Sunday, November 21, 2010

Omani Spy-gate: Multiple Omanis arrested for spying for Abu Dhabi??

Yes, talk of the town is the case of the Duqm spy ring.

It seems around 15 (or 17 or 19 or...) Omani nationals were busted a couple of weeks ago, apparently for operating as spies for the Abu Dhabi crown price's outfit.


Well, Oman's Government, led by the Ministry of Finance, is investing heavily in a new industrial mega-port complex in Duqm, a previously sleepy coastal town in the middle of nowhere between Muscat and Salalah.

This is also where the technocrats wanted to put a huge coal fired power station (there is no coal in Oman to speak of, BTW). The Omanis have (cunningly) secured the partnership of the port of Antwerp, a really really big mega-port in Belgium, who will be able to bring a whole heap of expetise in the port business to Oman.

As part of that complex, the obvious play for Oman was to add a 'free trade port facility', where goods can be shipped in and out without significant duty or paperwork. The goods can be processed too, and 'value added'. It seems the Abu Dhabi crowd were concerned that the strategic location of the port* would impact the outlook for the UAE's planed free trade zone in Abu Dhabi, and indeed were concerned about the impact on the existing Jebal Ali Free Trade port in Dubai [note: now also effectively owned by Abu Dhabi, post Dubai-meltdown].

So it seems the foreign intelligence arm of the Abu Dhabi Royal family had managed to bribe several Omanis to betray their country and provide intel on the goings on in Duqm. They got caught, in a pretty impressive victory for Omani intelligence.

It's not in the papers.

Why all the talk about such a secret situation, you may ask. The word is the UAE, as a demonstration of their petulance, have blockaded all pork shipments from the UAE to Oman. This is why there is a drastic shortage of nice American and other land imported pork product in Oman right now.

Did you notice? No pork folks. The Oscar Myer ship is not trapped at sea, but her cargo is apparently stuck at the border. A Bacon blockade. Swine sanctions.

Porcine Petulance, if you will. Why retaliate with a bacon ban? I have no idea. The UAE has always been insane, so, why not? Maybe it's difficult for Oman to complain about it?

Despite this side effect, Well done ISS.

*The Duqm port is on the Indian Ocean, close to all major E African/Indian trade routes, and OUTSIDE the straights of Hormuz and the confines of Gulf. A free trade zone would attract Indian, Pakistani, and most critically Iranian business, aided and abetted by the Chinese and the Koreans. Closer to the rest of the world, safer and cheaper wrt fuel and labour, this could have a serious impact on the UAE ports.


  1. About time Oman used their strategic position to improve the economy in the country. I know plenty of companies who would love to move to Oman simply because of economics ie local labour so no need to bring cheapforeign workers who need visa, medicals, accomo, transport and living expenses plus one month salary deposit to Government for each employee. Good on you Oman cause Abu Dhabi has gone over board especially with those land grab borders erected at Oman Section before Hatta - nasty piece of work.

  2. OK, and so who now owns the Blue City (Oman's er, umm, new Capital megapolis)? And a whole bunch of other stuff besides. AD has the dosh, and the dosh speaks... mores the pity. I have seem many upright Omani's literally fall over themselves in the rush when the imperial Khaleeji waved their filthy lucre.

  3. I hate UAE.

    Sorry all all Emiratis that I like, but your country ROYALLY sucks.

    I also met the WORLD's RUDEST emirati brats (I know from the kids dishdashes) at City Center this Eid weekend.

    I wanted to go up to their parents, but then, where else did their kids learn such pretensious and obnoxious behaviour in the first place? oh right.

    Local passports.

    Let me throw up.

    Enough ranting. Khalas, I am finished.

  4. The airspace at the UAE border has been enjoying extra noise from Omani jets recently, visits from UAE dignatories have been interestingly received , Duqm is emulating Sohar & Salalah Ports which are already key players and Salalah Free Zone looks like being at last a regional manufacturing hub. Oman Air is also gaining plaudits from seasoned travelers . All in all Oman looks as if its gathering genuine non-oil momentum

  5. You may also want to add that the 20 spies were in very high positions in very very sensitive places so I bet they were looking for more than economic info.

  6. It is said that on the 40th anniversary they had plans to go 187, note H.M did not stay around long in the military parade. Long live H.M !!!

    these traders should be put in one line n red beam on em all

  7. Sorry mate but this time your links/advisors got it all wrong....Duqom, assuming it sees the light of day will be partly owned by IPIC, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi, in addition to the latter Duqum is in no way strategically located (limited population and in no proximity of any shipping routes) only advantage is availability of endless space, they wld have been better off building it South or North...the reasons for the recent "spycase" are far more long term centered arnd "who takes over next etc etc" and for AD to secure loyalty and possibly control of the "newcomer"...I'm sure Sh. Zayed wld have never allowed for such act of stupiedity to take place..

