Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Capital Area Yacht Centre [CAYC] under renewed attack from latest Minister of Tourism

Photo: Capital Area Yacht Centre, CAYC, Oman. Marina Bandar Rowdha is just visible next door.

Regular readers will know that Muscat's Capital Area Yacht Centre has been under attack from the Ministry of Tourism and their various bully-boys (such as OMRAN) for some time.

The previous Minister of Tourism, HE Rajiha bint Abd al-Amir bin Ali, recently passed away after loosing a battle with cancer. She was replaced by Mohsin Bin Mohammed Al Shaikh in February, but he was swiftly moved on in the big March-protests' cabinet reshuffle to become an advisor at the Diwan of Royal Court with Ministerial rank.

His replacement, Sheikh Abdulmalik bin Abdullah bin Ali al Khalili, was perhaps a surprising choice for Minister of Tourism. Previously he was strictly a money-man, chairman of BankMuscat and chairman of the Board's Audit Committee since 2001. Additionally, he served as the executive president of the Pension Fund of the Diwan of the Royal Court.

He might be new in the job, but his underlings made sure he got right onto the CAYC.

New Minister refuses to meet 'Expats'.
Demands CAYC move

I'm reliably told that HE Sheikh Abdulmalik requested a meeting on 25th April with CAYC's representatives in order to 'discuss the future of CAYC'. All the elected CAYC committee members** duly attended at the Ministry, but after being kept waiting for over an hour, they were informed that the minister would not meet the committee because there were two British expatriates present. He only wanted to talk to Omanis.

Really. (I wonder what he's got against expats? Maybe they don't respond as easily to the ol' Vitamin W?)

A new meeting was thus arranged for May 3rd, with only the Omani committee members present as instructed. They attended the meeting and were then told by the good Sheikh Abdulmalik that CAYC had to move to Azaiba, and the present beach would be made into a 'public beach'. End discussion. (Afterall, the Ministry of Tourism is reknowned for doing things for the benefit of the Omani public. Just look at what they did to Yeti, a beautiful public beach*.)

Azaiba, of course, is a pretty terrible place for a yacht club, being on a long stretch of boring sandy beach far away from the nice rocky bits one would actually sail a boat around. Places like, er, exactly where CAYC is already located. Although perhaps a banker can be excused for not knowing that.

I do have to wonder if the new Minister actually got a proper unbiased briefing of the CAYC situation (e.g. summary of previous meetings, Directives from H.M., and all the various court cases) from his senior advisor and Director of Tourism Mr. Mohammed Ali Said?

Photo: One of Oman’s most influential tourism figures.

Because the very same Mohammed Ali Said is also on the steering committee of the Marina Bandar Al Rowdha next door to CAYC. Rumour has it he has vowed to take the beach from CAYC for use by the Marina. Coincidentally, the Marina has been struggling financially ever since it opened, and does not currently have a nice beach of its own.

It seems very odd that The Ministry of Tourism feel themselves to be under no obligation to respect the title to the land personally given by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos to the CAYC.

[from CACY website]
His Excellency Mohammed Zubair officially opened the Capital Area Yacht Centre located on a beach, which was known locally as ‘Lone Tree Beach’, near Sidab on Saturday 2nd June 1979. This was the culmination of a good deal of community spirit, effort and imagination and very soon blossomed into the success story of Lone Tree Beach. The intention was to provide a safe beach and boat club with social facilities and amenities open to all residents of Oman, and also to provide a relaxed meeting place.
A meeting was held in the Ruwi Hotel in December 1976 to discuss the possibile formation of a beach club in Oman and a site was selected in the Sidab area then known as Lone Tree Beach. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, graciously granted the use of the land on condition that the Club should be open to anyone resident in Oman, and that it should be financially self-sufficient....

The centre can be joined by any resident of Oman to this day, and is financially self sufficient. But the will of HM doesn't seem to count for much in the Ministry of Tourism. Instead they have pursued a policy of intimidation and multiple legal actions.

One suspects there is more to this story, as you might notice that the CAYC land would be a very nice place to have available, should some of that land that end up excess to The Marina's the public's requirements. Some of it could perhaps get given to someone for, say, some beach front development.

Afterall, the Ministry of Tourism's "Senior Adviser to the Minister of Tourism and one of Oman’s most influential tourism figures", one Mohammed Ali Said, has stated his aim is to increase the Sultanate's 4 & 5 star hotel capacity from ~10,000 rooms in 2010 to 25,000 rooms by just 2015. Those Club Meds and Banyan Trees can hardly be put in the middle of Ruwi can they? So what if the CAYC has been there since 1979 providing the ONLY place where ordinary urban Omanis and Expats can keep a small boat at a reasonable price and bring their families to relax in a safe, hassle free environment?

I'd also be interested to know what legal authority the Minister of Tourism thinks gives him the power to single-handedly over-rule legal title and expropriate beach-front land? Isn't this exactly the sort of high-handed attitude that ordinary people here have been protesting against?

