Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Omani Architecture, Interior Design, and Photography at Nakl Fort with Salim Al-Harthy

I am a fan of Salim Al-Harthy's work http://salimphoto.com/-/salimphoto/gallery.asp?cat=133847&pID=1&row=5. I especially his recreations of traditional Omani life through photographs, and his pictures of the Grand Masjid at twilight are lovely.

Omani Architecture: Salalah House

I don't know why, but I LOVE this place. I want to live here.

Omani Architecture/Interior Design: Zanzibari Style

Since in Muscat, I learned Kiswahili words before I learned Omani ones, and because Zanzibari style kind of rules in my neighborhood setting, much love M ;D lov ya girl, Z, & J.
For some authentic Omani/Zanzibari styling for you to feast your eyes on, bon apetit!

I love luban aka frankinsence: and I can have luban candles? Yay!

Ooooooooooooh! I just discovered this online store http://thenejd.com/?lang=en. I love it.

From the website: "The pottery can be reused as an incense burner by placing frankincense resin directly on burning coals. "

The Nejd practices a strict fair trade policy to ensure that artisans are paid a fair price for their goods.

Fair prices help make traditional craft industries viable in the 21st Century and ensure that heritage and culture are passed on to future generations.
From carpet making, leatherwork, jewellery to pottery, Oman has a rich and ancient craft making tradition. The Nejd supports local artisans and their communities by connecting their products to the global marketplace, thereby ensuring that traditional industries continue to thrive and are passed on to the next generation.

The Nejd practices fair trade policies and supports four distinct and independent artisan groups across Oman.

The Nejd offers a unique range of stunning frankincense container candles made from mejmar, traditional incense burners.

1, 2 & 5: These pots are made by men in the town of Muslimat and are characterized by their white colour and coarse, rustic exterior. Taking up to four weeks to produce from gathering and producing the clay, sculpting the mejmar, drying and firing, this poetry exemplifies the artistry and functionality that define Omani crafts.

3 & 4: These mejmar are made by women in the southern Dhofar region of Oman. Dhofai terracotta pottery is easily identified by its rich red colour, achieved through open-pit firing, along with its iconic crenelated edging.

6 & 8: Potters in the ancient town of Bahla trace their traditions back over 3,000 years. These candles are based on coffee cups and other traditional designs.

7: These mejmar are made by men in a remote village in the northern mountains of Musandam, accessible only by boat or helicopter. Now very rare, this form of pottery has remained virtually unchanged for nearly 5,000 years.

Omani Architectural Design: Amouage store & perfumery

Some pictures taken from this post from Andy who did something I haven't yet, he took a tour of the perfumery near Nizwa: http://andyinoman.wordpress.com/2010/02/04/amouage-the-gift-of-kings/

OPNO loves.... Amouage Room Sprays

OKay, when it comes to perfume, I wear women's Amouage Gold (when I can afford to). When I can't, I buy the soap and shower gel. Yes, yes I do.
In case you didn't know, Amouage is Oman's national perfume company http://www.amouage.com/history.php. There is a location in the Muwalla City Center if you are interested. They are PRICEY though.
So my favourite souvenir take-away by (still at OMR 20 a pop) are the room sprays. I love "spice road". Mmmm, yum. Honestly, I'd wear it AS perfume, if no one who knew me knew that it is a room spray/ They know I am cheap like that.
Dear Muscat Jet Driver, can I be invited to read your blog? Sometimes I read old posts.

Can't Deny It: Statistics put Omani Disabilities AWFULLY Low... Soooooo


A SHY REBELLIOUS ARAB GIRL just wrote this well-timed (for me personally) post For the sake of Dhofari Blind Girls! and I relate alot to it. Studying the MOH (Ministry of Health) 2009 report, Oman has pretty low cases for disabilities, and a MIRACULOUS almost non-existant percentage of children born with autism.
NOT.

As the government is well aware, Omani families just decide to hide the fact that children are born with different gifts (and different difficulties) than the social norm. There is no shame in these things, and denying an illness will cause MORE ill than treating and recognizing them.
I support awareness of disabilties, research dedicated to, and know from personal experience of having a family member born with a disability, my family member ROCKS, and I am proud of her. So what if it takes her twice as long to learn and do things as me. It has taken alot of time, and alot of patience and treatment, but when she does things now, she does them BETTER than me.
For those in this society who'd hide their sons or daughters, know you are HURTING your family more if they don't get the education that would help them BETTER your family, or the treatment to help them help you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Omani Word of the Day: Cat

The Omani word of the day (differing from the Arabic kit-ta) is "se-nora" for "cat". Like the spanish word for lady, but pronounced SLIGHLY differently on the first syllable.

"Seh-noor-ah"

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Omani Arabic Phrases: Are we laughing?

