Thursday, February 25, 2010

Problems at Muscat Daily? Mohana fails to deliver, back to business as usual

Sorry about the delay, but I was very busy this week and thus couldn't find time to sort out a few internet hiccups. Rumours of deep and dark reasons for the short break are untrue!

Meanwhile, a reader pointed out the strange goings on at new kid on the Muscat 4th Estate block - Muscat Daily, stabled by Apex Press and Publishing, sired by successful Omani Businessman Saleh Zakwani, out of ambitious dame Mohana Prabhakar.

Photo: Mohana Prabhakar, CEO of Muscat Daily publisher Apex Press & Publishing. (Apex press release)

The newspaper launched just a few months ago, and according to my sources seems to have rapidly exceeded its business plan targets for subscriptions, due to the combination of official home delivery (a first), low cost, and a populace frankly desperate for a new English paper that might do more than simply reprint Oman News Agency propaganda and the Reuters wire services.

They also ran a few stories initially that built on the reputation of free Apex magazine The Week for 'daring' to print a few articles that actually criticised something, such as pointing out when rubbish wasn't being collected, or minor issues with parking. This was actually groundbreaking folks, pathetic though that may seem.

However, those high expectations have met reality, and the usual drivers of poor newspaper reporting in Oman.

For a start, Muscat Daily editorial is essentially 100% Expat, mainly Indians (as is Times of Oman). The problem with this in terms of a newspaper is that the average Indian population** is famously afraid of doing anything to displease the Omanis who pay them. The fear of being ignominiously sent back to India keeps the typical Indian expat** in a constant state of prostrate genuflection to authority and their paymasters.

It also means they will not print anything truly challenging to ANYONE important, as they may get in trouble, and important people tend to be connected to one of the big oligarchy groups of businessmen who dominate non-Governmental advertising in Oman. Threats of pulling advertising are common, and seem to work. The treatment of the Toyota recall by Bahwan was typical - the story did not explicitly point out how Bahwan (the monopoly Toyota dealer in Oman) were denying there was a recall that applied to Oman.

The only way Oman is going to get real reporting is to have Omani journalists, supported by Omani editors with balls and wasta. Some young Omani journalists are much more talented than the expats when it comes to real reporting. They are not so much driven by earning a salary and having a residency visa. They actually have a passion for Oman, and some are willing to write real stories. The National's Omani stringer Saleh al Shaibany is a great example of this, but of course he has to work for a UAE paper. The fact that their English may not be as polished is something that can be handled by having a good sub-editor to fix the grammar and spelling. But Omani editorial is the only way this is going to improve, and it seems none of the Omani newspapers can be bothered to develop such talent*.

In addition, the Muscat Daily has a few strangle quirks. I noticed they are printing the self-help drivel pumped out by failed businessman but aggressively hyped-up self-promoter Kevin Abdulrahman, who left a string of ripped off people in New Zealand after a suspiciously unethical multi-level marketing scheme failed and he forced to flee the country. He had such a bad reputation that the biggest newspaper in the country the NZ Herald felt moved to warn the UAE authorities of his past record. Still, he's good enough for Muscat Daily. (Again, does no-one in Muscat Daily bother to use Google??)

Also, there are reports that Mohana's famously strong ego, and a tendency to be surrounded with fawning yes-men, are resulting in big staff turnover at the paper. This is usually a sign of bad management. Mohana was always ambitious, working her way up from a lowly editor of one magazine in 2001 to the lofty heights of CEO by 2008.

Muscat Daily may be a financial success - circulation is good, and they are making The Times of Oman up their game. But as a journalistic endeavor right now I'm calling it a fail. From promising beginnings, this little filly is back to business as usual, with small non-stories and the usual everything's happy local news stuff in the attempt to boost advertising (which has been slow), especially from the Government.

And that's a shame.

The flag of real journalism in Oman is firmly held right now by gallant but small weekly freebie "Y Magazine", but they are a tiny outfit and don't have the resources to really take on giants like Apex and ToO.

* The tendency of expats to protect their jobs by blocking the development and training of Omanis is a whole story on its own. It's one of the many things holding back the expansion of Omani workers.

**Post edition
Update 1: I was making a gross stereotype here to make a point. I was never referring to all Indian expats. If you are an Indian Expat (or indeed, an expat of a different nationality) and you know this description does not apply to you, then please don't take it as applying to you! But I still think the visa/sponsorship system creates an atmosphere that severely discourages risk-taking to the disservice of journalism and several other desired behaviours, and that these apply more commonly to the NRIs. It's not meant to be about blame.

Update 2: I take the point that there were a couple of statements that were a matter of opinion, and that even the fact that these opinions were shared by more than just UD, they did not actually help the point of the story at all. These have been changed. I do actually read the comments and take them under consideration. Thanks for the input folks.



  1. Ah. I thought it was a temporary lull in the reporting flanks that gave the paper its recent mellowed tones.
    While you're right about most Indians being a little afraid to piss the Omanis off (couldn't that be said of most expats, though?), I am not sure how much that has to do with MD toning it down.
    High attrition? Sneak into their office and look for Dame Prabhakar's red book. It says women have to have manicured hands. Men have to wear pressed formal clothes. Everyone has to bathe everyday. You can't eat onions/garlic for lunch, among other things.

