Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Omani women's traditional dress

 Salaam, and hello, and sorry for the lack of posts. I'll leave you with some eye-candy pics of various forms of Omani women's traditional dress:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I GENERALLY love the type of Western Expats Oman attracts

Honestly, I love in general, the type of breed of Western expat Oman attracts.

Adventurous people. People who want a little culture, people who want to connect to the landscape. People that like to be part of aiding development in a way that preserves culture ect... People that respect Omanis until they themselves are disrespected.

But occasionally, there's the kind of "colonial" mindset expat I abhor.

The ones that complains about how Indians and Pakistanis are treated in Oman but makes their maid cry because she didn't iron the pillowcase just right, and they brag about the maid and how many bathrooms their house has (when it is paid for by their housing allowance from such and such company) and they pay her the same crap wage as everybody else.

The ones that moan about the lack of things to do in this country and how hot it is and they've never been outside of Muscat.

The ones who complain that all Omanis take advantage of people, are racist [see the irony here], lazy ect... when they've never made friends with Omanis from outside of Muscat---or even really gotten to know different Omanis IN MUSCAT. The creepy dude who hit on you in the coffee shop is going to turn out to be a douchebag no matter how friendly he seems. The Omani guy you met in a bar isn't going to represent the culture. If you only know wasta-employed dudes at your work, then you are gonna get lazy and never know about, say the lifestyle of the guard of the gate and how friendly and kind and generous his family is, ect, and how hard they are capable of working.

The ones who complain about not being able to fire those wasta-hires when they themselves got the job through a friend not because of their actual skills. Who take whatever handouts and job perks they can get, whether warranted or unwarranted.

The women who get mad when some business men in Arab dress stare at them wide-eyed when they wear bikinis to the pool. I mean, come on. On some parts of Oman, in shared family houses, it is rare to even to see your own mother's hair, let alone someone's arms and legs... and boobs. Its weird to them. Have some concept of cultural norms before you label everyone a pervert.

But do, by all means, go ahead and be mad at the dude that try to take picture in such a state----that IS against the law here so you CAN get mad at him.

The ones who sit around and comment about the women "forced" to wear hijab because one Omani woman told them she doesn't like to to wear it. Who reapeat anything they wish were true.

Who complain about the roads and the drivers when they themselves speed like idiots and are no better.

Who ignore the heritage signs in villages that request modest dress and no drinking or showy displays of public affection and complain later that they never experienced Omani hospitality as advertised by tourism Oman.

Dude, if you're drunk, or chica, you're wearing a tanktop and shorts to a traditional home, no [there are still some kinds ones despite this] Omani family is going to be like, c'mon, please share a meal with us, and oh, you like that old door in the ruins of our home, why don't you take it as a gift to remember your time with us. SERRIOUSLY!!!!!

Really? What a WASTE of time in this country.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being stuck in a 1950s time warp today in Oman, and Omani women being "allowed" to work

Omani women are not really free. Their freedom depends on their will to separate themselves from their families and any possibility of such, same as it does anywhere else in the Arab world.

I was watching an episode of the television show “Mad Men”, a series set in 1950s America last night, and a poignant line from the show echoed back at me.
JOAN’S MOTHER [to JOAN]: Do you think your husband will allow you to work?

JOAN: Allow me?
Exactly, the word of the day dear followers of “How to live like an Omani Princess” is ‘allow’. Omani women are technically  & magnanimously ALLOWED to do and become many things.

They (and I guess by extension ‘me’ since my Omani in-laws by result of marriage regardless of passport expect me to be Omani) have it better than women in Saudi, as is always pointed out. We are “ALLOWED” this.
There aren’t religious police minding the malls to tell us to wear our scarves a certain way or to cover our faces. The law doesn’t say Omani women have to wear religious dress at all. We can drive and, in majority, do… And are encouraged to do so by our relatives (except for some Dhofari girlfriends of ours who families seem to wish they lived in Saudi). We can work in any profession we’d like, be it an engineer, or in the army, while even impoverished Saudi women are forbidden from becoming check-out girls in the local supermarkets because they’d be around men there and in a ‘mixed environment’ whereas in Oman we know that is bogus and has nothing to do with Islam. Women in the Prophet’s time worked in the markets even with men so it isn’t something of modern times as the ignorant would like their women to believe. Many of us get paid more than men in the same field (which is better than in America for example).

