Friday, March 18, 2016

Mid-East: Blog # 8

March 11, 2016 -  Oman 

On one of our Qatar Airlines flights, we happened to sit next to a young man, dressed in a business suit. He was an Iranian Qatar Airlines e-commerce marketing manager stationed in Tehran, Iran. Qatar Airlines scheduled a marketing meeting in Muscat for all of the mid-east managers. We couldn't help ourselves. Twenty minutes later, we must have rattled off a dozen or so ideas as to how to better promote his company.

Qatar Airways Uses The Oryx As Its Logo

"Arash" admitted his frustration in that Qatar's "old guard' was not sensitive, too old fashioned and certainly did not understand social media techniques. Most likely, he took mental notes on our suggestions.

We also discussed "Iranian politics." At first, he was hesitant to talk about this subject matter. However, we put him to rest and then he opened up to us. He was very hopeful that the recent Iranian election (combined with the nuclear facility negotiations) will start what will be a lengthy process to stimulate his national economy as well as peace between our respective countries. He finished his thoughts about his grave concerns concerning Donald Trump.

*                       *                       *                       *

During one of the Oman evenings, we had a very special opportunity to hear a lecture about Oman's culture, religion and politics. It was supposed to be a husband and wife team. As it turned out, the wife couldn't attend. Nevertheless, it was two hours of very interesting perspectives of living in this country.

Our Lecturer
Notice The Small Cord Hanging From The Collar. All men will have such a cord. It is used to dip it in "perfume" or a scent so that the man smells nice.

·       Arabs lived in Oman since 7th Century, Portuguese occupied territory in the 1500-1600's. During the same period (and afterwards), China and India traded with the Omani people.

·       Women have equal rights
o     70% of college students are women. They are graduating with a BA or BS - many are going on for advanced degrees.

o     Women can join police force

o     However, there are no women sport teams at the international level

·       The woman's veil (as is man's turban or scarf) is "cultural" - not "religious." Idea started with need to block sun and sand.

·       There is no crime. Yet, 
o     Wives can apply for a divorce when a husband abuses her. Most local news deals with drivers going to fast, auto accidents, some petty issues

o     HSBC bank front door is solid gold. No one tries to steal the door.  

Someone Cleans Door Every Night

·       Oman is a clean country.
o     Government sets up "competition" to see what areas can be the cleanest

·       Desalination is critical for survival and growth
o     44 million/gal. per day
o     More production is required

Below Is A Desalination Plant
Great Angle From Our Airbus Window

·       2-3 wives is common, 4-5 children per wife
Husband Agreed To Have Us Take Picture
Wife On Right, Not So Happy

o     Monogamy is becoming more acceptable as women get more educated

Two Different Cultures: One Husband, One Wife

·       Medicine is expensive - not enough to go around

·       Not enough doctors

·       Oman's growth:
o     There was "nothing" in the 1960's
o     Within last 20 years, country went from a Bedouin culture to skyscrapers.

·       World's oil situation will impact Oman's ability to survive at its current growth level
o     There's talk about doubling tax on oil
o     If everyday living expenses increase (already expensive), ex-pats won't work - they'll return to their home country. This could be a disaster for Oman. "Nationals" don't work...
o     Mid-east oil "pricing" may undermine Russia's oil business
o     Rumors that USA and Saudi Arabia are fixing oil prices

·       Social media is now allowed. This is a matter of "security." However, people can get around this restriction by using VPN and other systems

·       There are 14,000 mosques in Oman:

Most In The City

Some Mosques In Desert, Soon To Be Surrounded By Growth

·       Every conceivable auto dealership is in Oman
o     Expensive cars are very popular
o     Showrooms are - HUGE!

Mile After Mile Of Car Storerooms

·       Although mostly desert, there are mountains (and snow) greater than 10,000 feet.
o     Flash floods are common
o     Local people picnic in wilderness and in riverbeds
o     In years past, there were volcanoes, glaciers and evidence of the ocean or large riverbeds being thousands of feet higher

·       "Everyone" loves the sultan

o     Free housing is available
o     Large, expensive villas are subsidized
     Education is free

"Buying loyalty" is the name of the game

·       "Family" is important
Family Gathering: Where Are The Wives?

*                    *                    * 
Time To Leave Oman.

Foreign International airports are always interesting.  
Different Type Of Ticket Counter Uniforms (As Compared To USA Ticket Counters

Different Languages

"Trivandrum" Is A Mental Disorder When One Misses A Trivia Question!

Too Often We Had To Climb The Stairs

It's hard to keep track of the different international airlines, the logos and the plane's decorations.

Foreign Airline Uniforms Tend To Be More Elaborate

 Often, Foreign Carriers Will Have Different Signage. 

Have you ever seen a sign above the seat indicating that devices need to be turned off?
Best Of All: Strollers Are Readily Available To help Transport Small Children From One Place To Another. 

Foreign Airports Provide More Amenities Than USA Airports. 

*                  *              *               *

United Arab Emeritus

The Abu Dhabi airport was amazing. 
Control Tower

Notice The Windows: Most Buildings Throughout Country Have Same/Similar Look

The immigration and passport control was annoying. Typical of all countries, there are lines for nationals and foreigners. Several large planes landed at the same time bringing in hundreds of foreign passengers to the airport. 

There were four lanes to handle us foreigners and many more set up to process "the UAE nationals." The UAE National lanes were empty. The $100,000 a year "boy wonders" passport control personnel, with passport control stamps in hand and looking for nothing to do, ignored all of us. 

Then, another large plane arrived bringing nationals. We were asked our nationality by one of these passport control stamp agents . People yelled out American, British, etc. The just arrived nationals were put in front of us. It took an hour to get processed. Annoying! Finally out of the airport, we were on our way to tour a marina area, have lunch and visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

To get to the marina, we had to cross a beautifully designed bridge.

 Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque -

Before entering, we had to make sure that we were dressed appropriately and that behavior appropriate for the mosque would be followed

In Retrospect, (And According To The Mosque Guidelines) Perhaps We Were To Close To Each Other When The Photo was Taken

 Similar To The Taj Mahal

This Mosque is Beautiful - And Large

Local Guard Thought Jerry Was Omani. (It Was The Hat That Confused The Guard)

 Large Doorway

Beautiful Courtyard

Background Is Cut Marble

One Of The Magnificent Chandeliers

Learning To Be A Devout Moslem

Big Enough For 40,000 People

Another Beautiful Chandelier

End Of Another Long Day

*                    *                  *
Checking in at hotel

Fancy Hotel - Fancy Gal!

High-end Indian wedding at hotel. Guests came from all over the world. This was a four-day event!

No comments:

Post a Comment