Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

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Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jun 25, 2011 1:30 pm

This is a picture of us taken June 2010 on the evening of the school prom at British School Muscat. The auld yin is in the back (wearing black to disguise my paunch !), my wife Jasmin is beside me, Lachlan is in the James Bond style DJ (tux if you're 'Murcan) and Hazel sitting in front (ahh bonnie wee lamb !)

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Two or three years ago, a picture of us on a day trip into the mountains. This was in Rustaq Fort, miles and miles from the sea (don't you just hate being far from the sea ?!)

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This year's Burns Supper by the Caledonian Society of Oman held at Marina Al Bander Rowhda, Muscat. Lachlan is on the left, just before the haggis was piped in. The Chef in the middle is Executive Chef Austin Reid (a Glaswegian) of the Intercontinental Hotel, Muscat. He was mentoring Lachlan during his internship at the Intercon while training at Gulf Chef School, NHI, Muscat.

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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby numberplease » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:14 pm

Fantastic pictures Lachlan. How long have you lived in Oman, and would you recommend it?
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sun Jun 26, 2011 5:18 am

Hi
It’s hard to think we’ve been here almost 5 years ! I came here first on my own in August 2006, as my family and I were pretty fed up with the London situation and a chance came with my work to come to Oman (a country I’d barely heard of). So I was sent ahead to take over from another QS who was leaving Oman, did a couple of trips back and forward, my company got a rental house organised and in October, out we all came full-time.

This is our first time in the Gulf/Middle East. Previously, we’d been in the London area and I was a late starter in going abroad. From Edinburgh, I’d emigrated to London in 1984 and worked there until a chance to go to Hong Kong came up in 1992 to work alongside the Dutch. I was there for 2 years on the marine reclamation works for the new Hong Kong airport. From then on, I had the “abroad bug”. It was a pity that there were fallow times when construction projects were rare or not at the right time, so I returned to the company in London (so at least I had work). I met my wife in HK and we’ve been together ever since. We went to Indonesia with the Dutch for 4 years (we thoroughly loved it), came back to UK, then the Philippines with the Dutch for 2 years, plus short stints in Singapore and Malaysia, then the UK again. In 2006 I explored chances and although no Far East/SE Asia jobs were on the cards, my employer had a project in Oman I could go to. So out we came.

As Muslim Arab countries go, I would recommend Oman.

For a holiday, it’s got lovely beaches, there are very good international hotels like Hyatt, Shangri La/Bar Al Jissah resort, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, Chedi, plus a few nice resorts. The South of the country near Salalah is very lush and tropical during monsoon season. The scenery is dramatic and has deep ravines and mountains, wadis and oases, deserts and dunes. You can go on organised trips into the interior to arab-style camp sites beside oases or dune-bashing in 4 x 4’s, or swimming in cold waters in the djebels. There's also a lot of boating, diving and you can go and watch dolphins and the green turtles. Dubai is 30 minutes by air from Muscat, 3 hours by road. It’s quieter and not so brash as Dubai, so tends to attract older people, people with young families and those who want to explore the souqs, countryside and have some peace away from hustle and bustle. The ruler, Sultan Qaboos, has kept away from over-building, especially trying to keep tall buildings at a minimum and in styles sympathetic (but not slavish) to its culture. My first impression was like a birthday cake-shop, full of lovely white-iced Arabesque b'day cakes !

