69 things I will miss about Oman September 15, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Oman.
Tags: Living, Muscat, Oman, Tourism
In no particular order of importance…
- My den.
- Calm, quiet and almost soporific pace of life.
- Star Cinema and their very friendly staff.
- And the box seats in Orchestra, Star Cinema, usually Seat #23 or #25. Seat #4, Row 1 at any of the Mini Cinemas.
- The madness at Wadi Adai Roundabout: Thank God a signal junction is replacing the roundabout.
- Parking woes at City Cinema Shatti.
- City Cinema Sohar.
- The drive from Muscat to Dubai and back.
- The official superhero of my building: TopCat Ramos.
- Moviestudio and his amazing collection of movies.
- The crazy airport flyover.
- Muscat International Airport. Small but convenient. Friendly immigration, e-gate, reasonable duty free selection and helpful staff. And the free WiFi at the airport that made this post possible.
- Annapoorna restaurant in CBD.
- Lunch Thaali at Saravana Bhavan.
- The service station at Wadi Kabir omanoil filling station. For giving my rides ‘Cleopatra Shower’.
- Green Clean at Qurum City Centre. For giving my rides such amazing shine.
- Early morning drives.
- The luxury coaches of Muscat. The Beasts of Al Khanjry, Comfortline, GTC, CTC, Salalah Line, ONTC, Happyline, Al Turki etc.
- My ride.
- Friendly locals everywhere. Oman is really one of the friendliest nations on Earth.
- Times of Oman.
- My Laundrywallahs from Unnau, Uttar Pradesh and their chaste Hindi.
- Rajan’s Barber Shop at CBD for close shaves.
- Brands Elite and their casks of Stanley’s White and Red Lambrusco.
- The superb view of the hills from my den.
- The flowers at Al Fair Sarooj. They have made many a diva happy.
- Shell Filling Stations.
- National Bank of Oman Cash Deposit Machines.
- The Dodge Chargers that make my head turn.
- The crazy shop names.
- Beef Ularthiyathu at Divine. Also the lunch thaali at Divine.
- Chilis at Muscat City Centre.
- Aldo at Muscat City Centre.
- When it rains.
- Uptown. The entire gang with a special mention to Nash.
- Split Chili at Uptown.
- Murgh Malai Tikka Masala and Garlic Rice at Uptown.
- The uber cool Oman tweeps.
- Marina Bander Al Rowdha.
- Dolphin Watching.
- Wahiba Sands.
- Bus stop at Thumrait.
- Counting the million stars at Haima desert.
- Landing and take off at Muscat International Airport.
- Amazing Shawarma at Muscat Bakery in Wadi Adai.
- Swami’s Hotel at Ruwi High Street.
- Happyline Transport.
- Woodland’s for the occasional takeaway.
- Nirvana. Because I love red and the ambience and the Corona is just spiffy.
- Khyber. For their excellent service and garlic pickle.
- UMS. For the memories.
- Wunderman Oman. For broadening my horizons.
- Bus Street at Ruwi, next to Sultan Qaboos mosque.
- The Grand Mosque at Bausher. For its grace and elegance.
- The Royal Oman Police. For being such stars in uniform.
- Ghazal at Grand Hyatt. For the great band.
- White Tiger Restaurant at Barka, next to omanoil. For the superb Beef masala.
- Al Bahja cinema.
- Plane spotting at Muscat International Airport. The Oman Air A330s make me beam.
- All the friends out here who are like family.
- How the roads go quiet during Ramadan. Lame.
- Shopping for Jeema water and 6-packs of Coke.
- Ranjan, Man Friday who cleans my den every Friday.
- White Chocolate at Starbucks.
- Nuts & Bolts. The newest pub in town. And themed on automobiles.
- Driving Chargelina around Muscat.
40 out of 40 for Oman Air September 2, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
Tags: Airines, Aviation, National Day, Oman, Oman Air
Launches 40th destination ahead of 40th National Day of Oman.
