Sunday, June 7, 2009

This is the week that was ... Blue City sued in London; WJ Towel backing up the local courts. And Obama wows the Middle East

Sometimes I do have to work. *&^%&$&$ Meetings.

Feeling bored and lonely people? Call a meeting. I thought I'd seen the light at the end of the tunnel on Wednesday, but it just turned out to be some bastard with a torch bringing me more work.

So, this week! What a week. Real news at the end. meanwhile:

We're buying some new military transport planes,

A C130J Hercules in Oman: Nice kit.

We signed a non-binding deal deal to talk to the Russians about nuclear power,

We bought 5% of a Spanish gas utility,

For what seemed a lot of dosh... still, a safe investment I guess, especially if you have LNG to sell....

Oh, and we thought about buying Tottenham Hotspurs Newcastle (obviously!) , (a rather iconic football team)

with an international following... as many Shibab will attest

Meanwhile, the Taliban are getting beaten back in Swat, and more importantly the Tali-wackos are loosing the PR campaign too,

And speaking of wackos, the lady who forced an Oman Air plane to divert, and be searched, got caught, and is so harmless she made the Omani media too.

the Saudi censors decided to unblock Susie the Saudi blogger,

and we had the hottest week here since... fcuk knows. It was HOT. HOOOOOOT. Over 50 deg.

Local blogger Muscato...

As a result, Ms. Dragon has taken to the airport with a clutch of my credit cards, turned left at the boarding gate into the wonderful world that is international business class, and quite sensibly flown back to cooler climes for the duration.

Deliveries of loose women, caviar and bubbles will therefore be gratefully received and possibly might eventually even have to be ordered!

This is the life. I will soon too depart for the summer exodus. Dragon's don't do suffering.

First - Real News:

Obama. No surprise perhaps that I thought it was a pretty masterful speech.

Obama made possibly the most reasonable, frank and forward looking speech I've heard from a Polititian in a long time... it blew me away. He successfully articulated a firm but fair approach, stating his underlying reasoning, and most definitely positioned himself as a pragmatist.

Most moderate Islamicists I know loved it. OK, Ok, we need action and results, but even Al Jazeera struggled to find anyone sensible who could really fault it.

The extremists of all persuasions hated it.

Crazy Zionists,

Muslim fundos,

right-wing Christian apocalyptics,

republican nut-jobs
(oops - are those last 2 actually different these days?)

Iranian reactionaries,

OBL sulking from his damp cave...

Man on right: 'I know he's the President of the Great Satan, But I still sort of like him OBL, you know? He sort of makes sense...'

the list goes on. Yeah, the speech exposed the haters all right.

To all of them he said, No. There is a way that is not driven by your hatred and irrational desire to screw everything up. Lets be adults who can discuss things rationally and focus on all the critical stuff we all agree needs addressing now. I liked especially the bit about Gulf states using the Israeli/Palestine conflict as a diversion from domestic affairs. Talk about spot on.

Wow. Could you imagine GW Bush giving a speech that coherent, and understanding what it meant at the same time? The man's doing good. Even Essa is a fan,, no mean feat that.

[lol: try an image search for Essa Al Zedjali!. UD]

Second - Reports continue of many Omani 'big companies', especially those with some real estate exposure, having a few cashflow problems.

I've been told that ol' faithful Blue City continue to pay no-one (except their staff, nats), and are about to be sued in London by Bovis (who walked out in disgust after Blue City stiffed them [Bovis]/who were kicked out for non-performance and didn't do anything worth being paid for [Blue City].

Has the writ been served yet .. John? I realise such trifles are a standard part of doing business in the real world, and big excellent development companies get sued ALL THE TIME by pesky small people who build things and want to be paid. I mean, what a cheek. Don't they know who they're dealing with?

Plus, we can't comment too much as its now all sub-judice soon...

I'm reliably informed too that even extremely well-connected and historic Omani company W.J. Towell Group, are underpaying contractors (by 50%) and pointing to a queue of over 4000 outstanding court cases against them, saying 'hey, sure sue us, take a number, but this is what you're getting'...

Of course, that can't be true. A venerable major company like that acting with such disregard for the laws of the land or legal contracts?

No way.

That sort of behaviour could end up in foreign courts and start to blacken the name of the whole business environment in the Sultanate (not to mention the good name the company has established over decades), imposing an indirect cost on the whole economy that is the last thing we need in these days of recession and increased competition for FDI. Surely not. And yet people tell me these tales...

