Monday, March 15, 2010

Times of Oman revisits a really great story: The Sleazy Massage Parlours of Muscat

How did I miss this great story from... OMG ... The Times of Oman, just published last week on the issue of the Sleazy Massage Parlors of Muscat masquerading as 'health clubs'? [thx SH for the link!]

I mean, it's not often one gets to read a story in the mainstream Oman media that contains things like: Muscat, scantily-clad women, seduction, sexually transmitted diseases, physical needs, sleazy joints and youngsters. OK, they didn't use the words 'happy ending', sex, prostitute, or John, but all in all, a pretty straight story.

I just wish I'd seen some photos.

Photo: Apparently this is not the only pussy that's available in Muscat's 'health clubs'

While TOO's sage advice for people to "verify the credentials of the health club, or you just might encounter something entirely different [than a normal massage]" was, I'm sure, well meaning, I'm now getting even more search requests than normal from hopeful customers in the Sultanate looking especially for those small-time sleazy health clubs / brothels massage parlors The Times alerted them to. Presumably they are looking for the very same "something entirely different" from a scantily clad female 'therapist' that the unmarried man in the article confessed to enjoying often. Such things are, according to the hard-hitting Times, already a "fact of life in Oman".

As such, instead of a mock 'shock horror' story about what is 'a fact of life', a decent independent review of the various establishments might have proved more worthwhile. Prices, services, quality, decor, how warm the hands were, interviews with customers and perhaps the businesses' owners and Omani sponsors, that sort of thing. Just a suggestion. Perhaps Y or the week can do a decent follow-up?

Good to see too that Muscat Municipality, in a rare expression of LGBT friendliness, intends to keep open sleazy massage parlors in the long term, but only for homosexuals and lesbians, as "...workers in a club should be of the same sex as the customer..."

And they say Muscat's a quiet town...

Sleazy massage parlours face closure
Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MUSCAT | A relaxing massage at the end of a hard day can work wonders for that sore back or ease the stiffness in your neck. But what if you walk into an innocuous looking health club and find scantily-clad women offering you something entirely different?

That is exactly what is happening around the city, with sleazy massage parlours in the guise of health clubs mushrooming in and around Muscat. But come May, and the Muscat Municipality is all set to introduce regulations governing health clubs in the Sultanate.

“These health clubs are suddenly as common as grocery stores. There is a sudden fad for getting a ‘massage’,” observes Huzeim Almanei.

Nasir Al Zidi, a teacher, was in for a rude shock when he went to a health club seeking relief from a sore back.

Scantily-clad therapist
“I saw scantily-clad foreigners passing off as therapists. One of them even tried to seduce me. The entire atmosphere was sleazy and what was on offer was anything other than a therapeutic massage,” he says.

Yusuf Al Hatami a government employee avers: “These massage centres have an adverse effect on the youth, and destroy the very fabric of our society.

It is also a fertile ground for spreading sexually transmitted diseases.”

What is more disturbing is the trend of these centres often coming up near residential areas.

Khalil Al Saadi, an engineer, was dismayed to see a teenager trying to sneak into one of these seedy joints. “It’s tough for youngsters to resist the pull of these health clubs. There need to be some sort of monitoring to prevent young people from such activities.”

These special services don’t come cheap either. “Youngsters come and spend a lot of money to avail these services. It’s a vicious circle that they find difficult to break free from,” feels Abdul Rahim Al Balushi, a college student.

There are many health centres with certified professionals that offer genuine services. But many of these centres are getting a bad name thanks to the activities of other centres that are not quite the real thing.

There is another side to the story, however. A fact of life in Oman, in fact!

One person who frequents such sleazy joints confessed to me: “I sometimes sneak into these massage parlours because I am a man and have some physical needs. With the dowry amount skyrocketing, I can’t even imagine ever getting married. The cost of living has also soared. So where is the question of saving to make dowry money? I can’t afford feeding a family and paying the flat rent with my low income.” So what do people like me do?

Health benefits
Sahar, a trained therapist at a health centre points out the health benefits of a proper massage.

“It soothes the body and helps blood circulation. It could even help ease one’s blood pressure. But it is unfortunate that some small-time players are giving us all a bad name.”

