Sunday, April 10, 2011

Did you know there was supposed to be a new radio station in Oman: "Merge FM" tangled in red tape.

Photo from Muscat Daily: Appartently the infamous Dragon gang of Sohar (no relation). Update: These 3 are apparently principal bad boy Khalfan bin Said bin Mohammed al Muqbali's cohorts.

We all need a break from informal trade Union protests throughout the usually somnolent Sultanate, and news of evil Dragon Gangs plotting parties with cocktails a-la Molitov in Sohar. At least the press are now helpfully (if unusually) identifying with pictures and names in the Omani press.

This naming and shaming is very strange for the local main stream media, but perhaps the Omani Government is starting to get some help, me thinks, in how to handle propaganda in a more 21st century way. Give these violent miscreants a catchy name! "Dragon gangs"... Sounds terrible. Perhaps Oman's local media are doing what they are told once again.

If it wasn't for Dan in Sohar, we wouldn't really know what was going on at all. Well done and thank you Dan (& Jillian!).

Well, sticking with a media theme, have you heard the latest radio station in Oman on 104.8FM? They are targeting 'cool Omani youth'. Really! At least that's what my media friends in the UAE tell me. It's called "Merge FM".

Oman's new "Merge FM" and their cool new look stationary. Suoper hip and connected to the beat of Oman's young, just not actually broadcasting to Oman's youth right now. K?

You don't have to just believe me, here the new radio station (that doesn't yet exist) is described in 'media marketing creative award-speak' at Dubai Lynx:

Brief Explanation:
The Omani youth lives in a constant struggle to balance local customs with the ever growing western influence. Our goal was to tap into this cultural tension with a positive attitude, creating a brand that was both international and unmistakably Omani.

Describe the brief from the client:
Our client needed to brand their new venture, an English-language radio targeting young Omanis in Muscat.

Description of how you arrived at the final design:
We chose to embrace the change and celebrate the mix of cultures. "Merge" became not just our brand name, but a concept to guide our work. Every piece of design carried on the concept of “merging”, from the message to the way the paper was folded (please have a look at the stationery samples). 5 works of art that portray traditional local elements with a modern perspective were commissioned to renowned Arab artists. These were used as part of all designs to create a strong and lively identity.

Indication of how successful the outcome was in the market:
The radio station is still due to launch soon, but initial business to business activities saw a great response to the fresh new identity.

My friends in Dubai say it has indeed won some awards for ... er... outstanding stationary. And the DJs (imported from the UK and bored out of their brains) have been ready for months, but so far all they've been allowed to broadcast is test tapes due to... red tape.

Given the recent disruptions in Oman's Government and how busy the (not replaced) Minister of Information has been explaining the new policy on what the media should be reporting (ie the Government's POV), who can blame a few hold ups in permits allowing a new Omani radio station, especially one aiming to focus on 'The Omani youth living in constant struggle to balance local customs with the ever growing western influence'. Indeed.

It's all apparently very early days, not to be talked about, hush hush, confidential etc. But perhaps Merge 104.8 FM will one day hum not to the sounds of static, but to the 2 imported* UK DJs who have already been here for 3 months. Watch out Darren Short!!!

Yes, the frustrated unemployed Omani youth is a great media market. Those Kias kitted out with woofers boasting more horse-power than the car's engine need feeding with hip-hop, as the boys endlessly circle the Sohar and Shatti Al Qurm roundabouts, looking for employment attention from girls.

Guys, instead of doing Dragon-gang violence shit, how about protesting that your own home-boy radio station is being blocked from even broadcasting by 'the man'?

*Now, why can't the DJs be Omani DJs, man?


  1. the pic of the three ppl sure do like criminals and they should be tossed in the hell

  2. Hahaha! Hip-hop 'music' and 'gangstas'(specially the east - coast / arabian-sea coast always crack me up!! xD

  3. "why can't the DJs be Omani DJs, man"
    could be and should be given that they are "local customs with the ever growing western influence" and dont forget Bollywood & Swahili.....