If you want to live here, if you have a young family, it is peaceful, quiet and picturesque. If you have a teenage family (or you’re young and carefree and up for action) it’s decidedly limited on action. Dubai it isn’t ! Muscat is the capital, situated beside the Arabian Gulf, looking across to Iran. It’s generally a long narrow city, due to the mountains reaching the sea in parts. Most buildings are built on the dry wadi beds between mountains, or else the wider coastal plain to the North. It has licenced hotels with bars/discos, a permit book system allows non-muslims to buy beer, wine and spirits at special, discreet shops. Westerners can generally dress as they wish, but don’t overdo it ! A woman wearing a bikini top and “Daisy Dukes” in a shopping mall is likely to get some nasty stares. Schooling is private and nationalities often set up their own curriculum schools. For British kids there British School (for GCSE's and A's) and also the American-British Academy. The climate is cool October –April (the low 20’s) but the rest is hot (like now) and can go to 50 sometimes. If you’re keen on pork, it can be bought in special shops. Otherwise, most of what you like is available, but expensive as it’s imported. I’ve always got Baxter’s soup in the house ! A Scottish entrepreneur has started up a business here, offering Angus beef, Ayrshire bacon, West Coast lobsters and queenies etc etc.

Though I’ve no real experience of people of other Arab countries, I’m told that Omanis are the best of the lot. Certainly, they seem friendly enough and don’t seem uptight (but there are exceptions). All agree they’re miles better than UAE people, Qataris, Bahrainis and most definitely Kuwaitis and Saudis. The driving and road-sense and safety though is desperately bad. They drive on the American side here, cars are mainly automatic and there’s a lot of SUV’s, CRV’s and 4x4’s. Tailgating at speed is fatally common, lane discipline lamentable, no signalling is usual, kids standing between seats, child sitting on driver’s lap while driver in on his mobile phone doing 120+km/h is typical. There’s a high death rate in vehicle accidents (surprise, surprise !).

You can get a decent curry here (so many Indians here), some are excellent, but Chinese isn’t really wonderful (it tends to be Indian version of Chinese) but is okay.

The project I work on, called the Wave, is Oman’s first foray into attracting foreigners to live. It is an international-quality housing development beside the Arabian Gulf. It’s being released/completed in parts and the whole enterprise has luxury villas, townhouses and apartments. It has a 300+ berth marina being built, there are a network of fresh seawater canals built among the housing areas to give a waterside view to most properties. It also has a grassed Greg Norman designed links golf course being built.

This is the only development in Oman where foreign buyers can buy freehold properties and get automatic residency.

The Wave has a website which you can google easily.
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:11 am

Here's a few assorted pix from 3 or four years ago:-

This was on a boat trip in a bay at Qantab about one hour out of town. You can just make out Omani men in the white dish-dasha goonies on the rocks and 2 women in black abayas on the shore

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A hole in the rocks !

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Jasmin and Lachhave time for a smile !

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I'm sure I could have ssen a tree !

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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby jdcarra » Sun Jun 26, 2011 8:29 am

Excellent informative post accompanied with same nice pics Lachlan :) and welcome to the Kintyre website.Need any tree's? plenty going spare this neck of the woods (slang for part of the country) :lol:.
Carradale's local website

www.the-carradale-goat.co.uk
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sun Jun 26, 2011 11:26 am

Thanks - I hope to post a few more soon !

Heh heh you should see last Hogmanay and Jasmin's birthday party pix from last month ! :D
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby numberplease » Sun Jun 26, 2011 4:34 pm

Brilliantly informative post Lachlan, looking forward to more photos.
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Mon Jun 27, 2011 4:08 am

I’ll upload some more pix hopefully this weekend and post on the right places in the forum:-

a) Kintyre past:- – I have some old family pix taken in and around the family house at Newhouse, nr Ronachan big house. It’s where my dad was brought up. I think one photo shows the A83 in the days before it received tarmac. There’s also a photo or 2 of A’ Chleit from the 1950’s when my Uncle Neil (Weir) and Auntie Maude lived there.
b) Oman:- I’ve a photo or two yet !
c) Indonesia – I’ll have to look hard, I’m not sure what I’ve got.

The amazing thing about the first place in Indonesia where we lived and I worked, Bandar Lampung, Lumpung Probinsi, Sumatera Selatan, was how much the coastal topography looked like Argyll’s West Coast. I could have been up around Knapdale/Loch Sween direction, as this part of Sumatra had similar sea lochs punctuating the landscape and the projecting land rose up out of the sea in rounded ridges, exactly the way they do in Argyll. The only difference was the temperature and the lack of bare rock poking out through the greenery/heather on the hills. In Sumatra, these hills were entirely coated in trees, mainly banana palms (banana palms are actually all-green in fleshy layers with no wood or bark, more like a giant leek really). The sea/hill vista made me feel at home !

