Friday, December 05, 2008

NYC & Miami: Here we come

Don't even start; I know this isn't the best time to visit, but it just happened. Yes you read it right, it just happened! We were heading to Reunion, Mauritius and Seychelles for 2 weeks, taking advantage of Eid holidays, it did not work out for several reasons so we booked one week in Thailand, all set to go, the protestors blocked the airport and it would not finish so we canceled......

We were running out of time so we decided to go Malaysia and Singapore but the flights were booked and we had to be on waiting list and take a long route for a short holiday, it was not worth it, plus we just got back from there this summer.

What do we do? My wife wanted us to head to London, oh no, please not again, I find it boring, sorry if I offend anyone, but London is not for me. We kept going back and forth and then……….. it dawned on me, we have visas to America and there are direct flights to New York plus we have not been there together. We got friends and family in both cities and they are amazing places to visit for entertainment for short time.

So yes it all happened in the last 5 days, we are booked and ready to go folks…

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sail Oman: Marketing Oman Strategically

The official Logo

There are many ways of selling your product and one of them is positioning. Using sailing boats to compete in races globally is spot on. Associating a country with this kind of sport is excellent in my opinion.

A model of real sailing boat presented to the honorary guest

In terms of investment, it’s cheaper than throwing money on TV ads or pulling a crazy publicity stunt by building a structure that costs billions of dollars. Sailing is associated with folks with cash and that is what we want as country in terms of tourism. If you recall, Rolex, UBS Private Banking and the likes always try to associate with competitive sailing because these are the hobbies of their target market.

They had two real sailing boat in the water and two on land

Oman now has its own sailing boats and they are investing in having Omanis man the boats and compete in races around the world. In the presentation officially launching the sail boats, I was truly dazzled with the idea. The female world record holder for sailing around the world solo,Shirley Robertson, gave a speech and we saw video clips of her extraordinary journey.

The band played music while we feasted

I later went into the Bustan Palace Hotel for the first time after its renovation and I have to say, I was very impressed. They no longer have the tacky loud shouting colored furniture; they have done it this time with elegance.

Shirley Robertson telling us her story

Double Mabrook on the great jobs Oman.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Egyptian Arabic

They call it 'Aswaq' not even Souq for one shop, mama mia

Wow, I didn't know that was an Arabic word

Check out the word for Bus

Wow that is Arabic

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cityscape Dubai: Look at me, I also got real estate to sell

Shiekh Mo gracing the exhibition

Wow, someone actually trying to sell real estate

I was in Dubai for Cityscape, supposedly the biggest real exhibition in the world, this was the final glimmer of hope for the world in the real estate market, if this succeeds, the real estate market could take a breather, well we all know what happened next.
The Bubble show

VIP room with real grass at the entrance

Being there I was in astonished, not at the weird building being presented, crazy concepts of architecture, number of exhibitors, visitors but at the amount of beautiful women being flown in from around the world as models and the bizarre gimmicks the developers were using to attract attention to their stand.
Neon Violin

The gimmicks had nothing to do with development, but then again having hot babes in skanky cloths selling sports cars and perfumes, has not to do with the product they are selling. Saying that there were some really attention- grabbing exhibition stands, besides development models with scales unseen before with lights and smoke, there were some exhibitors with a cinema room with drinks and snacks, another with a bar setting with funky night club dressed sales people, one had a coffee shop with an espresso machine and Starbucks feel to it, another had sales ladies wearing hijabs, one even had a real grass pitch with VIP room that needed a password to get into and the list continues.
The Table Lady

But some even went further, with a table lady, the bubble musician, the dancing ‘Moulin Rouge’ dressed models, and the Chllo player. All in all it’s an entertaining spectacle worth a watch even if your not interested in buying real estate.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bangladesh Night in Oman

With 700 albums to her name, she is a legend in Bangladesh

I get call on Wednesday and I was invited to go to Bangladesh Night in Oman in Qurum Amphitheater the next day. It’s a night that showcases Bengali musical talent. I am not a fan of that type of Music but I was obliged to go since I was given a VIP card and special access card from the main sponsor, Oman International Exchange.
With 16,000 songs published, I figured it would take her over 43.5 years if she recorded a song a day! Now that’s quality, Not!

Getting there was an eye opener as security was tight, thousands of people waiting, in the parking area, crowds pushing each other to get closer to the gate, riot police in full gear, TV crews, journalist, cameramen. What is happening? This is much bigger event that I thought it was.
Front raw, VIP's only please.

