Vegetables, Steam and In-laws

22 07 2009

As I departed in the immortal words of Arnold, with a resolution of “I’ll be back”, little did I know that my solid confidence and regards for the Queen to uphold my blog and keep the visitors coming would be brought crashing on by her solitary post with all its tartiness in effect. The detrimental effect of having the amount of unique visitors drop from 40-something to a measly 10 for the last 4 days shows how tempered and generally non-tarty-minded my readers are (all 4 of them; the rest 36 are, I think, accidental Stumblers).

Anyway, the in-laws are still in, with an impending travel date finalized. Things are fine (and those two sentences are not related, mind you) and going well.

The atrociously weird post heading brings me to the vegetable market in WadiKabir next, where a bulldozer was spotted digging up the floor and wrecking general havoc. At the risk of upsetting dear wife, I managed to stop the car and get a peek and saw these great large trenches and deep pits all dug up, which proclaimed a “they’re resetting the drainage system” comment from an elder, after which they’ll have to re-do the flooring with new tiling. No signs of any accelerated work, nor are hordes of little dark workers being dumped; no urgency to completion, not even regular speed, as there has been no work in evidence for 3-4 days now (based on when I manage to drive by there). I did take some pics, but currently don’t have the mechanism to make them reach this pc, so that’s all pended for a later update.

Humidity and heat in the atmosphere elicited a comment from a 10-year old who pompously stated that it was so hot because of all the steam in the air. Trust good ol’ brain-farted me, who spent a good 10-minutes explaining to him the difference between humidity and steam, only for him to remark, in the manner of all 10-year olds, “I know!”, leaving me feeling pretty uncomfortable. Sadly, I avoided a 10-year old kid for the rest of our excursion trip.

Otherwise things are going on. Life goes on and the dents you try to make are pretty soon popped out by the pressure of everyday events. The huge dent put in by MJ with his death and memorial and all has already started filling in, where you can spend 3/4 hours on the telly without seeing an MJ story. QoT’s rant on Joe Jackson’s mug notwithstanding, the key players in the children’s money custody drama to emerge are more busy with lawyers and stuff than ever, who shall be ignore by the media until something untoward happens, such is the twisted demand of the viewing masses.

The Renissance Day holiday has been announced on Saturday, the 25th. All talks of the govt joining the Islamic Holiday of Israa’ wal Me’raaj and Renaissance Day have evaporated with only 2 discrete off days in 2 consecutive weeks. Good thing though that the extended weekend shall bring more people out of their houses if the current overcast condition prevail till Saturday, as it did Monday.

Stay In Peace.

-FK

Advertisements




Kill ’em Infidels!! The Fatwas

12 07 2009

(from Part 1)

The prevalent attitude of the Saudi ruling family pertain to something like “do what you want to do, just let us do what we want to do. If you interfere in what we want to do, you get snapped”. Consider it a zero-tolerance, mutual existence governance. In order to defer the responsibility of running the country, the govt has many councils and committees who act almost-independently, working to keep the country running, while the Saud family do what they do best. This manifests itself as a collection of organizations that are one another’s peers and have their own fields of activity, working independently, sometimes overlapping. Conflicts are often resolved on a case-to-case basis, often with the intervention of a Saud family member, since no governing rule exists. Placeholding rules are there, but they are precisely that, placeholders.

This has given the CPVPV (and other councils/committees) a very free hand to do whatever they want to do. And since the CPVPV has learnt which toes not to step on, they run pretty much scot free. The fatwas they decide to get implemented, they do themselves, since they have their own force, no police co-op required. And since words are cheap, they say pretty much whatever they want to. Add to this mix the cold-war with the al-Azhar university to become the official voice of Islam, and you have a plothera of fatwas, left and right. Below are some of the more wonderfully stupid samplings. Note: I do NOT follow, believe, nor promote these in any way. Sources might be biased. Make your own decisions.

Shias are infidels. The scholars are definitely infidels, the people, unknown.

...unislamic pic unrelated...

All Shias are infidels

Pokemon is haraam.

Saudi Women must cover one eye.

Pet animals are a threat to morality

OK to slap wives

Pigeon-breeding forbidden: act of sodomites

Soccer is forbidden.