  2. Also totally and wholeheartedly agree with Omani journalists bearing the flag of good journalism in Oman. Thank you for pointing it out.

  3. ''The fear of being ignominiously sent back to India keeps the typical Indian expat in a constant state of prostrate genuflection to authority and their paymasters. ''

    UD given that you are so afraid of rvealing your identity, methinks you are India.

  4. There is no freedom of press. Period.

    Newspaper owners don't have balls either to take on this issue.

    Nationalities of people running the newspaper has nothing to do with daring to publish real news.

  5. TRQ,

    They never got going on good journalism. And yes, while the fear of offending someone important does affect all expats, it's the ones that would get sent back to India or Pakistan that seem most vulnerable.

    I'll add that speculation to the pile!

    I agree the owners are ultimately to blame, but they will never get there with their current policies on visas, and right of residency being at the whim of individual sponsors. But I note there is a vibrant free press in India and talented journos there.

    Perhaps we need a local Rupert Murdock to take over a paper in the Middle East and really shake things up.

  6. The advantage any blogger has is that they can post an opinion without bothering to check the facts. And the less said about a blogger who hides behind the veil of anonymity, the better.

  7. Sounds terrible..."one has to bathe everyday"

  8. The flag of real journalism in Oman is firmly held right now by gallant but small weekly freebie "Y Magazine", but they are a tiny outfit and don't have the resources to really take on giants like Apex and ToO.

    This sounds like a joke. Has anybody read the "Y" lately.

    1. Apex Press and Publishing is Oman's premier publishing house Big financial crises, after 3 moths ?????? ( salary ????? )

  9. I've always maintained that you're a racist, this post just substantiates that. Oman has some expat scums strutting around pretending to be doing the country a great favour while everyone knows many of them would be nonentities in their home countries and this holds true for both Asian and Western expatriates. And I guess being sent back to the freezing cold of Europe or Canada is definitely a more unwelcome thought than being sent back to the milling crowd that is India. At least the Indian economy is live and kicking so they will be assured of a decent job.

    And of course, what can I say about your opinion about Y. It just shows how clever you are and the deep understanding you hold about good journalism. Congratulations on exposing yourself.

  10. Rupert Murdoch? Did someone just write that?

    Free Press. Hmm. The problem runs just a little deeper than what has been mentioned here. Whilst it is true that the majority of sub-continent media personnel are afraid to rock the boat - in fact 'yes' is just about the only answer you are likely to get, whether that is a journalist answering to an editor in chief or a curtain maker swearing the job will be completed within a day - to suggest it is simply fear of being sent home is over-simplifying things. Salman Rushdie never feared anyone. It is the kind of people coming here to work in the industry in Oman. To complicate matters, the marketing managers who sit on the other side of the media industry are probably more to blame. They are the ones fearing their bosses, afraid to actually do something untested and innovative. Too lazy to do anything but shout at their tea boy, and lacking any good PR ideas, and so are force feeding the press this poorly written drivel, which in turn the press (if you can call them that) reprint verbatim. They are the ones arming themselves with 'media spend bullying tactics'.

    I recently had dinner at a hotel, and whilst taking my two sons to the bathroom I bumped into a young journalist from Apex. I say young, because the kid was barely out of high school,unable to string a sentence together (spoken not written) and here in Oman, reporting in what promises to be a quality press product. It got me thinking, he is so young, but Caucasian, so what is Apex's hiring policy?

  11. Anon3
    You don't see the irony posting that anonymously I suppose?

    It sounds like a pretty comprehensive guideline.

    That the problem - Y is right now as good as it gets. I didn't say that it was a high standard...

    LOL. You're entitled to your opinion. I'm more an equal opportunity critic. Like all places we have scum of ALL nationalities, including local. And as for the freezing west, I guess that's why so many Americans and Brits are flocking to emmigrate to India, and so few Indians are clamouring for green cards and Canadian visas...

    And just to be slightly pedantic about the facts, I didn't say that Y was setting a high standard, just the highest there is in Oman right now. Do you have another candidate? Look at Quad bike story, the Zoo, the animal rights abuse: is anyone else going out and printing stuff like this?

    But thanks for exposing yourself...

    Not old Rupert himself, but someone local with the determination and vision to sell papers and break stories. A real newsman (or woman).

    And yes, it's much more complex. This is just a blog. Thanks for the insightful comment. Maybe the caucasian was there for native English skills?

    You're entitled to your opinion.

  12. Saleh al Shaibany did have his own (?) magazine in Oman a few years ago - business / commerce is my recollection

  13. Some good points, but I think that from the position of journalism in Oman, Y Magazine is doing a pretty good job. They are the only magazine sticking their necks out, and again investigating real issues in Oman. I for one am pretty impressed with Y Magazine, especially considering it's only been around for a short space of time. But there are constaints for any media in this country.

  14. I don't think its so much Indians are more scared vs other expats, but the fact the expat journalists are mostly indians hired by newspapers with predominantly indian staff such as muscat daily and times of oman. I mean how and why would a western expat journalist choose to take a job in a country well known to have no freedom of press?