Getting in through the crowds with ease, because of the access card and going into the VIP lounge, was a treat. No less than 20 ambassadors and many other diplomats and dignitaries were waiting for the show to start. Wow, what am I doing here, I am neither of the above.
The lucky few who got in first

When we were told to head to the concert and sit in the designated area for VIP’s, I was in shock at the amount of people in the amphitheater and the crowds who were trying to get in and being turned back even though they have tickets, this was crazy, this was equivalent to watching Madonna in concert for Bangladeshis in Oman.
Bangali Rock Star

Bangali Idols

The show was different to what I am used to for a concert. There were many famous Bengali celebrities, singing a song and then leavening the stage to have another singer sing one song. Most interestingly, I met the owner, who happens to be Bangladeshi to my surprise, of the world renowned nightclub of Dubai ‘ Cyclone’.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Things that make you say hmmmmmmmmmmm in Egypt

The 2008 Mummy edition, he travels by plane too

Ramp it boy, no climbing around here

Check out the sexy lips and piano fingers

No anchoring or fish feeding buddy

So you don't get scammed by the famous hustlers

The sign on the Shuttle from the plane to the airport? What is that? Who will have french fries or ice cream coming of a plane?

Who needs a goverment issued plate number when you can make one at home

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Egypt: Senses overload

The view from our hotel

Kayos, overwhelmed, cluster phobia, overcrowded, pollution, mayhem is my impression of Cairo, the city that never sleeps. This place is not a place to go and relax and chill, it’s a place were your senses get overloaded with a million of things happening at the same time.

El Gouna, picture perfect

We attended a wedding, which was great fun, so we were mostly consumed by that, but we also took some time off and went Hurghada and El Gouna, which was at a chilled out pace and normal.

Egypt's landmark

You never get to see the Sphinx's tail for somereason

Sadly we only got to see the pyramids form a historic sense, the good news was this country has improved tremendously in terms of order as I did not get harassed by corrupt cops, hustlers and vendors on the street like the first time I visited in 1999. My aim is to go the Valley of Kings one day and see the wonders the place has.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


My affectionate Jebal dog

Life has been super hectic for me with lot of stuff happening. Good things mostly but not adventures or outdoorish. I need some time off.

After the operation, sedated and in pain

I have been working super long hours, taking work home, lots of pressure, traveled to Egypt and the UAE for work for a few days, I have sorted out getting my car permit, which I imported from US through Dubai and was not allowed into Oman, after months of running up and down, my boat keeps breaking down and sorting out the parts are not always easy, my pet fish of 10 years died of old age, my dog had a lump and operation was done to remove it, my brother is getting married, my Aunt & uncle and a few cousins have come from South America and Europe to stay with us for the wedding and end of the year season, we moved houses again and we settled in, we have fumigated the out side of the house a few times after finding scorpions and snakes around the yard and we waiting for furniture we ordered to arrive, my camera broke

The Tumor from my dog

So I am distracted from blogging but I hope things will settle down in the next couple of weeks.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Syria, here we,, NO

We have wanted to go to Syria for sometime; I personally am fascinated with Damascus’ history. To me its one of the last real authentic cities left in Arabia, or at least I think so and I am about to find out.

So we are all prepared to go during Eid and then a bomb goes off near the old town……….its random and it kills 17 people. We change plans and decide to go to Greece, I run around to get the visa documents only to find the visa will not be ready on time, so we decide what the heck, lets go to Syria another bomb wont happen again, then BAM, a bomb in Tripoli, Lebanon.

Was it in retaliation? Was it Random? Whatever it is, we dropped the idea, and we need to figure out what to do for Eid.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Majlis Al Jinn: The Last Decent

Were you lucky to see this?

Many people have not heard of the 2nd biggest cave chamber in the world which is 3 hours drive from Muscat, Oman. I am referring to people locally, regionally and internationally. I can't blame the though, the road to get there is rough and really steep, and once you get there, you don't get to see anything except 2 holes which are not clear and you cant tell how deep or big the place is.

Why should anyone travel up the rough steep road to see this?

The place was originaly called Muqandely, but in 1984 or so a westerner descent into it for the time and announced to world the size of the chamber. People in Oman made up stories and the myth started rolling and the new name came about ‘Majlis Al Jinn’ which means literally the sprits seating area or the spirits hangout. Creepy, scary for most but when we were told that we can decent into it, I jumped on the wagon. How can I miss such a chance, what a feat! An adventure that I will always remember.

Can you see the climber?

