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.


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.


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!


A Pulitzer & a Peabody…

20 05 2009

C’mon. Bring on the honors and the awards. Journalism cannot go any higher!

Times of Oman says:

ROP Extradites thief from EU

Royal Oman Police has managed to extradite a thief from an EU country, who was convicted in a criminal case he committed in the Sultanate. The ROP had received a complaint from the bank informing that an unknown person had illegally installed a device at the bank’s ATM.

Lets try and list the ambiguities here! “A thief”, “an EU country”, “a criminal case”, “unknown person”, “some ATM”…

Wow! The only way I think we can improve on this is:

At some date, someone did something and then something else was done by someone else.

That would surely get an award!

Another gem of a news that we see in the paper today is:

Metrology Day

The Sultanate will today join other countries of the world to mark the World Metrology Day which falls on May 20 every year.

And then I was like, so, are we like, actually doing something about it? How do you mark a day? On the calendar. That’s it?


Seems like they are in competition with Fox News!!


Update: Seems the wonderful piece of investigative journalism was half-heatedly copied from the ONA. Atleast they have a better worded article.

ROP Extradites thief from EU

Muscat, May 19 (ONA)—Royal Oman Police (ROP) has managed to extradite a fugitive robber from an EU country, who was convicted in a criminal case he committed in the Sultanate.

The Anti-Economic Crime Department at ROP had received a complaint from a bank informing that an unknown person had illegally installed a robbery device at the bank’s ATM. After investigating the matter it was confirmed that the convicted had fled the Sultanate.

Due to co-operation with Arab and International Police and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) the fugitive was captured in Spain and extradited by Spain’s Judiciary to the Sultanate to spend a year and three-months in jail.


Seems the Times of Oman copy/paste was a bit too hasty. And they didn’t even credit the ONA for the other one!

Here’s the ONA original:

World Metrology Day Marked

Muscat, May 19 (ONA)—The Sultanate will tomorrow (Wednesday) join other countries of the world to mark the World Metrology Day which falls on May the 20th every year.

The science of metrology has been important for public life since all have realized the importance of measuring and it’s impact on countries economies and necessity for establishing national systems that meet international requirements.

Owing to development experience by the world, the openness endeavours in the world as to reach a world-class markets to streamlining flow of commodities, rules and regulations have been devised to meet the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. The developed countries are therefore spending about 62% of their GDP on metrology infrastructure to cut trade exchange costs and improve quality of products and industrial process and protect health of individuals and the environment.

The Sultanate has been working hard to develop the metrology systems by updating the National Measurement and Standardization System to strengthen the national economy, promote competitiveness in various spheres. The systems also aim to establish infrastructure for scientific and legal measurements.


Pulit for the 1st and a Pea for the 2nd.


The Car will Simulate a Car!

10 05 2009

Chief Reporter of Gulf News reports that “Learner Drivers to be Trained on Simulator”. Wow! I think. I gotta see this one. I had an image of the X-drive ride thingy (that was in Wadi Kabir garden some eons ago). A cocoon completely on weird hydraulics that would move everywhere and filled inside with a grand 360-degree display unit, awesome sound system and big-ass techno-software that would control everything!

Guess what? Flagderash!

The licensing agency of the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has acquired a ‘vehicle’ simulator which will help assess the abilities of learners.

“The technology used in the system is quite unique and unprecedented worldwide as it is the sole system that uses vehicles physically,” said a senior official.

The vehicle is driven using a steering wheel with mobile monitors on both sides of the vehicle to reflect the driving speed.

Aww jeez, c’mon! System is unique ‘coz it uses a ‘car’!?? It’s a SIMULATOR! It’s NOT supposed to use a car! Who comes up with these ideas!!? Even more, who comes up with these articles??!

The vehicle is driven using a steering wheel with mobile monitors on both sides of the vehicle to reflect the driving speed.

The technology is different from other simulator technologies as it gives the driver a real feel of road conditions[…]

Mobile monitors? What? The monitors move or something? Maybe they’ve got 10 monitors per side and each monitor shows a still image and the monitors move backwards in a loop to give the impression that the car is moving forwards!