In a totally unrelated fact, with nothing to do with the Ministry of Tourism's campaign to get CAYC's land, I'm told Mr. Mohammed Ali Said was the brother in law of the previous Minister of Tourism HE Rajiha bint Abd al-Amir bin Ali. It's a small world.

Speaking of coincidences, it's ironic that on April 17th, BankMuscat’s Corporate Banking Team had
a day out at the CAYC which was full of excitement, fun and activities. “BankMuscat’s team truly enjoyed their day out at the CAYC and would like to thank the club’s management for a job well done”, Said Afaf Al Humaid who was organizing the event from the Bank.

Perhaps Said could call his old boss the Minister and ask him to keep his land-grabbing hands off what is already an excellent public venue for all residents of Oman, Omani and Expat alike?

*Yeti beach was redeveloped by MoT as a mega Integrated Tourist Development complex of private houses, 5 star hotels and expensive golf courses and marinas. Except the only thing to happen in the past 3 years is the beach was taken and the bay filled in with masses of imported rocks and sand to create more building area. The development is suspended.

**The six member CAYC committee is fully elected by members and comprises 4 Omanis and 2 Expats.


  1. The yacht club was built by road and building construction contractors for their staff back in the days when a man in a suit was as rare as hen's teeth in the Sultanate. having worked there in those halcyon days (Tarmac Overseas ltd) and several other times it was sad for me to watch "civilisation" turn my favourite country into yet another haven for "suits" who contribute nothing but get fat and rich doing so. Some clled him "JR"

  2. Just to throw in some devil's advocacy here:

    As a former expat in Muscat, I truly understand how awesome CAYC was for increasing the quality of life for expats living in Muscat.

    However, given the audacious plans to increase Muscat's tourism capacity, which is critical under the nation's long-term economic development vision as it works to transition away from oil, drastic measures such as confiscating CAYC land might be necessary for the country realize its desired level of tourism infrastructure.

    The trade off seems to be as follows:
    -Seize CAYC land and develop a resort catered to attracting/supporting foreign tourists, but in doing so, decrease the quality of life for expats living in Muscat
    -Or, let CAYC be, build projects further outside of Muscat, resulting in a less integrated/competitive tourism infrastructure, but in doing so, increase the quality of live for expats living in Muscat.

    I think here, long-term interests for Oman side with confiscating CAYC.

    Might be tough to swallow, but given the needs of the country to develop a world-class tourism industry, seems like sacrifices like these may be necessary.

    Just some food for thought....

  3. Just to add another fly - in the Ministry's soup - there is such a thing as internal tourism - and quality of life for Omanis as well as other residents.

    The ability of the Ministry of Tourism and their forward planning and ability to influence anything to do with Oman’s leisure and tourist related business is legendary.
    The Car Ferries between Muscat and Musandam – 3 of which have been patiently berthed in Mina Sultan Qaboos while car ramps still have not been built for vehicles some 3 ½ years after delivery of the ferry Shinas .
    Badar Jissah the home of the Asian Beach games and on Thursday & Friday the home for low income families who cant make it up to Dubai, Bangkok, Jebel Akhdar and other high cost destinations is soon to be blocked off to Oman’s residents and built on for some mega rich dudes.

    Salam Yeti “developed in partnership with Omran, a fully government owned company seeking to expand Oman’s existing tourism industry through creating related infrastructure and facilities, Salam Yiti is on schedule for completion in 2013 as one of the most captivating tourism destinations” . Mountain blasted, creek ‘re-designed’ presumably will be unusable by the fishermen of Yiti and now abandoned and usually locked. Oh yes Omran’s Chief Executive Officer is Wael Al Lawati (also a relative of the sadly departed Minister of Tourism Rajiha bint Abd al-Amir bin Ali al Lawati – isn’t it a small world )

    The Fort at Yenkit, a hill top extravaganza at Khor Yenkit (founded by Hakim bin Magid bin Soud Al Maameri) of ” four five-star hotels, an 18-hole international golf course, sports and leisure facilities, resort village, nature reserve, beach club, as well as residential villas, apartments and townhouses” so that the Khors presumably will be unusable by the fishermen of Yenkit - BTW what is the family relationship between the sadly departed Minister of Tourism Rajiha bint Abd al-Amir bin Ali al Lawati and Al Futtaim?

    Bandar Khiran the tranquil creek area and now partly owned, mountains blasted away and work stopped and gates locked by the family firm of the ex Minister of Commerce Maqbool bin Ali Sultan Al Lawati (also a relative of the sadly departed Minister of Tourism Rajiha bint Abd al-Amir bin Ali al Lawati – isn’t it a small world )

    In fact if you drive down the coat of Oman from Musandam to Yemen there is a continual line of blue notices that the land is owned by the Ministry of Tourism .