Naif Al Shandodi and Saif Al Washahi echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s not fair to label all health clubs shady. There are many certified centres with fully qualified health professionals. However, those that are not should be dealt with severely by the authorities,” he adds.

The authorities are aware of the situation, hence the stricter regime from the month of May. The municipality is all set to introduce stringent regulations to monitor these health clubs.

According to estimates there are more than 230 health clubs in Muscat governorate alone.

A source in the Muscat Municipality says, “We have set a time limit of up to 6 months for these health clubs to modify their conditions consistent with the new regulations, which include separate health clubs for men and women.

He adds: “The new regulation stipulates that workers in a club should be of the same sex as the customer in order to avoid abuse. Also, the workers of these centres need to be certified professionals with genuine diplomas from recognised government-approved centres.”

The municipality has received several complaints from residents living near these health centres about youngsters sneaking into these parlours.

“We are taking these complaints very seriously, and those found violating the existing norms will have punitive measures coming down on them.”

So the next time you step out for a relaxing back rub, do verify the credentials of the health club, or you just might encounter something entirely different.

Guidelines for health clubs:
The masseurs should be qualified, possess diplomas from recognised bodies; the therapists should be of the same sex; there should be separate health clubs for men and women; any complaints from residents in the vicinity will be dealt with severely. —


  1. Mr. Times of Oman:

    Muscat's Massage Parlours = solution to high amounts of STRESS among young adults = satisfied youth/adults = low crime against women = happy women = happy ROP = less censor of crimes against women in media = happy Essa Al Zedjali = ANGRY MR. DRAGON, ME AND 99.99% READERS OF MUSCAT CONFIDENTIAL.

    MR. BONG

  2. -omg, tomorrow's issue of too didn't hit the stands!
    -how come?
    -it got blocked by omantel for breaching the don't ask don't tell rule on truth reporting

  3. Some people might say it was a Zionist plot to undermine the youth in Oman - but I couldn't possibly say that ;)

  4. Just give them the chance and they will prove they're the worst on earth.

    Reminds me of the *$£"%**"£$*("* sex-video scandal. A good representation of our young men in the world of porn.

  5. If one is seriously considering a massage then the good hotels are of high repute.

    It is very easy to point the finger at these girls, who are exploited. The real blame lies with the Omani sponsors who bring them into the country, some are well aware of the task in, er, hand, others are not and forced to stay in villas on a commission basis only, or what they can get from tips!

    I wonder if any Omanis will be outed as they are living off immoral earnings!

  6. When I lived in Singapore I used to go for a massage once a week, it was great, relaxing and carried out in a professional manner by qualified masseurs. It was a licenced establishment and they made it clear that treatment was for therapeutic reasons not for the release of sexual tension!

    When I first arrived in Oman I thought it was great when I saw so many health clubs around but on visiting one of them, it was clear it was a brothel. I think its good they are sorting this out because there are people out there like myself who simply want a massage without the extras.

    Hopefully the Municipality will promulgate a list of verified valid health clubs so that we don't have to suffer the pleading of whores for sex.

  7. I like to get a thai massage from time to time to ease my sore muscles once a month or so. The girls in the place that I go to are all professional and not once has there ever been an offer or suggestion of a happy ending (or anything else).

    The feeling of a woman walking up and down your back and hamstrings is very relaxing - after this apparent rule-change in coming months I'm not sure I really want to have a guy giving me a thai massage, if there is even any of them in town.

    Why cant this just be policed the way it's done the world over? Undercover cops... go in for a massage, if you're offered any extra's, then bust them and fine them/close them down. This sort of knee-jerk black and white reaction is typical of this part of the world though. So frustrating that some ruin it for the many.

  8. Thank you Devil's Advocat for pointing out that these girls might be exploited...after the worthy and sympathetic story of the plight of exploited domestic workers I was a bit surprised to see this issue treated with relative levity and nudge-nudge puns. Presumably these girls are not too cheerful about being shut up in back rooms waiting to earn a few rials and keep their sponsor happy? And how many prostitutes do we think have access to their own passports, mobile phones and helpful embassies?

