Friday, May 1, 2009

More stories on Muscat Prostitution - published in the UAE, naturally!

More brave UAE publishing.

Of course, there's nothing to stop the UAE papers publishing unflattering stuff on Oman (in fact, its the usual source of breaking Omani News). But it was nice to see a relatively real investigative story [sounds true, contains actual quotes and research, anonymous sources, well written] on Muscat Prostitution, sent in by Omani stringer Saleh Al-Shaibany, in the Khaleej Times.

Photo: The Golden Tulip - The dragon is told that those in Muscat looking for some temporary companionship might consider a trip to the bar...

So well done Saleh. More stories and more depth too please. (Next time try to talk to the girls themselves, maybe something on who the pimps and madams are, who are the typical customers, relationship with ROP, etc, etc, etc.)

Countering the Illicit Rackets
Saleh Al-Shaibany

1 May 2009

Nanda Mohan, escorted by a policewoman, had bruises all over her face when her employer sent her to a local clinic last week. She said a taxi driver who demanded more money beat her up. Her employer knew better. He said she was part of a prostitution ring organised by an expatriate woman in the seedy parts of Muscat.

Mohamed Al Khair, the 34-year-old engineer employing Nanda as a housemaid, said he followed her that Friday after she climbed in the taxi at six-
thirty in the morning. She was the 
only passenger.

“I received a tip from my neighbours that Nanda gets in the same taxi every Friday that was waiting a 100 metre from my house. So I followed her to Hamriya and saw her entering a house run by an Arab ‘madam.’ I called the police and they raided the place.”

Such occurrences are never reported in the local papers because editors have “unwritten guidelines” not to do so from the Ministry of Information.

“Prostitution is rife in Muscat. There is also a high quality prostitution racket in the classy hotels. It will never be published if we write about it. Editors know where not to transgress. It is as simple as that,” an Omani reporter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.

“Most of these foreign women do it willingly to earn extra money but some are lured for jobs that never materialise. They have no choice but to engage in prostitution. They can’t leave because their passports, by law, are held by sponsors. They can’t go to the law because they would not be believed and may end up in prison,” Sanjeev Prabhu, a Muscat-based car tyre salesman said.

Smartly dressed young women from India, Philippines and some Arab countries like Morocco and Lebanon sit in the lobbies of Muscat hotels waiting for arranged corporate clients.

They come to Oman on a visit visa arranged by friends and even relatives. They offer sex for an average price of $300 a night.

“If they are smart, they can end up being long-term escorts of senior corporate managers,” Prabhu added, saying,” just go to these hotels and you can see these women sitting alone in the lobby just waiting for their clients. Hotel managers know that but they 
put up a blind eye. To them, it is just a business….”

Many see this as part of human trafficking that the government is trying to crackdown but with little effect.

Under a new Omani law passed in September, people convicted of human trafficking can now face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 rials ($260,000). There was previously no law against human trafficking. Earlier this year, Oman formally protested against a US State Department report that ranked the sultanate, along with fellow Gulf States Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, among the worst in failing to combat human trafficking.

“It makes sense now to restrict the issuance of visiting visas to single women from certain countries. This class of sex offenders is rising since it caters 
for high paying corporate people, “Khair said.

But Khair warned that the housemaid prostitution ring that caters for labourers and other lowly paid workers would be hard to clamp down.

Foreigners comprise about a quarter of Oman’s 3.2 million population, according to the Ministry of National Economy figures. There are over 100,000 housemaids in Oman and 250,000 labourers. But experts say the actual number of lowly paid foreigners is much bigger since they enter Oman illegally or overstay their visas.

Maryam Saif, a banker, said that many Omanis frequently complain about their housemaids offering sex for money in their family homes while their sponsors are out in their offices.

“My husband and I both work. Our children go to school. The house is empty in the morning and I have caught my housemaid with a man in bed a few months ago. According to the houseboy next door, it had been going on for a year. She was actually running a prostitution business in our house. It is 
that bad!”

Many Omani families now opt for Muslim housemaids, mainly from Indonesia. But there are scandals about them, too.

“Don’t be fooled by the hijab (a Muslim dress worn by women from head to toe). My Indonesian housemaid was caught in one of those seedy places after a police raid one Friday.

Religion has got nothing to do with it or even marriage. Some of them are married with husbands in their countries,” Fathiya Khalfan, a computer IT engineer said.

Saleh Al-Shaibany is an Oman-based writer

For those who live too far from Seeb and the Tulip, you will find a few ladies at Al Jazzal, the English-themed pub within the more centrally located (Government owned) Intercon Hotel.


  1. Interesting read. I do agree that there is a problem in Oman. But to see this published in a foreign paper is something else !

    But the most interesting part is it's by Dubai Journalist, where prostitution and trafficing is way way worse and open. Maybe they should oil their own machines first !

  2. Saleh Al-Shaibany is in fact an Omani journalist (as UD infers) who writes for numerous publication incl Reuters . It was interesting that he helped organise a Media Awards ceremony end of 2008 in which he did not win best English (language) reporter journalist of the year Conrad Prabhu of the Oman Observer – better luck next time Saleh – you deserve it .

  3. Oman

    I wonder if Conrad Prabhu is related to Sanjeev Prabhu the Muscat-based tyre salesman from the article ;)


  4. I Sanjeev Prabhu is a pseudonym for Conrad. After all why a tyre-salesman's generic statement about Omani Labor Law is authoritative enough to be quoted in a newspaper article!!?

