Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Christmas in Oman

So Christmas in 25 degree sunshine....

Due to the high number of trips to the UK over the last 12 months we decided to spend Christmas in Muscat. This all sounds relatively straight forward until you start planning a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Luckily one of our dinner guests had their brother coming to visit from home and so a large ham was ordered to ensure we maintained a level of normality. Turkey, veg and cranberries all sorted and the only thing left to do was get in the kitchen and get it sorted. 

Christmas morning was a strange experience as when we got up and looked out, not only was it still warm, but everyone was at work and going about their day as normal. Takes a while to remember we live in a Muslim country. Late morning and our guests had arrived. Off to the marina for a couple hours wake boarding, knee boarding, surfing and trying to get towed on an inflatable pink chair. Santa did a fine job as the pictures show. 

Don't spill the hot toddy

Enjoying the first course in the garden

Our Christmas entertainment. One of the girls managed to recite the whole 'Twas the night before Christmas' poem from memory whilst her sister did an amazing rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

And then main course, led to dessert, which led to a late night. Really good fun and was great spending it was some good friends. Not quite the same as home though...

Monday, January 5, 2015

Dubai 7s

A few weeks I had the pleasure of dusting off the old rugby boots and strapping myself from head to toe in order to join the Muscat RFC Vets team on their Dubai 7s campaign. I think it is fair to say that this is a weekend I will not forgot for a long time. Mainly down to the fact that I just had an MRI scan on my shoulder today and awaiting the results of what damage I have done to myself. 

Anyway, check out this short video which demonstrates just how skillful, fit, energetic, pumped up and amazing all the other teams were. Although the guys did themselves proud reaching the semi finals through nothing more than determination and tape!

(Excuse the shaky camera work. Jenny was just overcome at the sight of all these men in rugby shorts!)

And this was one of the only pictures of Jamie available before he got sent off for throwing the ball away...

(the link for the video if it doesn't play above - Dubai 7s)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Day 2

Sunday in Abu Dhabi and we thought we'd check out Ferrari World. It claims to be the world's largest indoor theme park. I'm not a huge fan of theme parks, but still, this one was kind of disappointing.

There were two main rides (both of which were actually outside) and then inside it was just really a large empty space. There were a few Ferraris dotted around the place, but honestly they could have made much more of it. I'm just glad that we didn't pay to get in.

Criticism aside, it wouldn't have been right to be there and not try out the 'World's Fastest Rollercoaster'. According to the claims, the ride accelerates up to 240 km/h in 5 seconds and riders get to experience g-forces up to 4.8. Well right or wrong, I'm not crazy and I wasn't going on that. Jenny, however, not an ounce of sense, so we headed there first.  

I waited outside and watched from the viewing platform. The video doesn't really do it justice as to how fast the ride actually goes, but I'm sure you get the idea.

After lunch, we headed back to the circuit to catch the main event. We took our seat on the Abu Dhabi Hill, where you can see the straight between the West and the North grandstand. After all the formalities and the Etihad flyover (a bit random), the final race of the 2014 season started at 5pm.

As soon as it was officially announced that Lewis Hamilton had won, fireworks started going off  from each of the five grandstands. They were amazing and seemed to last forever - nothing less than to be expected from the Emirates. 

The concluding concert on the Sunday evening was the kick off of the Who's 50th anniversary tour. Great performance and light displays, but it probably shows my age - in a good way - that I only really knew a couple of their songs. The obvious one being the soundtrack for CSI!


Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Day 1

I'm not really into the Formula 1, but when the opportunity to go to such a world class event, practically on our doorstep presented itself, it seemed wrong to pass it up. We'd briefly considered going to it last year, but with it being the biggest event in Abu Dhabi's calendar we found it very difficult to find a hotel room. This year, we were all organised and tickets and hotels were booked back in April.

We set off early on the Friday morning and after opting for the slightly longer route (to ease the immigration process), we arrived in Abu Dhabi a mere 5 hours later.

Included with our package were tickets to both the water park and theme park on Yas Island. On Saturday morning we went to Yas Waterworld. Given the amount of people that were in Abu Dhabi for the Grand Prix, we were surprised at how quiet the water park was. Not complaining though, this just meant that we didn't have to queue to go on the rides. 

After lunch we headed over to the circuit to watch the Qualifying racing. 

One of the unique features of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is the evening concerts. The outdoor 'Du Arena' is part of the Yas Marina Circuit complex and only a short walk from the race track. On the Friday night Pharrell Williams was playing.

We had to wait until the encore for him to sing the only song I knew, but here it is.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Oman is looking very festive at the moment. All around Muscat, buildings, trees and anything else that can be, is adorned with green, red and white decorations. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Sultanate is getting into the Christmas spirit, but it is in fact all in celebration of Oman's 44th National Day.  The 18th November marks Oman's independence from the Portuguese in 1650, but as it also coincides with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's birthday, the country celebrates his rise to power in 1970 on this day too.

Although Oman celebrates the 18th November with much fervour, the day isn't actually a public holiday. Instead there are two days later in the month reserved for the holidays. While this seems strange initially, the logic behind it is to try and ensure the majority of the country stays in Oman to celebrate, rather than taking advantage of the four day weekend and disappearing off to the UAE.

One of the local office buildings

the road near to my office

one of the SQH flyovers

The Walk at The Wave

In addition to decorating buildings, the Omanis love to decorate their cars. There seems to be an endless array of stickers which you can use to show your loyalty to the Sultan. Here are just a couple of examples of some of the more extreme ones.