Needless to say, I have questions. Is the car started? Is it turned off? Is there feedback from the engine (forex when the driver lets off the accelerator and does not yet engage the brake). Does the engine sound appropriately to assist in shifting gears? Is the power steering turned on? Is turning the steering wheel on a stationary car the same as turning one on a moving car? Do they allow for G-forces in case of sudden braking and sudden acceleration?

Maybe I can train ppl in my car on a private roadway and call it a simulator that trains “without risking the life of the trainee or other road users”.



Growing Water

10 05 2009

“Supplier of Illegal Stuff Warned” Ooooo.. What  a headline! Now that’s a novel concept! Warning someone for Illegal “Stuff”. Not illegal alcohol, illegal marijuana but illegal “stuff”. Has a james bond-style sound to it!

“Hi there buddy. Whachu upto?”



So, Gulf news has national-level, sensational and ground-breaking news about how the supplier of some illegal stuff was “warned” in Ras al-Khaimah. Seems that RAK has experienced a sudden influx of “growing water“. It is, as per them, “an item” that expands rapidly once it comes in contact with liquid. When it is placed in the mouth, it grows in size, sometimes up to 10 times, and if swallowed it explodes in the stomach. Ooo.. exploding stomach. But Mentos does that too, right? Or maybe not!

So we have something that expands rapidly when it becomes wet and, as usual, children in schools are wreaking havoc with it. Hee hee! Sounds just right! If I were there, I’d just put it in the pants’ hind-area of a friend I have in mind right now, and pour a glass of water down her pants! Yippee!!

So what do the authorities do? Find the supplier, warn him. When more evidence of supply is found, warn him again. Reason? It is a “dangerous item” and needs to be “prevented from reaching the market“.

Now for my rant!

Expanding stuff is dangerous when injested? Well so are chainsaws when juggled with! And so are flaming cocktails when drunk sloppily. And I won’t even mention vehicular drivers.

But then what about things that are made to expand. Potting soil that grows to 14 times its size in 2-5 minutes! Soil jelly that fills a flowerpot from a pinch of crystals. I’d google more but get my point?

Short rant!


Facilitating Facilities!

6 05 2009

The Tribune reports (through its ‘Special Correspondent’. What’s the deal with these Special Correspondents anyway? What makes them so special!!?) that “Major tourism destinations are going to get ‘facilities’“. Oh great, I thought! They are going to destroy these spots with a paved road, a canteen, possibly 5-6 shops including a petrol station and mebbe even a hotel! But then, reading into the article, I realized that the ‘facilities’ meant facilities not facilities. As in facilities with a nudge and a meaningful look with an eye movement in the right direction.

Okay, so they are going to construct ‘loos! And my, what a well-worded and planned ‘loo project.

[…]the Ministry of Tourism has already assigned tenders with the local companies to construct 16 amenity blocks. Each block will have 6 to 10 toilets for men and women, special needs facilities and room for a cleaner.

Nice! A Room in a ‘Loo! Maybe that’ll be the title of my next book!

[…] The new development activities being taken up now would bring in 16 toilets of the first phase of 125 toilets […] at 12 wilayats in Muscat and Al Buraimi governorates, besides Al Sharqiyah, Al Dakhiliyah, Al Wusta and Al Batinah regions.

What?! How many? 125?

[…]  the Ministry of Tourism has set a target of attracting 12 million visitors by the year 2020.

So, 125 loos for 12 million visitors? 9600 ppl per loo? 26 people everyday? 1 point something-something person per  hour? Hmm… Works! :p  (I just did a ‘loo-laysis)

Provision of quality visitor facilities is central to the Ministry of Tourism’s plans to position Oman as a quality destination, the official said.

Of course! Why not! Lots of ‘loos! Yayy! Now I can go anywhere!


*meaningful look*

P.S. I want one like this!!


By The Order of Zion

5 05 2009

Undercover Dragon from Suburban from Muscati has a nice piece on the Zionist Conspiracy uncovered by Essa Zajdali in the Times of Oman.

According to Essa, This whole Piracy nonsense was set up by the Jews to shut down the shipping lanes through the Suez Canal, thereby Financially Choking an already poor Egypt, and destabilizing THE ENTIRE ARAB WORLD!!!!!