Pic credit: Christophe Selzere, JetPhotos.Net
Congratulations to Oman Air, the national airline of the Sultanate of Oman, who launched Kathmandu, its 40th destination today. 2010 is of great significance for the Sultanate as it marks the 40th National Day of Oman (the birthday of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is on 18 November). Every corporate in the country is involved in a marketing activity to do with the #40, so it is great to see Oman Air celebrate in a unique manner by launching their 40th route.
Oman Air commenced operations in 1993. It achieved modest growth as a privately owned regional player till 2007, when the Government of Oman pulled out of Gulf Air, designated Oman Air as national carrier, recapitalized it and focused on developing it as an international airline. In 2007, Oman Air went long-haul by launching Bangkok and London. From then on, there has been no looking backwards for Oman Air, with a penchant of doing business differently from its bigger cousins in the region.
Pic credit: Smit ZhiFei, JetPhotos.Net
2008 saw a slew of changes at Oman Air. In February 2008, Oman Air unveiled its new branding and aircraft livery as a part of its plans to go international. The characteristic Red, White and Green national colors and traditional Khanjar gave way to Turquoise Blue, Silver and Gold along with a Frankincense smoke plume in an effort to project Oman Air as the new wings of Oman and the ambassador of a nation known for its timeless traditions, vibrant heritage and legendary hospitality.
The year also saw the launch of new routes to the Indian Sub-Continent and the unveiling of a new fleet and long-haul route expansion program. In July 2008, industry veteran and former chief executive of Srilankan Airlines, Mr. Peter Hill took over as the new CEO of Oman Air following the untimely demise of CEO Ziad bin Karim Al Haremi, who played a stellar role in initiating the redevelopment and change of image of Oman Air.
2009 was truly a bellwether year for Oman Air. Under the leadership of Mr. Peter Hill and a revitalized management team, Oman Air went all out to dazzle the industry in a year of superlative achievements. The year witnessed in rapid succession the arrival of the first of Oman Air’s brand new A330s, the launch of Paris, Frankfurt, Munich, Male and Colombo, the unveiling of new Balenciaga designed uniforms, the launch of industry-leading First, Business and Economy Class cabins on the A330 fleet. A $10 million destination marketing campaign in association with Ministry of Tourism saw both Oman and Oman Air make great inroads into European markets. During the 2009 Dubai Air Show, Oman Air finalized an order for 5 Embraer 175 aircraft with another 5 options.
In 2010, Oman Air became the first airline in the world to offer in-flight mobile and WiFi connectivity through OnAir onboard its long-haul Airbus A330 fleet. It is interesting to note that Oman Air covered impressive strides during a period when the airline industry was weathering a downturn.
Having made significant investments in infrastructure and improving its products and services over the last few years, the future looks robust for Oman Air. The airline has a strategic vision of differentiating itself from its regional competitors by being a niche boutique airline that is focused on driving point-to-point traffic rather than being a hub-and-spoke carrier.
The results of ‘Change is on its way’ and ‘Discover the future of air travel’ are promising. During the first half of 2010, Oman Air saw a 40% increase in available seat-kilometres, a 73% rise in revenue passenger-kilometres and a 14 point improvement in seat factor, over the same period last year with passenger numbers up by 46% and cargo by 44%.
Along with the ongoing development of Muscat International Airport, Oman Air is playing a key role in the development of 4 domestic airports coming up in Sohar, Ras Al Hadd, Adam and Duqm. In October 2010, Oman Air will launch Milan as its 41st route. The airline will take delivery of its 7th A330 in 2011along with the first of Embraer jets that will ply on domestic routes. Plans are on to refurbish the existing B737 fleet to the same standards as the luxurious A330 fleet. Oman Air will take delivery of its first B787 Dreamliner in 2014 (the airline will be acquiring them from ALAFCO). The first of 6 737s on order are expected to arrive in 2014 as well.