    “Most of these foreign women do it willingly to earn extra money but some are lured for jobs that never materialise. They have no choice but to engage in prostitution. They can’t leave because their passports, by law, are held by sponsors. They can’t go to the law because they would not be believed and may end up in prison,” Sanjeev Prabhu, a Muscat-based car tyre salesman said.Hmm.. maybe they are the one and the same person!

    There's a lot more input from Omani journalists then we see!!! Conspiracy Alert!



  5. Although, there is no denying the facts, I dont buy the whole story written by Saleh. While the story is well written there are many gaping holes which a reader who is looking for the truth will find out.

    Like for instance, why did Nanda have bruises on her face. Who beat her? Certainly not the guy who laid with her. Or in what capacity is this car tyre salesman who is giving those nuggets of wisdom.

    If someone is having an illegal affair with someone's else husband or wife, does that also construe prostitution.

    What about sponsors who give money to their housemaids in return for sex. isn't that also prostitution?

    Tomorrow, if someone follows me going to my girl friends's place and then calls the police, will i be hauled up for prostitution?

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. interesting article...interesting that it was published in Dubai.

    My husband was approached by two asian women when we first moved here at the Safari Club (I don't remember if that is the real name of it...but it is the one with the old jeep out front for decoration) at the Grand Hyatt. They were not so subtle...even quoting prices.

    Mogalpolly - "who beat her? Certainly not the guy who laid with her." Highly possible it was, don't ever rule that out. I have found that in Muscat, domestic or sexual violence to women is very hush hush...but it doesn't mean it isn't there. A lot of times the person who is beating her is often the person who paid to lay with her.

  8. i think the "topic" is interesting but doesn't tell much! i mean to be honest we all know these facts, only we dont speak about them.. i think they should've been more interviews/sources from i.e the prostitutes to give it a 100% i am just fed info which i already knew! and which everyone allready knows.. it was just the fact of courage to publish.. but not enough info

  9. They seem to flit around the hotels. The Holiday Inn was heir favoured haunt any years ago (now Muscat Holiday), then the Golden Toilet, then....the simple fact is I know of Omani's who go to Thailand bring them back for this reason. They are 'sponsors'. What is worse; a young woman making money from the oldest profession or a Muslim making (not earning - 'making') money from immoral earnings? That's a slant that has been conveniently brushed aside!

  10. I'm shocked from this article!!!! I'm Lebanese and i live in muscat with my husband... funny that the author mentionned lebanese women in Oman when they are actually in thousands all around the gulf! I am happy coz i live in oman cz people here dont have a preset idea about all lebanese. in UAE, lebanese = prostitute!!
    I hope this article will be the last of its kind.

    and don't act as if this is all new....prostitution is all around the world especially in the gulf...
    For MOGAPOLLY: for your info, being caught in ur girl friend's house with noone else but u is called prostitution in the gulf so be careful:)

  11. The Topic has been covered ad-nauseam in OmanForum for probably 10 years

  12. This aricle is interesting,I think the journalist's of Dubai is interfearing about some other country because I've been to Dubai and I know how much prostitutes they own.I think the journalist is trying to gain fame from Oman because he can't gain fame in his own country, writting this filthy topic.
    I would say that the government should permit the prostitutes to a certern extent rather than getting female citizen's getting raped.
    It's natural that without sex no human's can live.

  13. @Anonymous
    "It's natural that without sex no human's can live. "

    True, but only to a certain extent. I think it's fair to have sex only with your mate, be it your girlfriend or wife. Clearly, people who engage with prostitutes have NO LIFE.

    You wouldn't expect things like these at such an extent in a muslim country like Oman.

  14. Laws & Rules are made by us humans and are broken by the same .. these have become selfish instruments for one's own interest .. morality is a relative subject .. your defination of morality may not be quite different from the rest ..for some .. living in with girlfriend is a taboo ..

  15. I read this article too late I guess. Nonetheless, I have a few comments on it:
    1- Housemaids are underpaid and abused in the Gulf states in general as there is no law protecting their rights as labor or human. No wonder they'll seek other ways of making money
    2- Poverty combined with lack of morals and suppressed society with lots of wealth on the other hand creates an ideal environment for prostitution.
    3- The article somehow accused expats to be the client, while in fact from what I noticed is that locals i.e. Omanis are by far the clients
    4- The article didn't touch on the fact that many reich Omanis have imported or found ladies mainly from Morocco to have them as mistresses. In change they offer them loads of money for their relationship. This is also prostitution. Ironically many of these girls still prostitute themselves despite they don't need to, which makes one think whether their sponsors are not in fact their pimps.
    5- The shocking fact is that Omani society like its sister societies in the Gulf states live in a hypocrisy between religion and moral corruption.

    Thanks to Saleh for addressing this issue and I hope that one day this matter will be addressed more and more publicly so this phenomena can be corrected in the right way respecting the basic human rights.

  16. Nice article.......need to educate our employees specially who are single and want to entertainment in sex... legal action against prostitution is mandatory & necessary for Omani Society

    1. one sells it and the other buys it - both if willingly done; where is the friggin problem?

  17. !!!!!!

    what about UAE ? i bet they will chop of your head if you mention any thing about prostitution in there ?
    you are a shame on Oman.


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