Thursday, December 31, 2009

So that was 2009. Best wishes for 2010 readers.

The last day of the year. So, obviously, Ms Dragon and I are off to one of the many NYE parties in town. Lashings of champagne and some dancing to bring in the New Year.

A big thank you to all my contributors [you know who you are] and readers for supporting Muscat Confidential and for all those emails and comments. 2009 has been the best year yet in terms of readership, with around 17,000+ visitors a month from all over the world, and the number keeps growing.

It will be interesting to see how the coming Ministry of Manpower's nonsensical crack down on so-called 'free visa' expats works out. After all, we all know how vast numbers of Omanis are desperate to get those laboring jobs digging holes for 5 rials a day or to be part-time housemaids for 1.5 rials an hour. I'll be posting on that soon.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Muscat Confidential reader Stephen Thomas, OBE, who was just given the Order of the British Empire by her Majesty in the New Years' Honours List. He is currently CEO of Renaissance Services, Oman's home grown (and so far quite successful) international oil field services company. Many of his staff seem to like him too. So well done Stephen.

Photo: Stephen Thomas, OBE, and CEO of Renaissance Services, Oman.

Stephen started OPAL, Oman's oil and gas operators and contractors organisation, that has grown well and helped lots of Omani SMEs to become successful companies too (also thanks in no small part to the support of John Malcolm, Petroleum Development Oman's current CEO).

Order of the British Empire OBE
Stephen Rowland Thomas. Founder and former chairman of OPAL, Oman. For services to British business interests and to the community in Oman.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Injured Omani in Thailand motorbike accident allegedly found with drugs

Just take care on holiday kids. And say no to drugs.

Local Thai Newpaper Pattaya People reported that an Omani tourist, 31 yr old Abdul Khalil, who was injured in a motorcycle accident, was allegedly found in possession of drugs.

what a bummer. Busted up in a road accident and busted for a stash.

I'm sure he was just holding them for a friend.

Photo: Pattaya People pic of Omani tourist (and suspected drug possessor) Abdul Khalil after his motorbike accident

(Yaba, BTW, is the Thai version of methamphetamine aka crystal meth.)

Drugs Find
Pattaya police received a call from staff at the Pattaya Memorial Hospital on the evening of the 26th December that a tourist had been admitted with injuries after a motorcycle accident on Thepprasit Road. However, on searching the man’s clothing, they discovered a quantity of drugs. Police went to investigate and question the 31 year old man, Abdul Khalil from Oman about the possession of yaba, ecstasy and sleeping pills. However, the man was in a semi-conscious condition to answer. Police are now guarding the man who they believe is a drug dealer until he sufficiently recovers to give a statement about the drugs.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Oman rescues Xmas for Canadian Navy. Ex-Galfar subsid in dock in Brunei

As you may have noticed, I'm on holiday. Wonderful!

Don't worry, back to work soon...

Galfar is had seemed to be in a spot of bother with its creditors in their Brunei based subsidiary, currently facing multiple winding up orders in the courts from creditors over some $25 million.

Post-publish--correction Dec 29 2009: Galfar have issued a press statement yesterday (as reported in the Muscat Daily) that the company named in court winding up orders in Brunei no longer has any connection with Galfar Engineering and Contracting Oman. The statement says that shares previously owned by Omani businessmen Sh. Al Araimi and Dr Haji P Mohammed Ali were sold "some time ago" to the local partner (one Haji Roney bin Haji Roslee). The Borneo Bulletin article is factually incorrect and misleading, said the statement.

Photo: Galfar subsidiary accused of not paying creditors in Brunei

Significant shareholders are were Omani businessmen Sh. Al Araimi and Dr Haji P Mohammed Ali.

Here's an excerpt from the apparently incorrect Borneo Bulletin report:
Court Records Show Company Owes $25M In Total

Bandar Seri Begawan - Brunei's biggest bankruptcy since Amedeo Corporation went on the block has been put in motion yesterday with a court action against Galfar Pembinaan & Perusahaan (B) Sdn Bhd, one of Sultanate's largest construction companies.

According to Brunei Supreme Court documents, there are 12 other companies given notice to be present at a winding up proceedings against Galfar. They are owed $25 million in total by the once star performer, court records show.

Galfar, a leading construction company in the country involved in various large government projects, is basically a joint venture between local and Oman interests.