Omani women can also marry whoever they want and despite what people say, yes, yes they can even without their families’ permission if they are brave enough to get the paperwork required from the government offices “the wali” ect.. I have many friends who have done so and they had an easy time of it relatively speaking, as far as dealing with “inshaAllah”  bureaucracy is in Oman for anyone off the street.  They can travel without a “maharam” and don’t need anybody’s signature to check themselves or their children out of the hospital or to leave the country. Omani women can run for government, are Ministers, can vote, and inherit land.
But understand, this is all on the government’s side, because of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos ibn Said.

What a lot of people don’t understand, is that culture still rules, more than the government can, in Oman.
Yes, I knew all this before I married an Omani. So I have no reason to complain;). I chose a man of traditions from a traditional place, that made all my Muscati, Sharqiyah, and Sohar girlfriends cringe (and that’s not to say that they don’t have their familial traditions also).

“Ya Allah! I COULDN’T DO THAT!” says M from Sohar (whose family is very traditional by all accounts and have a reputation of that to maintain).
“I will only marry someone who lives in Muscat,” S from Barka insists. “Even if that means I never get married.”

“I am going to marry from UK,” a girlfriend whose family is from Izki insists, even though as all of sit there over coffee, we know this is impossible for her, whatever the government laws allow.
No one had to warn me. I understood what life here as I have chosen would mean, what I would compromise and what I wouldn’t.  For see, my husband married me to change some things. I am about as traditional Omani as you can get even for non-passport holder. I fit in with the culture there better than some of my sister-in-laws. I get that even if there are no religious police, there are gossiping village women who function as such even more brutally within Omani families. I get that marrying without the consent of your parents is worse than having sex before marriage for Omani girls from traditional homes. It is like saying “F” you to everything your parents are and stand for.  

Because I seem to represent those traditional things the villagers cherish, and am Islamic and all (I am the only woman there who wears the face veil so my mode of dress is irreproachable for them) I can change those more important things instead of smaller issues like arguing over the headscarf like some expat women married to Omanis waste their time on. I can try to point out where racism is wrong, where gossip is wrong especially when people want to judge on something they arne’t informed about and use our beautiful religion as an excuse so women who don’t know how to raise their voices for themselves can be heard, I can stop ignorant practices like FGM (and alhamdulilah have made good progress so far, no baby girl’s in my family end of the tribe have been chopped recently) ect… But then, my family and branch of the tribe tend to pride themselves on being educated so they listen to reason. Other facets tribes, over tribal pride, don’t listen to reason unless it comes from within the tribe itself, and that from male family members, so there’s a limit on what can be said and changed in the area where my husband is from. I try to pick my battles.
And I am happy. But then, I chose someone who would “allow me to be” didn’t I? And anything he doesn’t agree with I am “excused” by others as not being “Omani” so I have it better than any Omani girl who’d be his wife.

But I knew despite those allowances I still would be living in some time warp of Jane Austen and 1950s America, don’t get me wrong.
I had been going for job interviews. Not quite an expat anymore, and not with my Omani passport yet, employers don’t know what to do. They don’t want to hire me for the expat salary (and aren’t allowed to hire me for less even though I AM willing), lol, but they don’t have the passport to hire me as an Omani yet, so most are waiting to see when  I get it.

One certain job that had passed me over looking for an Omani with my skills my husband asked me about for a cousin of ours. “Her husband has decided she is allowed to work,” MOP tells me.
Her husband has “decided”. And her husband isn’t that backwards of a guy. He’s a pretty likable fellow by the standards we measure Omanis by. So that just goes to show you, 1950s thinking is here to stay, even in 2012.