    The press have named and shamed in the past in similar major cases where 'small fry' have scared the shit out of the local population.

    But how does that square with the usual issue that you cant name convicted criminals - so that in the case of fraud, nobody knows that the person they are just about to employ is a 'fraudulent criminal' (.....well you get the meaning)
    and what about naming and shaming the big sharks..... cant wait till part 3

  4. Well The main DJ, Chris Fisher, was actually working in the UAE some years ago and got fired from his job there, which I thought was interesting.!/ChrisFisherRadio


  5. Considering what's going on at the moment, shouldn't the English language radio stations employ Omani DJ's? Not just this new one, but also Hi FM? Why should the presenters be foreign if the target audience is the Omani youth? I think the Omani youth would prefer listening to a voice that sounds like them.

    I believe Sabco Media already owns an Arabic radio station. What's the delay?

  6. "Dragon" is the name this gang used to call itself in Sohar. Apparently, there's more than one gang around there; which is a shame really.

    As for the radio station, I wonder why would someone hire the DJ who got fired from their job in UAE, that's of course if the whole firing thing is true in the first place.

  7. Just checked Muscat Daily - Mr Khalfan appears at the top of the article and the three pictured above are his colleagues.


  9. A friend of mine who works in PR in Dubai told me Chris Fisher was not fired but suspended for an April fools prank about 5 years ago, I was also told that he worked for many stations in the UAE and always did his part with the community being part of lots of events. This is probably a good move for Oman to have someone like this driving forward a new channel.
    I for one will look forward to it.

  10. Bloggers are being arrested one by one in UAE. UD be cautious.

  11. Ref: Anonymous comment re employing Omani DJ's given what's going on at the moment. I would be in agreement -- esp if the station could employ a number of d j's on part time contractual basis. If the listeners like a particular d j or three, great. But if the listeners tune out on a certain d j, then that dj could be let go???? Could it work like that in Oman?
    I know little of business here in Oman, but I gather from listening to business people: They are not eager to hire an Omani because if he / she is not good at the job, then they cannot be let go -- the Omani has the job for life???? And I figure that radio stations need flexibility -- bring new talent in and sometimes end the contract of 'old' talent and let them go???

  12. Learning the hard wayApril 11, 2011 at 6:49 PM

    The only way they will open up the private sector to the Omani's is to make them subject to the same standards as expats - even if this means the job goes to another Omani.

    Private companies will be making great efforts to avoid Omanisation now and even more will be heading elsewhere in the Gulf.

    Way to go, protesters.

  13. I used to live in Dubai, and many UAE residents like me know Chris Fisher. He was probably the most well respected DJ in the country. He was sorely missed from our airwaves. If he is working here in Muscat, then that will probably be the best thing for Oman's pitiful radio scene. The truth is he ran an April fools day prank in the UAE a few days before a Robbie Williams gig. It was harmless enough, but not well received, ans as always, expats are expendable. This nearly crippled him as he had outstanding debt. He is a great guy and I don't think "fired" is the right word to use here. He was severely let down by his employer. One in a long list of employees who have had their companies shit on them in times of need.

  14. Can't wait to hear Chris Fisher on the radio. I used to listen to him in Dubai and he his the best.

  15. Chris Fisher was never fired by the radio station for an April Fool's Prank. The station was fully behind his joke - but due to misreporting in the local press and subsequent letters to a local paper the whole situation got out of hand. The reason he was suspended was because he went live on air on a rival station to discuss the press coverage when he was presenting a show live on the station he was employed with. That was it. Ultimately Chris decided himself to leave and go and work for another station in the UAE which eventually was forced to close due to the credit crunch. No employer screwed him over, he was a victim of a worldwide credit crunch. Chris was an extremely popular figure in Dubai, was probably the best known radio presenter and did a lot of good work for the community. He will be an asset to the new radio station and will build a great following in Oman. It's great that he has come back to work in the Middle East and I wish him well


  16. the pic of the three ppl sure do like criminals and they should be tossed in the hell

  17. Randomdxbloke AKA Chris Fisher :)

    Can anyone name one Brit DJ in the UAE/Oman that hasn't had to leave their radio station because of some indiscretion??