  15. If rehashing stories that have already been covered by other publications is a sign of good journalism, then so be it. With this criterea in place, 'Y' is a great publication.

  16. Previous Anon,

    You mean like that story just last week by ace reporter Anita Joseph (yes, by-lined) in Muscat Daily about the impact of the visa crack down on taxi drivers? This was a straight steal of the same story by The National's Saleh al Shaibany on Feb 4th... LMAOFOFL

  17. Either there has been a memory freeze or you are conveniently turning a blind eye. The quad bike story, the zoo, the animal rights abuse - just have a look through TheWeek archives - they are all there.

  18. The Down and Out expose on illegal workers in the recent issue of Y is ballsy.

  19. Muscat Confidential used to be a interesting blog covering interesting topics. Each person has their own opinion and there's no harm in that. But using expressions such as "haughty ambitious dame", "famously self-centered ways and big ego, and a tendency to surround herself with fawning yes-men" makes you sound like a crabby old woman with an axe to grind. Sad!

  20. I've read this and monitored the posts with great interest. I stopped read all Omani newspapers several years ago because they simply have failed to be ''news''...papers! Far too many cringeworthy columns of another Omani or Indian at an event or gaining a meaningless award.
    Lets be honest, if you want to know what goes on in Oman you won't get it in any newspaper. All of the papers are dominated by Indians with a subserviant attitude. I had a brief flirt with Muscat Daily thinking it may be different but we all know how terrified Oman is of real news!

  21. Anon 3

    Mine was a statement of fact related directly to you. Yours is an opinion on a person who is in the public domain. And you talk about 'irony'.

  22. Anon3 & yet another anon who can't understand how to use a pseudonym:
    Perhaps unlike you, I know several people in Apex, and the opinion is not just mine, it's more of an observation consistently made over several years. Or perhaps you're one of the fawners.

    I wouldn't mind so much as Mohana is, in my book, allowed to be as haughty and ambitious as she wants (I'm fairly accused of being an arrogant arsehole myself). But Muscat Daily isn't meeting its own stated goals, nor responding to the many comments of hope expressed when it launched. And she's the CEO, so she gets the responsibility.

  23. Mr. Dragon,

    It's a good post, but I have to respectfully disagree. Unlike the UAE's National, Muscat Daily isn't under the De-facto ownership of the government, and thus operating on the Express mandate to be a "real" Newspaper.

    They don't have the Budget of the National Either, and so they really can't afford to import the quality journalists* that the National can house in their stable.

    It's early days, and I think the early signs are promising. They are the only paper that has even touched the subject of the Toyota recalls locally, albeit using Kid-Gloves. Change does not occur overnight, and neither was rome built in a day.

    I think you are all being unfair to Mohana, either because she is a Woman, or because she is Indian, or both. Saleh Zakwani is a pretty smart guy, and if there are failures in the quality of reporting in the newspaper, those should rest as squarely on his shoulders as on hers. I think this post, and many of the comments that followed, were not only slightly racist, but extraordinarily sexist as well.

    Give them a chance, they don't have the shelter of anonymity, nor the need to sell advertising, that you and I do.

    * Having dealt with a lot of journalists from the National, I have to say hands down that they are the best in the entire region. Soooo professional.

  24. Spot on as usual, UD, and as usual the truth brings out trolls!

    I've hated having to admit it, but Y actually does some decent stuff - this week's piece on the dilemma facing poor laborers here was really quite something - and not something likely to turn up even in best-of-a-bad-bunch Muscat Daily...

    The question is why Apex's seniormost leadership is letting its vision of a quality local paper be so badly battered by the likes of Madame...

  25. No leadership,no clear vision = no advertisers.
    Clearly Mohana is out of depth and mr Zakwanis pockets are keeping her afloat.

  26. Siuburban,

    Thanks for the input. But I'd disagree that because I criticise someone who happens to be female and Indian it makes me a misogynistic racist.

    And it's way past 'early days' IMHO. You may note I've been pretty supportive in the past, but the honeymoon's over.

    As Chairman Saleh was quoted in The Week a few days ago: "Most of our competitors focus on the Asian subcontinent, often using reconstituted news from the Internet. But our approach is to cater to a reader profile that is essentially multicultural but within the limitation that for us, local news is king."

    But point taken on the vast resources of The National, and the responsibility of Zakwani as the owner. More important however is the apparent decision by Abu Dhabi to actually let The National do some real reporting. It would be nice if the Muscat Daily gave the Omani Government a chance show what they're made of. It doesn't take big resources to break real stories...

    Thx! But I do like the trolls. They are so hard to spot otherwise, and, even trolls are entitled to opinions.

  27. I really used to like your blog and read it often. It's not great but it's good enough for Oman. Lately you are making me feel sick again and again.

    What is this all about attacking people on a personal level? If you had your identity open, I wouldn't mind, cause that's part of the game when you are in a high position. But you keep yours anonymous and you take advantage of all the things you yourself criticize. You started of with Margarita, then with someone else, now with Mohana. If you weren't anonymous, these people could have sued you and you know fine well they would win. But you are too coward to attack someone face to face, aren't you?