  9. Muscat isn't the only place where you can get a "massage", word on the street is, Salalah can offer the same services. Its only a matter of time before these places are shut down...again, thank goodness!

  10. The powers that be should stop beating around the bush, take this issue in hand by getting a firm grip on the number of said businesses and then taking appropriate action.
    There may be some friction at first but they should avoid any explosion or blow-up in dealing with this problem.
    Perhaps a recruiting drive by the MM for upstanding young men to engage in random spot checks could lead to job opportunities.....he he he

  11. can you name the establishments as i would like to do some investigative reporting myself. hopeful

  12. My cousins (unfortunately) live close to one of these "sleazy" health clubs and they say sometimes policemen stand outside as guards. As GUARDS!! When they try telling the policemen what's going on, the latter just shake them off and tell them to go home. That's how bad it is.

  13. Uptight Anon,

    The exploitation angle is sooo obvious I figured you all would pick up on it anyhow.


    And anyhow I've got a real story on this topic in the works.

  14. Wow. How did the Times of Oman get away with that one? Shouldn't be long before 'someone' is in trouble! But kudos for bringing it out into the light. Definitely an issue in Salalah, but Dhofar Municipality shut most of them down.

  15. I hope the real story has real news and a real effect! Highlighting exploitation of maids, massage girls and whatever is easy, bringing the real prostitutes; the Omani's who are living off immoral earnings and treating these girls as no more than slaves needs more than just highlighting. Who owns these premises? Who is the sponsors? Who is making (not earning!) money from this? Then and only then will this topic cease to become a blog and hit real news. But then again, this is an Arabic country and real news is for the selective eye!

  16. What's funny is that they are being given time until May to sort their shit out. Why don't they just get busted as Anontard said?!

  17. why don't one of you anono-cops film the cumming/commings and goings from these establishments and then post the shit on youtube with the time and date???!

    Imagine how many wankers (or perhaps wankees) you could bust? too funny.

  18. I agree with the comments of Mr. Bong

  19. The oldest profession, give it some credit! Its sleazy reputation comes from it being illegal, which necessitates it operating in an environment that breeds unpleasantness. In the Gulf, so many men live away from their women creating a most unhealthy and unnatural situation for those of a straight disposition. A little normal relief must be good for society. So those of you who are probably living a fulfilled life with your partner next to you, have no right to criticize those who don't or those who provide for their needs. Closing down these shops will not stop the business, it will simply go elsewhere.

    1. I completely agree with you, there should be some way to vent out the sexual frustrations or else... it will lead to other social problems.

  20. some really good arguments for legalization in this thread

  21. Legalization is indeed often the best solution. There are countries in 'the west' where prostitution is completely legal, where prostitutes actually pay income tax, where they even have unions, mandatory health-checks, etc. That's a perfect killer for criminal and illegal activities, as there is simply no need for them. Same is valid for drugs, an issue that also seems to rapidly become a real problem in Oman. But I guess this would be just a few bridges too far for this region.

  22. Being Gay, I'm really looking forward to my first Man on Man Thai massage! Thank you Muscat municipality! Whoop Whoop!

  23. This is very alarming. If the therapists are Chinese, I am one hundred percent sure, they are prostitutes. If it is a thailander, it depends - some are doing a ligtimate work while others dont. Indians are also doing as bad as any of these. The one near carefour Seeb - there are 2 massage centers in one building - both are front of prostitution. I one asked for a massage in back pain - they want a happy ending so that they can get money from you - I argued hard on these people and they are shameless. Once my frind in Nizwa told me that SAFARI hotel there employs Chinese too, They asked 10 rials for sucking and 5 rials for hand job? What is this?

  24. Yes chinese are suckers. They are not oferring anything but prostitutions. I too tried in health center near carefour seeb, the indians there are so rude that if you make it clear to them that you want only clean massage, they will be hesitant to do. The place is also not cleam. But again, men massaging men? Oh come on, we are not solving the problem. Happy gays (days) are here again. Regulate the industry not gender segragation

  25. Still there is fem to male massage centre in alkhuwair near overbridge , you can get indian, thai and russian girls satisfy you in all ways


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