Saturday, October 13, 2012

ROSO marks its night of triumph

The Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra came to the Royal Oman Opera House in what was a landmark appearance showing the great skills they have shown over many years. It was a first time appearance and in that sense an historic occasion. Not surprisingly it was a complete sell out from the plush front row stalls to the highly raked seats in the top gallery. It was also a very mixed audience with Omanis and expatriates alike celebrating the achievements of the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra, (ROSO) which performed its first ever concert back in 1987 some 25 years ago, and has since become an important part of the nation’s identity.
To mark the occasion the orchestra accompanied two fine Italian opera singers of world fame, Fabio Sartori and Anna Caterina Antonacci. Making it an Italian-Omani evening. The conductor Massimo Zanetti received his musical education in Milan at the Conservatorio Guiseppe Verdi. He now has very much an international reputation, and has been guest conductor at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Teatroalla Scala di Milano.
The really important thing about this gala occasion for the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra was that it was a performance of equals. The professionalism of performers from Italy met and worked with the equally professional Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra. The first opera offering was from Rossini’s ever popular, the Barber of Seville. First performed in Rome just after the many horrors of the Napoleonic Wars it has delighted audiences of many sorts over nearly two centuries. You could almost hear the gasp of pleasure as one of 1350127803374271000 the most well known pieces in the history of world music, was performed to the sheer delight of the audience.
The light and spirited Italian operatic mode was maintained with the aria called A Furtive Tear from Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love. It is a lyric in the pure spirit of the opera of the time. It describes how a love potion works successfully to win the heart of a lady. Everyone knows that all this is very far removed from reality but the beauty of the music and the singing causes a willing suspension of disbelief. The arias from Opera were no less enchanting with Verdi’s Song of the Veil, a story ultimately with very strong moral overtones. A Moorish King falls in love with a beautiful veiled woman. It turns out to be his own very neglected wife.
Bellini another famous Italian composer of the 19th Century whose opera Norma, a tragedy set in Roman occupied Britain, was represented. It premiered at La Scala, Milan and became famous for describing the plight of the young temple virgin, who prays that she has the strength to resist the man she loves. Plenty of improbable story lines, plenty of attempts to strain belief. But the ultimate point was that the audience enjoyed themselves very much and the Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra could rightly claim a superb performance when they first visited the Royal Opera House Muscat.
What are the longer term lessons to be learnt? Oman’s international worldwide image is changing. The ever growing Muscat Festival, the prowess at sea with Oman Sail and a growing reputation for caring 1350127874154280400 for it’s architecture and historic buildings makes Oman already very different. The growing reputation world wide in good music, superbly performed in a superbly equipped Opera House will link in very much with another project now coming into being — the recreation of Muscat as a port for world class luxury cruise liners.
It is part of a new Muscat, which is being created without tearing the buildings and landmarks that have made Muscat famous. There used to be a much used phrase ‘The Power of Music’. The Power of Music can and will play a very important art in the emergence of a new Oman, even better known for it’s many achievements and the natural courtesy of it’s people.