    Really, what's wrong with you lately? Racist and ignorant, that's what you have become. This happens to a lot of expats who come to Oman and all of a sudden they become something. This, obviously, happened to you.

    You will not see any more visits from my IP address, which I know how much you like to check (together with checking your statistics and hope one day to become rich by people clicking your adds... really are you that desperate.. I thought your job pays too good, at least this is what you tell us...) and no more visits from my personal network in Oman either

    You became a waste of time and I'm really really sorry and disappointed, cause I used to enjoy reading you

    Shame on you really


    P.S. I've heard that you don't even have the guts to publish all the comments you get if you don't like them. And then you are talking about freedom of press. How ignorant are you really!

  28. Ah Maria,

    Sorry to loose you. And obviously I take issue with pretty much everything you've said. Suffice to say I do consider the truth a defense.

    I'll only clarify that I publish all comments that aren't illegal. Even ones like yours...

    But its a truism that you can't keep all the people happy all the time.

  29. Mohana has earned a notorious reputation over time that extends well beyond Apex. To say criticism of her has anything to do with nationality or sex is absurd.

  30. Jeez. Posts like this really do bring out the haters out there, eh? I agree with most of what you said. However, I have given MD a chance and subscribed for a year (what's 13 rials anyway?). It gets delivered to my desk at 12:00 p.m everyday so I'm forced to look at it quickly. To be honest, I think it's still much better than the other newspapers in this country. Certainly not the best, but definitely a step or two up. Most of the headlines on the front page attract my attention (that's a new one for Oman - barely anything attracts my attention in any publication I see). As for Mohana ... ahh.... I'll stay quiet about that one. I try to read all the columns written by Omanis (3? 4?) but they do seem to have a large number of columnists. Still, as you said when publications are run by expats there's always the fear of being sent back to their country (and we all know how fast that can happen in Oman!!!). Complete reform .. Omani visionaries... people with guts ... that's the only way it'll ever happen.

    great post


  31. Atleast people have realised that you are full of shit, you are just as racist as the rest of your kind. You hide behind this blog and criticize others for being scared, i wonder who the chicken is?

  32. "due to the combination of official home delivery (a first)............"
    Accurate facts please. I have had the Oman Observer delivered home daily for the last 10 years, so it is not quite a first.
    If you would like home delivery of any of several papers consult United Media Services
    [Your site claims that my url has illegal characters - not so)
    abdulla trader

  33. Anon

    I knew it would! Seems I touched a nerve...

    Zing! As perhaps the most overtly racist and full of shit commenter I've had on lately, that is really funny.

  34. Hey UD, Thats a whole lot of prejudiced stuff up there. I guess you got something personal against APEX, esp. Mohana. Its not the first time that you have unleashed your wrath on them! But nevertheless, good entertainment; trying to shout 'fire', when there is not even any smoke ! BUT, I seriously object to Saleh being labled as an 'icon' of Omani journalism. That guy is [deleted], and bad publicity for Oman. Have you actually read his articles ?!?! and have you met him ? that guy is pathetic at best. He makes a fuss of non-existant things and beats down his own country but over non-legitimate issues. Dosent address the real concern/issue in any way. Worse, he is a [deleted]. Mind you, i am not thrashing him verbally here, i am just stating the facts.
    {Note Anonymous comment edited for libel by UD]

  35. Yo, Yo..

    I have been reading your blog for quite sometime now. Interesting, very interesting. But, this post is cracking! I mean committing a character assassination so perfect; wowie! such a feat *clap clap*

    1) Yes, reports are that the above said proverbial boss-lady has a temper and attitude to match. Not that we care (neither should you!) considering you do not work for her, with her, under her (?). But, since you seem to want to care so much. How about you do a survey on 'bosses': Goras, Indians, purple or otherwise... Let's see what you come up with. You could hold the Worst Boss contest. But, you may have to multiply by a dozen and split the award. For, all bosses will be manifestations of ego-driven maniacs at some point or the other. And since when did ambition become such a vice? Are we not all ambitious?

    Mistake 1: If you want to criticise someone, do it constructively. Heard of constructive critisism?

    Have you ever worked in a newspaper, stepped into a newsroom? Do you know what it takes to actually fish out a source, make sure it is authentic and then write a story, only to be told that the target of your expose is the man/company who may be indirectly supplying you your *green jingle* every month. Hmm, now let me see: Does it take guts to refuse money and print yourself to a shut-down? Nah, I suppose that is what anonymous blogs are for. So, the administration, like many other administrations, is a racist: It is partial to money.
    And, What flag of what journalism are you talking about in this country? And, including the oh so gallant 'Y', which looks like a bad reprint of a college magazine, no newspaper, magazine and leaflet worth its literary salt (ha!) publishes anything that could be called 'journalism'. So, before you begin to talk about crack journalism by certain reporters of a certain newspaper. Stop a minute, clear your dragon eyes and ponder (loduly if you wish so): Why does someone like you or me even for that matter have to post things anonymously? I am Indian (and therefore cowardly, I suppose by your excellent summary of the Indian psyche). What's your excuse?

