Saturday, March 31, 2012

Off to Kuwait so the blog will have to wait

OPNO is off to Kuwait. Never been there before so should be interesting. Be back in a few days inshaAllah. Enjoy the old posts until then.

The Theives Souq-Souq Al Harremiyia fi Oman

Today I finally witnessed for myself Souq Al Harremiyia in Oman---translation, the theives souq. And to be honest... it was quite boring. Nothing at all like the ones in Jordan or Cairo, that's to be certain.

I had heard of the theives souq for a long while and visions of luxury white sedans and sporty 4x4s pinched off of PDO lawns long ago abandoned to ROP negligence danced in my head, along with images of gold stolen from Omani villas by heroine addicts pawned off to be made a profit of.

What Souq Al Harremiyia in Oman is, is actually a whole lot more halal. (Halal means, not sinful). It is where people come to sell or buy used vehicles by owner. I guess they call it the theives souq, because as likely as you are to get a bargain, you might get ripped off.

Note: Omani & Indian women totally don't come here at all, so if you are an abaya wearing woman expect to get hit on or stared down, and if you're a brave non-muslim gal, be prepared for the gawks and stares. Arabic is kind of a must but maybe some folks speak English I don't know.

I'll get the location on google maps and add it for ya'll soon inshaAllah.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A Safe Taxi Alternative: a family friendly varient

As a woman in Oman whose taken her fair share of taxis and had more than one horror story to tell from the experience, beyond the usual gauging most taxis do for Westerners, I finally found a decent, respectful, knowledgeable driver with a taxi and wanted to share his number with you all. [PLEASE READ THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST TO FIND OUT HIS AVAILABILITY].

942 666 11

He is fluent in English.

He is very respectful, and understands and has experience with cultures beyond his own, at the same time remaining 100% Omani himself.

He grew up in Muscat and is well travelled in Oman so makes a very good guide to alot of the places I have blogged about, such as Nizwa souq and Fort, Jabrin Castle, Al Hamra and Misfah Al Abriyan old villages and Safa House Museum, Bahla Castle, Rustaq Castle & Hot Spring, Nakhl Castle and Hot Spring, Sinaw Souq, Barka Sweet Factory and Bait Na'aman, great beaches in Oman and corniches, wadis in the interior that not much is written about, Old Muscat, and Mutrah, and he's always willing to help tourists get a decent price in the souqs [he'll tell you the Omani prices and help sort things out in Arabic for you.] He charges good rates for being a tour guide, and for alot of places I have found him to be a better guide than a formal tour operator. You'd have to ask HIM if there's more than my list of things for him to show you in this amazing country of ours. You can ask him any question about Omani culture you'd like, as he's open to it, and knows enough. ***And won't think you're hitting on him, or easy if you do;)

He's also done UAE trips, but you'd have to ask him [and book in advance] to see if he can do this by request.

I once had to drive to UAE to get my complicated visa situation sorted out, and some stuff from the Embassies and the Ministries ect. He is great to hire for such things, because he was willing to do all the Arabic speaking for me, and communicates well. He's helped me with jobs that my old company would send the PRO for.

His prices are fair, the same price as some Indian passengers is what he told white Westerner me I should pay.

*He can drive in the rain*a rare feat I have seen in Omanis in general, unless they are from Salalah. And no offense Salalah taxi drivers, but I HAVEN'T met one of you yet that was fluent in English who wasn't 100% CREEEEEEEPY.

He also has a carseat for 1 baby, but one should call in advance 1 hour if they need that option. What other taxi in Oman has had that?

His car is a Toyota Camry, so it has three seats in the back, and 1 in the front. If he has a male passenger (and lads reading this post, you are his preferred clientelle--- and his prices & knowledge should be satisfactory for you) he can take 4 persons or 3 persons plus 1 baby with seat. But if it is an-all-woman crowd he will only take 1-3.


****His taxi is 100% safe for a woman but he prefers if a woman booking his taxi for a certain time calls him in advance an hour or so, as he only has room for a max. of 3 female passengers in the backseat, and he likes to take his wife with him if he is driving a woman/women alone, not couples or families.**** [Maybe his wife is jealous;) or maybe he's just a good Muslim:)]

He's available generally Saturday to Tuesday 2p.m-1a.m and Wednesday 3pm for transportation to Nizwa. (Maybe as far as his village if you asked him). I believe he'll do booked-in-advance-longer drives on the weekend days but you'd have to phone him to know if he was available the night before ect. On Friday evenings he takes commuters from the interior back to Muscat. I think he also does this trek back and forth on Mondays in the same day so if someone wanted to go for a quick day trip to Nizwa or somewhere around there, he's be great to call for a drop-off and pick-up.