A search of the official records reveals the local partner is Haji Roney bin Haji Roslee @ Haji Roni bin Haji Rosli who holds 900,000 shares in the company. The rest, 3,000,000, is held by Sheikh Salim Saeed Hamed Al Fannah Al Araimi and the late Mohamed Rashid Al Araimi. They hold 699,999 shares each, records show.

An Indian national who has business interests in Oman, Dr Haji P Mohammed Ali controls 700,002 shares.

The company came to Brunei from Oman well over a decade ago and soon established a name for itself but got into difficulties in recent times until it faced its current problems.


Meanwhile, the Omani's saved Xmas for the Canadian Navy when apparently we sent a mail barge to get Santa to them on time.

Photo: The Canadian Navy await Santa on tour in the Gulf of Oman

Ah, a heart warming Christmas tale, compliments of the season readers!

Sailors try to get into the Christmas spirit

The 250 sailors aboard HMCS Fredericton, currently deployed to the Gulf of Aden, celebrated Christmas several thousand kilometres from home.

Many of them weren't up to partying on Christmas Eve, but a few dozen sang Christmas carols on the exterior bridge, forgetting for a moment the distance separating them from their families.

Santa also came by with presents for each sailor.

A barge, which came from as far away as the Oman capital of Muscat, dropped off late Christmas mail.

To fix an Air Canada mistake, it took a four-day trip at sea to deliver the three tonnes of packages and presents in time for Christmas.
The operation cost at least $60,000.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Omantel arrest people for VOIP. Worldcall proven to be an even worse investment than predicted.

I've been meaning to blog this for a while. VOIP is a big issue in Oman.

Omantel continue to pressure the Telecomms Regulatory Authority and the ROP to arrest people providing VOIP (voice over internet protocol, ie skype) services.

If you own or run an internet cafe, it is illegal in Oman to sell 'internet phone cards' or to enable people to use Skype or any other VOIP.

Oman cuffs 212 for selling VoIP calls
This year, police in the Arab nation of Oman have raided 121 internet cafes throughout the country and arrested 212 people for providing VoIP services, according to a local report.

"Around 212 accused of various Asian nationalities have been arrested since the beginning of the year [until October 26]," a senior police officer told Middle East and North Africa news outfit Menafn.

Providing telecom services without a license is illegal in Oman, and that includes VoIP. Those who violate the law stand to be fined 50,000 Omani Rial (about 130,317 US dollars) or spend two years in jail or both. The senior police officer, who requested anonymity, told Menfn that both cyber cafes and individuals had been using VoIP to provide cheap international phone service, saying this resulted in huge losses for local telecoms.

"Most arrests were made after the Directorate General of Inquirires and Criminal Investigation was tipped off about people using the internet and some technical device to sell the cheap calling cards," he said.

Omantel maintains a total monopoly on Oman's international telecommunications. NAWRAS are a retail competitor, but even they are forced under their licence agreement to get their internet and overseas access only via Omantel. Omantel have also for years been blocking access to the official skype website* and interfering with skype packets.

As a result of this monopoly power, Omantel have been milking the population of Oman for years with expensive international call rates. And now they are continuing to protect their super-tax by using the law to bust people using VOIP. These are people who are among the poorest in the country. Rich people like me (and you, if you're sensible) run Skype at home on our own computers. (Actually, I don't know if home use of skype is legal either, hmmm...)

Meanwhile, Omantel management are free to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on useless overseas acquisitions like WorldCall Pakistan. Their cash purchase of a majority stake in WorldCall Pakistan from an Omani businessman [Sheikh Sulieman Ahmed Said Al-Hoqani] in late 2007 has been a total disaster. They paid US$190 million at 25 Pakistani Rupee per share for 65% of the company, a suspiciously large premium even at the the time. Their investment has since plummeted in value (see graph).

Chart: Omantel have blown $170mln our money on a useless Pakistani company WTL.KA

The shares were trading at around 3.5 PKR per share today, about US$0.04 cents, compared to Omantel's purchase price of 25PKR, equiv then to around $0.42 cents. So they've lost around 90% of their investment - around US$170 million - plus need to inject even more cash. That is comparable to around 6 months of profits.

Last month, Arabian Business reported that Omantel need to inject another $50 mln into Worldcall, following ever building losses ever since they took over.

... Omantel, Oman's largest company by market value, is also waiting for shareholders to approve a $50 million injection into its Pakistani unit Worldcall, Mamari said. The group is still deciding whether to use equity or raise debt to finance the injection.