So while the law says Omani women are allowed whatever, really it depends still on their husbands and families, on where they will work and for what hours.
Unless they can just say, screw all that, and do what they want. I have a sister-in-law who does. That does mean though, that she has to live in Muscat. Life in the village would be too unbearable for her.

Girls school teachers and doctors are still really only the positions husbands want their wives taking in my husband’s village. Or maybe government ministry jobs since those are seen as more respectful. And doctors aren’t a fave, because you know, even if the chick becomes a gynecologist, she still went to a mixed med school.
I don’t know why. I get more respect in company jobs [no incidents]  I’ve worked than government ones where some bright Omani lad thought he’d try his luck with flirting ect… And even if he did, I don’t see how that would affect ANYBODY because you know, I was a grown woman. I could handle it. And I don’t even know how to cold shoulder a wannabee flirt as well as village girls, sooooo… I don’t know why men have a problem with that. I just don’t think they have the confidence [the men I mean] because most of the women are raised from birth to uphold their family honor anyways… And they know well and when to call on their husband or brother to back them if something is REALLY going wrong in the workplace.

WHICH IS RARE, in case everything I’ve just written is used an excuse against some woman’s man for why she shouldn’t work.
I think it is changing, but too slowly. More women have to stand up say, “allow ME?! I don’t think so!”

I’ve heard it said by muslim women that our saying “Islam treats us like princesses” isn’t true. Well, I disagree with this. Islam does treat me like a princess and I have more rights under Islam than I did AS a Western woman living in the West growing up non-Muslim.  But Arab and Pakistani and African cultures (male dominated to begin with) like to take part of Islam out of context and use it as an excuse to do whatever they like. They like to be like “I allow my wife to work if we need money other than that I spoil her like a queen and she can sit at home and do as she likes.”
Unless, do as she likes, is be financially independent, which, Islam ALLOWS. Islam gives women this right to choose to work or not to. It isn’t the choice of her husband. Islam says for a wife to please her husband is her responsibility but none of her Islamic rights are void and overruled by this unless she lets herself be run over.

Anyways, sorry for the long rambling post about what is on my 1950s time warp of a mind.

But alas, what I always think the most ironic thing about the man who doesn’t “allow” his wife to work? That’s always only when he has enough money. When he doesn’t, she ends up being “allowed” despite all the reasons she “shouldn’t” and something “could” go wrong---even if she doesn't want to.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Women's Guild in Oman

One or two of the OPNO girl's are going to be heading to the annual WGO coffee meets/or the Al Mouj golf club social either this week to sign up for next year's membership, the next, or the next;p so if you want to happen to chance into bumping into one of us;) that's as much clue as I can give.

Womens Guild Oman is a great way for expatriate women to get out and make friends and socialize. They organize alot of great events, do things for charity, and being a cardholder gets you discounts in alot of Muscat restaurants and storefronts. Check out the website to find out where the coffee meet is being held for the Months of June and July. http://www.womensguildoman.com/calendar-of-events/

I was a member to practice my English;), and to find out about the fashion shows, ha. Until someone made off with my card to go for sushi at Japengo, not naming any names;p

The group is definately not exclusively for expats, just super helpful for those new to Oman. They'd love to have more local members as well*

Arabic Sweets and Biscuits?: Zoara Bakery & Sweets in Zakher Mall

It is pretty much a "Shatti Girls' Set" kept secret (mainy because they don't consider Zakher Mall in Al Khuwair to be terribly fashionable like the rest of their usual haunts;p but this place was picked out to me by a group of Omani girls in the know as an awesome place to throw together a gift tray of biscuits and for awesome cheesecake. So during this Ramadan if you are invited into an Omani home, dear expats, a quick stop off here and the helpful bakers will help you pick out something perfect for your host/hostess. My BFFs from Muscat can't live without the chocolate and pistachio flavoured cheesecakes!
And my Omani husband is a lover of the pomegranite tart, Oum Ali, Basbousa, and Saffrom cheesecake. I didn't photograph the biscuits but the zatar one is my favourite.
And the coffee Arabic sweets look beyond pretty on a tray. For a girl who grew up in a place spoilt with bakeries, this shop does meet my standards.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Khaleeji Designer Abaya Brands: Hessah