So that's my taxi reveiw.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Khaleeji Designer Abayas: Spring 2012 Arabesque Abaya & Sheila Collection

The Spring Arabesque collection is out and I am relieved. I LOVE the shapes and cuts of the abayas again, and am a fan of orange. Any Hermes addict girl would be.

I adore the abaya pictured below for a wedding with a pretty pastel mint coloured Jalabiyia underneath. I am also a lime addict.

Very summery, the entire collection:Above is an Arabesque classic: Arabesque - Sheilas and Abayas with a French Touch ----check out their website.

Muscat Fashion Week 2012: Omani Designer Amal Al Raisi

Amal Al Raisi's was my favourite from the Omani designers this year. The collection was spot on in the lightness and pastel colours.

This jalabiyia is in the colour of the season.I love this one. Lightening up the shapes... I love this design as well.

Pretty. Very wearable.

The star of the show.This is the look that I personally would purchase from the collection.Gorgeous colour. Sorbet orange.Below, is where the looks begin to fail, for me. They don't look like the runway quality frocks they should. This is my personal opinion but this wedding dress is a disaster.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Design for a Room at the Chedi, in Muscat

Who of us, who reside in Oman, fail to have love for the Chedi, Muscat hotel? If it isn't for the endless infinity pool, minimal but locally inspired interiors [like the lobby's resemblance to our country's ancient Mosques of import in those arches], or the depth of the bath tub in the individual rooms [a depth I can swim in]. While I personally desire a little more colour than white [afterall, traditional architecture is brown or beige not white] I love the layout of the rooms, even though I am no minimalist.

The height of the room is beautifully composed to be inviting in a relaxing way.I love the shelving flanking the seating for the entertainment section of the bedroom [sorry I don't have a picture of the bed---the living area of the rooms in what I like best], how it becomes an architectural feature rather thanI want to do something similiar with the tv in my home. Either that or I have to hide it. And wouldn't you like to wake up to this veiw:?

Pretty Purple Moroccan Riad design

I love this design because I could see myself doing an Omani/Zanzibari take on the look right here in Muscat, or down on the coast. Especially the bedroom and hallway.

11 Things Tag from HERSHULETTOS

The OPNO blog got tagged by Sharooq Al Haremi.

Just a note. The OPNO girls don't usualy do tags but I will this one last time;)

Her tag: "You've got to post 11 things about yourself, then answer the 11 questions you've been asked by your tagger and later create 11 brand new questions for your peeps. And finally, tag 11 of them peeps."

1.) I always chew on icecubes. It annoys everyone who knows me.
2.) I talk way too much. If you want me to keep a secret tell me that BEFORE you tell me the secret.
3.) I live in the country that I love but when I was a teenager I absolutely hated it here and wanted to live in Africa not the Middleeast.
4.) I married exactly the man I imagined I would as a child even though I did everything possible to avoid this fate. {But I love him.} Weird.
5.) I always get perfume as a gift and don't really wear it.
6.) I drink Omani coffee in a giant coffee mug. Those little porcelain "finjans" don't have quite enough kick for me.
7.) I own too many purses and not enough shoes and think it is totally okay to spend 1000 rials on a bag but can hardly cough up 8 rials for a pair of sandals.
8.) I wish Oman had vintage shops and used stores. I am a treasure hunting junkie.
9.) I hate surprises. Seriously, never surprise me.
10.) Why does Oman not have more book stores? Why did they take our one massive bookstore away? I know I was the one who sat in the store reading and never bought anything but please, please bring our big bookstore back and I will buy EVERYTHING I promise.
11.) I took 10 years of guitar lessons and can't play even a ukulele.