    Mistake no 2: Write not about what you know not. For sources who tell you things have more often than been in the thick of things and are therefore not very objective sources. Heard of Objectivity?

    Brown, white, yellow, purple: We are all here for one thing: the 'Green'. So, if a brown-skin wants to shut his trap and take his salary and go home, do you really want to blame him? Those are perhaps his limitations as a human being: Does colour really come into the picture? Are you suggesting that all white men would stand up against the system and challenge a country's policies, especially one they work in? We cannot mask our hypocrisies in colour, sir! we cannot. We all lead grey lives.

    Mistake no 3: In the handbook of journalism (actual journalism, not the Saturday Night Live version)the only news that is considered credible to be published is one which is objective, fair and devoid of any personal below-the-belt comments. Ever heard the saying: Your freedom ends where the other man's nose begins?

    Yours sincerely,
    Indian, brown-skinned (an envy of many a tan-hungry white man/woman), media person and a great lover of your blog posts.

  36. Dave, you are busted!
    lol, lmao.

  37. The fouth estate was never free and never will be .

    " A Fourth Estate, of Able Editors, springs up; increases and multiplies, irrepressible, incalculable "

    C...........Thomas Carlyle

    Just a dream

    You read a story , check 4-other versions of the same story,try to piece out the truth thats pretty much you can do.

    In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody — was it Burke? — called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism


  38. Thanks for the nice photo UD and some very interesting news in this otherwise boring place.
    Mohana looks more pretty and gorgeous in indian saree in person than in this photo and she talks pretty well.
    Even if MD is taking cue from "National" or even from "Muscat confidential", they are still better than Times of Oman. You just see the coverage of recent run over of three pedestrians in Wadi Kabir, by a camry car. TOO didn't even say whether the pedestrians who were run over died, their names of nationalities. MD did report that out of the 3 pedestrians run over 2 were Pak and 1 was Indian and they died. At least we don't have to put up with daily dose of Israel bashing in Muscat Daily.
    I don't think your blog has made any personal attack and much of the critical replies especially from Maria seems unwarranted.

  39. Dragon, I am a very regular reader of your blog. But I have to agree with many others that on this occasion, you have indeed gone too far. You are taking things way too personally on Mohana while hiding behind the veil of anonymity yourself. This is in effect a reflection of your own credibility, which ofcourse you are not doing any favours to by openly indulging in personal attacks, and targeting the entire cohort of a certain ethnic group which has contributed more to the development of Oman than any "Western" expat has.

  40. dman your getting chewed bro.....

    I think you over stepped your line by accusing [deleted] of having an affair..... that is something personal........ about the rest.... oh well... that is what you do best.... bust peoples' balls.... don't defame people..... or you will end up in an igloo, and it won't be me.... its not a threat its a fact since you its illegal in Oman. Defame and you will go down..

    Keep it real UD... your don't let them knock you down by the hater's crap. Word to the motha

  41. It seems this particular news is getting maximum response. It is strange that none of the responses are pinpointing where UD has gone too far??? The only remark made by UD is that

    "Also, there are reports that Mohana's famously strong ego, and a tendency to be surrounded with fawning yes-men, are resulting in big staff turnover at the paper. This is usually a sign of bad ...."

    What is the big deal in this light criticism. It seems all these replies are coming from Muscat Daily staff.

  42. Biker Girl story published by The Week in August 2009 finds its way into The National in Feb 2010 thru Saleh al Sheibani.

    Check out the links:

    Now why would the star of journalism do that and take a byline? May be we might find more if we dig a bit deeper. Any thoughts, any one?

    I will just stick to Observer and The Week for now. No National for me yet!


  43. Well done on the updates, UD. And I have to agree with justcurious -- i don't think either they were personal attacks. But what a lot of traffic on this post :D

  44. UD - You fail to disclose in your blog that you are in actual fact simply an arrogant twat, seeking delusional glory with your beauty saloon tabloid gossip, trash and rant. Let’s meet in the saloon of your choice soon to get our nails done and catch up on the irrefutable facts you so eloquently spew to uninformed masses !!!!!!

  45. Twister,
    Generally good advice. But I'd say in my defense that it's hard to find the edge without occasionally running the risk of going over it!

    Thanks for the comments, support (or not) and the points about The Week and The National.

    Undercover Drag Queen - redux
    Copy and pasting the same comment from a few posts ago... Yawn.

    So I'll repeat my previous answer:
    I thought the 'arrogant' part was pretty obvious already. The twat part is just your opinion, but fair enough I guess, albeit gynecologically a bit off base..

    But "irrefutable facts... eloquently spew(ed) to the uninformed masses!" sounds OK to me.

    Big kisses x2

    Oh, And well done correctly spelling "delusional" this time.

  46. Awwwwwww. Lovin' it, just lovin' it. Underwear Drag Queen? More a total underwear dipstick me thinks.

    Anyway, go Dragon! Go prick those bubbles!


    Willie D.

  47. Pessimisticaly OptimisticMarch 2, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    What a great way to spend a coffee break!!

    Thanks UD

    Keep it up!