Join me in applauding Essa Al Zedjali, Editor in Chief of the Times of Oman, for using front page space, on World Press Freedom Day to help spread ingnornace and hatred throughout the world with his Crazed, Psychotic, Paranoid rant on the evils of Israeli/Somali Piracy.

What an ass.

UD has this little nugget for us:

Does Essa actually read this stuff? Or is he perhaps on life support and this is his henchmen / apparatchiks under the pay of…. someone else?

Some might call him a towering monument to the level of intellectual public debate we have here in the Omani press.

However, I think one of his apparatchiks has stumbled onto our humble blogosphere and managed to even read something which *shudder* common people are saying. “T” says:

He is a man that we do not agree with, but that should not stop him from writing. Why do you guys pick on him only when jews are the center of his story?? He writes lots of non sense!!!!!

He worked hard (smart) enough to own a newspaper, what did you bunch of losers do?? Clap a hand for running a blog.

His analysis is stupid, but there are people who love what he writes and that is why he writes it, simple.
I say Mr. Essa write whatever you wanna write and leave these losers shaking there heads.

T, yup there are people who love what he writes but there are even more people who don’t love what he writes. And since he writes for the masses, I think he should actually try and see what people/paper readers think of his writing and

Mr. T

Mr. T - Google Says So!

incorporate that feedback in his writings. If he wants to write stupid things, tell him to start a blog!

The problem is that he is a senior editor of a widely-circulated paper of the Sultanate. The quality of his writing is, for good or worse, considered a reflection of the people reading the paper, and in general, a reflection of the people. If we are thought to be reading and accepting such drivel, we are all thought to be weirdos. Sadly, that we are not. and even more sadly, I don’t accept being represented as an idiot.

Do ALL the people in Iran spew Anti-America rhetoric at every opportunity? No! But the international community thinks so because the most visible person, the Iranian President, does so. So his actions become a representation of the common mindset. Zadjali is a very visible guy. So he should be a better reflection of the (intellectual) masses of his readers. He has even said that Hitler was justified in his actions against the Jews. Do we all agree? O_o

After all, a news paper should be a bit more intelligent than its most intelligent reader, otherwise its not worth reading.

As for us little chipmunks, we’re running blogs ‘coz we know better than to stuff our stupid li’l opinion down people’s throats. There are other people for that!


Inflation: Down, Reserves: Up

27 04 2009

Oman has lots ‘o’ money. Which is good, ‘coz inflation drops. And it did (bottom half). As for the budget surplus, I really can’t tell what to do with it. Medical services is one field that comes to mind. I’m still being harangued by these private medical clinics whose interest lies more in the bottom line rather than sick people. I really do think that education (specially higher and professional education), medical services and emergency/civil services are very much no-go areas for private companies. NO, at all costs. Since in these areas the quality of service provided HAS to be dependant on nothing, not something as stupid as the bottom line, comparatively. A person’s knowledge level/mental treatment, physical treatment and saving lives has no value. Private entities are going to squeeze you for it. Who can easily stop using a medicine or forego the fire brigade just ‘coz he/she can’t pay for it?

Anyhooo, we have a surplus. Maybe we can get a govt-run hospital where expats are allowed? Allowed peace of mind?

This should be apicture of a newspaper clipping!

This should be a picture of a newspaper clipping! http://archive.gulfnews.com/articles/09/04/13/10303653.html

Menafn reports that Oman’s inflation index has decreased from 9.4% to 7.9%. They say this is due to lower prices of crops, fuel and other thingies. The break down of the General Index is interesting:

Jan 2008: 9.4%  v/s  Feb 2009: 7.9%

Jan 2009: 8.1%  v/s  Feb 2009: 7.9%

Foodstuff, soft drinks & tobacco:  -1.7%

Crops & Products to:  -2.1%

Meat & Poultry:  -1.5%

Oil & Fats:  -2%

Fisheries:  -5.3%

Milk & Products:  -2.7%

Transport & Communications Group:  -0.1%

Personal commodities & other service:  +4.9%

Textile, readymade garments, shoes, medical services & education services: +-0%

House leasing, electricity, water and fuel:  +0.2%

Furniture & Households:  +0.4%

Recreational & Cultural services:  +0.2%

Go Fish!