Omantel bought 488.8 million shares of Pakistan's Worldcall Telecom Ltd, equivalent to 65 percent of the company, in February 2008. The $193 million deal marks its biggest foreign investment so far. But Worldcall's shares have fallen sharply since.

So I guess Omantel will need to keep the ROP arresting people to stop VOIP while it continues to bleed the population for massively expensive overseas phone calls. Omanhel are also making 134 people 'voluntary redundant' to reduce costs too.

Meanwhile the money is being used to subsidise Omantel's failed business adventures overseas.

Thanks Omantel!

And thanks TRA and the Government too. Remember, Omantel is a majority Omani Government owned company. The Government clearly doesn't mind that Omantel is taxing the most vulnerable people in the country with massively inflated charges to subsidise their failed (and suspiciously expensive) overseas investments.

So thats alright then.

* A question for the lawyers: how is Omantel's blocking of Skype allowed under either WTO or US FTA rules?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Abu Dhabi relent and bail out Dubai World with yet another $10bln

The words 'piss-up' and 'brewery' come to mind. First we had the stream of official announcements this year that everything was OK, of course Dubai would meet its obligations, stop criticising us, etc. Then the reshuffle at the top levels of Dubais various semi-commercial entities, followed by the shock announcement of a debt default and that Dubai would not stand by the debts of Dubai World and Nakheel, and now... they've bought some more time.

Today Abu Dhabi relented and agreed to lend the cash-stapped ruler of Dubai yet another $10bln specifically for sorting out Nakheel's Sukuk bond (due today $3.52bln + 15% interest) which will, apparently be paid in full.

Bondholders - especially those who bought the bond in the market at steep discount earlier this year - will be very happy that Abu Dhabi finally came to the rescue. I would imagine that a lot of those bond holders actually happen to live in Abu Dhabi.

Photo: Who you gonna call Sh. Maktoum?

Dubai's Sh. Maktoum naturally talked his usual schtick about Dubai being committed to being a Global Financial Leader, 'good governance' etc etc etc. (see below) Yawn. I think even those that still think Sh. Maktoum a financial genius and visionary must get uncomfortable with the unrelenting bullshit he pumps out in direct contradiction to the facts. (Orwell would love Dubai).

Dubai has realised it at minimum needs a comprehensive corporate Bankrupcy law (although the Dubai Government are calling it a "reorganisation law") to enable creditors to at least know what the minimum rules are. A personal bankruptcy law would also be a tremendous improvement.

So in the past 12 months Maktoum has got $25bln from Abu Dhabi, probably borrowed long term at around 4%. And there will be haircuts required by some creditors no doubt. But big brother obviously was worried about the impact the sudden default announcement had caused on the wider UAE economy and their own aspirations: shares down heavily, several country's Governments complaining about Dubai's other billions in unpaid bills to their contractors [Japan, UK, Turkey, Greece, US,...], plus obvious embaressment at the GCC conference (on-going in Kuwait) with the Dubai crisis causing all the regions' Governments to experience more expensive borrowing costs and tightening credit lines. Everyone must have been asking Abu Dhabi to get a grip. As Maktoum himself said today:

...Recently, Dubai World announced that it might not be able to commercially support its obligations. Since that time, the Government of Dubai has worked closely with the Abu Dhabi Government and the UAE Central Bank addressing and assessing the impact of Dubai World on the UAE economy, banking system and investor confidence.

Dubai is now confirmed as a vassal of big brother Abu Dhabi, with Maktoum being made to learn a lesson and come to heel. Cash is king. I wonder when we'll see a merger between Etihad and Emirates...

The bailout is good news for Oman. The pressure on our own access to credit will ease, and perhaps there will be more sophistication in the market in not assuming Sovereigns will stand behind debt. Who knows, maybe Sama Dubai will even get off its arse and do something with the Yeti development.

I do wonder what's happening with the Blue City bonds... The Omanis might have noticed that defaulting on one's international obligations does not go unnoticed in the international financial community...

Extract from Statement by Sheikh Maktoum Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Fiscal Committee (published in The National)

... Today’s actions, taken together, demonstrate our strong commitment as a global financial leader to transparency, good governance, and market principles.

There will certainly be challenges periodically, just as there are challenges in other major financial centers around the globe. We believe today’s actions will best serve the interests of all stakeholders.

