jump to navigation

69 things I will miss about Oman September 15, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Oman.
Tags: , , ,
10 comments

In no particular order of importance…

  1. My den.
  2. Calm, quiet and almost soporific pace of life.
  3. Star Cinema and their very friendly staff.
  4. And the box seats in Orchestra, Star Cinema, usually Seat #23 or #25. Seat #4, Row 1 at any of the Mini Cinemas.
  5. The madness at Wadi Adai Roundabout: Thank God a signal junction is replacing the roundabout.
  6. Parking woes at City Cinema Shatti.
  7. City Cinema Sohar.
  8. The drive from Muscat to Dubai and back.
  9. The official superhero of my building: TopCat Ramos.
  10. Moviestudio and his amazing collection of movies.
  11. Mom.
  12. The crazy airport flyover.
  13. 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.
  14. Annapoorna restaurant in CBD.
  15. Lunch Thaali at Saravana Bhavan.
  16. The service station at Wadi Kabir omanoil filling station. For giving my rides ‘Cleopatra Shower’.
  17. Green Clean at Qurum City Centre. For giving my rides such amazing shine.
  18. Early morning drives.
  19. The luxury coaches of Muscat. The Beasts of Al Khanjry, Comfortline, GTC, CTC, Salalah Line, ONTC, Happyline, Al Turki etc.
  20. My ride.
  21. Friendly locals everywhere. Oman is really one of the friendliest nations on Earth.
  22. Times of Oman.
  23. @4jijesh.
  24. My Laundrywallahs from Unnau, Uttar Pradesh and their chaste Hindi.
  25. Rajan’s Barber Shop at CBD for close shaves.
  26. Brands Elite and their casks of Stanley’s White and Red Lambrusco.
  27. The superb view of the hills from my den.
  28. The flowers at Al Fair Sarooj. They have made many a diva happy.
  29. Shell Filling Stations.
  30. National Bank of Oman Cash Deposit Machines.
  31. The Dodge Chargers that make my head turn.
  32. The crazy shop names.
  33. Beef Ularthiyathu at Divine. Also the lunch thaali at Divine.
  34. Salalah.
  35. Chilis at Muscat City Centre.
  36. Aldo at Muscat City Centre.
  37. When it rains.
  38. Uptown. The entire gang with a special mention to Nash.
  39. Split Chili at Uptown.
  40. Murgh Malai Tikka Masala and Garlic Rice at Uptown.
  41. The uber cool Oman tweeps.
  42. Marina Bander Al Rowdha.
  43. Dolphin Watching.
  44. Wahiba Sands.
  45. Bus stop at Thumrait.
  46. Counting the million stars at Haima desert.
  47. Landing and take off at Muscat International Airport.
  48. Amazing Shawarma at Muscat Bakery in Wadi Adai.
  49. Swami’s Hotel at Ruwi High Street.
  50. Happyline Transport.
  51. Woodland’s for the occasional takeaway.
  52. Nirvana. Because I love red and the ambience and the Corona is just spiffy.
  53. Khyber. For their excellent service and garlic pickle.
  54. UMS. For the memories.
  55. Wunderman Oman. For broadening my horizons.
  56. Bus Street at Ruwi, next to Sultan Qaboos mosque.
  57. The Grand Mosque at Bausher. For its grace and elegance.
  58. The Royal Oman Police. For being such stars in uniform.
  59. Ghazal at Grand Hyatt. For the great band.
  60. White Tiger Restaurant at Barka, next to omanoil. For the superb Beef masala.
  61. Al Bahja cinema.
  62. Plane spotting at Muscat International Airport. The Oman Air A330s make me beam.
  63. All the friends out here who are like family.
  64. How the roads go quiet during Ramadan. Lame.
  65. Shopping for Jeema water and 6-packs of Coke.
  66. Ranjan, Man Friday who cleans my den every Friday.
  67. White Chocolate at Starbucks.
  68. Nuts & Bolts. The newest pub in town. And themed on automobiles.
  69. Driving Chargelina around Muscat.
Advertisements

40 out of 40 for Oman Air September 2, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Airlines, Aviation, Branding, Marketing, Oman, Travel.
Tags: , , , ,
2 comments

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

Oman Air - Flying High

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.

