Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Oman Government powerless to stop continuing carnage on roads. And who's the lucky winner of tickets to Snow Patrol?

Photo: Multiple deaths in Oman are a daily occurance. [Oman Observer]

Amid the continual boosterism to Oman's tourism sector that abounds in the press of late, the recent tragic death of 7 people in a head-on crash made even the international news.

Six Indians, Omani killed in road accident (Khaleej Times)
5 March 2012MUSCAT - Seven people — six Indians and an Omani — were killed in a horrific road accident in Bahla, near Nizwa in the interior Dhakhliya governorate, on Sunday.

Another Omani sustained serious injuries in the head-on collision between two pick-up vans and was taken to hospital, police said. He was in intensive care in critical condition. One of the vehicles caught fire due to the impact of the crash.

By my calculations if you drive on Oman's roads you have on average a roughly 0.1% chance of dying, every year. Of course, the actual odds for a young Omani male must be much, much higher I'd guess.

About 1 in a thousand people in Oman are killed per year (note, you have to correct official figures for children and deaths reported post the scene). How's that for an Oman cultural experience, tourists? Maybe we could sell guided tours from the cruise liners to go see a few genuine Omani funerals?

But never fear, The Council of Ministers are aware of the problem folks.

Oman urges people to abide by traffic rules (Khaleej Times)
5 March 2012 MUSCAT - The unabated rise in traffic deaths and injuries has prompted Oman’s cabinet to appeal for cooperation among all sections of the society to address the grave issue.

Expressing its “deep sorrow” over mounting road accidents, the Council of Ministers, at a meeting here, called upon “everyone to abide by traffic rules and regulations to save the lives of citizens, expatriates and visitors.”

It underlined the importance of participation by the public and private sectors in an annual competition the country organises to spread awareness about traffic safety and to “enhance the culture of safe use of roads and means of transportation.”

Ahh yes, the ever popular 'King Canute' method of fixing a problem*.

In this case they are using the mild version of Canute - just tell people to "obey the rules and drive carefully please". The 'Advanced Canute' - seen elsewhere in Omani government - would make it illegal to die on the roads, along with signs along roads warning people that if they die it's their own fault.

Hey, a conference to discuss the problem would be awesome. Maybe an International conference. And an investigation and a report from the relevant departments, naturally. And some posters, and events to educate the public.

None of this will work.

The nice thing about this problem is that it's very hard to not count dead bodies. In the short-term, if you have the money, the King Canute method works against unemployment, for instance. But as more people die on the roads the bodies can't be swept under the carpet**. Oman is going to either have to get serious about it, or admit the failings of current policy. Unless high road deaths are the secret official policy - afterall, it helps lower the unemployment rate, increases GDP per person, and is good for increasing the car sales of Bahwan et al.

If only the outcome of other aspects of Government policy were so transparent.

HM re-re-shuffles cabinet of Ministers
Royal Decree No 11/ 2012 appoints Ali bin Masoud bin Ali al Sunaidy as Minister of Commerce and Industry; Shaikh Saad bin Mohammed bin Said al Mardhouf al Saadi as Minister of Sports Affairs; Shaikh Abdulmalik bin Abdullah bin Ali al Khalili as Minister of Justice; Sayyid Mohammed bin Sultan bin Hamoud al Busaidy as Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar; Ahmed bin Nasser bin Hamad al Mehrzi as Minister of Tourism; and Dr Abdulmunim bin Mansour bin Said al Hasani as Minister of Information.

Interesting. We only just had a new Minister of Tourism appointed. Soon I'll publish an investigative report on the goings on at the Ministry of Tourism and it's development arm, OMRAN. I wonder if the replacement is related?

More interesting was the formation of a new super "Supreme Judicial Council", reporting to HM directly and with all decisions needing HM approval, to administer the courts seperately from the Ministry of Justice. This helps to increase the independence of the bench, and finally separates the Government department responsible for prosecution from that of administering justice. That's great news.

Contest for Snow Patrol tickets - Winner!!
Our competition for the free 'pit pass' tickets to see Snow Patrol was won by "Al", who will be at the front seeing the awesome band's first Middle East gig. Thanks to HiFM and Alive Oman.

Al dodged the security, and Mission Impossible-style sent me some great pics of the scene at Blue City in Al Sawadi. This will get me on to finishing part 3 of the saga, as long anticipated! (But if you still have any pics, or are driving past Al Sawadi resort, send them to me! Just give date and if you want photo credit or not.)

There are still a few tickets I think for the show on Sunday the 11th March at the InterCon gardens. But you'd better be quick. You can get them from the Bose store in Qurum, Al Ghazal Pub at the InterCon, or the MQ box office for Alive Oman. They cost RO 25 or RO 50 for the Fan Pit.

* This common metaphor is a bit unfair to ol' Canute. He was trying to show his fawning staff that he was not almighty, so he instructed the tide back, and thus demonstrated he was powerless.

** As blogged about ad nauseum, the ROP do their best to make the number as small as they can already, by only reporting those killed at the scene, and not counting later deaths in hospital nor counting children.