  48. hahahaha........
    im indian and im neutral on this one.....
    generally successful businesswomen,who happen to be milfs(imho) do tend to be the subject of rumours(real or not)and/or fantasies.
    but yeah,character bashing from behind a veil IS looked down upon......but yeah,you do love to utilise/exloit the blogosphere's advantages of free press WITH anonymity.
    p.s.i just cannot stop laughing at the name "undercover drag queen".
    nice stab back at you there

  49. India's first international newspaper has launched its Oman Edition and 7th GCC Edition and its is in local language of kerala - malayalam. madhyamam daily.

  50. Dear UD,
    This post regarding Mohana Prabhakar is spot on and I don't say this just for sake of it..i say it coz myself and many of my friends have worked under her directly or indirectly. The control in which she manages the office is unbearable.

    Earlier as an editor she interfered in every sales or marketing decision and over stepped the publisher on many occasions...

    The fancy Jag or ex Mustang she drove was paid for by the Sweet Daddy (boss) who has lost countless amount of people over a small period of time.

    Her ego, attitude and persona have not only left many feel little and insulted but have also caused people loosing their homes and lives..such a person no matter what.. doesn't deserve such a post or attention.

    Wait till you meet Mr. Prabhakar..u might if u attend common parties or get time he's GM of a company come night cap time..he's a little waiter picking up wine orders ( one to many) for Mrs. 'I'
    The reasons for using the letter "i".. next time you pick up a copy of The Week.. make sure you read
    The passage from the 'Editor'
    last time i counted 47 'i's !!!

    As a reader i don't want to know what she has been through in a week.. i want to know some real freaking NEWS !!

  51. In my experience Mohana was actually quite fair to work under. It was only really the deadwood who fell foul of her. Just because other manager's in Oman are willing to put up with slackers it doesn't make her a tyrant. In terms of high staff turnover that's media for you, especially in a transitory place like Muscat. The young brit hiring policy is nothing more than common sense. Cut-price UK University graduates (otherwise jobless due to recession at home) brimming with enthusiasm and native english skills. Not that other nationalities don't have the same you understand, but for a mixed-race readership you need a mixed bag of writers. The fact that you think Y has good journalism is absolutely hilarious and those groundbreaking stories you speak of were all covered in The Week years ago. You can't really blame an editor for the confines they work within, but yes the editor has a duty to push boundaries at the same time as appeasing the publisher with strong ad sales. It's like walking a tight-rope, and in Oman the tight-rope is very very thin. I'm sure The Muscat Daily will grow stronger. The only thing i'm with you on is the development of young Omani journalists but the pay and benefits need to equal a job at the the ministry before the job becomes alluring. Indians and brits come from a society used to free press so in the meantime perhaps that's a better call. As for Indians being more scared than westerners to pursue hard stories - that's false. After a while I think everyone is forced to think twice before rocking the boat.

  52. well written truth..

  53. "Anonymous said...
    In my experience Mohana was actually quite fair to work under. It was only really the deadwood who fell foul of her."

    OMG this is sooo written by an Apex Staff forced by the management to reply to this obnoxious blog which is in their view nothing but a strategy of their competitors to show them down in the advertising race, I can actually picture Saleh sitting on the Anon’s desk and Mohanna pronouncing Saleh's name in a funny loud way "SALAAAAA" ... walking around looking busy :) Ahh the good ole days … the only good in fact great experience I gained from working in Apex was once reached out to the rest of the industry and once they heard that I have survived Ms. ‘I’ … they knew I was almost as if capable of bearing anything …

    As being an “Ex Apexee” one knows very well what their real agenda is trough all these real journalism crap, I can actually recall the websites where we use to download the news from in the Good ole days of TheWeek, when IT (TheWeek) was considered a breakthrough in the Oman’s Media Industry by being the original idea of a unique weekly tabloid that was free in real means considering it was circulated for free and had a free spirited look and feel to it, which was later and now is known by fact to be the most stale news source in town (A term I learnt within Apex offices) Later the so called “idea generator” of TheWeek, Ms. Mohana Prabhakar considered it to be the first of its kind entertainment tabloid in Oman, which again I would like to bring to your attention is a morphed design of a UK Weekly Magazine called THEWEEK, Maybe Ms. Prabhakar can deny by saying that in the news agency in Calcutta where Mr. Zakwani brought her from didn’t have access to internet for her to be able to see the most prominent independent weekly magazine of our times then you win the argument Ms ‘I’.

    So to say Mr. Saleh who since the success of The Week Considers Ms. Mohanna as a Lucky charm to the publishing house has never allowed her to leave his side and left all business decisions in her hand and finally made her the CEO expecting her to take the publishing house to the new heights, which it should have, considering, Ms. Prabhakar is best at the morphing art but unfortunately it didn’t work this time as a daily is a big responsibility Ms. ‘I’, and it requires true journalism and not cheap advertisement tactics to sell it.