Plan for major underwater hotel

Plan for major underwater hotel
A Swiss-based firm specialising in the promotion of innovative technologies says it is keen to set up Oman’s first underwater hotel — a venture that will serve as a showcase of the country’s spectacular and diverse aquatic wealth. BIG InvestConsult AG, which represents the revolutionary Water Discus concept of underwater leisure projects developed by Poland’s Deep Ocean Technologies, insists the Sultanate is ideally suited to host an undersea hotel.
According to Bogdan Gutkowski, President and CEO of BIG InvestConsult, Oman’s magnificent coastal settings and rich aquatic life makes it a perfect location for the establishment of a luxury holiday hideaway, along with a coral garden. “In our internal analysis, Oman has been defined as one of those locations where the Water Discus Hotel could be implemented. The project is still in the conceptual stage. However, we have planned to find an exact location within 3-4 months. Then we will start to develop the project and look for a co-investor,” he added in exclusive comments to the Observer.
Last May, BIG InvestConsult signed an agreement with Dubai-based Drydocks World and its sister company Maritime World, jointly naming them as the exclusive principal contractor for all construction work linked to its underwater leisure and related projects in the Gulf region. The company also unveiled patent-protected designs depicting a futuristic hotel that rests on the seafloor but also towers above the water surface. Dubbed the Water Discus Hotel, the project consists of two components: an underwater residential disc and an above water leisure disc fitted with a couple of satellite extensions. Together, they offer guests the opportunity of a holiday amid the magnificence of the ocean environment, complete with vibrant marine life, an abundance of coral reefs, and the tropical warmth of their underwater world.
The discs are connected to three sturdy legs that rest on the seafloor, while a shaft in the centre has a lift and stairway that connects the discs. A standard model of a Water Discus Hotel envisages 21 luxuriously appointed rooms built some 10 metres below the water surface. Huge windows offer stunning views of the surrounding underwater flora and fauna. The proposed project, Gutkowski said, has the potential to rivet international tourism interest in Oman’s breathtaking maritime wealth.
“We expect the Water Discus Hotel will arouse great interest in the media as well as among the tourists, when it will be constructed. In the opinion of the marketing specialists of BIG InvestConsult AG, the Water Discus Hotel may become a symbol or signature of the city, region or country (where it is built). For sure, it will be add value to the surrounding landscape, because of its unique architectural design. We sincerely hope that the Water Discus Hotel location and construction could be a part of Oman’s tourism strategy in promoting of the country as a really unique leisure place.”
A consulting, engineering and brokerage firm, BIG InvestConsult’s business interests span many sectors, notably oil and gas, offshore services, marine engineering, production outsourcing, and renewable energy.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oman Air launches new Tehran service

Oman Air will launch a new daily service between Muscat and the Iranian capital Tehran from 1st September 2012. Flights will depart Muscat for Tehran at 0200 (3 days per week) and 0930 (4 days per week) and return from Tehran at 0610 (3 days per week) and 1240 (4 days per week) all times local, offering good connections to onward destinations within Oman Air's network.

The new Muscat-Tehran route will be operated using Oman Air's new Embraer 175 regional jets, which offer superb levels of comfort in both Business and Economy Classes. The airline took delivery of two of these much-acclaimed aircraft in 2011 and two more will enter service later this year.

Announcing the new service, Wayne Pearce, Oman Air's Chief Executive Officer, said:"We are extremely pleased to be launching our new service between Muscat and Tehran and to be offering customers the opportunity to travel aboard our outstanding Embraer 175 regional jets. Tehran offers visitors the opportunity to gain insights into not only Iran's unique culture, but also its rich and ancient history. Furthermore, Tehran is a major business hub and we anticipate strong demand from both business and leisure passengers.

In addition to giving travellers from Oman and beyond the opportunity to visit Iran, Oman Air's new service will offer Iranian visitors the chance to fly non-stop to Muscat and to experience the hospitality, rich culture and unique landscapes of the Sultanate.

The addition of the new service to Tehran continues the rapid growth of Oman Air over the last 30 months. This has seen significant increases in the size of the airline's fleet, major expansion of its network to include more than 40 destinations and the introduction of a range of new products and services, including the pioneering of complete cellphone and wi-fi connectivity aboard Oman Air's Airbus A330 aircraft.

Over the same period, revenues and passenger numbers have increased dramatically, with customers showing their approval of the airline's combination of quality and value by not only booking further flights, but also voting for Oman Air in a series of awards. As a result, Oman Air was presented with the 'Service Excellence, Middle East' and 'Best Business Class Seat in the World' prizes at the World Airline Awards 2011, which are organized by Skytrax, as well as the 2012 Business Destinations Travel Award for 'Best Business Class Airline, Middle East'.

It’s bloom time again in salubrious Salalah

Oman Sail unveiled its Multi One Design 70 Musandam-Oman Sail at a traditional naming ceremony on Saturday in St Nazaire, France, ahead of the yacht’s maiden race yesterday, at the Record St Nazaire Sauvetage en Mer regatta. In a traditional Omani welcome with rose water and the fragrance of frankincense His Highness Sayyid Tarik bin Shabib al Said, officially named Oman’s new yacht, a Multi One Design 70, Musandam-Oman Sail’in St Nazaire, France.
The ceremony was attended by Ali al Qasmi, Oman’s deputy ambassador to France, David Graham, Oman Sail’s CEO, and several officials from Oman Sail and the MOD70 organising committee. During the launch ceremony HH Sayyid Tarik presented crewmember, Khamis al Anbouri with the national flag of Oman that was raised by Fahad al Hasni on board Musandam-Oman Sail highlighting the significance of the sport to Oman’s maritime heritage.

