Sunday, February 3, 2008

News Update

A few interesting articles in the papers these past few days.

1/ First the collapse of a building in Al Khuwair.
The ROP is conducting interrogations to find out the reasons for the collapse of the building and the extent of damage, a source at the ROP said.

Looking at many of the buildings going up around town, the amazing thing I find is that this is not happening very often! Oman's building style is old fashioned reinforced concrete columns, solid concrete floors, and the gaps filled in the cinder blocks. Its cheap because cement is cheap and it can be built by essentially unskilled NRIs and Pakistani labourers with no safety standards. But the columns always look way too skinny to my unprofessional eye. One big quake in Musandam and I'd be pretty afraid of being in many Omani buildings at all. They look great once all rendered and painted white, but the amount of structural steel and load-bearing cement seems as low as you could possibly make it! Anyone out there studing civil engineering that can make an informed comment?
In the Tribune
Two people have been rescued so far, the ROP added, and said that they were working in collaboration with other civic authorities. “Investigations are also going on to ascertain the reason behind the collapse and the authorities are yet to determine causalities and material damages caused.”
The building is owned by a commercial establishment. In the wake of the incident, the ROP has urged all building owners to take the necessary steps to ensure their building’s safety.
Hmmm. Lets see if we ever hear anything ever again in terms of an actual result from the investigation. Don't hold your breath. My worry is that 30 years ago the buildings were generally built a lot better than now. Of course, if Oman had a decent system of qualified building inspectors enforcing a strict modern building code, we could all feel secure that this was just a freak accident in a 30yr old building where someone was storing solid lead on a cracked mezzanine floor. But somehow I'm not confident that building inspections are all that rigorous even when they occur... As a result, the ever helpful authorities simply urge owners to check their buildings, so if another one falls down it'll be your fault, and certainly not the fault of the authorities actually responsible for setting and enforcing standards. Its the 'Cover Your Ass' system of Government Accountability.

2/ The ROP said the other day that 'drugs smuggling into Oman is 90% less than in the year 2000', thanks to the ROP doing a great job and enforcing strict penalties. I'm not sure how this 'fact' is worked out, as of course it wasn't explained and the crack reportage in Oman failed to ask for any actual data or evidence. Muppets. So, does it actually mean that the ROP - despite increased efforts - are only catching 1/10th of the smugglers they used too? Or is an alternate explanation that they are just no longer busting 90% of the drugs?

A far better measure of the demonstrable success of such efforts is the street price of drugs available in Oman. Now, if they gave me that info, and showed how successfully restricting supply had made prices skyrocket, I'd be more convinced. Similar studies in the US have shown that even while the US customs were busting ever increasing quantities of cocaine, the street price was falling as smugglers just moved a lot more product without getting caught.

Any info on trends in drug prices in Oman gratefully received, totally anonomously. I'll compile the answers and do some graphs for you.


  1. Very interested to read your analysis. I can understand why you leave a veil over your identity, having worked in the country myself. But how long have you been there? I found that the longer one stayed, the more likely the prevailing attitude of 'discretion' seeped into one's soul. You still write as a new, rather than a seasoned 'expatriate'. Please note the spelling. It's not expatriot, unless that was intentional. Patriot missiles?

  2. I read the article about drug trafficking and thought the same thing. I would be super interested to know the fluctuation in drug prices here. That is a good way to measure it.

    I keep a mental "junkie index" running in my head. It's totally unscientific... He looks like a Junkie, she is passed out on the pavement, get a load of those track marks in his arms... etc, etc.

    The Suburban junkie index has stayed relitively even since the late 90's.

    I really wish the government and ROP did better press releases, filled with, you know... measurable facts, charts, and details.

    Whatever, it's thier ballgame.

  3. I am reliably told that enough Heroin to get wasted once is 10 Rial, enough Heroin to get wasted 7-8 times is 50 Rial.

    For Hash, enough for 3-5 joints is 10 Rial, and enough for 40 - 50 joints is 50 Rial.

    I'll ask around to see if these prices are regular prices or have increased recently.

  4. Thanks Sue! Like your NewBriefsOman a lot. And, unfortunately not deliberate, I just can't spell very well! Now corrected :-)
    I'm not new, been here more than 8 years.

    Sub, I also haven't heard of any drop off in 'the market' either.

    Lurker, great info! Thanks a lot. An update on trends would be fantastic.

  5. According to my source of information, the price has been at 10 Rial for quite some time, a year at least. The source said that it doesnt matter if the ROP intercepts a shipment, it's always available as there are always so many shipments coming in. It all comes from Pakistan I'm told.

    The source also commented that other narctoics are available, but Hash and Heroin are the most common. Apparently Morphine is quite common and easy to get hold of to. No idea on the price of such stuff though.

  6. I dont know anything about the prices but I hear Morphine is gaining popularity. Good thing we have a new rehabilitation hospital and center (Noor Hospital to be based in AlKhodh) to help those that wish to recover and get clean.

  7. Lurker - really great data. Thanks! It helps puts paid to the claims that there has been an effective reduction.

    Kay - any idea why morphine? Is it coming from the hospitals maybe? Problem with Morphine is you HAVE to inject...


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