    The real Randomdxbloke

  18. No answers to the last question, so here's an easier one:
    Name any Brit DJ that's been fired from MORE THAN one UAE or Omani radio station.


  19. The new radio station is going to be a joke. I am so tired of listening to Brits. The only good thing HiFm did lately was hire an American girl. I will admit I would rather listen to Chris Fisher in the morning than Darren Short though. Darren is a terrible radio presenter and he is not funny. If the new station merges western music with arabic that will be incredibly awful.

    Tired of Oman radio

  20. Sorry to steer you guys away from this 'gripping' FM stuff, but... these fellows have lost the plot:

    Radical = bad.

  21. It's time for HM to set out the rules and act - he still has respect and support. These children need a reality check.

  22. "these fellows have lost the plot" ??

    First oil discovery in Oman 1963
    First oil discovery in Norway 1969
    Norway seems to have done rather better than Oman by opening up its area to all oil companies rather than just one - it's called competition.


  23. Norway has much much more oil and gas than Oman. That's why they are doing "rather better". Also, PDO/Shell is not the only oil producer in Oman - BP, Oxy, BGP and others also have concessions. Not sure if this list is accurate but it names 31 companies with a stake in Oman's oil producution
    (Statoil apparently operates 60% of Norway's production).

  24. Hi Dragon!

    Slightly off-topic
    yet another worrying event that confirms what you always (and wisely) stated: Dubai/UAE is a place to stay away from...

  25. Anonymous please give full facts so that Oman and Norway can be compared, like quantum of oil and gas, population, literacy level etc.

    We cannot pass loose remarks anymore, because Govt. of Oman has decided to take blogs into serious consideration. UD I think that shows the difference between UAE and Oman. UAE has been arresting and closing down its blogs.

  26. Bank Dhofar CEO resigns,

    now it's the turn of Dhofar Power's CEO's

    then the directors in Dhofar Power, ALL ae fucking indians

  27. Al,

    These fellows - and that is me being nice by the way - have lost the plot.

    Nazi symbolism emblazoned on a shell petrol station? Oh come on. Everyone knows that 50% of the business and industry that existed in Europe during the second world war was somehow connected to Nazi Germany. I bet you the prats that posted that junk up, had just made it back to Mina Al Fahal from a shopping spree at Tommy Hilfiger in Muscat City Centre.


  28. Can we have a set of Mug-shots of the Blue City Bandits?

    The African Queen

  29. I remember MUSCAT CONFIDENTIAL wrote an article on the nationalization of DHofar Power Company,

    I would request u to re post it on the front page as it is most relevant to the situation here.

    I heard there are already protests going on in Dhofar Power Company by Omani Employees, there foremost demand is the ousting of the senior management which is all INDIANS,

    Not even a single OMANI in Senior Management Position.

    And it is a Government Owned Company,

    What a JOKE !!

  30. No need to only check out government owned, semi government and company’s in which the government has a major stake to have a wry laugh.

    Check out the companies owned by current and former senior government officials and you will have an idea of how committed each is to giving their fellow country men promotion.

    Always the same – take the easy route – recruit non Omani for their skills and never train up Omanis to replace them.

    In most cases the non-Omanis being brought in from xyz have zero job-appropriate skills only low cost and a network of supporters in the same organization. They get trained (if at all) for a length of time and ‘hey presto’ become part of the supporting network for the next recruitment process.

    And so 'magically' the company has people with influence at its head, low cost labour at the wagging tail competes with small companies with non of those carefully acquired advantages.

  31. One of the demands is to oust all the expat CEOs especially the indians and especially Dhofar Power Company's CEO.

    Some senior Omani guy from Ex-Ministry of Electricity should be put in his place.

    We are even ready to suggest some names.

