somewhere here. So this porn thing was really... stupid.
Hopefully it will all blow over I guess. The Wahiba Challenge is a wonderful Oman Institution. I don't think it deserves a red card because of some insensitive and regrettable decisions made by a few individuals. I'm not shocked that someone broadcast porn. But I'm disappointed that they did it in such an idiotic way and got caught.
I did ask a member of the organising group, the Ras Al Hamra Off-Road Adventure Club RAH-ORAC, what was going on, and he very kindly shared the story. Yes, a team on the challenge, called Dirty Sanchez, did play a short segment of X rated movie, some distance from everyone else, that few saw (but enough witnessed and complained about, I guess. What ever happened to discretion?). Here's the apology from the team Captain, which pretty much sums it up...
“First of all I want to sincerely apologize that the … team members have upset people in the camp by showing a short part of an adult movie.We should have never done that. There is no excuse for that.
I would like to emphasize that we should have never shown parts of an adult movie (not even for a short while) during an event which was organized by ORAC. And I'd like to emphasize that we never had the intention to upset people; we understand that we've done so and we're very sorry for that.”
And they've been given the red card.
Dear Captains and Delegates,
The Wahiba Challenge is a tradition that unites people from many backgrounds in the simple pursuit of adventure, comradeship, and a sense of achievement. It is a test of man and machine against the pristine and beguiling beauty of one of Oman’s greatest treasures, the Wahiba desert. This year, the unspoken code of honor and respect that defines this event was seriously breached.
One of the teams engaged in an activity at the campsite that was wholly outside the envelope of acceptable, and expected, behavior. The activity in question showed enormous disrespect for the spirit of the Challenge in general, and our Omani hosts in particular. It was, quite simply, wrong.
All participants canvassed have expressed universal opprobrium at the team’s activity, combined with a mixture incredulity and sadness that it occurred in such a beautiful place and during such a great event.
As a measure of our concern for the respect we show our hosts, and the reputation of the Club and its members, the ORAC Committee has decided not to invite the team involved to participate in any future ORAC events. The team members’ names will be removed immediately from the ORAC membership list.
Please forward this message to the members of your teams as you deem appropriate.
Off-Road Adventure Club
Wahiba Challenge 2008 Committee
'Nuf said then.
Nudge nudge, wink wink, on the Q T...
[don't bother, I asked. No copies were available, even for the press!]