We are here today to reassure investors, financial and trade creditors, employees, and our citizens that our government will act at all times in accordance with market principles and internationally accepted business practices.

Dubai is, and will continue to be, a strong and vibrant global financial center. Our best days are yet to come. The Government of Dubai remains committed to its high standards and its obligations. We are confident in our economic model, and we are confident in the long-term health and outlook for our economy.

The actions taken today are consistent with our market development, and we believe they are the actions that will best serve the interests of all stakeholders.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

ROP seek investigation of speeding fines corruption allegation, and threatens whistle blowing reporter with prosecution

Ah, rain. Excellent. The trees are now cleaned of over a years' worth of dust, and it was a beautiful day in Muscat. Surface flooding was pretty mild and the rain was a welcome break from the unrelenting blue sky and sunshine.

Meanwhile, I've been meaning to post about the strange case of the ROP Speeding fines corruption allegation.

An article in one of Oman's Arabic newspapers last week accused some members of the Royal Oman Police, aka the ROP, of falsifying the assignment of speeding fines by transferring the fines in the computer system from those that did the crime to innocent drivers, enabling the errant speeders to avoid paying.

Wow, that's ground breaking stuff for an Omani newspaper, especially an Arabic one.

In response, the head of the ROP, Inspector General of Police and Customs, Lieutenant General Malik bin Sulaiman Al Ma’amari, issued a rare public statement published in both Arabic and English newspapers in Oman and in the UAE papers too, saying this would be investigated and that it was a threat to public trust in the ROP. (see below for the statement).

But in a much more interesting development, a local arabic blogger has published what appears to be an official instruction on letterhead from the Inspector General himself.

The leaked ROP documents from local blogger

The letter is to his head of public prosecutions, instructing him to:
(a) investigate the claim, and to follow the law if anyone is found to have done the illegal fine trannsfers (no matter how far it goes), and
(b) that they will be granted full access to the ROP computer systems to establish what happened.

in addition
(c) that the report has impuned the public reputation of the ROP, and that the reporter who made the claim is to be interrogated by Public Prospectutions to name his sources for the story, and if he either refuses to provide those sources or if the report is determined to be untrue, to seek prosectution against the reporter for bringing the ROP into disrepute. [Note: any readers with a more precise and professional English translation of the leaked documents would be welcomed!]

Now, bringing the reporter in for questioning is reasonable I suppose. Reporters have been jailed even in the USA for refusing to name sources under obstruction of justice charges.

But many have interpreted the leaked document as a threat to all journalists with the offense of defaming the ROP again mentioned. It brings up (again) the infamous Telecommunication Act Article 61(3) that makes it a criminal offense (punishable by jail time and/or fines) to publish anything "contrary to public order and common morals". It has also been deemed illegal by the courts to criticise in print Government officials under (again, criminal not civil) general anti-defamation laws.

However, I'd note on the positive side that if the instruction from I.G. Al Ma’amari implies that the reporter will only be punished if the report is untrue, that would be an improved interpretation on the current law. At present, the laws against disturbing 'public order', 'common morals', 'insulting' individuals (even if dead)and protecting Government officials from criticism do not really describe a defense against these broad and ill-defined offenses. In most countries a solid defense against charges of defamation is to show that the statements were true. This is NOT the case (as far as I'm aware - BlueChi?) under Omani law.

So, admitting that the reporter was OK to publish the story if the charges against the ROP are found to be true would be a big improvement!

It will be interesting to see where this story goes.

Published press Statement following the allegations of ROP corruption
Muscat: Inspector General of Police and Customs, Lieutenant General Malik Bin Sulaiman Al Ma’amari, has promised serious action against errant police officers, if they are found guilty.

“I cannot confirm or deny the case in which traffic policemen were accused of transferring violations from a person’s register to another motorist’s,” Al Ma’amari told Arabic daily Al Shabiba in response to reports in [the] Arabic daily about the alleged violations committed by police personnel.

Lt. Gen.Al Ma’amari said it was a serious issue as the trust of citizens and residents in the police apparatus was at stake.
“We are determined to severely deal with any personnel, if the incident is proved true,” he said.

He, however, said that it is up to the concerned courts to declare who is innocent and who is not, adding that some police personnel who were involved in violations and detained earlier have been duly punished as per the law.

He added “We have some cases of violations by personnel under investigation by the Public Prosecution”.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gone in 60 seconds. British Gas 4x4 stolen from Al Sharooj car wash

A contact forwarded me the incident report below, sent out by British Gas Oman.

