Monday, August 17, 2009

The Week hacked, Crime on the rise, Minister of Higher Education caught giving wastafarians state scholarships

The Dragon is now back in Oman, and found it has pleasantly cooled down since I left!

Crime on the rise
But meanwhile Muscat seems to be enduring a big increase in crime of late (not reported in the rose-tinted media, obviously). Al Ghubra, Azaiba and Al Khuwair especially are experiencing house break-ins, car vandalism and car thefts. I've also been informed of organised gang rapes again happening in Oman.

So, take care not to leave your doors open, even during the day. The teenaged thieves will try to enter to steal car keys, wallets, handbags, etc.

And women - especially Asian and Subcontinent ladies - should take extra care when walking alone, particularly in and around Azaiba beach and Ghubra. It seems gangs of young Omani men are again getting the idea that they can rape vulnerable women and get away with it.

Anyone noticing anything suspicious should note the car reg. number, take a photo, and inform the ROP, who do take these things seriously if pushed.

A few tidbits:

Omani Minister of Higher [thx Muscati!] Education Scholarship scandal
After being on the Arabic sablas for a couple of weeks, the recently leaked documents of the Ministry of Education scholarship scandle are being discussed on Oman Forum. I would post the state audit documents here, but after the recent Ali Zuwaidi internet trial, I'm a little wary of publishing leaked Government documents!

I note Muscati [Oman Forum administrator and grandee of the Omani internet] also removed the names of the lucky wastafarians who got the scholarships... Article 61-phobia is not uncommon in the Omani bloggosphere!

What I find most interesting is that the arabic posts have been left up by the authorities. This is itself generating conspiracy theories about who and why the documents - from a State Audit investigation - were leaked at all, and why action seems absent. Its probably just that everyone's on holiday...

What's clear (if the documents are true, and they seem authentic) is that the children of several senior Omani Government officials were given scholarships paid by the Omani state to attend University overseas, despite not qualifying for them on their own merits. Tsk tsk. It'll be interesting to see where this ends up.

Muscat Mag The Week website 'Hacked'
Earlier this week local free-mag 'The Week' had their website hacked by an Iranian anti-Arab hacker.

Pro-Iran hacker vandalises Oman tabloid's website
By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
Published: August 15, 2009, 22:30

Muscat: The website of a Muscat-based weekly tabloid - The Week - was hacked on Saturday by DarkLOrd - a hacker who claims to be an Iranian.

The hacker "took over" The Week, published by the Apex Press and Publishing placing a message that spewed venom at Arabs as well as the world in general. DarkLOrd also threatened bloodshed in his message.

"We noticed at around 8am that our site was hacked and within a couple of hours we restored the site," Mohana Prabhakar, the Apex Press and Publishing CEO, told Gulf News on Saturday.

Personally I just wish The Week would stop publishing all these photos of Omani body-building narcissists wearing nothing but a teeny-tiny pair of budgie smugglers. Presumably the jaguar-loving editor Mohana Prabhakar (newly promoted to Apex CEO!) approves of the scantily clad muscle-bound bodies...

Meanwhile...In glorious Dubai,
the cracks are again starting to show, and its not just the collapsing of almost completed buildings.

Photo: New Dubai building for rent or sale, as is where is...

Residents of Emaar's development 'The Springs' were finding their man-made "lakes" becoming stagnant fetid algae ponds.

In response, enviromentally friendly Emaar seem to have had the lakes dosed with large quanities of sodium hypochlorite, and leaving the containers lying around as well. In the process the muppets put so much bleach in the water the poor ducks and birds have been slowly and painfully killed by chemical burns and poisoning. Emaar, of course, responded with the standard Gulf 'we have excellent rules and so by definition we didn't do anything incorrectly' non-answer.

Stale waters: Acid lake at The Springs

The mysterious deaths of a number of birds on the banks of man-made lakes in The Springs have raised fears among residents that a toxic chemical may have got into the water.

People living there say they noticed ducks losing their feathers, unable to fly or walk, with bloodshot eyes and swelling around their heads a week ago. They said they had seen the bodies of “dozens” of dead birds scattered in and around the lakes.

In a statement, a spokesman for Emaar Properties said the lakes undergo regular inspections by maintenance teams led by limnologists. “As per best practice, low doses of algaecides are periodically used to reduce the yearly natural growth of algae. These algaecides are environmentally friendly and used in doses that do not affect fish or birds.”

No animal fatalities have been seen over the last couple of years, due to the use of the algaecides, the statement said.

“Emaar has stringent measures in place to ensure adequate and timely maintenance of the lakes in compliance with Dubai Municipality requirements. We are looking into recent activity at our community lakes.”



  1. Phewwww!!! a lot of stuff in one post

  2. Shocking about Emaar, but hardly surprising!

    Any more news on the house break-ins?

  3. UD, a correction: the controversy is about the Minister of Higher Education, not the Minister of Education.

  4. You've got my head spinning! Wow - a lot is happening around you!!!

  5. The MOHE case is a bit old now and I even think that the case has already been closed. Even the leaked documents are dated back to February 2009 and that's when the MOHE last responded to the State Audit's inquiry.

  6. SP
    Yep. Had to import news...

    I thought the whole point of steel frame buildings was that they are ... like... made of STEEL. Collapsing was not - I'd have hoped - even close to design parameters...

    You are a star.


    Yeah, cos the fact it actually happened several months ago is totally relevant. OMG Feb 2009 is so... not right now.

    Is the USA, like, turning you into a Valley Girl?

  7. Feb 2009 is half a year ago, and that was probably the end of the case and not the beginning.

  8. Why is everyone so shocked about the MOHE scandal. It's happened so many times in Oman. Don't forget the magic word 'Wasta'. Re: The Week, I walked into the Pizza Hut two days ago and picked up the Week and almost died when I noticed the photo on the cover.

  9. Crime is definitely on the increase. I had my car broken in to at the Intercon a few weeks ago. To my astonishment, the car was covered in fingerprints and blood. Result (I thought - Got the little shits)! Sadly the reality of the situation was boringly predictable with the ROP taking a little over 90 minutes to get to me (from round the corner) Once at the police station I was interrogated like I'd just robbed a bank. On inspection of the vehicle I was told that there is nothing they can do as ROP have no access to the fingerprint database - which begs the question why they are required for visa purposes. The blood was a whole different ball game entirely (as you can imagine) Needless to say I spent the best part of a day with the not so busy bizzies! I can only imagine the ordeal / indignity a poor rape victim would endure.

  10. Don't forget to add 2 drug raids in Ruwi in the past month, rounding up and arresting atleast 6 people in possession and 3 who were caught dealing. So seems the druggies also don't want to be left behind.

    As for James, seems the QoS of the ROP is variable with the officer on duty. Last week, having my car blocked by an inconsiderate SoaB resulted in my call to the ROP. The first officer, in not so many words, dissed me off, telling me to honk endlessly and knock doors all around. My 2nd call, around an hour later resulted in the officer asking me for the license plates #s, confirming the car's make and model and promsing to call the listed owner. Lo, the car was not there when I checked again. (too bad I missed the owner).


  11. yikes! I lived right off of azaiba beach. Now I'm in Doha...not sure that oman's latest crime increase even gets close to what happens here.


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