Sunday, December 07, 2008

Aren’t You a Little Short for a Storm Trooper?

Well second Eid is upon us and it is time to reflect on the past couple of turbulent weeks.
Speaking of turbulence my hope for a Eid dive trip has been cancelled due to the ongoing presence of a red tide. Red What?
"Red tide" is a common name for a phenomenon known as an algal bloom, an event in which marine algae accumulate rapidly in the water column, or "bloom". These algae, form dense, visible patches near the water's surface. Some red tides are associated with the production of natural toxins, depletion of dissolved oxygen or other harmful impacts, and are generally described as harmful algal blooms.
The impact all along the coast of Oman has been enormous with dead sea life washed up and an all pervasive stench, and whilst it is generally thought to be a natural occurrence, no one as yet has manage to explain why it has lasted so many weeks this year. I can’t say that I agree with the idea of eating fish as reported on in the Oman Daily Observer

So the main talk around town is the global credit crisis, those that thought the middle east was immune were sadly mistaken as Dubai developments have all but ceased operations as their cash flow has dried up overnight. Even though Dubai appears affluent, the emirate has little of its own wedge, the real money is next door in Abu Dhabi. As a result, the ruling family of AD has been buying up huge chunks of its neighbour’s real estate, essentially bailing out Dubai. And the resultant effect of all of this, is the loss of many peoples savings and investments and a lot of unemployed expatriates. Oman has also seen some retrenchment, though nowhere near that of Dubai and everyone is hunkering down hoping to weather the storm. Hopefully, the first quarter of next year we will see things calming down.

So what’s with the title for this post???? Well given that Eid and end of term have pretty much coincided, we had to hold Jacob’s birthday party a little early this year to ensure that his school friends were available.
Jacob is a big fan of all things Star Wars especially Lego Star Wars and this year the party piñata was the Death Star. Jacob and I had made it the weekend prior, and due to our building prowess I hastily weakened it with a razor blade just before the planned assault. Much to my relief, everyone got to have a bash and some substantial damage was done in the process, even Oscar joined in.

The final catastrophic damage was of my own making, although my targeting skills clearly need work with my first two tries completely missing the mark, much to my chagrin.
We had loosely planned to do party games, but true to form and based on our previous experience, none were actually required. The children were far to happy running around playing with toys and just generally enjoying themselves to be bothered with adults trying to organize and boss them around.

We reached the end of the party and suddenly realized that we had forgotten to bring out the birthday cake!!!! All exits were blocked and cake was produced, dissected and eaten before anyone was allowed to leave. Disaster averted.

So it won’t be long before Christmas is upon us. We put the tree(s) up the day after Jacob’s party but it just didn’t feel right. However, with the coming of a week off work I am definitely feeling more in the holiday spirit.


Unknown said...

Hi Becky,

My husband has been offered a job in Oman and so I have been trying to do some research as I know nothing about the country at all.... your blog was the only thing I could find that described family life. We have a 7 month old baby and wondered how good Oman is for families (particularly me, as I will be on my own during the day). We need to make a decision by Monday (13 Dec) If you get this in time, would you mind giving me some info on what the expat community is like there, how you deal with the heat and whether it is something you recommend for a year or so?! I would be soooo grateful for your advice!

Thanks so much

Liz Davies, London

Sythe said...

Liz -

Bearing in mind that today is December 13th...

Living here for a year, unless on serious cash (read: over 5000 Rials a month), you're not really going to save very much, the cost of living here is significant.

Lots of people have young children here and I suspect you will find things quite easy once you are settled. Domestic help is cheap, a live-in maid can be had for 160 Rials a month.

James -

I hope there will be more Star Wars/Credit Crunch/Birthday themed blogs in the near future!

It might of been nice to see the Death Star before it was destroyed by a swarm of miniature Jedi's. :)

Becky said...

Oman is a fantastic place for families. We have been here for over three years now and are very happy. Some things aren't cheap, so for rent budget RO800 to 1200 a month for a four bed house (Prices are coming down though.)Two cars are generally a necessity but these are cheap compared to the UK (RO3000 for a small saloon RO6 - 12,000 for a 4wd brand new)Petrol cost nothing and car insurance is a percentage of the overall value. Plenty of mums with small children and a very child friendly environment.
If given the chance for a do over, I wouldn't hesitate to choose Oman. The only downside is that you are 4000 miles away from family, but hey they can always come out for a cheap holiday