Oman Air First Class Cabin

Oman Air Business Class - 1st in world to offer 4-abreast seating in cabin

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!

Tom Peters has a message for Oman April 19, 2010

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Marketing, Oman.
Tags: , , , , ,
2 comments

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.

Five in the Morning from Oman February 9, 2009

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Oman, Social Media.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
8 comments
5 O’Clock, originally uploaded by surlygrrrl [ELBfoto].

When Steve Woodruff asked me to host the ‘Five in the Morning Series’ out of Oman, I had no hesitation to jump in the bandwagon.

Actually, running the series from here is a breeze. (Because 5am EST in the US is 2pm in Oman).

I’m going to use this opportunity to turn the spotlight on a couple of bloggers out of the Arabian Gulf region. They don’t educate us on social media per se, but they ‘live social media’ on their blogs by telling the world about the good, bad and ugly in their societies. No holds barred. Plus, isn’t it great to turn the mirror on a part of the world that is so less understood by the whole wide web of the world out there?

So without much ado, let’s get the show going.

Oman:
The Muscatis (Muscati and his spouse Um Faisal which means ‘mother of Faisal’) publish interesting ramblings, musings and outbursts from the land called ‘Oh-man!’ on their blog.

Saudi Arabia:
Saudi Jeans written by Ahmed Al-Omran aims to provide news, commentary, and personal views on political and social issues in Saudi Arabia, with a special focus on freedom of expression, human rights and women’s rights.

Bahrain:
Ammar aka Ammaro is a young blogger out of Bahrain who works in the financial services industry and keeps things kicking in the Pearl Island.

Kuwait:
Two forty eight am (The B-sides) is a blog by Mark and Nat, a married Lebanese couple who are living in Kuwait. Mark works in Advertising while Nat works in TV. Both keep Kuwait on the blogging radar.

United Arab Emirates:
The blog Dubai Media Observer offers a critical view of the media industry in the UAE. If you were looking for a blog that serves you a bit of intrigue, dollops of adventure and lots of controversy, I’d lead you to Secret Dubai Diary. To top it all, Life in Dubai is a great blog written by an Australian expat with thoughts and comments on how it is to live in a city of superlatives.

Big hat-tip to Amjad for leading me to some of these blogs. Thank you Steve for this great opportunity to have a go at ‘Five in the Morning’.

Subscribe: Arun Rajagopal’s blog / Steve Woodruff’s StickyFigure blog
Follow us on Twitter: Arun Rajagopal / Steve Woodruff

The Reds are coming to Muscat November 10, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Oman, Pot Pourri.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

Crank up your speakers and check out this video.

Now imagine all this action happening a few kilometers away from where we live, right here in Muscat.

EJ_2007_0296_small

The action is just a few days away. The world-renowned UK Red Arrows are performing a breathtaking aerobatic display in Muscat on Monday, 19 November. They look forward to paint the town red, by all means.

The Reds have dedicated their show as a tribute to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman and the people of Oman on the occasion of the country’s National Day (the Sultan’s Birthday).

EJ_2007_0727_small

The Reds last performed in Muscat in May 2006 – a stunning display of aerial maneuvers that had thousands of people throng the beaches and rooftops along Qurum.

EJ_2007_0008_small

The Red Arrows commence their 23 minute act at sharp 4pm along the Shatti Al Qurum beach. The air show will be followed by a reception for 1000 guests hosted by British Ambassador Dr Noel Guckian, OBE.

EJ_2007_0059_small

The Red Arrows are currently on a six-week goodwill tour of 13 countries in the Middle East and the Far East, where they will perform their famous display a total of 18 times.

