Friday, June 12, 2009

Ministry of Tourism putting the pressure on Capital Area Yacht Club

The Capital Area Yacht Club - now partially rebranding itself as Capital Area Yacht Centre - has been an Omani Institution for ages.

Its located in the beautiful little bay in front of Cat Island, in between the newish (and also very nice) Marina Bandar Rowdha and the British Ambassadors house on the coastal road to the Al Bustan.

For some time that little bay has been targeted by the Ministry of Real Estate Tourism as a great site for yet another integrated hotel development. CAYC are currently battling the MoT in the courts, as luckily (and apparently at the last minute) they found the original Deed of Title given to the club by no less a personage than His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.

But even this apparently isn't stopping the greedy people at the MoT and their apparatchiks in the OMRAN real estate development arm. They seem determined to forceably requisition every last scrap of nice coastal property that isn't already owned by someone important.

The zealots at the MoT are now I'm told just recently gave the CAYC 1 months notice of 'eviction' - despite the on-going court case over that very issue. That's not nice. And I'd be surpised if such intimidation is legal. The big meeting is tomorrow.

Now, I think the CAYC is a great little club. It has a restaurant & bar, a nice beach, a place to store your boat, all reasonably priced. In fact, and perhaps contrary to popular belief, most members are middle class Omani families who want a place from which to go fishing that is family friendly. Expats too like it, especially those who can't join restricted clubs such as PDO, or the various Military clubs, and want something more than the bland 5 star hotel pool and gym clubs. They often host weddings and celebrations too at much better prices than the big hotels too.

Why are MoT doing this? And who is the developer that this prime spot has been promised to? I don't believe the various rumours of corruption within Omran with people being given payments for signing off on contracts sigle sourced at significantly over the market rates. This very rumour was subject to a recent investigation by State Audit, apparently triggered by tendering 'irregularities' in the Yeti development.

And I'm reliably informed the Minister of Tourism, HE Rajiha bint Abd al-Amir bin ALI, has restarted construction of her massive house extension (built on the free piece of prime oil company concession land in Qurm that was given to her 11 years ago, while she was on their board of Directors), so presumably she was given a clean bill of health.

It looks to me like someone in the MoT has already made some commitments to someone who wants to develop that bay and make a shit-load of money in the process... But the plan then went a bit sour when CAYC found the magic piece of paper from HM. Damn.

Will Oman have any public beach property at all in 5 years?


  1. UD, unfortunately it also looks like the Ras al Hamra development is back on PDO's agenda.


    ps: Is Omantel blocking your page? I had to resort to unconventional means to post this!

  2. Interesting story. One of the things that I kept on telling my friends in Dubai was that Oman's beaches are mostly public and thus, never ending cost line that you are free to explore.
    But that is obviously changing. And it makes me sad!

  3. The Ministry of Tourism has been so infatuated with the idea of mega coastal projects.
    Do they actually create value for money – bang for the buck-added value or any other measure you want to look at additions for Oman
    You might as well stay in Spain for all the difference there is
    What about internal tourism – the residents of Oman – don’t they deserve some beach space ? they also employ Omanis – look at the boats on Bandar Jissah beach each one Omani and at no real cost to the Oman Government (many more examples but since Bandar Jissah is soon to be only a pleasant memory its good to remember it) .
    Non Omani residents living in Oman might be the most vociferous complainers now – but they can move – it will be the children of todays Omanis who will miss a beach, being able to swim off it, jet-ski, water ski etc – but hey lets make all beaches private – hold the Asian Beach Games just to pretend we have a beach culture and then – block off all beaches from your average R.O.160 a month wage earner.
    Foreign tourists don’t all stay in 5 star hotels – they also might want a beach ; what happens when every last beach is eradicated like Dubai ; well plenty of other countries to visit – including the tourists own country – the UK has probable 10 time to coast of Oman with public beaches (largely owned by government and Free for any body to visit).
    The Ministry of Tourism probably have never even spent time with real tourists in Oman – you know the ones who go around Oman – spending money with Omani drivers, staying in small hotels, buying local products.
    The people who stay in these mega 5 star hotels simply line the pockets of the owner , largely foreign staff , foreign tour operator who booked them in.
    Do these Mega Tourism Projects create employment for Omani commensurate with their cost /subsidy from the Government – No of course not – look at all the 5 star hotels staffed with non-Omani staff; look at Al Bustan full with non-Omani staff despite being in business for how many years – yes more than 20.
    Who gets employed in all these super luxury projects – look at the new Ras al Jinz project –full with Lebanese management with their BRIGHT floodlights scaring off all the Green Turtles- Hoota Cave - the management are Lebanese . They cant even manage a Toy Train and need to sink more money (commissions given) to buy a new one.
    Look at SwissBel-Hotel on Masirah – how many years and its only just opened – how many Omani staff? Why is it right next to the worlds most important LoggerHead Turtle nesting beach –no need to ask – lets pretend its eco friendly – and in a few years all the Turtles will be a memory scared away by the hotel on their beach
    What about the Ferries – subsidized – no vehicle access (is that needed for a car ferry? didn’t think of that ! ) where are they going – to Masirah and the Hallaniyats and Musandam – at what cost subsidy
    Issa / Times of Oman is always going on about Omanisation etc etc – just look at his own tourism project (whoops I mean his sons) full with non Omani / same with their publishing – look at the editorial credits on the Times of India (whoops Times of Oman) and the in-flight Oman Air published by NPA their publishing arm .
    Lets not mention Blue City .
    What about the Shangri-la – full of Indian, Burmese, Pilipino staff what value is it giving to Oman .
    What about Ras al Hadd – give land to Qataris, build an International Airport (FOC) and for what – just to employ more Indian, Burmese, Pilipino staff does that actually create value for money – bang for the buck-added value or any other measure you want to look at
    Look at Yiti – Dubai runs out of beach – so demolish an entire Khor, knock down a Mountain or two and what happens – its ground to a halt.
    Oh yes the Ministry of Land Grab (whoops Ministry of Tourism) is blinkered focusing on only 1 type of tourist and forgetting the rest