"Moo3yani NDhack?"
Actually the first sentance I was ever taught. I often say it wrong because there is a gutteral "aiyn" [sound non-existant in English] softly eununciated in the middle of the word. It is "moo" [like a cow] "aiyn" [like the arabic] "Yaa-nee" and then "nuh-duh-hak" [Arabic word for laugh].
It means, "should we laugh now?" Kind of the Omani equivelant of sarcasm, and is a very old Omani word which makes people scrunch up their faces at me, and Omani girls giggle, "where did you learn THAT????!!!!" Yes, thank you K for making people laugh at me, always.;)
Apparently Princess and BL were to say it whenever any of their old shebab were to make a joke or to say something silly that the guys thought was funny.
I honestly don't know if it is rude or not [cuz I never know with K] , but seems to make people smile, so I guess from a Westerner using it, it is not.

Shopping for face veils in Oman: I need tips

I just bought myself a present, a. because it was such a good price, and b. because there was a reason. A new abaya, like the one above. Very affordable, very chic, and plain black. The drape is amazing.

BL I found a tailor!!!! He is now my tailor. One for abayaat, one for Omani traditional clothes. I still need to find my fabric guy, but one day, one day.So if you want any style, send me your pic and measurements and I'll see the price for you and send to you.... Same to you my FIG&Olive girl.

I also found Salalah style niqabs (stringed [nose string] or stringless) for 700 baiza. The salalah style has wider, stiffer headband and a short face veil, falling just pass the chin like in the pics below, and may be ornamented with a further sheerer or longer veil behind it. I was wondering if you munaqabat girls in Oman knew places to get good quality niqabs and different styles. The ones I own are very basic, like the first pic, and the ones below:
I own this one [but better quality]: Emirati gashwa (UAE) [but is there anywhere IN Oman to purchase the same??? and how much].Yes, I have my birqa. LOL, I get teased by my Muscati girls because I know some Bedu families well enough to know how to sew these. I have never bought one so no, I don't know how much they are worth. Classic elastic half niqab (purchased in UAE and online). Very cheap, and I only like to wear them under gashwa because I don't believe in showing the eyebrows when wearing niqab.
Stringless flip niqab (they sell for 5.8 OMR in Al Motihajiba in City Center Muwalla but the headbands are too stiff for my liking. Does anyone know where they sell softer good quality ones (not too pricey).????
Soft headband longer niqab (with or without string) do you know where to find good quality, soft fabric ones with softer headbands? Oman has a trend for a very stiff band while Saudia and UAE have a trend for softer.
Longer style flip niqab with string (my fave for personal ease and comfort). I bought in UAE but haven't found a good quality soft version yet in Oman. Do any of you ladies who have tailors that make niqabs for you or where do you buy them and get different styles?
I've seen niqabs with the flip edges with coloured piping trim. I loved it. Who does that? My tailor doesn't. Let me know:)
I know this style below (worn VERY wrong) is Saudi and I love it: I am going to start wearing niqab again fulltime. Is a good thing for me, and I do so out of a love an Islamic reason to do so, and is easy to do so in my current situation.
So help me out if you can ladies. My thanks to you.
BTW, I personally find the veil very comfy and actually cooler to wear walking out on a very hot day in Oman. Really. And I have no troubles eating so long as it is a dark colour (black-green-navy-brown-berry ect). Anyways, this is a VERY random and uninformed post.
I would appreciate your feedback.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Omanis and Facial Tissue: An Apparent Essential for any household

While it may not strike anyone else as odd...Weird cultural note: Omanis consume more tissue paper than any other people I have ever known. One box can be gone in a day. I ONLY do that when I have a cold and a runny nose :D.

Thank you M for replacing my tissue stash. Though 10 boxes was a little extreme for my humble useage;p

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Shebab-less OPNO? Oh NO! And cheating, from the male Omani perspective

I have alot of Omani guy friends. Correct that. Had. Sweetness of Salalah will be proud of me, but I have gone back to my Islamic self (with the exeption of still listening to music) and that means I have bid adieu to my shebab (the guys I knew before and after Islam here in Oman). Most of them totally understood and respected the decision, especially on the last note no Omani guy can argue with:
"I want to be a good muslimah like your sisters in Oman."

Even if his sister is a total you-know-whatever he'll never argue this point on you.

Anyways, I'll still get my newsfeed from them, [and yes B aka L I changed my GSM because a new life requires new fittings and that international text message was from Princess] because two have guessed OPNO's identity. WHO KNEW YOU READ ENGLISH A & Y!!!!!!!!!!!! AM soooooooooooooooo proud of YOU!!!!!! A, much love. Your kind words of encouragement meant the world to me. And Y, of course, if you want your CD back, you can come visit for that at least once more. I kinda forgot to give it back to you. And now you don't know my phone number:( M: you know what you meant. I wish you the best.

