Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Mid-East: Blog # 6

March 4, 2016

Qatar International Airport certainly makes an architectural and traveler amenity statement. This is a "Wow" airport.

 Approaching The Airport

 Inside Airport: Design Based On Ocean Waves

 This Area Of Airport Depicts Surf

The airport is easy to navigate. Restaurants, stores, lounges and other services are near the gates.

Central Part  (Hub) Of Airport 

"Selfie" In Airport Lounge

Taking A Last Look at The Airport

Heading To The Gate
Thank Goodness Our Plane Was At Gate B-7 And Not Gate B-67

When getting ready to depart Qatar, it was clear that we were leaving a country that within 5 - 10 years could very easily be a "First World Country."

Off To Oman

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 Friendly Baggage Handlers Greet Us At Oman Airport

Used To Be Gulf Air

 Local Telephone Company

 Local Bank

Front Of Old Airport

Our immediate impression about Oman was that this country could be categorized as somewhere between a "Third and "Second World Country." 

 Local License

 Lots of Local Color

Notice The Different Headdress

We landed right after a torrential rain storm. (It actually snowed in the mountains). The area was flooded. 

A drainage system doesn't exist. Vehicles have a difficult time navigating.

Flash Floods Are Not That Uncommon

As we left the airport, we could see freeways being built and roads were being repaired. In addition, a new and very modern international airport is probably within a year or two of being completed. 

Oman is on a very fast track that could take it close to "First World" within a 10 - 20 year period.

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The Shangri-la would be our next hotel. We did not arrive to our hotel until 7:00 PM. We were exhausted after getting up early, rushing through breakfast followed by a half day of touring and traveling. 

Hotel Lounge And Lobby Area

Hotel Lobby Ceiling

Nice Bedroom With Large Balcony

Our "Batteries" were recharged with an excellent international buffet dinner  
The Shangri-la is our favorite chain hotel and this property did not disappoint us. 

There are three interconnecting hotels that make up this complex. It was easy to get lost.

Infinity Pool

Private Beach 

We Had Two Hours To Actually Enjoy Down Time

Late Afternoon: On Our Balcony Overlooking Beach Area

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The next day started by visiting Amouge - an Oman perfume factory. 

 Jars Filled With Many Types Of Perfume Ingredients

Oman's perfume industry grew out of an idea dealing with gifts presented from one country to another. In this case, it was Oman's Sultan trying to figure out what to give his Kuwaiti counterpart when everyone had the finest cars, the most opulent palaces and as many wives they could handle. 

When looking for something unique, it was decided to create a special type of "scent" (ultimately for men and women) where the basic ingredient would be - Frankincense as well as many other combinations of local and natural ingredients. 

Although we did not buy the perfume or cologne, we could have saved a lot of money. The bottles started around $250. The same size bottle would be $400 to $500 in European and American stores.

Typical Charts Showing Perfume Ingredients

 Old Fashion Distilling Device

 Flowers Used In Perfume Delivered In Bulk

Packaging Perfume

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Many of the sites we visited were not close to each other requiring  many hours in the bus and using unique roundabouts. 

Next stop: The Royal Opera House

Opera House At Night

Beautiful Carved Wood Ceiling

  Opera House Outshines Most European Opera Houses

The opera house guide was a local (government) "wonder." At $100,000/year, he spoke in fast, staccato fashion, faced away from us and could care less whether we understood him or not. He rattled off facts faster that what we could absorb.

Muscat's Wonder Boy

Majestic Staircase

There were many showcases in the opera house that were filled with historical as well as strange looking musical instruments.

Old Brass Instrument

Strange Looking Brass Instrument

Opera House Calls This Instrument - A Harp

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Next stop - The Grand Mosque

Guess Who?

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Rocks and boulders falling onto the highways is quite common. Accidents were happening. The Omani road workers were very clever in finding a solution. Rather than spending a lot of money buying pre-formed concrete barriers, (with cheap labor), they were able to build walls of rock held together by "chicken wire" as well as attaching heavy-duty screens/fencing to the mountains near the highways.

Street and highway beautification has become a priority.

 A New Roundabout

Oman is building freeway systems as fast as possible. Ads are everywhere.

As in most second and third world countries, America's "fast food" and coffee houses are established throughout the major cities. Besides KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. are very common.

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We were very fortunate to have a "local dinner" at a woman's house.

As a hobby, this woman started having out of town guests over for dinner. This idea expanded to offering her home to strangers and, at the same time, providing a bit of Arab / Omani culture.

Local Musicians

Typical Ethnic Clothing

Jerry Is Learning To Make Unleavened Bread

Woman Applying Henna

Breaking News...Film at Eleven!

1 comment:

  1. If flash floods are common why no drainage I wonder. Where are the flowers grown that they use for perfume? The opera house looks amazing! And the woman's clothing...gorgeous!