Someone pretty brazen simply walzed into the Al Sharooj car wash last month, paid the cleaning charges, and drove off in a nice new Toyota Land Cruiser belonging to British Gas.

Photo: Al Sharooj car wash in Shatti - a good place to pick up a cheap 4x4!

What a cheek! I wonder where the poor car ended up?

So, take care folks. There have also been reports of people driving off in cars left with the engine running outside service station convenience stores too.

Reports that the thief was Angelina Joli are mistaken

Report from British Gas Oman: Vehicle Theft from Al Sarooj Car Wash Facility nr. BG Oman Office

BG Oman Toyota Land Cruiser No. 9912 RY was being prepared for issue to newly arrived BG staff member. Following a mechanical service the previous week, the vehicle was delivered to a local garage/car valeting facility in close proximity to the office at 11.00hrs on Saturday 21st November and the keys were left with the car as has been the normal practice.

At 16.30hrs the same day, the BG staff member went to collect the vehicle but was told it was not ready, so he decided to leave the vehicle for completion overnight.
At 07.00hrs on Sunday 22nd November, the BG staff member returned to the facility, but was told that it had already been collected. Following phone calls to other BG Oman Admin staff, it was ascertained that no one from BG Oman had taken the vehicle and the theft was reported to the Royal Oman Police (ROP) at 11.00hrs the same day.

From initial discussions with the ‘night-shift’ personnel at the car wash facility, it appears that upon completion of the cleaning, a third party arrived and, claiming to be the owner, paid for the cleaning and was given the keys to the car.

ROP have taken statements from BG Oman staff and are now interviewing the relevant car wash staff. The investigation is ongoing.

Oh Dear.

Monday, December 7, 2009

BBC Radio investigate the 1970 coup of Sultan Qaboos

A fascinating radio show broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Nov 24th, goes into the history of the successful coup of Sultan Qaboos and the role of the British in assisting the Sultan in his efforts.

You can hear the broadcast here.

For the first time, previously secret UK Government documents have been obtained that demonstrate the extent to which Britain played an active role in the planning of the coup, and in preparing to support the Sultan had his initial attempt failed. The British also clearly assisted Sultan Qaboos in communicating his plans with those Omani supporters outside his place of house arrest in Salalah.

Of course, His Majesty's initial attempt at taking over the country did not fail, thank goodness, and no 'contingency plans' were required to be activated. According to the BBC, these contingency plans involved the seconded British Officers who at the time ran the Sultan's Armed Forces[SAF] at the time,. essentially switching the army to support Qaboos, even though in effect they would have been betraying their official leader, HM's father.

Interesting too that the BBC is of course funded by the UK Government. Such is the power of a free press that they are empowered to do a piece like this and publish it...

HM comes out of the investigation with total honour and full legitimacy. His coup was widely seen within Oman, as well as by the British as a very positive thing for pretty much everybody (well, except the Russian/Chinese supported insurgent troups in the south).

And as a westerner living in Oman for some time, its nice to know that the Brits were fully prepared to back the Sultan right from the start. Because he is an exceptional leader.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dubai in Denial over debt problems - how unusual

No local news of real note as we all struggle to clear our inboxes after the 9 day public holiday.

I was disappointed that Essa, in his typically insightful and hard-hitting anti-Zionist-state opinion piece in the Times of Oman this week, failed to even mention the meeting Omani Officials had with the Israeli Foreign Ministry chaps (well publicised by the Israelis). Ah well. Our guys were probably just being polite.

But Dubai continues to play out in the news cycle. Those committed to Dubai, not surprisingly, are whining about how unfair the world/western media are portraying their situation.

I thought the article in The New Yorker summed it up quite nicely.

The rejection of the criticism, and the style of the reaction and rejection, is typical of the regional attitude to criticism. First response is abject denial, followed by defensive attacks that it's all someone else's fault (typically USA, "The West", Israel, UK, et al), and that it's all anyhow a great thing and that it's much worse somewhere - anywhere - else.