Tourism Ministry partners with Oman Air for Salalah Tourism Fest campaign

Ministry of Tourism has strategically partnered with Oman Air to launch a summer travel campaign in time for Oman’s ‘Khareef’ monsoon season, which is widely celebrated in Salalah.
The launching event was recently held at Safir International Hotel in Kuwait City, with around 200 travel agents in attendance.
The special packages unveiled include discounted rates to some of the Sultanate’s top hotels, free iftar dinners, and free extra night stays. Oman Air will also introduce a new brochure highlighting Oman’s touristic attractions and will encourage travellers to avail of the 10 weekly flights from Kuwait to Muscat to take part in Oman’s colourful Khareef festivities.
Last year Oman welcomed almost 27,000 visitors from Kuwait topping the previous year’s number by 14 per cent. The Ministry of Tourism’s online accommodation booking partners add that their transactions grew from 25 to 40 per cent in 2011.

The Salalah Tourism Festival and Muscat’s declaration as Arab Tourism Capital for 2012 by the Arab League’s Tourism Ministers are some of the major factors expected to further drive up Oman’s touristic appeal this year.
“Every year from late June to September the Khareef monsoon rains transform Oman into a paradise of greenery and mist. It is during this period that we hold a comprehensive calendar of cultural and entertainment events for the Salalah Tourism Festival.
“Through our collaboration with Oman Air we intend to encourage more travellers from Kuwait to take respite from the summer heat and join our various festivities. Oman Ministry of Tourism is keen to introduce Salalah and Oman to the Kuwaiti market,” said Gamal Sadek, Director, Oman Ministry of Tourism Representative Offices, GCC.
Oman has emerged as a preferred holiday destination for Kuwait visitors. Oman Air will reward Oman’s Kuwaiti guests by offering comprehensive promotions that focus on convenience, a fulfilling experience, and flexible options.
Oman Air’s commitment to quality, comfort and a seamless passenger experience has resulted in international acclaim recently, including:
Best Business Class Seat in the World and Service Excellence, Middle East (World Airline Awards 2011); Best Luxury Airline, Middle East (Business Destinations Awards 2011); TTG Travel Award 2011 as “Commended Airline of the Year”; “Best In-flight Connectivity & Communications” award in The 2011 Passenger Choice Awards in Seattle USA; The Airline of the Year Award at France’s Lauriers d’Or du Voyage d’Affaires, Top Resa 2011. Most recently Oman Air was awarded ‘Best Business Class Airline, Middle East’ in the prestigious Business Destinations Travel Awards 2012.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bahla, home of a Unesco listed fort

A visit to the Dakhiliyah region is incomplete without a visit to Bahla.
Just 38 kilometres away from Nizwa, the township is famed for its ancient ceramic potteries, where centuries ago skilled potters masterfully fashioned earthenware, many items of which have been preserved for posterity.

Likewise, a visit to Bahla is incomplete without a visit to the famed Bahla Fort — a Unesco World Heritage Site that is still under repair. Once the renovation work is completed it will offer yet another historical edifice for visitors to come and admire.
Avoiding the new carriageway from Nizwa to Bahla and taking the old route, allows visitors to take in the scenic views along the way, admire new hamlets and the established townships of Tanuf — famous for its mineral water — and Al Hamra.

As with many of the other areas of this region, these places abound with newly built villas and houses that huddle together beneath the huge Jabal Akhdhar mountain range. There is also an access point from here to the impressive Al Hoota Cave with its unusual stalagmite and stalactite formations.
All along the route, wondrous mountain formations can be seen that are a typical, dominant and impressively picturesque feature of this region. They give rise to wadis (canyons) that flow with water after heavy rainfalls. Some maintain a constant stream of flowing water throughout the year and are a popular attraction for both locals and visitors alike.
Sultanate of Oman Pavilion - Expo Yeosu 2012