Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Wahiba Challenge Desert Adventure gets really hard core

For many years the Expats of Muscat have assembled complex pieces of engineered steel and rubber, and blasted - as only hydrocarbon man can -

across the steep desert dunes of the Sharkiya sands, traveling across the barren sand expanse, East to West [aka the hard way], in just 2 days.

2 days.

That always necessitates a night camped beneath the stars, and the ability to take with you the essentials of survival.

And for many years, one of the best parties IMHO, dare I say it, on the planet I have attended (fortunately many times), is the party that happens in the middle of the Wahiba challenge.

It's awesome. The cars, the raw beauty, the success, the comradeship, the stars, the music and yes, the beer, all combined with the fantastic place Oman is to explore and camp in, and that always made it special. And the event was rapidly getting almost semi-pro, with over 100 people in lots of 4x4s, professional catering, and of late even mainstream sponsorship [google it. I've read Blue Chi's article]. By now, competitors include many Omani's.

Someone even did it this year on an NRI Gardener's 124cc street bike, as a normal bike was insufficient challenge, and he made it. [google that yourself too. Its worth it. Hint: Wahiba Challenge Gardener].

However, this year, it was somewhat novel that someone decided it would be a great idea to play a movie at the camp site, on a big screen with a beamer, in the middle of the desert, that was hard core. And I'm talking about sand and off-tarmac hard-pounding action.

Beach volleyball players. Female beach volley ball players, in bikinis. And then, after 5 mins, it apparently got ...a little steamier. (Lucky they weren't Malaysian, I thought.)

For the next few minutes at least, the Sharkiya sands have undoubtedly never before seen such a display of sexy things occurring between girls that would be illegal in so many countries (including Malaysia, and I think this one... Blue Chi? Legal Consult?), especially when publicly displayed (even in the USA).

[I know, how often do you get to actually legitimately blog about "lesbian sex in Oman" twice in a week??? First Essa in Times of Oman, now this! I'm always honoured to take a lead from the Times Of Oman].

Honestly, I'm not making this up. On the Wahiba Challenge a couple of weeks ago, someone played girl on girl porn, on a big screen, openly enough for someone to get offended enough to complain. And big enough that lots of people are talking about it and sending public emails around.

Now, I'm a big fan of such things in their place, don't get me wrong. But here in Oman,... it was a long way too far past what would ever be acceptable if someone was going to get offended. And there were so many people that someone was bound to get offended. I mean, at least booze is legal somewhere here. So this porn thing was really... stupid.

Hopefully it will all blow over I guess. The Wahiba Challenge is a wonderful Oman Institution. I don't think it deserves a red card because of some insensitive and regrettable decisions made by a few individuals. I'm not shocked that someone broadcast porn. But I'm disappointed that they did it in such an idiotic way and got caught.

I did ask a member of the organising group, the Ras Al Hamra Off-Road Adventure Club RAH-ORAC, what was going on, and he very kindly shared the story. Yes, a team on the challenge, called Dirty Sanchez, did play a short segment of X rated movie, some distance from everyone else, that few saw (but enough witnessed and complained about, I guess. What ever happened to discretion?). Here's the apology from the team Captain, which pretty much sums it up...
“First of all I want to sincerely apologize that the … team members have upset people in the camp by showing a short part of an adult movie.We should have never done that. There is no excuse for that.

I would like to emphasize that we should have never shown parts of an adult movie (not even for a short while) during an event which was organized by ORAC. And I'd like to emphasize that we never had the intention to upset people; we understand that we've done so and we're very sorry for that.”

And they've been given the red card.

Dear Captains and Delegates,

The Wahiba Challenge is a tradition that unites people from many backgrounds in the simple pursuit of adventure, comradeship, and a sense of achievement. It is a test of man and machine against the pristine and beguiling beauty of one of Oman’s greatest treasures, the Wahiba desert. This year, the unspoken code of honor and respect that defines this event was seriously breached.

One of the teams engaged in an activity at the campsite that was wholly outside the envelope of acceptable, and expected, behavior. The activity in question showed enormous disrespect for the spirit of the Challenge in general, and our Omani hosts in particular. It was, quite simply, wrong.

All participants canvassed have expressed universal opprobrium at the team’s activity, combined with a mixture incredulity and sadness that it occurred in such a beautiful place and during such a great event.

As a measure of our concern for the respect we show our hosts, and the reputation of the Club and its members, the ORAC Committee has decided not to invite the team involved to participate in any future ORAC events. The team members’ names will be removed immediately from the ORAC membership list.

Please forward this message to the members of your teams as you deem appropriate.

Off-Road Adventure Club
Wahiba Challenge 2008 Committee

'Nuf said then.
Nudge nudge, wink wink, on the Q T...

[don't bother, I asked. No copies were available, even for the press!]


  1. UD, you don't need to have law degree to guess that the public display of a pornographic movie is illegal. Probably in most countries around the world.

    I am not a criminal lawyer, but I guess that watching them in private is probably legal in Oman, not 100% sure about that cause I have not looked at the relevant law, but it could be like consuming alcohol in private and having heterosexual sex between two unmarried consenting adults in private (both of these acts are legal in Oman).

    Having homosexual sex is illegal though, and as a country governed by the rule of law, we do not discriminate against women, so gay and lesbian sex are both illegal.