I still of course, also get to relate the many entertaining cultural bits we exchanged over the years, me and my shebab.

One was four different Omani guys (all of which I love more than breath) and their takes on cheating. Here goes:

1.) KH and L and I were discussing cheating. L is like Princess (maybe she is an OPNO too??????) and KH is an Omani guy who I'd die for. Yes, really I would. WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHYYY?!!!! All the Omani shebab of Ras Al Hamra wonder? That is for OPNO to know, but he was her bestfriend.

L and OPNO asked KH what he'd do if he ever caught his wife cheating or in love with another man. If she was just in love with another man, his first instinct would be to make get the other man the only way he could, through her, managing her body and her life. OPNO reminds him this wouldn't fix things. He knows that, is just what he'd do. If his wife physically committed adultery and left him for another fool? He'd let her go. The two girls nodded, thinking how far from their expectation of his countenance this would be.

But this last part left L and OPNO with their mouths agape.

KH: "But if she ever tried to come back to me I'd kill her with my own hands."

2.) There was an Omani girl the boys all went to school with India. She had a boyfriend. Everyone knew it, except her cousin back home she'd marry. Before the wedding she had hymen repair surgery, married the guy, and then went right back to her boyfriend. She got pregnant NOT by her husband. The kid looks nothing like the husband but none of our shebab (who know) have the heart to tell the guy because he loves the girl completely and thinks she was only ever his. Better not to know is the mass consensus.

3.) One of the guys I counted as the bestest of the best of the Omani guys I know (still do, I prefer to think the best;) ) he's given up on marriage, because one fiance played him for a fool. Now he takes every girl as maybe cheating on something or another, even if she loves him with every breath of her being.

4.) One Omani man from Al Batinah, he loved a girl. Proposed to her after two conversations, went against his family... he loved her that much. Realizing how much he'd have to sacrifice for her, she decided to break away, because she loved him. The only way to do this was to have a secret from him so terrible she'd never be able to tell him or marry him bearing the burden of it in silence. She she decided to sleep with another man. But the Omani man from Al Batinah, he came to her home the night she was with the other man, and heard her making love to the other man. He saw and heard her with another. Yet, to this day, he loves her, and forgave her, and they are married now. Like KH though, his first reaction was the same. She was pregnant within the first month of marriage.

To all my Omani male readers: what would you do, what is your opinion, since, cheating [it IS] so prevalent in Muscat?

WARNING: SEMANTICS mean something in Relationships in Oman

FOR ALL MY EXPAT GIRLS AND OMANI GFs:

If you are a girl, and you are afraid of getting hurt in love and you describe being hurt in love like falling and getting your body torn up on the rocks, and you ask your Omani dude (potential love of your life to be???), "hey is it safe to fall? Because I don't want to hit rockbottom [not the nightspot]?" And he says, "You can fly." It means he damn well does intend to drop you. But you are a big girl, and can catch yourself.

And you know what, girl, you DO have wings. YOU CAN FLY.

FLY AWAY FROM THIS DUDE BEFORE YOUR GET YOUR BODY BROKEN ON THE GLASS WINDOW IN FRONT OF HIS HEART YOU ARE GOING TO SMASH INTO EVENETUALLY!!!!!!!

Watch out. Semantics are important in relationships in Oman. And Omani guys rarely differentiate between friendship combined with lust as love, and love as in I want you with me for the rest of my life and I can never be with anyone else kind of love until it is near over (unless they propose first and make good on acting that out).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Omani Architecture: Sohar Beach Resort

I always liked the look of this hotel. Reminds me of both places I grow up, Oman and........... _________. Anyways, I like this snap. I know nothing of the hotel, as I really am not up in Sohar all that often (though I know so many kind ROP families based there, a great shout out to ya'll for always trying to make me take a teaching spot or company gig way away from Muscat;) ). Enjoy.

Omani Arabic: Word of the Day

Today I was in a line for my visa (as per usual as Oman's longest running tourist) and the wait was soooooooooooooooooo inexplicably booooooooooooooring.

This feeling of banality that anihilites the mind and senses has a special vocab word here in Oman. It is called "kroob".

My day was "kroob". Waiting to get anything done at a hospital or ministry is "kroob".

Opposite? "Shattr". This is like, "cool" or "slammin'".

Monday, September 20, 2010

A TALE OF CORRUPTION

"Stop talking to her. Don't ask about her. They know everything about you."

Over mint Morrocan tea oured from ahigh into rainbow coloured glasses from an embossed silver pot, a glazed look comes over his eyes as he sits with OPNO.