Well it was not that easy descending into 160m chamber, because it also meant coming up and that was equivalent to one and half hour of squads! So it’s not only learning the robs, but also being fit, which I am not. I had my thoughts and wanted to pull out because of my fitness level, but my friends told me that we are the last batch of people allowed to go down, the ministry has banned it due the irresponsible act of very few people who were throwing trash into this sensitive eco system that has not been touched by man for millions of years. Less the 200 have been down this cave only according to our guide. Knowing that made me determined to go down and I pushed myself physically for this adventure and learned the robs.

Going into the the unkown........... the dark world

When we got to Majlis Al Jin early in the day I was asked to go down first, there was a batch that went the day before. It was scary by all means, I can not see where I am going down to, I have to go down a tight hole for 15m to 20m, I do not have a guide with me helping or showing the way going down, there was however a guide waiting all the way at the bottom.

Can you see the six guys in the bottom?

So I start decenting knowing that I have to trust the robs and what I learned in the past couple of weeks, it was scary going down the first 20m but after I passed the tight hole, I saw this massive chamber, I was dazzled, in a state of shock, afraid, my adrenalin shot up even more, all alone in massive chamber which is 4 million cubic meter large, I could not describe the feeling since I have never encountered such a thing. My first instinct was to look for the guide below, but he was no where to be found, I freaked out and started shouting asking him to stop messing around and wait for me, but I could hear or see no one.

Ghost or scarifies ?

All I can see is the biggest ‘room’ I have ever seen in my life and I was all alone, I could not go up, the robs were too tricky to handle and adjust, and I needed to go down, slowly or I might mess up the devices that could overheat if went down too fast and if that happened it would not function and it would give way. I shouted and shouted but could hardly hear or see anything, all I can see is some white tissue at the end of the rob.

We ain't in the Ocean this is the Spirts Hangout

I descended slowly looking for the guide and listing to my echo, the lower I went the more I hear a faint noise, no it never crossed my mind it was the sprits, I knew it was the guide but why was he hiding and messing with me, I kept going down and after 15 minutes I saw the white tissue moving and the voice of the guide getting clearer, holy moly, the tissue was the guide’s helmet and he was so far away that I could not see him. How big is this place? Wow by now I have calmed down a bit, and it was time to take photos and get down less nervous…………

The rockallites from another planet

When I got down, my legs were numb from the straps around my legs and robs, it took me 15 minutes to get my circulation back to normal , I walked around cave amazed, flabbergast, stunned at the size and sight of it. The 2 cave openings that were emitting light as if it was a spaceship, I could see carcasses of animals that were scarified for the spirits, with their legs tied up, I saw a few crystallites or should I say ‘rockallites’ that looked as if I was in another plant, I also saw coral ! am I on still earth.

Can you see the people at the bottom trying to pose by the beam?

What can I say? I made it all the way down, I waited for my friends who come down one by one and we took some photos, now it was time to do the start the squads and go up, the boring part, the difficult part but having gone down the 2nd biggest chamber in the world and knowing that this was the final decent for anyone into the 2nd biggest chamber in the world, gave me a satisfaction like no other.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Brunei: The Gulf Cooperation Councils’ 7th the state

Only in Brunei will you find this much peace in a country's capital

Happy, friendly people

Most people have hard time pin pointing where Brunei is on the map of the world. Even if you look for it, it’s not easy to find this tiny sultanate. Ironically, it’s famous for prince Jeffery’s wild spending antics, including giving a waiter a tip of over $ 150,000/-.

The main and only theater in down town

The main Down Town Shopping Mall area During the week without a single person around

This rich little state should ideally be in the Arabian Gulf, but somehow, millions of years ago, when continents were moving, it was pushed far away from us. Everything about it, resemble our states, it’s a carbon copy of the GCC, from its small population size( population estimated at 350,000 only), to its economy which is depend on oil and gas, to its judicial system (which is loosely based on Islam), to the amount of power its royal family has, to its tax free economy to even the heavily state subsidies perks its people get.

Water fall in the Capital

Architecture Bernie Style

Brunei is lush green and its capital Bander Seri Bhagwan, is tiny and dies out completely by 8 p.m. The place is so peaceful and safe. You really forget that you are in a county’s capital. The floating village, housing constructed by the government, is a major highlight of the country and I found it amazing how a capital in this day and age exist with most of its population living on water! Adding its calmness is sighting monkeys walking around its capital, without fear of getting harmed. People in Brunei are nice, with a great sense of pride, good natured, and with big smiles.

Brunei style mosque

Down Town

The country’s roads, parks and basic facilities are in immaculate condition. And just like GCC countries, Brunei has is its own white elephants from its free, non-functioning, amusement park, to its Empire Hotel, a dazzling, mind boggling empty hotel. This country is pleasant but unless you have a couple of days to spare and want to do something for the sake of doing it, I would not recommend stopping here.