Oman’s population crosses 4 million mark

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As per statistics revealed by the National Center for Statistics and Information, Oman’s present population is 4,000,345. Out of which 2,232,949 are Omanis (55.8 percent) and remaining 1,767,396 are expatriates (44.2 per cent).

Here are some more stats:

- The population of Omani men (1,130,115) is higher than women (1,102,834).

- The number of expatriate males stood at 1,448,816 against 318,580 expatriate women.

- Muscat, Dhofar and Buraimi have the highest percentage of expatriate population compared to Omani population.

- Omani population was higher in Musandam, Dakhliyah, North and South Batinah, North and South Sharqiyah, Dhahirah and Al Wusta.

- Muscat governorate had the highest number of expatriates – 62 per cent of the governorate’s total population. Omanis constituted 38 per cent.

- Oman’s population was 3,957,040 by end 2013.

Restaurant review – Sombrero

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Sombrero, the new Mexican fusion (casual dining) restaurant in town, is located at Muscat Galleria mall in Al Khuwair. It offers starters, salads, grills, pastas, burgers, wraps, sides, desserts and drinks with a fast-food twist.

We were there on a Friday night and the 52-cover restaurant was almost its full capacity. The ambience is truly Mexican with Latin music for company. After going through the cool-looking menu, we ordered Crispy Chicken Tacos, Oaxaca Grilled Chicken, Yucatan Grilled Fish and Crumbed Chicken Enchilada.

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Crispy Chicken Tacos (RO 2.250) with fiery BBQ dressing and pickles was nice and tasty, while Oaxaca Grilled Chicken (RO 4.5) served with potato mash and teriyaki glaze was just average. It tasted like the regular grilled chicken dished out by non-Mexican restaurants in town.

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Yucatan Grilled Fish (RO 5.5) with lemon honey greens and sprouts was probably the dish of the day. The delectable combo of fresh hammour and sprouted green grams was polished off in a flash. The Crumbed Chicken Enchilada (RO 2.250) with avocado and roasted peppers was nice and filling.

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Since we were left with no space in the tummy, we couldn’t try the two interesting desserts on the menu. I was impressed by the food and the energetic staff of the restaurant. Led by young Faisal Abdullah Shamrid Al Raisi, owner, the staff are an energetic bunch and are all over the place helping diners choose the dish, serving and cleaning the tables with ease. They are quite hands on and their smiling faces add to pleasant dining experience.

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It is nice to see Omani entrepreneurs come up with new eating joints, and if Faisal’s drive and enthusiasm is anything to go by, Sombrero is poised for greater success in the months to come.

Another interesting feature of the restaurant is the Greek tradition they’ve introduced of breaking plates. If customers are happy with the food and service, they are asked to break a plate. This is quite a unique experience for diners in Muscat. For a starter, three main course dishes and drinks, our bill was RO 16.950 (including taxes).

Should you try out Sombrero? Yes, they have tasty Mexican fusion concept food served with loads of smiles and positivity.

Call 2469 2343 or check their Facebook page for more details.

2016: That is when Darsait-Wadi Kabir flyover project will be ready

A report says:

The Darsait-Wadi Kabir flyover project is expected to be opened to traffic by the beginning of 2016, an official of Muscat Municipality told the Times of Oman.

“It’s going to reduce the traffic congestion in this vital stretch following building of three flyovers including the Wadi Kabir flyover, Sheraton flyover and the Star cinema flyover as well as interchanges,” said the official.

The official added that Muscat Municipality has a strategic plan to solve the traffic congestion problem in the Ruwi area because of its importance and the volume of the daily traffic movement, starting from Qurum Heights to Wadi Kabir.

Being a daily user of the stretch, I should say L&T Oman is making sure that motorists are not inconvenienced. The extra lane addition work from Qurum Heights till Lulu Darsait was carried out rather meticulously.

Will the new flyovers solve the traffic mess in Ruwi? Only time will tell.

The lost art of press release writing

The art of writing good press releases is getting lost in Oman. The main reason being the publishing market is advertisement-driven and any content is printed ‘as is’, depending on the ties with the advertiser. It is not surprising to see copy-paste content camouflaged as press releases occupying ¾ space of a page in a daily newspaper. The brand advertises on a regular basis and has half-page ads on most days. Any rubbish they dish out goes into the print without any edits.

The only people who read those press releases are the agency handling that brand, top management of the brand whose names have been mentioned in the write-up, and competitors of the brand. The general public (readers) are not interested in reading press releases running up to 800 words. So much so that a well written and an interesting press release (news peg) from an entry-level brand goes almost unnoticed because it has been tucked some where down the page. From experience, I can vouch that to write a 500-word press release it takes a lot of time, and moreover it is a herculean task to source inputs from different departments within a company. If there are quotes involved in the press release then it will run into days with most top management guys being very finicky about what goes into the quote under their name.

The ad executives are also spoiling the way professional press releases are being written by encouraging advertisers to send ‘content’ which could be published as a complimentary offer for the quarter page advertisement. Thanks to Google, in most companies the secretaries of CEOs and MDs are the content generators and whatever they source from Internet goes into the print the next day. Brands are happy, they assume their staff can write well and they think professional writers are just hype. So, next time a PR agency approaches a brand the senior management guy might as well say, “We have people in our company to write press releases.” Be rest assured that a secretary or a finance executive could be writing their press releases. I am not saying they can’t write, but they will not be able to write the way professionals write.

But then who cares in a market like Oman?

OTT apps ‘hurt’ telecom majors in Oman

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I came across an interesting article today on the impact of Over The Top (OTT) free calling, chatting and messaging apps in Oman.

- Calls being made via Oman’s major telecom companies have gone down by 25 to 30 per cent.

- Oman’s smartphone penetration is 93 per cent while 53 per cent of the population has access to Internet through smartphones.

- Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) has banned Viber (can’t make calls from and to Oman) and Skype has been in the banned list for long.

- Subscribers for bundle data are on the rise.

What will happen to WhatsApp’s free voice calling facility when it is launched in the middle of 2014 is anybody’s guess.