Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pour encourager les autres... Muscat style

Yes, truly the phrase Pour encourager les autres seems so appropriate!
I've been meaning to blog this story for a few weeks, but kept being distracted. And I wanted a nice picture too, especially for my overseas visitors. Here is the infamous new building near Muscat International Airport, built by sacked Minister of Manpower Juma Al Juma.

As you can see, it is now being summarily torn down, in a highly public display of what happens when you take things too far, Minister or not.

The story that finally emerged is that the building was both too high for the international rules for the glide path of an international airport, and was being partially built on some other Minister's land, and it had been built under an illegitimate building permit issued by ex-head of the Muscat Municipality, who allegedly over-ruled his engineer.

They got caught, and His Majesty was not impressed. Hence the dismissals, and now the building is being torn down too. Apparently the place got ransacked of its fixures before the demolition crew moved in, after word got out of the order to tear it down. Everybody knows the story, and people actually visit the site (next to the Shell Petrol Station as you approach the airport from Muscat) to see it. But of course not a whisper of it in the press!!

A similar deconstruction occured a few years ago in Qurm, where the unfinished palace of another disgraced Minister (on the site next door to the Khimji's big place) was torn down and the land apparently confiscated.

Such is the fate of those who fly too close to the sun. His Majesty knows full well of the corruption that surrounds him, but he has apparently said, when asked why he didn't replace those Ministers and officials he knew to be enriching themselves from the public purse, "Better a full rat than a hungry rat".

A wise man indeed.

But in this case they went too far, both endangering the airport and letting a spat about the ownership of land become public. Hence the very public nature of the dismissals.


  1. About time these bastards got their comeuppance!

  2. This is what happens when the government keeps quiet on its actions and there is no free press to report either. All we have is gossip and no one knows what really is the truth.

    The story that has been circling around is that there has been a forged letter from the undersecretary of the ministry of housing to the DG of civil aviation requesting to allow the additional height on the building. Now here we have UD spreading a new story that it is an illegitimate building permit.

    What's the real story?

    As for the other story you are referring to in Qurm, I really hope you aren't referring to the house the ex- minister of development. In that case there was a) no disgraceful exit form the government, and b) no confiscation of land at all. He was removed from the government and ran his businesses for about 2 or 3 years and then when the stock market crash they made him the scapegoat. Eventually when he reorganized his companies he sold his unfinished house to his ex-business partner. That ex-partner of his is now building a housing complex on the land. The government had no part of any of that.

    Please check your facts before you spread gossip through your blog.

  3. I thought Addis Abbaba (or however his name is spelt) (the ex-head of MM - Muscat Municipality) was not sacked, but moved in position to another Government job. He is also now consulting with the Hasher group on the Sheraton hotel refurbishment in Ruwi now as well, so he was pushed from office at MM and installed somewhere else in another Government role. The news I was told was that his Government pay check remained the same as well.

    The version of events I learned was that MM issued the building permit when they should not have. Presumably because Addis Abbaba pushed it through, I think it was the airport people that went to someone high up in Government and pointed out the building was too high. I think the building was ripped down because it was too high, I wasn't aware that there was a spat about the land. Which seems odd because on any project that is built in Muscat, the MM guys come to site with GPS thingers and check the site boundaries before a permit is issued. Fishy fishy. They should of just used some explosives and levelled it. :)

    I wonder what will go in its place.

  4. Nothing new here. I remember seeing four very large houses being built very close together 25 years ago near MQ, overlooking the main road. They had the roofs on when HM drove past, and noticed that they were too close together. The next day the wrecking ball swung and demolished houses 2 and 4.

  5. ..and there was also the very large house built in Qurm that HM thought was a bit too grand for the owner, and therefore suggested that it would be a good idea to donate it as an old folks' home...

  6. ..and there was also the very large house built in Qurm that HM thought was a bit too grand for the owner, and therefore suggested that it would be a good idea to donate it as an old folks' home...

    Actually it was turned into the Omani Graduates Club and later into the Cultural Club. And it wasn't donated either. He was paid something like 3 million rials for it, which was a huge amount of money back in the 80's.

  7. I was also going to post the correction re: the Qurum house, but I see Muscati beat me to it.

    Also, can someone explain to me what "better a full rat than a hungry rat" exactly means? The analogy fails me. Does it mean better to have someone satisfied and content rather than bitter and scheming?

    -Omani in US

  8. UD

    Our rats never get full, they just blow off, and newer, hungrier rats fill in their places, and the plundering of the country continues.

    And this is not Pour encourager les autres, it never will be. The minsters excess are far much bigger than the hieght of a building or the encroachement onto someone elses land. The two sacked minsters enriched themselves and their familys massively through years of managing their respective ministries as their own personal companies. Road were built to areas for the sole purpose of increasing the land values for certain land owners, theousand of labour permits were given to certain people to fill the country with labourors who pay their sponsers 10 riyals a mont each. 100 labourours will give 1000 ryals a month to the sposner.

    That kind of corruption never get stopped, and people who do it never get punished.

  9. W, Anons
    Well, its not like they're in prison. They ain't suffering too much...

    er, OK. On the Seeb building, I also heard about the forged letter as well, but its a part of the dodgy permit I refer to and I find that part hard to believe. The other bits (too high, other land, and now torn down) seem common.

    Yes, the Qurm story was gossip, but as you say, what else do we have? Thanks for the corrections, as always. Maybe you need to blog more of this stuff.

    Yep, a different version of the story is also circulating.

    When you have a full rat, he only steals a bit, because he's already so full. If you replace him with a hungry rat he steals much much more than the rat you got rid of, because he's not yet 'full' ie rich.

    These guys should get jobs with Haliburton.... LOL. And remember, most of the original source of the cash is oil that is the state's anyway, and there's not too much tax. And as a % of the GDP, I think its not too bad, especially compared to other GCC or African countries!!!

  10. UD,

    So the takeaway message is, er, that everyone is either a hungry or full rat? Bit grim no? Surely there are competent folks out there who aren't rats? Or perhaps not.

    -Omani in US

  11. No doubt everyone's seen this, but worth a read if you haven't:

    Of course, don't believe everything you read in The Independent, which is attempting to drag itself down to the same level as much of the British press.

  12. A good post Mr Dragon. More please. As you say it would be good if one could rely upon good MSM in Oman, but alas...

    Willie D.

  13. UD

    Haliburton will never hire such incompetent people.


    Let me have men about me that are fat, / ... / Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. / He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous" (1.2.193-196)

    Julius Caesar; William Shakespear circa 1599!

    Nothing new here ... perhaps someone should check on the validity of the permits for the new office building near the Grand Hyatt and who owns it ...

    White Knight


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