  8. thanks for the comments - and I agree it would make more sense if it was indeed part of a broader attempt to influence things in Oman post succession.

    And is there any connection to Oman suddenly banning all the boats from the annual Dubai to Muscat yacht race from entering Omani waters a few days ago?

  9. Mum told me they were 127, lol. I think 15 is too many anyway. A failure in loyalty to the country.

    UAE sucks! and those 15 Omanis deserve to be smacked upside the head.

  10. possibly the ex 'high flyer' can hear the jets noise as well to remind him where he once was - which was far better than a detached villa in Mazayed as his reward

  11. Thanks UD for another scoop.
    Happy to note that you are still keeping your ears close to Oman ground.
    Incidentally unlike the way UAE is operating most of the business is conducted by Oman in a much more transparent way. There is nothing much to spy around and give to UAE. Almost all financing and other tie-ups are there all over the internet.
    But it is true that Oman had problems in the past like British walking out of airport investment, and Salalah free zone also US partners ditching in the last moment, probably due to much better terms offered by neighbouring countries.
    The arrest if any may have much more than sharing Duqm secrets.
    Please continue to update on the story.\

  12. What makes this all the more interesting is that it was the Iranians that blew the whistle on it.

  13. I beleive this 15 odd Omani's should hold disloyalty march. They should be named and shamed. It is about time loyalty is not measured by Nationality, Tribe, Pedigree but by merit and strength of character.

  14. Is this in anyway related to the fighter jets we're hearing everyday in Seeb? I put it down to preperations for National Day parades.


  16. Iam an arab expat working in Oman for more than ten years and came across this Blog while browsing the net.I have to say that, during my stay in Oman I have noticed that the non-arab expats and the Westerners in particular become very curious about the affairs like the one posted here.Their interest in such issues is something typical of their culture which is respectable ,but to the contrary, such issues do not usually attract the interest of other arab expats to the same extent.The thing which is annoying in this interest of the said non-arab expats is their speculations which amount sometimes to interference in the internal affairs of the country.Of course,I have heard about the arrest story even from Omanis nationals who told it with deep sorrow but without any comments which is the typical way of the Omani personality.I hope that other expats would respect this Omani way & manner of thinking which we understand by virtue of the common language and culture, which we share with them to some extent, and to refrain from nosing about except for the Bacon!

  17. I think this entire story of spying is just another hoax. I don't understand why would someone want to spy on Oman? Oman is not developing nuclear plant or having a major spy agency operation in it. As of the Duqum port my friends, everybody (maybe) knows already about it, and all know the plans for Duqum, nothing major.

    The first post read as Duqum is a strategic location, which it isn't, but yes it is strategic location for FISHING! Trade lines, and shippinling lines could not be done in Oman, and Oman had a good maritime history, which is still able to keep up.

    However, my friends did not discuss this at all, and I say such things unless you know its true or not or either government announces it in public that such thing took place, I am not sure the subject would be good to discuss.

  18. For those who understands history, Oman is 30 thousand years of age, Oman as an empire for which it was not got colonized. The drop in it’s internal affairs was quite short and happened at the time when the Nomads ‘Bedwens’ had the Oil, what was called ‘The See Emirates of Oman’ Emarat Sahil Oman Sheikhs was quickly gathered in 1971 to form a country from nowhere, taking opportunity of the Internal political unrest in Oman. This kid called Mohd Bin Zaid is stupid and crazy thought for the money he has quickly moved from the back of a Camel to High rise buildings, they always want to have the largest and the biggest in the World, because they simply feel they are somewhat lesser than other humans.
    When Omani Sultans had masters and degrees and high qualifications, the Eimarati Sheikh’s didn’t even know how to write their names, this is a fact.
    Oman is a Sun, and you can’t hid the Sun with a mash. God bless Oman and it’s wise leader His Majisty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

  19. Well i have lived in Oman for my whole life and i'm an expat. First off in reply to Mahmoud, its not in our 'culture' to be curious or nosy, but we do like to know what is happening in the country like most people would. If you hear about spies, you generally would like to know why they are doing what they do. Its a common reaction.
    Secondly, i'm not sure what to make of this whole spy business and to be honest i'm keeping my judgments reserved. Oman geographically has an advantage over other countries in the UAE because it is on the peninsula of the gulf. Plus the fact that we have Yemen is another thing. But other than awesome location, that is it.
    Love Oman, but i'll make judgements when i know things for sure.

  20. So it seems the foreign intelligence arm of the Abu Dhabi Royal family had managed to bribe several Omanis to betray their country and provide intel on the goings on in Duqm.

    Al Reem Island Abu Dhabi


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