  2. Thanks Blue Chi,

    Any idea what the penalty is?

    You know, I didn't realise unmarried hetero sex was legal in Oman! Are you sure? And to think all this time I thought I was breaking the law... ;-)

    Its certainly not legal to give birth here if you're an unmarried expat (?Omani?).

    I've always had difficulty with the principal of the law getting involved about what goes on between consenting Adults in the bedroom.

  3. According to Article 224 of the Criminal law, creating, acquiring, distributing or displaying pornographic material is punished by an imprisonment of 10 days to a year and a fine. Not sure if the Arabic term for 'acquire' includes merely having and not just the process of acquiring. If it does then even having it at home for private use will be a criminal offence. However, displaying is explicitly mentioned as an offence.

    However, having heterosexual sex in private with another consenting adult is not illegal, because Article 218 subsection (1) clearly says that it is an offence to have sex with a female without her consent, while the subsection (3) which talks about sex with minors says that it is an offence to have sex with a minor whether the minor was forced to do it or not. So it is clear that there is a difference between the two offences and the lack of consent is what makes the first one an offence.

    However, homosexual sex is illegal regardless of whether people agreed to it or not. The penalty for it is an imprisonment of six months to three years (Article 223).

    For those who can read Arabic, you can download the whole text of the Criminal Law Act from here (PDF).

  4. Just read my post above and for some reason I almost started each single paragraph with the word "However".

    However, I couldn't be bothered to edit it.


  5. Thanks again Blu_Chi

    What's the age/definition of 'a minor'?

  6. Guys, what about art. 225 of the Criminal Law as amended by R.D. 12/1997?

    "A penalty of imprisonment for a term of not less than three months and not exceeding one year shall be imposed on any male and female who commit sexual intercourse without a lawful valid marriage contract between them."

    UD, I have been reading your blog for a while. Congrats on your first anniversary!

    Expat Lawyer

  7. BTW, this is the last paragraph of Art. 223 (homosexual sex)...

    "Females committing lesbianism among ascendants or descendants, or among sisters shall not be prosecuted except upon a complaint from a relative up to the fourth degree of any of them."

    I am speechless.

    Expat Lawyer

  8. Expat Lawyer, thanks for pointing out that amendment! I was reading the original legislation without any amendments. (I HOPE NOBODY SUES ME FOR GIVING WRONG ADVICE! :p)

    But actually under section Article 227 of the 72/2001 amendment, an action cannot be taken against those who have extra-marital sex or unmarried sex unless a complaint was made by the spouse or the guardian of that person. If your spouse/guardian is not available in Oman, the public prosecution will attempt to inform the spouse/guardian, if they fail to reach him, can take an action against that person.

    So you can still sex without marriage as long as your so called *guardian* is fine with it!

    It is clear in Oman that they do not intend to prohibit people who have no moral objections against having sex outside marriage from having it because it is all about agreement to it, whether it was you, your spouse, or guardian. This is why there is such qualification for the offences of having sex with minors or prostitutions which are absolute offenses for which consent of guardian/spouse is irrelevant.

    UD, under section 218 of the criminal law, that offense is committed with anyone under the age of 15. Not sure if this is the age for other purposes (e.g. marriage) - that is governed by the civil status law.

    Expat Lawyer, where can we find an English copy of the Criminal Law?

  9. when you are in a pure desert like the Wahiba, you are forgiven if the primordial instincts inhibit your civilised behaviour.
    having said that, it was sheer stupidity to think that a lesbian full screen show would go unnoticed in the company of 100 carloads of people even in a 'deserted' place.
    i wonder what the desert creatures like the lizards, camel spiders, scorpions etc did on that particular night which would have got attracted by the steamy light emitted by the projector :-)

  10. Blue Chi, I have a translation into English of the Criminal Law produced by my office for "internal use". Cant't publish it but, if needed, I'm happy to share excerpts.

    Did not check R.D. 72/2001 (a wrong advice for you, an incomplete one for me) and missed the provisions relating to the public prosecutor trying to notify husbands/wifes/guardians in, let's say, Europe of the fact that someone had unmarried sex in Oman...Thanks!

    With reference to minors, I remember seeing a definition in the Civil Status Law. Will check tomorrow.

    Expat Lawyer

  11. Expat Lawyer, regarding the translation, I can read Arabic as you have surely noticed, but I thought that it would be nice to have a translation of it instead of attempting to translate each provision on the fly like I'm doing right now, I don't really need it though, but thanks for offering to share some excerpts.

  12. I do support the red card for dirty sanchez. I trust the organisation will apply proportional penalties to the persons involved in the scrotum shaving show at the pirates bar
    and the team mates that took no action to prevent this from happening. As disgusting as showing porn

  13. Dirty Sanchez...what an apt name.

    For those who are not aware of what it refers to: Dirty Sanchez

  14. Mr/s Anonymous, could you please reveal yourselve if you have such conviction about the shaving incident.

  15. OK, now we're at the stage where various anons start a discussion. If you're so smart work out how to post with a totally anon pseudonym, FCS.

    I must admit, I too have heard of the genital shaving incident indirectly. But have not yet seen the pictures. Presumably they were saying Ohhhh Aaaargggg Me Hearties! at the time...


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