  4. They can buy up as many beaches as the want and build plastic hotels but there is no guarantee tourists will come here and the likelyhood is Oman won't be able to competein ths market.

    Lots of empty hotels soon, negative equity, only the Wastafarians win.

    Good for Oman, I think not.


  5. NEWS FLASH- SOMALI PIRATES ATTACK IN OMANI WATERS- Remember on World Press Day when our own hard-hitting, no punches pulled, free speaking Editor of a great Omani newspaper wrote a factual, well documented editorial exposing the Zionist Conspiracy behind the Somali pirates? Now an attack by these pirates in Omani territory. A coincidence??? I THINK NOT!!!!!!!

  6. I do not know and I do not understand what is going on. But this much I do know – tourism is not only in 5 star hotels or hotels for that matter. Such glass-metal- trash buildings can be found anywhere in the World – and much better than in Oman. But what makes a difference – so far – is Oman pristine nature – beautiful coast, sandy beaches, glorious mountains, fabulous safari routes. Unique experience.
    But all this might change in less than a generation. Just destroy what mother Nature so abundantly gave to Oman – and the spell is gone. The famous CAYC is the last stand – for tourists, Omanis and expatriates – in Muscat. Once it’s gone – Muscat will be a dead town – as far as seaside is concerned.
    Whoever is in charge should think much, much more than twice. Expatriates aside – they will all go home, sooner or later - try to think of Omanis in Muscat. If you want to make Muscat new Dubai – I’m sorry for any comment I made.

  7. Thales Takes on MBDA in Oman
    240 words
    21 May 2009
    Intelligence Online

    Assigned to protecting sultan Qabous bin Said, the Royal Guard of Oman (RGO) has been in talks with France’s Thales for over a year to acquire Crotale NG anti-aircraft missiles that already equip Oman’s Navy.

    In the past two months, however, negotiations between Thales and the royal guard have bogged down over the price of the missiles. The total cost, initially set at EUR 120 million, rose to EUR 150 million and then to EUR 184 million.

    Seeking to benefit from disagreement over the price tag, the MBDA missile house has elbowed its way into the competition by offering to supply Oman VL MICA missiles (Vertical Launch Micas). Like Crotale NG, the VL Mica is already used in Oman. A naval version equips three fast patrol boats bought from Britain’s VT yard by the Royal Navy of Oman in 2007. The patrol boats are equally equipped with MBDA’s Exocet 39 block 3 surface-to-surface missile.

    For the moment, neither of the two groups has managed to get Oman to sign on the dotted line. Oman could indeed become a major market for Thales and MBDA. The sultanate is reportedly in talks with BAE Systems to buy Typhoon fighter aircraft built by the Eurofighter consortium, and they would need weapons. Both Thales and MBDA have highly active affiliates in the United Kigndom.

  8. By the way, was thinking of visiting Muscat for a few hours while in transit. Would that be possible with visa on arrival in Oman? Any help would be appreciated.

  9. I am currently in Oman working for a week or so. Fortunately for me the Hotel that I am staying at is linked to the CAYC, which was a very pleasant surprise. We visited the CAYC yesterday and spent the day there. It is a truly beautiful place that is relatively untouched with regards to commercialisation or any hint of capitalism in the area. Having been to Dubai on a number of occasions and many other Gulf States, I also agree that there is a tendency for the ministries of these states to design and build according to western design and to pack it to the rafters with western ideology. For some reason (which I find difficult to comprehend) many of the Gulf States seem to think that a western design is the way ahead for tourism and prosperity?? Believe me, there are millions of people around the world who would be willing to pay money to visit somewhere that is the complete opposite to what's on offer in the west! I do hope that this area and in particular the CAYC does not fall foul to the 'westernised style of development' that is slowly eroding beautiful locations such as CAYC.


If you wish to post anonymously, please pick a nickname by selecting the Name/URL option, or at least sign off your comment with one! I will delete comments I find objectionable or needlessly inflammatory. Sorry for the word verification.... OMG the spam has gotten BAD these past 12 months... trying to avoid making one log in...