In fact, did you know that Highland Scots settled in Indonesia ? It was during the late 1600’s and 1700’s when Highlanders offered their martial skills to various foreign employers. The Dutch had their fair share of Highland soldiers of fortune serving in their overseas army (VOC). The Highlanders served in East Java, Dutch East Indies. It was a peaceful time for them and they were there permanently. Many of these Scots married locally and stayed on even after their service was ended. The scenery reminded them of the Highlands and they even named a wee town where they were based Glenmore. In time, the VOC ended employment of foreigners and as the Scots died out with old age, their descendants lived on. However, today nothing tangible is left of their time and it seems no locals look any different to anywhere else. The town, if it still exists, has a different name. All there is today is a railway stop with the signpost GLENMORE which suggests the name lived on up to at least the railway age, long after the Highlanders were long gone.

It sounds to me that seeing if descendants of the Highlanders live on today, or traces of their time and world remain would be a nice wee archaeological research project for someone, armed with a DNA kit, a videocam and a translator. :D
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:21 am

Hi folks ! I've been off the pc for a few days - here's more photos from around Muscat :D

This was taken a while ago !

Jasmin getting out the sun sheltering in a majlis

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Last edited by Lachlan on Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jul 09, 2011 3:38 am

The bairns negotiating more pocket money ! :(

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The "Auld Yin" posing like Sir Francis Drake (or is it Donald Duck ?) in front of a giant air freshener !


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At the ceilidh ! The Gows in force at an evening open-air concert in Muscat for popular Philippine singing star Regine Velasquez (she's sung with the likes of Frank Sinatra)

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Last edited by Lachlan on Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:57 am

A Muscat city mosque (one of many) at night

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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:13 am

Jasmin's Birthday Party - 12 May 2011!

Here's a motley collection of the birthday bash for my missus we had in our house - food, drink, dancing etc etc :D

Here's Jasmin birthday girl with the first guest to arrive, one of her pals

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Food glorious food ! These are Philippine empanadas, a bit like an Asian Forfar Bridie !

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Trays of Kare-Kare (a sort of Philippine oxtail and aubergine and veg stew in a peanut sauce) and Sweet and Sour Chicken

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Philippine sate sticks

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Philippine Lumpiang Shangai, fried chicken legs and Pansit palabok

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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:53 pm

My niece, Ninalyn, trying out the grub !

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Meanwhile, while Filipino friends are attacking the grub, the Brits and Belgians are attacking the beer ! Ron Boons sitting on left, resigns himself to Kronenbourg 1664 French beer as I didn't get any Belgian grog, me (I'll drink anything), big Rog Cullen about to try out a neat glass of 72% proof Absinthe, Bernie O'Neill and Alan Field (I don't know what went wrong in editing !) deciding 1664 wasn't a bad year for beer !

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Jasmin and Jaqui O'Neill getting into the scran

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Four guests just arrived. They won't look so serious again ! Look out for the guy in the beige top

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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jul 09, 2011 12:58 pm

That's enough food ! Now clear the decks for the tequila shots

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Hazel hugs her best pal, Charmille

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Jasmin, Lachlan and me saw Hazel hug her pal and decided we needed a hug too

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A group of young Omani guests just raring to have fun !

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Re: Greetings From Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Postby Lachlan » Sat Jul 09, 2011 1:06 pm

It's mingling time - dancing can't be far off !

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Chinchin a Filipino family friend and volunteer bar-person going into action - btw there's a of of malts - including Springbank - and other whsikies behind him

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Beginning to fill up - and even a traditional Omani neighbour in his kummar cap and white dish-dasha turns up and doesn't mind us drinking

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Noo, aboot this dancin' ?

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