The fortunes of Oman Air will be tied to the successful joint promotion of Oman as a must-visit luxury destination by both Oman Air and Oman’s Ministry of Tourism (a point Mr. Hill emphasizes often to fill the birds), development of ancillary services related to hospitality, tourism, ground services etc., and a continual improvement of travel services in a region that offers unparalleled choice to the flying public and intense competition between regional legacy carriers such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways who are truly global in their reach and cut-throat Low Cost Carriers such as Flydubai and Air Arabia.
Mabrook, Oman Air. More power to your wings. Fly higher for Oman!
Tags: Airfares, Eid, Holidays, Muscat, Travel Deals
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The Eid holidays are upon us and there is very much a chance that those in Oman will get a week off from Thursday, 9th of September 2010 to Wednesday, 15th of September 2010(?).
If that happens, happy long week holidays to all you.
And just in case, if you are planning to fly out of town, here’s a quick look at airfares in Muscat.
Understandably, most of you must have already booked your tickets, especially to India. If not, you can use this guide to snap up the last remaining deals.
From my research, Bangkok looks like the cheapest value long-haul destination to fly to. And towards India, Air India Express continues its reign as the best great value airline to fly to that part of the world. Flying out on Thursday, Wednesday, 15th of September 2010 will prove to be more expensive that any other day, as most people would want to start their holiday at the break of the weekend. If you can fly out on Friday, 10th of September or Saturday, 11th of September, you can save a couple of Rials. Lastly, flying on a low-cost airline such as Flydubai, Air India Express or Air Arabia can get you a better value than a full-service airline. And it goes without saying that the fares will rise as we get closer to Eid.
These airfares apply on a single adult, return journey from Muscat and are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges. They are valid as of 26 August 2010, 1pm – Oman time.
Journey dates: outbound – Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound – Wednesday, 15th of September 2010, unless mentioned next to the itinerary. All journeys are non-stop, unless indicated.
Let’s roll with the fares.
1. Cochin: MCT-COK-MCT: 194 Rials on Jet Airways.
2. Mumbai: MCT-MUM-MCT: 131 Rials on Air India.
3. Trivandrum: MCT-TRV-MCT: 196 Rials on Jet Airways. 176 Rials on Air India Express if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.
4. Calicut/Kozhikode: MCT-CCJ-MCT: 142 Rials on Air India Express.
5. Delhi: MCT-DEL-MCT: 140 Rials on Air India Express. 134 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.
6. Mangalore: MCY-IXE-MCT: 184.5 Rials on Air India Express, if outbound: Friday, 10th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.
7. Dubai: MCT-DXB-MCT: 38 Rials on Flydubai.
8. Bangkok: MCT-BKK-MCT: 153 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover in Doha & change of aircraft in Doha.
9. Kuala Lumpur: MCT-KUL-MCT: 241 Rials on Qatar Airways with a layover & change of aircraft in Doha.
10. London Heathrow: MCT-LHR-MCT: 259 Rials on British Airways with stopover at Abu Dhabi, no aircraft change.
11. Amman: MCT-AMM-MCT: 209.860 Rials on Flydubai with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.
12. Cairo: MCT-CAI-MCT: 232 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.
13. Frankfurt: MCT-FRA-MCT: 225 Rials on Gulf Air with layover and change of aircraft at Bahrain.
14. Colombo: MCT-CMB-MCT: 192 Rials on Emirates with layover and change of aircraft at Dubai.
15. Kathmandu: MCT-KTM-MCT: 123.700 Rials on Oman Air, if outbound: Thursday, 9th of September 2010 and inbound: Thursday, 16th of September 2010.
To get these offers, visit the respective airline website, check with your travel agent or head to Expedia. Please note that air fares of Oman Air, Air India Express & Flydubai are not listed on Expedia.
Tom Peters has a message for Oman April 19, 2010Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Marketing, Oman.