  32. Omanjob - you wanted some facts and figures re Oman and Norway. Well, here you are, courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration, (see for Norway's figures and then use the links for Oman)

    Proven oil reserves in billion barrels: Oman 5.5, Norway 6.68
    Oil production in barrels per day(bpd): Oman 863,000, Norway 2,350,000
    Oil consumption in bpd: Oman 115,000, Norway 204,100

    Proven natural gas in trillion cubic feet: Oman 30, Norway 81.7
    Gas production in billion cubic feet: Oman 875, Norway 3,650
    Gas consumption in bcf: Oman 520, Norway 163

    Electricity installed capacity in gigawatts: Oman 4, Norway 30
    Electricity produced in billion kilowatt hours: Oman 17.63, Norway 140
    Electricity consumed in bkh: Oman 13.25, Norway 115

    Coal reserves in million short tons: Oman 0, Norway 6
    Coal produced: Oman 0, Norway 2.9mst
    Coal consumed: Oman 0, Norway 1.3mst

    Total energy consumption:
    Oman: 0.71 quadrillion Btu of which 70% came from gas and 30% from oil
    Norway: 1.9 quadrillion Btu of which 69% came from hydroelectric power, 23% from oil, 9% from gas and 2% from coal

    Total per capita energy consumption: Oman 250 Btu, Norway 414 Btu

    Population: Oman approx 3 million, Norway just short of 5 million.

    So, if I could have posted this in a neat table, you would easily be able to see that whilst Oman and Norway have not too dissimilar oil reserves and oil production levels relative to their population size, that is as far as the similarity goes. Norway has FAR MORE natural gas and it uses far less of it too. Its electricity sector is about 10 times the size of Oman, thanks to its huge hydroelectric capabilities.

    Add to that, the fact that before Norway discovered oil in the 1960s, it had a valuable fishing and timber industry so that whilst it was an agricultural rather than an industrial nation, it was far from being underdeveloped. Contrast that with Oman in the 1960s where healthcare, education, transport links etc etc were almost non-existant.

    You mentioned literacy: Norway's rate is 99%, Oman's is 84%.

    You might like to know that 42.7% of Omanis are under 15, compared with Norway where 17.4% are under 15.

    You should notice that Oman consumes quite a lot of its annual oil production. In 2010, Oman consumed 115,000bpd out of 863,000bpd, ie 13%. In 2000, it consumed about 52,000bpd, out of just under 1,000bpd, ie about 5 - 6%. The trend is for increasing consumption and decreasing production which is NOT GOOD.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post, but I hope this helps a little to enable you to understand the huge differences between the 2 countries and why they are in their current relative situations.

    Alice in Wonderland

  33. Ref Dhofar Power Company and all other companies in Oman. To me a question should be: What qualifications / skills / attitudes are needed to do a certain job and the jobs just below (for in case someone is sick and senior people must fill in for them)? Then TEST all candidates who think they are qualified / possess the skills for a certain job. Interview only those who demonstrate they have the skills / qualifications. Pick the BEST. Base it on merit. If that person is Omani, fine; if that person is from elsewhere, fine; but the shareholders should want the best regardless of nationality.

  34. Where is the LIKE button for the last line of this post?

    The comment right before mine... are there qualified Omanis to take those jobs? Our company is currently looking to fill 10-12 jobs. They would LOVE to fill those jobs with Omanis! But there aren't any who are qualified! NONE. The jobs sit open.

    The ONLY reason we are here is that there isn't a SINGLE OMANI with the qualifications to take the job. If there were, we would be going home in a heartbeat.

    The Omani people NEED to take back their own country. But it can't be done with laws and regulations. It can only be done through education & hard work. If you kick out all the expats, you'll lose your oil income. It has happened before. PLEASE, put us out of a job by becoming educated enough to do so! I'll be the first person applauding for you while I board the plane back home.

  35. Three, three, three, three! We want Part 3!!

  36. what was production from Mukhaizna when PDO was running it?
    What is production from Mukhaizna now that Oxy is running it?
    The fact is that competition (as seen in Norway and many other parts of the world) gets fields developed that sole operators can't really be bothered with.

    Pity that Alice in Wonderland chose to ignore this


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