Since their formation in 1965, the Red Arrows have flown over 4000 displays in 53 countries. The Reds consider Oman to be one of their favorite destinations. They are in fact unveiling a brand new aircraft livery this year, considered to be the first major permanent alteration in their fleet since 1979.

EJ_2007_0242_small

The Red Arrows fleet comprises 9 BAE Systems Hawks, with a top speed exceeding Mach 1.2 and are equipped with Roll Royce Adour engines producing 5,200 lb of thrust. During the Red Arrows’ 23-minute display, pilots pull up to eight times the force of gravity, showing off the aircraft’s power and maneuverability.

EJ_2007_0673_small

Wing Commander Jas Hawker aka Red 1 is the team leader of Red Arrows.
“We are proud to represent the UK overseas.” says Wing Commander Hawker, “We hope to demonstrate the very best of British to millions of people in the countries we will visit, both in terms of the skill of our people and of the quality of the Hawk aircraft that we fly.”

Click here to visit the Red Arrows website.

I’ll soon be back with another post where I will talk about some Red Arrows trivia, the BAE Hawk aircraft and a few of their breathtaking maneuvers.

Enjoy this Red Arrows slide show.

It’s Om Shanti Om in Oman November 8, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Movies.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

Om Shanti Om

I just saw ‘Om Shanti Om’ at Al Nasr Cinema a little while ago. Yeah, the movie released in Muscat a day before its release in India. That’s one of the best things I love about being in Muscat – we sometimes get to see movies before anyone else does. For example MI:3 which hit screens in Muscat a day or two before its worldwide release. And now ‘Om Shanti Om’.

This post is not a review on the movie. To find out if it is worth all the hype, you better head to Ruwi Cinema, Al Nasr or your nearest screen. With its theme of reincarnation, ultimate star Shah Rukh Khan, his 6-packs and bevvy of 30 plus Bollywood stars, OSO will not disappoint hardcore SRK fans. SRK looks gorgeous and so does debutante Deepika Padukone. Om Shanti Om is totally filmi and is best described as movie within a movie. Have a riot. Go ‘Om Shanti Om’!

Here’s an exclusive movie trailer:

Click here to download music of ‘Om Shanti Om’.
Visit the official website.
Still better, check out the OSO blog.

Lets blog for the environment September 30, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Healthy Living, Social Media.
Tags: , , ,
2 comments

Leaf, originally uploaded by Becky with a smile.

What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? It would be: One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.
Welcome to Blog Action Day!
I heard about this on Faris Yakob’s blog today. I’ve joined this inspiring initiative and request you to support it as well.

Blog Action Day is championed by three enterprising bloggers – Collis Ta’eed, Leo Babauta and Cyan Ta’eed.

What is it all about?
On Blog Action Day – 15 October 2007, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind. This year it is Environment.
Bloggers can participate by publishing a blog post related to environment on October 15 or commit to donating their day’s blog advertising earnings to an environmental charity of their choice.

As of today, 6,273 blogs and websites with a reach of 4,351,246 have signed up for this initiative.I’m happy to contribute my 2-cents to any worthy cause that uses social media to build committed communities that harness collective energies to better our world. I’ll be travelling on the 15th, but will find a way out to publish my post. On 15th, the world will wake up to thousands of different perspectives, viewpoints and personalities thinking, discussing, questioning and talking about the environment. Cool, huh?

One issue. One day. Thousands of voices. I’m in. What about you?

On another note, I presently live in Sultanate of Oman, a country renowned for its spectacular natural beauty and its commitment to protect the environment. I’m reaching out to several bloggers of note in Oman through this post so that they can be a part of this initiative. Click here to sign-up for ‘Blog Action Day’.  

Oman Community Blog
Amjad
Balqis

Blue Chi
Kishor Cariappa
Oman Expat
Sleepless in Muscat

The Muscatis

Will you spread the word and join us?