For the record:
- yes, Dubai has some core businesses that are real [Jebel Ali, Shipping, Emirates, tourism, regional logistics, and misc other stuff] and unfortunately their real value is no-where near enough to cover or even service the debt.
- Dubai is still better than most places in the region as a place to live if you have a bit of cash and skills & ambition. Especially if your only other options are Mumbai, Tehran, or Cairo.
- Abu Dhabi has more than enough cash (even now) to bail out Dubai 5 times over.
- The rest of the Dubai economy is mostly hype and foolishness: creating islands of sand in a place full of sand and empty land; Building an artificial winter ski resort in the desert; importing all your consumables (food, clothes, cars, whiteware, electronics, gas...), importing everything else too (money, talent, real workers) and desalinating all your water; the whole Ponzi scheme of the real estate boom, and the huge inverted pyramid that was based upon it - all the real estate sellers, marketers, bumpf publishers, shwag makers, and the restaurants and bars and schools and shopping centres they all spent their money in.
- and it was all based on limitless underpaid workers, willing to come to Dubai to scrape a living 24/7 slaving for the Emirati because even that hell was 1000% better than what they had or were ever going to get in India/Pakistan/Afganistan/Bangladesh...

As we now know, that money was (and still is) pretty much all borrowed, borrowed in the hope that by the time the bust came (if ever) everything would have reached a self fulfilling virtuous circle and enough real value creation and loose money attraction would have been accomplished to pay the interest rates.

And I have precious little sympathy for those who lent it to them. They should have known better. And while it flowed (for the money was not really theirs either, but borrowed from depositors) they too got their commissions and business class and expenses and big bonuses.

And when the vast river of cheap borrowed cash was flowing, everybody else stuck an oar in too, from the ruling family on down. The graft was (and is) everywhere. After all, there was enough money for everybody! Yeehah! Party!!! (hey maybe everyone was just snorting coke all the time...)

And stupid things got built, too many stupid things. A lot of the infrastructure and buildings are also not of the highest international standards, as it was pretty much all built by poor manual labour from the sub-continent. Slap-dash, no standards or enforcement, all bog-it and leg-it.

But I still love a lot of what is Dubai, just to visit: the Dubai 7s, the bars, the nice bits (if you have cash), the glamour, the girls, the pace, the pure self induced hedonistic hallucination of it all.

But talk about a bad case of denial.

Posted by Ian Parker
When I was in Reykjavik this time last year, Icelandic reaction to the the country’s economic disaster was mixed—grief, fury, a kind of giddiness—but nobody was pretending that nothing had happened. Last Wednesday, Dubai asked to be excused six months of payments on a debt of fifty-nine billion dollars owned by Dubai World, the state-backed conglomerate. Yesterday, Dubai’s stocks fell 7.3 per cent; today they fell another 5.6 per cent. And the Gulf News, an English-language Dubai newspaper, has reported this online with the headline: “UAE markets bounce back at the end of trading sessions.” Another story, quoting Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Dubai’s leader, is headed: “World lacks understanding of Dubai debt crisis.”

Only Icelanders were embarrassed by Iceland’s financial collapse. In Dubai, something more than national pride is at stake, and one wonders how far disappointment could stiffen into denial. (Yesterday, the Times quoted from an online forum in Dubai where someone had written: “Dubai is a victim of media distortion” and “All the Western countries have ganged up on Dubai. Why? Because it has succeeded.”) In the summer of 2005, while reporting a piece on development in Dubai, I met Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, chairman of Dubai World, in his office on the forty-seventh floor of the Emirates Office Tower, in a room whose carpet featured a recurring pattern of palm trees, a theme repeated in the fronds of artificial reefs, packed with villas, extending from the coastline below the window—one of his projects. He said,

Dubai broke a myth in the region. People say you cannot do this here. It can only happen in the Far East, it can only happen in Europe, it can happen in America. We cannot do it, it’s not something for the Middle East. But the way we broke that myth? We said, no, we can do anything we want. And now it gives a lot of courage to neighbors in the region, whereby they say, if Dubai can do it, we can do it.
Dubai’s reaction even to unpromising ideas, he said, was “to see how big we can make them.” At that time, one could detect a rumble of anxiety, as the city’s indoor ski-slope neared completion; you could hear a little “Glengarry” urgency in the pitches made by real estate agents in the malls. Today, Dubai may owe more than eighty billion dollars.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How can an Expat hire a maid in Oman?

A question for my readers: assistance required!

How can a newly arrived Expat legally hire a nanny or housemaid? What if they are in the wilds of say Nizwa or Ibra?

What's the best way to go about it?

In my experience, the company or employer usually takes care of it, as I think only an Omani or a company can be a sponsor of an expat maid, and I've never heard of an Omani maid. But what are the options?