Perhaps the older Sultan family board members should be asking some more pointed questions of the younger generation at the board....?

And last, the comedy at the Crown Plaza. I managed to sneak in the back, and - only partially assisted by copious amounts of ethyl alcohol - laugh my socks off, along with everyone else (and mostly an Omani audience too).

Ms Dragon and a rather agreeable female friend also had a total blast, although that wine wasn't cheap. OHI, and Eihab Al Saleh in particular, deserve massive kudos for pulling that off 'cos it took some balls.

Darren Short - erstwhile disk spinner for Hi! Fm

joined in the comedic spirit of the evening by wearing an outfit that perfectly captured the 'sleezy promoter' look with a garish white vest and black office suit ensemble.

Well done chaps. The buzz of the audience before the event was palpable and that said it all. More please. Eventually we'll get a bit more satirical, but this was hopefully just a fantastic start to lots more regular Arabic comedy in Oman.
Oh, one of the comics, - Dean Obeidallah - has a blog, too.

I have always insisted the Gulf needs a load more comedy. Hillary Clinton should be sponsoring this shit. Then the wine could be cheaper too.

Coming soon - advice to a dear Omani reader who is overseas at University and wants to be a Minister in the Sultanate some day. Bless.


  1. UD- think u mean Newcastle United...thats who the pics is of and the article about.

  2. A typically excellent and highly discursive post, one so good that I'll almost forgive your confusing me with a Circuit Queen.

    But, in local news, what's up with the Al Hoota Cave train? It only came on line a couple of years ago, apparently broke down almost immediately, and is now, if MEED is to believed, being re-tendered.

    Another signal victory for the Ministry of Tourism, which goes from strength to strength?

    By the bye - in another triumph of PR - I tried to get a table at the Bustan Friday brunch last week, only to be told that the Ministry had taken all tables. I pushed a little and finally got a booking - and when we got there, the place was nearly empty. And stayed that way, with a few confused-looking travel agents on a junket wandering around unsupervised. How many local customers, in a mini-repeat of the GCC summit debacle, got turned away?

  3. Cool post, Dragon. I just got back to Oman BTW and re-started reading your blog posts again. I like! :)
    Hey, where did you get that info of the whole WJ Towell thing? I am interested in reading that.


  4. Thanks Joe - corrected.

    muscato - X

    Sources.. and your english is great.

  5. From UK Building Magazine re. Blue City:

    Bovis sues for almost £1m over unpaid fees on Oman job
    19 June 2009

    By Sophie Griffiths

    Concern over non-payment in the Middle East grows, as project manager downs tools on megacity job

    Bovis Lend Lease is suing the developer of a £12.3bn project in Oman for up to £920,000, alleging it was not paid for work.

    Bovis was hired to provide project management and other services on the 5,841-home first phase of Blue City, a Foster + Partners-designed megaproject near the capital Muscat, between 2005 and 2008.

    The contractor has filed a writ against the developer, which is also called Blue City, claiming it did not receive several payments.

    Bovis says in its writ that Fari Akhlaghi, chief executive of Blue City at the time, informed the contractor that it “should have no worries or doubts” about receiving payment.

    Bovis says it gave the developer, which is backed by the government of Oman, several opportunities to pay, and it is now claiming damages and interest in addition to the fees owed, totalling up to $1.5m (£920,000).

    Bovis is the latest in a long line of British firms experiencing payment problems in the Middle East.

    Last month the Association for Consultancy and Engineering called for government help to secure an estimated £400m in unpaid fees from middle Eastern projects. Consultants WSP, Mouchel and Atkins are all owed money by Middle Eastern clients.

    Dominic James, director of British Expertise, which represents British consultants overseas, said it was a “growing phenomenon”.

    “British firms are owed a lot of money in the Gulf,” he said. “There have always been payment issues in the region, but people were prepared to accept delays in the past because they knew the money was coming. Now it’s a problem because in many cases, it’s not.”

    A spokesperson for Bovis Lend Lease’s Middle East office said the firm had now stopped work on the development, but would not confirm if this was owing to non-payment.

  6. I am investor in Blue City. One friend told about this blog and I shocked to read all. I am afraid to lose my money. I will also find some more information and share with everyone.


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