    As per the Blogger my problem is also the same that Muscat Daily has failed to keep its promise once more of delivering the Authentic news since the last time it refused to publish the real amount of tragedy suffered by Omanis at the time of Gonu, Mr. Saleh should remember as he was the first few who hired a Hally to fly out to the disaster areas to reach out to the needy and yet somehow was unable to fulfill his journalistic responsibilities by giving out the authentic news to the news thirsty the knowledge needy society of Oman and this is why the responsibility falls on his shoulders for keeping an incapable person in charge.

    Seeing him again today posing on the page 4 of the special edition of Times of Oman on Indian Independence Day Special, walking proudly behind the Indian Ambassador maybe promising him more incompetent Indian Manpower, while the Omani Intellectual journalists run around looking for a sufficient column space to keep the spirit of journalism in Oman Alive … Kudos to the likes of Saleh Shaibany (i am A BIGGGG Fan Sir ) and Majed Sulemani who have despite serious opposition kept breaking their nibs to keep us informed.

    NO offence to The expat community in Oman but it is unfair to be treated as second grade citizens in your own country especially in the fields of literature and intellect which is in fact an integral part of Arab culture and a gist of Arab Civilization to the world culture, please note once again we are not against any nationality we are just against the ones who are against giving us a chance BECAUSE of our Nationality!

    An Expat Omani

  54. No offence to anyone. Why do people forget that there are Arabic magazines from Apex and other companies too...

    Since you and most of Indian/Western expats are not readers of Arabic magazines, you won't comment on the performaces and hiring policies about that. I am very sure that no company or individual can be successful nationality, caste, religion, creed, because at the end of it,only talent and hard work pays.So, no point in making your blog too sensational with sole intention of increasing the number of clicks. Apex is doing well. And that's it.

    I agree with the point of Omani journalists. Whoever is a good journalist will get jobs.

    An expat Omani, please keep your cool. All countries in the world go through this phase. Good Omani journalists will definitely do well. And believe me, you are not been treated as second class citizens. It's just that globalization creates competition and makes life tougher , but quality of work better..

    Only thing is I don't agree that Saleh al Shibany is great writer. He is very good. But, manytimes you would see that his story is already carried by other newspapers.

    - Expat friend of Omanis

  55. Just one query, you have used Mohana's photograph(no prizes for anyone guessing without her permission). Is that a good practice?

    I bet you are on google , searching for people's details or images.

    Just copy the images , write your nonsensical, biased, racist write-ups, use photographs at your own will and publish anything.

    You know that this may create trouble.

    So, the easiest solution is stay anonymous... Wetsern world is very particular about paying royalty if any pictures, or song tunes are used.

    Have heard of this term called royalty?? Did you pay...

    Anyway it's not good to criticize so much in the holy month , I should speak good things, give alms to the poor and fast for good of the world and ask for forgiveness.

    So, I wouldn't talk any further...

    May God Bless you with generous nature and also may good sense prevail...


  56. I heard and believed that you write about the latest happenings and all.

    How did you afford to miss BusinessToday winning Silver prize at International level(IFRA Awards)?
    I read about this news in theweek and thought now I should read your version....But there was no post congratulating Apex (on your blog )for winning a award..

  57. I think apex is that part of the media, which comprise of pro-western, pro-secular, modernists paid operatives of the much bigger controlled media conglomerates..with specific assigned agenda...their efforts are focused to bring about opnion changes, mind control, and a culture revolution in oman, which would defy the original culture and religion and thus set up the system of the Devil. This is being done by indoctrinating the youth to themes such as free sex, alcohol consumption (notice AZ holding wine glass), normalizing the abnormal behavior, western culture, western dressing, feminism, secularism, promoting consumerism and capitalism. Guys, this is all part of the "System", which is fighting against the few good.

  58. HI Anonymous, free sex and other such issues were used by UD in his posts...No one can spoil the culture and religion of Oman. And none wants to do that. People have better work to do than doing that. As far as wetsern dress, western food habits go. I have never seen that long queues in Burger King of any other city. If youngsters learn to protect their culture ,none can do anything about it. Western food and dress look very glamorous and thts the reason ll youngsters are attracted towards it.. So eat Burger instead of traditional food and soon .. Empowering women and giving them equal opportunity and status is not bad... It's humanitarian.....

  59. LOL. ... My family and I family have survived Oman for quite a while now. The week and muscat daily.. are crap. I've heard more abt Mohana's mustang than her so this was interesting. Saleh's family cost my family dearly in the past the less said abt them the better. And Mr.expat omani ....if u think ur being treated as second class...i might have to create a couple of more classes to fit the likes of me in here. UD i love how u manage to keep track of oman from wherever u are. kudos.