Our/'my'Questions from Sharooq are:1.What's the best advice you ever got?:
"Just read this Qu'ran [that I will pay for/buy you]. And when there is something you don't like or don't understand, call me [writes out her phone number], because Arabic is a more poetic language than English, and some words don't translate, and I will explain the words. Don't judge this faith on this culture you have known. We are not perfect. But if we read it as you will try, with new eyes, we would be better." -Intisar, the check-out clerk at a grocery store in Qurum.
2.Your top 3 style rules?
Never expose too much skin at once. Mini skirt means modest top and modest shoes. Backless means the rest is covered. And I don't do cleavage. Ever.
BE YOURSELF, because everybody else is TAKEN. Buy what you love and invest in quality, and be body conscious. Know your shape and what looks good on you and you'll know what trends you should forgo. I always buy what I love and invest in what I need. I have this personal rule that I can estimate how many times I will wear something and then divide it by the price. Even if it is an expensive item if I know I will wear it alot it might work out to be less expensive in the long run than a cheaper piece I'll only wear once or twice.
I'm an abaya and hijab girl so I say invest in a more classically shaped abaya in an expensive fabric to get you through the days you don't know what to wear, and go for creative cuts and shapes in less expensive fabrics like Nida and be bold in the designs. Pair with a statement cuff, ring and drape of the headscarf that suits you, along with a bright purse. You can't go wrong.
3. Favorite fragrance ?
Lolita Lempicka's "L" and vanilla when I'm baking something in the kitchen, mmm yum! I also love "Dior Chere" and Chanel "Coco Madmoiselle".
4.Who do you look up to as your Style icon?
Asma bint Abu Bakr, Um Salamah, Aicha R.A., and the women of the Ansaar;). I also like Audrey Hepburn and Olivia Palermo but the old school Sahaba girls are my first thought when I check myself out in the mirror.
6.How do you get your picture perfect? (pose,smile,pucker your lips?etc..)
I don't. I just get myself in a thousand shots and one of them turns out all right. Then I hit delete on the rest. That's what digital cameras are for! Edit, edit, edit.
7.What's your secret to success?
Do what you love. If you don't love it, it isn't worth it. Don't compromise the hours in the days you have been blessed with. Living isn't a state of being.
8.Any wish list of things you'd like to purchase?
A new house, furniture for that house, alot of shoes and dresses and chiffon skirts from Zara, an Arabesque brand abaya or two, new copper kitchen pans and pots, and alot of body products from Bodyshop. And an Amouage room spray or two. Does this question come with a credit card or gift certificate? I'd also like a USED Jeep Cheroke. Used, so I can bash it up on my adventures without feeling bad. Jeep, so every Omani I know will get mad that I didn't buy a Toyota landcruiser.
9. Two makeup products you can't leave the house without?
Brown dior eyeshadow used as eyesliner with awesome Dior applicator brush/ pinky Dior blusher (it's a compact so I get both), and Body Shop lip gloss. I also love my brown Rimmel brow pencil, but then, that'd be 3 products. I never wear foundation, concealer, or mascara (though all the beauty articles say to) unless I am going out for something special. I believe they ruin the skin and eyelashes when worn daily so they aren't a part of my regular routine.
10.Favorite song at the moment?
My husband sings me songs sans music in Arabic. I love an old Iraqi love song he sings about a man who falls in love with a 'dark skinned girl' and how is life is never the same after he's known her. I don't know what it's called though. I also can't stop dancing to anything Irish, like 'Dulaman', even though I don't listen/am not supposed to listen to music.
11.Who are your fashion icons?
Olivia Palermo, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Gabriel Chanel, Claudia Shieffer, Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeild, Oscar de la Renta, Princess Lala Salma of Morocco (though only when she does Moroccan), Annette Reed da la Renta, Maria Agnelli, Chirstian Dior, Valentino Garavani, Shala Monroque, whoever the costume designer is for Gossip Girl, Tory Burch, and Filipa Fino.

I TAG: Anyone who has a blog and follows this one. After you respond to the tag I'd love for you to link to this post so I can read your answers.

1.)What is your favourite saying or proverb?:
2.)What are your favourite eye candy blogs or websites. List at least 3?:
3.) Describe or post a picture of your dream house/home/flat?
4.) Where do you wish you lived?
5.) How did you meet the love of your life, and if you are still looking, how do you imagine the love of your life?
6.) What is your best advice for getting the career you want and making a living through it/career goals?
7.) Who is the most famous person you have ever met?
8.) Have you ever been to Oman and if you have, what was your favourite thing about the country, and what was your least favourite thing?
9.) What, in your opinion, is the most unfair part of life?
10.) Where do you recommend other people vacation?
11.) What is the recipe of one thing you can cook or bake, and do so well?

Some Shopping for the Shebab: Arabulous T-shirts

And since I've been doing alot of Muscat Fashion Week posts lately, I thought I'd do something for the guys: Arabulous t-shirts. Available by writing .