Sunday, August 22, 2010

Oman prosecutes Muscat Municipality Official for corruption - embezzled more than US$3 million. Plus: Is Oman Air fueled by ethanol?

OK. I'm back. Pretty busy, but lets start off with a great story in Times of Oman (yes, really). Finally the well known story of the Muscat Municipality Finance guy who was busted forging cheques to himself has hit the papers.

I find it still a bit strange that Omani custom and defamation law means its not allowed to publicly name people after they have been found guilty of a crime (or in this case, admitted it). "It would bring shame on the family". Well, maybe it should? Perhaps if people knew that their father would be scorned at the mosque on Friday they would be less inclined to defraud the people of US$3.35 million? Or of committing any crime?

Still, progress.

Oman firm on battling corruption
Times of Oman
Tuesday, August 17, 2010

... recent development in the Muscat Municipality embezzlement case, which revealed that an official embezzled funds in the municipality through forgery.

The latest details of the case reveals that as per Internal Audit Unit of the Muscat Municipality discovered embezzled funds amounting to more than RO1,300,000.


The accused, aged 37 years, has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to three times of money he embezzled from the municipality.

This case has stressed the importance of internal control of public funds in government institutions.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Sports Affairs is conducting an internal investigation into one of its staff who took advantage of his position to bring to the Sultanate a number of Asian workers.

The employee took advantage of visas which were meant for participating teams in one of the tournament that was hosted by the Sultanate recently.


I think this is the tip of the iceberg. Internal Audit caught this guy because he was doing forgery and fraud. What is harder to catch are all the tender board shenanigans, side projects done for officials houses by big contractors on a project with the same Ministry, or the massive abuse of the imported labour visa power of the Ministry of Manpower.

Oman Air A330 Pilot taken off plane
Not published in the papers was the rumoured case last month of the Oman Air Senior A330 Pilot who was busted for being rat-arsed on duty at Muscat Airport. The Captain was I'm told taken off the Muscat to Columbo flight for being suspected of being drunk in charge of an aircraft. The good men of the ROP came and did a breath test - with the measured 'Ethyl Alcohol' result being off the scale - and (probably very unreliable) sources tell me he could hardly walk to get off the flight.

It is not true that Oman Air's famously awesome and complimentary beverage service includes the flight deck, people. Ignore those vicious rumours!

However, because the breathalyzer had not been calibrated properly [Duh], and is thus not usable as evidence, this happy flying imbiber responsible trained senior flight crew member will apparently get to walk scot-free as he was obviously not drunk at all if there is no evidence, which there wasn't. So that's alright then. In addition, on a famous flight deck forum Oman Air insider Obi Wan Kirk recently stated:
90% of expat pilots in Omanair are looking to move. The other 10% are either bonded on A330, very near retirement or bonded for Command upgrade. There are also a few still living in fairy land...

If you fly a lot I wouldn't recommend the PPrune site readers, as its contents, especially those that relate to Middle Eastern Airlines - Oman Air included - will scare the shit out of you. And as Oman's ATC system upgrade troubles continue to be unresolved, the words 'accident waiting to happen' come to mind. I always kiss the tarmac, just like the Pope.

Meanwhile, up and coming local Expat blogger and active Twitterer Mr Sythe, author of Muscat Mutterings (see the excellent post recently busting the infamous touchy/feelly/rapist taxi driver tendency in the Sultanate) published a short interview with Undercover Dragon yesterday.

I do like the growth of the English language bloggers we've seen in Oman over the past couple of years, both Expat and Omani (even if sometimes we loose a few good ones too). Mr Sythe is one of the good ones. Give him a taste, if you haven't already!

OK. Off to sort out payments of treasure after my leave. As foreshadowed in the interview, big news coming soon readers, promise.


  1. 'bout time someone discussed the Municipality scandal.

    Good to have you back, Sir.

  2. Oh dear - the thing about ME is that corruption is rife at every twist and turn and the big question is who did this guy upset to get snitched on? You will find a little nobody from now where with nothing over night turn into a very wealthy ugly repulsive toad. Plenty of them in Muscat who were originally from Sur, Zanzibar, Dhofar, Batna etc etc. So whats new - one got caught and the rest just carry on as normal until they fall out of favour - great.

    A. A. Ali

  3. Regarding our community of Pilots - yep they have always had a bit of reputation for drowning their sorrows to accesses. And that goes for most working across all ME Airlines and not just Oman Air. These disgruntled Air Taxi Drivers apparently are always grumbling for better packages even thought most get a good expat package which incl. Acc for whole family, return air tickets back home plus holidays, medical, transport, school fees paid and other perks - but apparently its never enough. Considering most are losers - yes losers with a big chip on their shoulders and the worst safety reputation in the world - I think they should be grateful. Yes 95% of all air crashes are down to Pilot error or human errors and not maintenance or systems upgrade as mentioned. By the way are ME Airlines the only ones deary - did travel with that decrepit old establishment called BA this summer and all I can say - crap.

    A. A. Ali

  4. I have a good case want it to be published in your blog, how can i reach you or how to send it to you??

  5. The MM mans name is widely known – probably as soon as the Audit office went in for their ‘visit’ the phones were hot. But his mistake was to stay fishing in the pond , after his bigger fishy friend had left.

  6. Mr/s Anonymous - you can reach Mr Dragon on

    Mr Dragon - welcome back, we've missed you!!

  7. Oman Air pilot under the influence is old news.

  8. Welcome back UD, missed you for long.

    Can anbody give more details of the fraud. Earlier it was reported that he was transferring small amounts from his colleagues paycheck.

    BTW Telecom regulatory authority has scolded Omantel for giving out false news to media. Here is the link

  9. And here I was thinking that Oman was really very "transparent"

  10. THank you for the Lovely Complement Mr. Dragon. It's been deeply entertaining sharing this little slice of the Blogosphere with you. All the Best!

  11. at least he will have cheap subsidised rice to eat thanks to the government's interesting purchases

  12. It is about time to have at least pics of Omani Rials and Omani men(White sleeve!?) for illustrative purpose. Here to US Dollars!? LOL!! Naming the person and having actual photograph is a far cry. I guess things has to go really really bad before it gets better. Corruption appears to be here for a long haul, as no visible measures/deterents are in place. Transperancy is an unknown phenomina.

  13. Happy days fishing

  14. Corruption is a effect of various causes/ reasons prevalent in Omani society/workplace. Causes I think of; 1) 90-10 principle applied wherein Omanis are perceived to be 90% good and 10% bad whereas expats are perceived to be inverse in proportion. 2)Media obliges principle 1 including not naming and shaming any Omani whereas all other nationalities including President of US can be criticised directly or implicit. 3) Even after corruption is proved, zombies continue to earn salary, perks and gets releived of responsibilities and at times made advisor! Municipality case is extreme otherwise "immunity" is taken for granted. 4) "Identity politics" assures Omanis/Arabs praised more than their worth hence an air of superiority complex persists. 5) Actual work output does not match with superiority complex hence they wish to be "mudir" which essentially means no accountability and lots of perks, expats to work for and money to play with. 6) At a policy level things has to change radically actually inversed from "W" system =Wasta to "M" system= Merit.7) Oman has around 30% families on social support=poor and incompetent to wrok or get support. Many others are at substinance level and hence no extra money to splurge or maintain superiority complex.
    I suggest others to correct me or add/delete reasons to the above list. However when above reasons/causes prevalent, corruption should be norm not an exception, if and only if you do not beleive in miracles!


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