    Ana Uhibu Oman (I love Oman - sorry havent picked up arabic with 3s 5s n 7s yet)

  60. defamation is a serious offence

  61. I agree that omani journalists can deliver good local stories and highlight difficult social issues.This is something expat journalists can not do . That is why we are teaching and training a young generation of omanis in the colleges of higher education.Hopefully in a few years you will see good journalism in omani papers

      Mohana’s rise to fame has been sudden, and expected. We all know she slept her way through the professional ladder.
      I had the misfortune of working with her in Apex Press and Publishing, 5 years ago. All of us who worked there had the most nightmarish experience ever, which my ex-colleagues will happily confirm.
      All of us were in some kind of jail. The office routines were harsh and unbelieveable. We were supposed to be in office at 8.30 am sharp. Only one coffee break of 10 minutes allowed. If we took longer, Benoy George Thomas, her spineless “yes man” would be deputed to talk to us. And what a “talking” it was!
      Even the slightest error would not be tolerated. We had to keep Madam’s champagne-sipping friends happy by writing all good things about them, the way they wanted it. We could not accept gifts at press conferences. We could not wear smart casuals to work. It was formals all the way. If we made as much as a punctuation mistake in our copies, she would see to it that we went through hell. If we talked a tad too loud, she would shower abuses. If we took too long in the bathroom, misfortune would befall us in the form of terrible censure from the fake CEO.

    2. This sham of a CEO also took special care to ensure that we would be summoned post office hours, just when we began to unwind at the end of a long day. She would want us to show up at night and explain something which needed no explanation. Or could wait till next day. But Mohana’s day would not be complete until and unless she made someone feel like shit everyday. And she did it with a passion, as if it was an antidote to sleeplessness, that the doctor prescribed. Very often, Mr “Yes” Benoy, would also call us up late at night, to confirm if it was ACTUALLY a full stop that we had put at the end of the third sentence in the first para!!!!!
      Mohana delighted in her drama queen image. For the tiniest of reasons, she derived tremendous pleasure in ‘summoning’ the erring person to a room reserved for the purpose, and in the presence of her yes men, rattling the offender by interrogating every movement of theirs on the day the offence was committed, right from the moment they woke up, down to their loo movements before they retired for the night! The reason: She wants to ascertain how and where the person went wrong!!!

    3. And WOE to the hapless reporters she employs, for many are the complaints received against them on a daily basis. Either they would have made errors in a story, or someone would have called up to complain about their conduct. This is enough reason for the devil in her to go berserk. She will scream, rave, rant at the reporter, question their integrity, and warn them of dire consequences if the action is repeated. The worst bit: She will not allow her victim to defend his actions. The fact that she has heard one side of the story is sufficient, for her to decide what to do. And she teams up with her yes men, to pass judgment. Some CEO!
      The funniest part is that she has several informants and favourites within the office, who waste no time giving her, minute-by-minute updates on what happens in office on a given day. And then, the moment they step out of office, they too join the rest of their colleagues to bitch about the woman and laugh at how foolish she is. But does Mohana know this? No! she thinks her team of informants and yes men are completely in awe of her and are devoted to her for life. Like we say, she is as foolish as she is arrogant. So many times have her yes men been seen bitching about Mohana, in their mother tongue, when she is away on one of her (in)famous world tours (with or without the pompous Saleh Zakhwani)
      The one question Mohana always asks is: “Why didn’t you tell me that (something) was going on, or going to happen?” “I would have stepped in at that stage and prevented matters from escalating further?” Little does she realize that the vibes she gives out are so rotten, that people want to keep her away as much as possible. Confide in her, my foot!
      She has not changed even a bit, say her current employees. In fact, since the useless Muscat Daily launched, she has become worse. The fact that she has absolutely no journalism experience, especially in a mainstream newspaper, reflects in the paper’s choice of stories. Her iron hand over the sales, editorial and design team are always, always being talked about. Her reporters she squeezes the last drop of blood out of them, the blood sucker, while her sales team she antagonizes by setting unrealistsic targets and not giving new joinees, time to get used to the prison scenario at Apex. She has been known to sack eminently qualified staff within weeks of their joining, just because they refuse to tow her line. The design team are forever floundering with the amount of work and disorganized schedules followed there. So much so that there is a lot of negativity, jealousy, frustration and disappointment among her employees. A sad office, and a sad state of affairs.
      This has been written with the consent of at least ten of my ex-colleagues at Apex. Their individual tales of encounters with Mohana are terrifying to hear. We have in fact, launched a ‘Black Apex’ campaign, which is targeted at all new employees who wish to join Apex. We are making it our sincere effort to spread awareness among the public in India, what Apex is like and dissuade hapless people from making a mess of their Gulf dreams. This letter is the first step in that direction.

  62. I had the misfortune of working with Apex Press and Publishing and I can vouch that the above said is all true. I didn't meet a single happy employee there, not one. Every member of staff I met was utterly disgusted with his job and with the management style of the Company. The staff turnover is so high, it's not even funny. It's well known that people who cozy up to their bosses get the best perks, but the level at which it happens at Apex is ludicrous. The biggest joke about the Company is that it poses to be some great journalistic establishment, upholding high standards of journalism. Not true. Friends and allies are always getting bumped to page two and three, while genuine stories in public interest get shelved. I have seen it and I have heard it from several ex colleagues. The worst bit is that none of the 'editors' (save one), have any real newsroom experience; The stories that make page one is sufficient proof of this. And the 'no accepting gifts at press conferences rule' is a sham, because the gifts from well-wishers that are dispatched to the office are never sent back to the recipients. Talk about double standards! Salaries come late, the office runs out of drinking water, the electricity fails, and yet not one does the 'HR' deem it fit to look into these matters. A terrible place to work.


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