OPNO is shaded by a tassled curtain in one Muscat restaurant, hidden around the corner from prying eyes. He sits her here purposefully, as he is always protective of her, this Omani man, disguised as he is in Western clothing, afraid that she talks too loud, afraid that her actions attract attention. He knows she was once a writer, and he has read all her works, but what he doesn't know is that she writes this blog.

OPNO isn't an attentive person by nature. She isn't a good listener. She doesn't like to sit still or be quiet, but something haunted in that man's eyes, something of a distant guilt, makes her sit back quietly and sip her tea. Trading secrets for secrets, they talk about women bought and sold, of freedom, and of threats from afar. OPNO knows this story. She too once knew a woman, a group of women, she couldn't save. If only she'd spent less money on souvenirs, she could have saved more... But this wasn't her story. It was a story about an Oman she hadn't known for a long time.

OPNO's companion tells that once he knew a Morrocan girl who was a dancer, and not a very good one.

The girl had just come from Morroco, signing a contract for 400 OMR/RO so that she could feed her family.

He knew she was different from her actions. She could not leave her work and accomodation. And she was not being paid her salary, despite having paid for own visa and airfare. Her boss, a dirty man, gave her the option of switching her visa to another man for another line of employment, which she was no longer naive enough to hope well of.

In case you do not know what I am speaking of, the girl was going to be sold to some influential but heavily corrupt members of Omani society with too much wasta for even OPNO as protected as she is in her present sphere of influence, to write the names. May Allah curse them!!!!!

And the man who fears for her without knowing what she does and what she knows, made OPNO promise not to ask for them or speak them if she guessed.

The Omani who earns OPNO's respect and admiration further (as undeserved as OPNO is of any confidence or respect from this man) went out of his way to find the poor tricked Morrocan girl a respectful and decent job (not that as a dancer to be sold into nigh prostitution) and went to her wicked boss with the money to buy her freedom.

Attempting to do so, he was turned down, then threatened, and his family. He was told to forget the girl, forget the place, forget the names. But he could not forget.

The girl was smart. She went back to Morroco. True, she left with less than she had come with, but she escaped. Now, she does not have enough to feed her family, but she is not a plaything for sale to some of our rich and corrupt and evil beyond measure in Muscat.

Now things like Morrocan slippers and djellaba, takchita, and mint tea in jewel-toned glasses bring unshed tears to OPNO's confidante's eyes. He thinks he is wicked for something that was not his sin.

OPNO, who does not touch hands with men who are not her relation, wants to hug this man, who took her to eat her favourite food even though it conjurs ghosts from his past, as she sits there in her bejeweled silk pants, legs crossed, sipping her tea. What OPNO asks for, of men, is nothing, and it is alot.
That they be brave as this one.
The choice to try to do the right thing, the choice to speak the truth when it is easier to keep silent, that is the only freedom that OPNO believes there is in this world.
I apologize for the melancholy post. These things break me. OPNO's definition of modern slavery: a slave is someone who has no choice to do the good thing, the right thing, over a wrong.
Allah help all the Muslims be strong enough to free their slaves, the slaves their lifestyle inherently creates, even if they are not slaves as before... Ameen.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Complete Middle East Cookbook

While Tess Mallos' "The Complete Middle East Cookbook" is not complete, it is a GOOD starter book for anyone delving into Arabic and Mediteranean food.

It was the first cookbook I ever owned after all the handwritten french ones my family passed down to me.

On my ORDER FROM AMAZON LIST

The Emergence Of States In A Tribal Society: Oman Under Sa'id Bin Taymur, 1932-1970 by Uzi Rabi.

This book reassesses the reign of Sa'id bin Taymur, who was deposed by his son, Qabus bin Sa'id, in a coup in July 1970. Contemporary historiography of the period of Sa'id's rule (1932-1970) views Oman as medieval and isolationist; Qabus' later government is seen as progressive and enlightened, with his ascendancy to the throne often described as the 'rebirth of Oman' from its 'medieval slumber' into a thriving and prosperous Sultanate. This study refutes the prevailing view that Sa'id's four-decade reign should be perceived as a place where time stood still. The author offers a critical look at the economic, political, social and cultural aspects of Oman during the reign of Sa'id bin Taymur. The book mainly focuses on tribe-state relations, emphasizing their dynamic interaction, with particular attention paid to the relationships between the tribal groups. Uzi Rabi's book reinterprets a significant timescale in the modern history of the Arabian Peninsula and pre-oil societies, and will be essential reading for both students and scholars of Middle Eastern history, culture and society.
Oman's Insurgencies: The Sultanate's Struggle for Supremacy, by J. E. Peterson.

Peterson (a political analyst) takes a detailed look at the crises that have tested the mettle of Oman’s army and accelerated its development, surveying its transition from a strictly traditional regime controlling only parts of the country to a modern, inclusive state, particularly in terms of security concerns.
I'll let you know what I think when I recieve them:D.