Tags: In Search Of Excellence, Khimji's Training Institute, Management Guru, Nawras Business Solutions, Oman, Tom Peters
World-renowned Management Guru Tom Peters will be in Muscat on 4 May 2010 for a one day seminar on ‘Excellence – Continuing The Search’. The seminar is organized by Khimji Training Institute LLC and presented by Nawras Business Solutions.
Tom describes himself as a “gadfly, curmudgeon, champion of bold failures, prince of disorder, maestro of zest, professional loudmouth, corporate cheerleader, lover of markets, capitalist pig.” (An impressive bio by all means).
When he wrote his best-selling book ‘In Search of Excellence’ with Bob Waterman over 25 years ago, Tom was the first to introduce the corporate world to the concept of Excellence which is today a universal idea-ideal that translates and transports across all borders.
In 1999, ‘In Search of Excellence’ was honored by NPR as one of the “Top Three Business Books of the Century”—and ranked as the “greatest business book of all time” in a poll by Britain’s Bloomsbury Publishing.
This morning, I asked him on Twitter about what his 140-character motivational message on the theme of Excellence for Oman was. He was very kind enough to reply and said:
Don’t think of Excellence as a “lifelong aspiration.” Forget that! Instead: HOW CAN I EXPRESS EXCELLENCE IN THE NEXT HOUR??
Reflecting on that, I think we focus so much on the future that we lose sight of the present picture. We think we will strive for excellence in some big action in the future while we can do better by applying excellence to an action right away. Yes, so it’s better to focus on excellence with a sense of immediacy in everything we do, however minute or mundane the task may be.
This is Tom’s second visit to Oman and I wish him & the attendees of his seminar an excellent and productive session. I also hope that the ash cloud over Europe dissipates in time so that he doesn’t have to circumvent the globe to get to Muscat.
More on Tom Peters:
Tom is widely credited with almost single-handedly “inventing” the “management guru industry,” now billions of dollars in size. Since 1978, he’s given well over 2,500 speeches, flown 5,000,000+ miles, spoken before 2-3 million people and presented in 48 states and 63 countries.
Tom was the first guru to stress on the importance of design as an extraordinary competitive advantage. He was also the first to voice the need for employees to re-shape their careers around the idea of “brand you” (every person a “businessperson”) if they were to add useful value to their firms and survive the perils of cutthroat global competition.
You can read more about Tom Peters by clicking here.
Happy Birthday, Qurum City Centre! October 27, 2008Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Oman, Pot Pourri.
Tags: Qurum City Centre, Shopping
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The new City Centre at Qurum opened this morning. I was pretty excited to be one of the first to get there. The Qurum City Centre is a mini replica of the big one at Seeb. I took a walk around the mall and was glad to see some of my favorite outlets: Borders, Giordano, McDonald’s, Costa Coffee and Coffee Republic.
Fashion brands that hold court include Pierre Cardin, Giordano, Mango, Next, Monsoon, Promod, Nayomi, Damas, Adidas, Swatch, Steve Madden and so on.
They have a promising food court with Fillings, Hatam, KFC, Magic Wok, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Shamiana. Watch out for H&M, Jumbo, Nawras, Oman Mobile & Starbucks outlets opening soon.
Carrefour promises to be a great draw for all the people who can now skip the 80km odd drive to the City Centre at Seeb from Ruwi.
If you are living in Ruwi and looking for quick and convenient shopping, you should head to the Qurum City Centre, but if you are looking for more choice in terms of brands and product offerings, Seeb City Centre still rules.
I somehow feel the new City Centre doesn’t have enough parking spaces (they have 1000 bays). Also do watch out for construction on the roads leading away from the City Centre, it’s good to go easy on the gas pedal and to watch out for traffic.
Photo Credit: Saloni Suri of Asda’a PR, Muscat. I clicked a few pics from my phone as well, will upload them soon.