    Though Mohammed bin Ali bin Said doesn’t like meeting at all with non Omanis you can see that he will fly to Australia to rub shoulders (literally by the way) with two non Oman women (if he is so uninterested in opinions of non-Omanis its no wonder he dosnt get the next … the Ministry & Mohammed bin Ali bin Said are researching why tourist numbers have dropped recently and alluded to the protests. But if they look at their own figures the numbers have been dropping since 2008 – during all that time Mohammed bin Ali bin Said had been “Senior Adviser to the Minister of Tourism and one of Oman’s most influential tourism figures”.
    You may be interested to know that the Khalili family of Sheikh Abdulmalik bin Abdullah bin Ali al Khalili are some of the biggest land owners in Muscat

  4. A Minister of Tourism who doesn't want to meet expatriates !?! Is he in the right position?

    Expats are the people who invite and recommend tourists to come to Oman.

  5. Let me give u guyz the organization structure of Dhofar Power Company which is 100 percent Omani government owned company:

    3)Director Transmission & Distribution :INDIAN
    4)Director Generation :INDIAN
    5)Director Planning : :INDIAN
    6)Director HR OMANI (Practically Ineffective)
    8)Manager T&D :INDIAN
    9)Manager Planning :INDIAN
    10)Manager HR :INDIAN

    Alongwith 100 percent Indian Top Management,90% of engineers are also from India!!!


  6. Anonymous May 12, 2011 8:48 AM

    In the Ministry they have no interest in knowing what the tourists want, are interested in or have experienced in Oman.
    They have no idea what makes a hotel 5 star and what makes it a den of inequity – do they know what tour operators or accommodation Oman has ?

    Why go to the cost of relocating the CAYC – building a Marina by the airport and then building a new hotel aka public beach (presumably they will say to replace the beach that was given away at Badar Jissah and look what they did to that – and of course the old houses behind the beach were the property of folks now living in Qantab and I bet they would stand a good chance in a normal court of law) at the CAYC old site – its doubling the cost (so to say) .

    Frankly it dosnt make any difference where the hotel that they really intend to build at the CAYC is located – all the guests want is sun, sea and sand and the beach near the airport is as good as any for that and it will help The Wave get restaurant business .

    But then is there any financial logic needed.

    Look at the ferries, the hotel in Masirah – several years late for a 20 room hotel and remarkably only a temporary restaurant - 12 months after the cyclone , the empty Uwaifiah Hotel in the middle of nowhere, Loloat al Behar (the Sultans old Yacht that was taken over by the Ministry of Tourism to lease out) –probably never leased and now either sitting in Musandam or Mina Sultan Qaboos – such is their ability to even manage a boat! need one go on …….

    Could there be another reason to relocate the CAYC forcing boat owners to join Marina Bandar Al Rowdha of which Mohammed Ali Said is a board member.

    The cynic might say that an announced privatisation is due on Marina Bandar Al Rowdha and of course board members will become the new owners of a Marina with such a shortage of berths that at the moment even the Zawawi boats are 'forced' to anchor in Mina Sultan Qaboos....!

  7. It strikes me (in respect of all this on-going wasta tom-foolery., e.g. Hotel's, Ferries, Telecom's, Oil Expo., Gas Prod., Blue City, blah, blah, blah), that it is a very, very good reason why anyone should not attempt to stage a revolution in Oman. Huh! Me hear's you grumble... Why? WHY? Simple! 'Cos no fucker could ever organise it.

    The African Queen

  8. Anonymous May 12, 2011 5:16 PM (any reason you left out names ??)
    Regarding the Dhofar Power Company DPC (SAOG) started its operation as closed joint company on Feb 25, 2001 (so a long time to train up suitable Omani staff – much the same as other government owned companies and companies owned by people who benefit from vast government subsidies)

    I think their web site is both a joke and also deliberately a smoke screen as The site is under construction .

    Major Shareholders State General Reserve Fund / Electricity Holding Company SAOC (98.10% of the shares of Dhofar Power Company.)

    Dhofar Power Company (Board of Directors) Hamoud Bin Ibrahim Bin Soomar Al Zadjali Chairman ;Habib Hussein Vice Chairman; Directors - Abbas Amiri, Mosabbah Saif Al Mutairy, Salim Tamman Al Maashany, Simon Morgan, Glen F De Silva

    Management (is this the lastest version)
    G Loganathan Chief Executive Officer; S Vishawanath Accounts Director;Sorinda Ruwi Transmission and Distribution Director;Abdulrahman Hussein Generation Director;Saeed Al Hadry Corporate Services Director;Said Al Kathiri Chief Financial officer;

    The real power is here
    Electricity Holding Company SAOC whose Directors are ..Chairman H.E. Mohammed Abdullah Al Mahrouqi ; Deputy. Chairman H.E. Dr. Abdulmalik Abdullah Al Hinai; H.E. Yahya Said Al Jabri; Mr. Abdul Salam Nasser Al Kharousi;Mrs. Manal bint Mohammed AL Abdwani;Mr. Karl Matacz;

    Otherbusinesss here …

  9. Its strange to me that the mister refuses to meet with expats as I saw an article in the paper showing him openly meeting with travel agencies in Oman which had a mix of people from different places. Maybe it is just the expats at CAYC.


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