Mice are to be exterminated: Mickey Mouse is haraam

Travelling haraam during Swine ‘flu

International Jihad haraam

Women-only health clubs haraam (arabic)

Women cannot go online without a male guardian

Women can hit back: outrage over fatwa

Cheating on non-Muslim wives/women okay

Islamic banking unIslamic (okay, this one is from Pakistan)

and so on…

I’m sure if there are any reader from the Kingdom, they’ll attest to the day-to-day challenges and issues that arise out of a simple inconvenience of following rules and regulations that are quite unique in the Islamic world. True, that following the Islamic law to the spirit is not very prevalent in the current world scenario, but there are places where that does happen, and it does not look anything like what SA has going on.

The ruling hierarchy in SA most often than not turns a blind eye on these rulings. In individual cases, their acts can overrule the religious fatwa (such as the release of the film produced by a Prince, support for soccer, traveling to the USA during swine flu season etc), but not vice versa. Also, they have the luxury of getting fatwas issues, such as fatwas against a few writers who were critical of the Saudi regime. After all, they are the rulers, right.

But the religious faction is all set to exercise its ruling rights too. Sweeping powers to issue laws and get them implemented does get to the head after a while. Currently, the Saud family has managed to curb the need-to-rule of the religious fraternity, but this need has previously, and again shall rise. The religion-fuelled activities in the wake of 9/11 led to some activity which was squashed. Something might gel them again. Think of it as two balloons with equal length strings in the same hand, both trying to occupy the same place and constantly bumping into one another.

The Saud family’s bump is currently stronger.

-FK





Mixing it up…

1 07 2009

DSC00956

… at the ROP traffic police office in Qurum. The window, for women only, being ‘manned’ by women, had 2 male customers! OTOH, he ‘did’ have his wife/a female with him, I suppose.

Lately, I’ve noticed that seeing the tiny queues and exclusive counters for women, some men just melt into the background and send the womenfolk to get whatever done. I’ve seen this happening at ticket counters and a lot at govt. offices. What gives? Is this ok?

P.S. Is it allowed to take photos in govt. public service offices?

-FK





Leftist Laughs

24 06 2009

… and then there were leftist cartoons…

Can cartoons be leftist? Well, they sure can, as Barry has shown. And not that only, the satirical content, whilst not so hidden as to be subtly satirical, is out there and brazenly displayed for everyone to see.

The US is promoting democracy in more places than that…

-FK





(Ir+Om)an

17 06 2009

Iran, Oman & the Kish Gas Field

Yup, it’s official. Following my previous posts there was a pending visit, I was waiting for our Deputy Prime Minister to visit but it seems as if I have been upstaged by the govt. and now it is His Majesty himself who is going to pay the newly crowned Iranian President a visit. While this is significant on many levels, it is a bold statement by His Majesty to be the first head of state to visit the Iranian President after his elections. Whilst partial recount is underway, we really don’t know the state of Moosavi supporters’ unrest by the 28th. But it figures that the state police in Iran will have squashed all opposition to make it peaceful enough for our delegation to visit.

And the enoturage is impressive too. ToO states:

His Majesty the Sultan will be accompanied by a high level delegation comprising

Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, minister of the Diwan of Royal Court,

Gen. Ali bin Majid Al Ma’amari, Royal Office minister;

Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, minister responsible for foreign affairs;

Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, minister of national economy and deputy chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council;

Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al Rowas, His Majesty the Sultan’s adviser for cultural affairs,

Dr Ali bin Mohammed bin Moosa, minister of health;

Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, commerce and industry minister;

Lt.-General Malik bin Sulaiman Al Ma’amari, inspector-general of police and customs,

Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Romhi, minister of oil and gas,

Sheikh Yahya bin Abdullah Al Fannah Al Araimi, the Sultanate’s ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Nice! That’s 7 ministers, 10 portfolios and 13 heads of profiles and 1 Head of State. Seems like Oman will get a corner of the international media for this event, since all spotlights are pointing there already. Oman will be like a minor character in a play suddenly sharing the stage with the main female lead who has been hogging the stage. Now whether this character uses this opportunity to do something screenworthy and make her presence felt or will just pass on the glass of water, play his minor part and exit left, is yet to be seen. Hoping it is the former, expected to be the latter.

But then again, expect important development to happen on the Gas Sharing thingies floating around. With the ongoing gas field deals, the joint gas and energy company setup, tourism and infrastructure deals setup, I want to think that nuclear issues are also going to be discussed, however I don’t think that is going to be announced anywhere.

Well, let’s see.

-FK





’tis getting hot-ter in here… so take off (uh uh)

1 06 2009

There is a typical suspicion of  all negative-event-monitoring-official agencies in the region. Naturally. The built-in GCC-ian deafult settings to always see a rosy picture, even if false, is so overriding as to be numbing sometimes.