  1. I wonder if the strikes demanding guaranteed pass marks at schools could be related to the teaching and driving skills on the roads and possibly low survival rates of crash victims in hospital?
    Surprisingly Omani Doctors went on strike to demand that the Health Ministry should “Recruit consultants from developed countries (Europe or North America) .” http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/oman/doctors-in-oman-go-on-strike-for-an-hour-saturday-and-sunday-1.972494 .

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Ah the Ministry of Tourism
    a veritable gold mine for its affiliates,
    spends 10s of millions of Rials developing remote Sodah Island Hallaniyat Islands by other government ministries so that “32 lavishly created chalets, each with its own individual private beach” can be developed in the pounding surf of the summer monsoon affected seas off Dhofar http://www.muriya.om/en/destinations/as-sodah-island/ .

    Supports the acquisition of key beach location for upmarket development , which is now abandoned http://www.alargan.com/v3/ProjectDevelopments/TheOberoiResortAtAlKhiran.aspx

    Enables the privatisation of one of Muscats most popular public beaches used by the vast proportion of the population who cannot afford to jet off through the Monsoon winds to Sodah Island http://www.sarayaholdings.com/SubDefault.aspx?PageId=303&NewsID=EbSNWMUrK60=&LangId=2 which is languishing in never never land as the beach deteriorates though inevitable lack of care by the previous owners
    just 3 tips from a veritable ice-berg

  4. If you tried some of the stuff that these boys and girls do here back in the civilised world it is likely that one of two things would happen;

    A) Cops nab you. You lose your license (Good luck with that outcome here in Wastaland)

    B) A fellow road user nabs you, and gives you a good smack in the face for being such a tool.

    Sadly, we know that neither of these will ever take place here. Road users have no respect for human life, each other, and drive about as if they own the place. Its rules of entitlement. These people feel entitled to everything; money, land, food, respect, jobs, so why not an entitlement to drive however they want to, regardless of the risk to others??? They just don't care, dangling children out of the roof, tailgating at 140km/h, whatever. I do what I want!!!

    Then again as a form of population control its pretty creative. Eugenics at play. So it will breed a nation of lucky, or possibly very cautious, people.

    1. Seeing as its very often not Omanis who are killed or injured on the roads this is not strictly true.
      Maybe they should begin with the truth and real figures.
      How many are driving without legal licences? Just to take a look at one small aspect;the corruption around passing a driving test would be extremely enlightening.
      I was in a RTA and advised to not take up a case against the driver who had caused the accident because he would lose his job if found guilty!!! What can I say? This is going on every day.

  5. Instead of having muppets doing the jobs for knobs around Qurm putting RO3 fines on people who park creatively because there has been no consideration for parking spaces when building high buildings full of shops and residents, put them at traffic lights and slap a 50 rial fine on any car that has a kid in it that isn't in a car seat if below 5 years old or not wearing a seat belt if older.
    Same goes for the homeboys who drive with blacked out front windows, fog lights on during the day, bald tyres etc. All these things can be seen by a few newly graduated half-wits with a 50% pass in their exams. Put them on a commission and let's see how motivated they are to start slapping those fines down.

  6. "note, you have to correct official figures for children and deaths reported post the scene"

    Note quite true: Bahla accident, 8 persons involved, 7 dead, 6 died at the scene, number 7 died in Nizwa Hospital. 4 of them burnt by the way.

  7. mr. Jump-start MapengoMarch 7, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    why is having fog lights on such a big deal? Agree with the rest -- I think tailgating, speeding, weaving, excessive tint, and especially unrestrained children should be the main priorities of any serious enforcement action.

    1. Fog lights during the day are dangerous, only when the visibility is below 100 metres should they be used. Fog lights at the rear can be confused with brake lights.

      It's sad that this has to be explained!

    2. mr. Jump-start MapengoMarch 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      rear fog lights are annoying as hell, but I still don't see how front fog lights are OMG DANGEROUS :-O
      ROP is quick to stop people for having fog lights on, and ignoring the other violations I mentioned.

  8. And it doesn't help that motor insurers are obliged by the regulator to provide insurance - comprehensive, not just basic third party - to anyone who asks for it. They are not allowed to refuse insurance to anyone with a license to drive a car.

  9. To "Anonymous Mar 7, 2012 08:06 PM" (dosnt anyone read the simple request to provide an ID!!).

    You might add that the insurance is not based on an inclusion of 'probability' of being involved in an accident but on a simple calculation of new value of vehicle depreciated over the appropriate number of years. Safe drivers therefore have no incentive in remaining safe and dangerous drivers an incentive to write off their vehicle and cash in.

  10. You can't blame it all on the drivers, they are only as good as the tuition the receive and we all know how poor this is. It is Omanised and not open to competition. PDO has shown the way with ex-pat driver trainers. However, when all is said and done someone at the ROP has tested them and decided they are worthy of a driving licence and that's where the real problems lies; subjective testing when it should be objective and impartial!