Studs I could probably actually wear.
Love the detail of the beading at the neck here.
Something very "Coco" Chanel about this one. I wonder what, hmmm?
I honestly find Hessah's designs have a fairy-tale quality about them. There is something fantasy and sugary sweet mixed with something gruesome. For the grown-up little girl who knows that there's a little bit of the "Princess" AND the "Wicked Queen" in every woman;) :XD

About HESSEH: Hessa Al Obaidli is an Emirati designer, who started her Abaya fashion business in 2008 by working from home and making orders for just her relatives and close friends. "I realized that wherever I go, women would constantly ask me where I made my Abaya." says Hessa. Therefore, with support from friends and family, she finally decided to expand her business and take it to the next level so as to meet the needs of all stylish women who are looking for unique and sophisticated abaya designs. "I chose HESSEH as a brand name and fashion label for my business, because firstly it refers to my name with an artistic touch, and secondly it describes my Abaya designs that are stunning, creative and completely different." says Hessa.

Available at:

Grafika boutique, Al Wahda Mall, Abu Dhabi, Tel: +97124437111

For online orders visit www.3abaya.com

For any further inquires please contact us at:
Tel: 00971505932309
BBM: 272E06A4

Follow us on Twitter:

A safe classic in a flowy cut.

Khaleeji Designer Abaya Brands: Roselle 2012

Elegent femininty for the 2012 Roselle collection

The one that you know I would wear.
My pick for what Latifa al Shamsi will buy;)... and I'd definately dream of having somewhere soft and romantic to wear it of to, to warrant the purchase.

A classic style that will never go out of style. I'd pair it with a red lace embellished shayla to attend the bull ring in Barka;) jjkn.

Now, I haven't always been a Roselle fan. But these photographs and abayas are just so stunning and feminine that I have been turned.
{Photos courtesy of Latifa al Shamsi and Roselle}
Twitter: @RoselleCouture
To order email: info@rosellecouture.com
Or call: +971 50 400 0541
Boutiques:Ush Boutique/+971 4 344 2202
Candella Boutique/+971 4 342 1961

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Best Hotel in the Entire MiddleEast according to the OPNO girls?: Qasr Al Serab Resort by Anantara

Now, it isn't in Oman, and yes you have to go to horrible UAE (sorry UAE) to get there, but Anantara's "Qasr Al Sarab" desert resort [name maening "Palace of Mirages" is BY FAR, the best GCC MiddleEastern hotel there is. Period. Most five star luxury hotels and resorts could be the same across Europe and leave no lasting impression beyond standards of quality control. But this comfortable and thoroughly modern but thoroughly Arab hotel located in the Liwa desert, goes beyond typical expectations of Casbahs and the mirage of the desert oasis, after a trek through the stars and sands. We will let the pictures speak for themselves. Let's start with where you check in, the lobby:

The lobby lounge area:

The Royal Pavillion and the Majlis:
 The library:
Example of a conference room:
The spa:
 Just a few of the available dining Options:
 Not to mention desert excursions and camping (including a feast with the Bedouin).
 What will you catch the OPNO girls up to at Qasr al Serab beyond enjoying the "empty-quarter" desert and admiring the interior design by firm Hirsch Bedner & Associates
 [one of my all-time faves]? Archery of course {I'm not a spa girl} and maybe I'd try my hand at falconry even though I'd probably get bored:
And of course just chilling in the villa hotel suite that broke the bank;) private pool et all:
Most of the rooms offer garden, terrace, or pool veiws. I want it all, since this place is more than I usually spend on a hotel anyways:)
 More room options:
 Thinking of checking in? Pretty incredible eye-candy huh? I hope Anantara finishes the resort project they've scheduled for the shore of Oman even though there's a stall in the Blue City project. All of the OPNO girls, depsite our varying tastes, rank Qasr Al Serab as the best in the ME of the GCC.
 Check out the hotel website: Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara | qasralsarab.anantara.