So, naturally, seeing the heat-mini-boom the last couple of days, Fujairah officially announcing a recorded temperature of 50.2 celcius, and the local official mercury levels still not rising above 50 celcius has naturally raised concerns.

For my part, I officially lay these two questions on the table:

– Will the govt. officially announce the temperature if it measures it to be above 50 celcius?

– What abnormal ‘measures’ shall be taken countrywide in such a case?

Obviously, I’m not expecting the Ministry of Interior to come commenting on my blog!

In the meantime, another juicy tidbit offered up from our car’s thermo:

temp_sun31may

Maybe we can set a panic threshold realtive to my car’s thermometer.

-FK





Railway – More Oil – More Undersea Land

31 05 2009

MUSCAT – Gulf Arab finance ministers have asked Price Waterhouse Coopers to study how the region should share common customs revenues, the last step in implementing a regional customs union, officials said on Saturday.

Whilst this is a long-pending issue (it was decided in principle in 2003), but the load unbalance in terms of incoming ports and goods dissipation due to inland transport means that some formula has to be worked out to maintain who gets how much of the customs earnings. The obvious way is to note the custom levied per item, the final listed destination of the item and then pay that amount to that country annually/whatever. This would not only promote a common interface port, or the biggest ports (UAE, Sohar), but also reduce good-travel-costs within the GCC, due to decreased/no within-GCC customs.

Furthermore,

GCC finance ministers also discussed a common railway grid on Saturday, Hinai said without giving 
further details. One of the proposals presented to the ministers was to extend the GCC railway to the Yemen’s border, according to a document obtained by Reuters.

Gulf Arab states have been considering setting up a joint company to build a railway costing more than $14 billion linking the nations.

The 1,940-kilometre (1,205 mile) railway, which is envisaged to be operational by 2016, would allow diesel-powered trains operating at speeds of up to 200 kilometres an hour to carry passengers and freight between GCC countries, which are in the process of forming a regional economic bloc.

Cool… we shall implement a railway in 2016, which is already about 200 years behind the countries that matter, and to lay it on even more, they’re going to be ‘diesel’ trains! Woohoo!! We’re the richest economic bloc in the world, we’ve got the biggest natural resources reserves ever, we’re getting the world’s most delayed railway project, & we’re running diesel engines in the same area as the world’s greenest planned city (in Abu Dhabi). Nice!

Oman will raise its crude oil production to up to 830,000 barrels per day by the end of this year, oil minister Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhy said on Saturday.

Nice.. more oil means more revenue right.

Al Rumhy said Opec’s recent decision not to change oil output was a “good one” and crude oil prices at $55-$70 a barrel were “reasonable”.

Nice, Nice. OPEC cuts output, which increases prices. Oman, not being a member of OPEC, boosts production. Since prices are already high, Oman sells oil at higher rates! Yippee!!

Oman has spent heavily on a variety of long-term programmes to enhance oil recovery from aging fields.

The efforts appear to have begun paying off with Omani output rising last year for the first time since 
peaking in 2001. Analysts feel that the quality and price of Oman’s benchmark crude oil would deteriorate as it steps up efforts to raise output from ageing fields.

Yup. Wonder what the next plan is?

And lastly,

MUSCAT — The Sultanate has submitted its request for expanding its continental shelf boundaries beyond the economic zone at the UN Maritime Office.

What? What does that even mean?

Oman wants to preserve its natural resources on the seabed and soil within the continental shelf zone below the neighbouring high seas opposite its shores, said Salim bin Abdullah Al Alwi, head of the Continental Shelf and Maritime Affairs Office at the Foreign Ministry.

It will be be followed by sea seismic surveys to support its right for the demarcation of its continental shelf boundaries.

The move will bring huge economic benefits in terms of exploiting the non-living resources such as minerals and oil.

Accordint to Article 76 of the UN Convention on Maritime Law for 1982, the continental shelf is beneath the deluged land extending 350 nautic miles from the baseline to overseas.

Ahh!

The continental shelf is the physically demarcated rock shelf which is the slope that rises and rises and leaves the water and starts becoming the land of the country. A few hundred miles into the sea, the rocky bed either shelves off (cliffs and such) or its physical thingies change (constitution, slope, rock-type) marking a transition from the continental shelf to the sea-bed.

So this baseline is considered a part of the country’s land for all intents and purposes (let’s put a post office there). The Maritime Law provides for 350 miles beyond this as part of the country itself, thus giving Oman ownership of all the fishes and sand and the goody goody things also, like the oil and the copper and the what-not.

Let’s make an underwater restaurant!

-FK