  11. What happened to 20 point traffic symposium a couple of years ago, absolutely nothing!!!!!!

    I reckon the driving is far worse, lack of visible road policing, reactive approach and an apparent lack of willingness to actually tackle anything serious, OK to give a parking ticket though. This is the first area that needs to change, not the Council of Ministers instructing people to slow down.

  12. One word: ENFORCEMENT

  13. Islam 'recognizes homosexuality'

    Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post
    Friday, 03/28/2008

    Homosexuals and homosexuality are natural and created by God, thus permissible within Islam, a discussion concluded here Thursday.

    Moderate Muslim scholars said there were no reasons to reject homosexuals under Islam, and that the condemnation of homosexuals and homosexuality by mainstream ulema and many other Muslims was based on narrow-minded interpretations of Islamic teachings.

    Siti Musdah Mulia of the Indonesia Conference of Religions and Peace cited the Koran's al-Hujurat (49:3) that one of the blessings for human beings was that all men and women are equal, regardless of ethnicity, wealth, social positions or even sexual orientation.

    "There is no difference between lesbians and nonlesbians. In the eyes of God, people are valued based on their piety," she told the discussion organized by nongovernmental organization Arus Pelangi. "And talking about piety is God's prerogative to judge," she added. "The essence of the religion (Islam) is to humanize humans, respect and dignify them." Musdah said homosexuality was from God and should be considered natural, adding it was not pushed only by passion.

    Mata Air magazine managing editor Soffa Ihsan said Islam's acknowledgement of heterogeneity should also include homosexuality. He said Muslims needed to continue to embrace ijtihad (the process of making a legal decision by independent interpretation of the Koran and the Sunnah) to avoid being stuck in the old paradigm without developing open-minded interpretations. Another speaker at the discussion, Nurofiah of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), said the dominant notion of heterogeneity was a social construction, leading to the banning of homosexuality by the majority.
    "Like gender bias or patriarchy, heterogeneity bias is socially constructed. It would be totally different if the ruling group was homosexuals," she said. Other speakers said the magnificence of Islam was that it could be blended and integrated into local culture. "In fact, Indonesia's culture has accepted homosexuality. The homosexual group in Bugis-Makassar tradition called Bissu is respected and given a high position in the kingdom. "Also, we know that in Ponorogo (East Java) there has been acknowledgement of homosexuality," Arus Pelangi head Rido Triawan said.

    Condemnation of homosexuality was voiced by two conservative Muslim groups, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Hizbut Thahir Indonesia (HTI).
    "It's a sin. We will not consider homosexuals an enemy, but we will make them aware that what they are doing is wrong," MUI deputy chairman Amir Syarifuddin said. Rokhmat, of the hardline HTI, several times asked homosexual participants in attendance to repent and force themselves to gradually return to the right path.


    The African Queen

  14. It is off topic, but I thought you might like to know that the ground staff at the airport are on strike. To off load passengers luggage they have used the airport cleaning staff. So if you have a flight take a carry on!

  15. "Unless high road deaths are the secret official policy - afterall, it helps lower the unemployment rate, increases GDP per person, and is good for increasing the car sales of Bahwan et al." - probably true! As the leader of traffic when asked of the reason he usually replies "it's natural because population increases" - what! are you serious?

  16. If God created man in his own image did he also create homosexuals? And, if he did create man in his own image why do some belive they need to be circumsized afterwards? Did God make a mistake during the creation quality control and could do a massive recall?

    1. Just go through new evidence in medical field which approve that circumcision is preventing infection. WHO is recommending circumcision as one of the strategies to control HIV infection. If you are not convinced with the scientific evidence then it is true that you are Devils Advocate.

  17. What will come first? UD's BC3 magnum opus or the completion of the Blue City itself?


  18. I think the main problems are enforcement (everyone should have a seatbelt---saying you couldn't afford a car with enough seatbelts for everyone can't be an excuse to Mr. Policeman), and the driving instructors. I learnt to drive somewhere else. And I have failed my driving test here for 2 things: shoulder checking my blindspot (not allowed---no blindspots in Oman apparently, only mirrors), and coming to a stop at a stop sign (if there are no cars there it is a YEILD sign my instructor told me, WTH?!!!!).

  19. Omani Princess. I've heard this anecdotal evidence many times before. Basically, as I've previously stated, the test is subjective and not objective! If the instructors are properly trained, monitored and accredited then everyone is taught from the same syllabus. Then they can be examined by an examination that is based upon the training - just like any other form of training and education!

    Ultimately, the buck stops with the ROP; they are resonsible for testing AND enforcement and it's glaringly evident they are not competent in either!

    1. I agree with you hundred percent. The way the drivers are tested seems to be a way not to pass and fail. The purpose does not seem to be enforcing safe driving skills but to fail. If driving skills are improved during training of drivers then RTA can be reduced.

  20. This is awesome...to see you back and the set on itself too. I will enjoy this very much.Second Hand Vans

  21. What compensation can be obtained if an expat is killed by an Omani by reckless driving and does not have driver's license? For example, an expat is crossing the road on zebra crossing, and signal is open, but he can see the car coming and judges that car is too far and he can safely cross but is accidentally hit by car and dies, while the driver ran away, does not stop at the incident and does not have license.


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