Monday, February 23, 2015

DIY Home Arabian/Khaleeji Chic: Moroccan Wedding Blanket, Mandoos Stud-Style Headboard, Khaleeji-Fabric Bukhoor Burner, and Tassels out of thread or yarn

OPNO has seen a lot of gorgeous and genius DIY projects recently. However, this blog is not uploading photos and OPNO hasn't the foggiest why. However, the links will be posted anyways, and the projects explained. Click on the links to see photos.

PROJECT #1: Mandoos Stud-Style Headboard for your bed [ ]

Nothing is worse in OPNO's designer opinion, than a blah bedroom with an ugly bed. Having always loved mandoos (those studded Arabian/Omani boxes sometimes called the zanzibar chest or captian's chest), we use them in Oman for all sorts of things: coffee table, dowry chest, bed bench, TV console... But a way to get the look yourself is to use nailhead metallic trim on a DIY yourself headboard for an exotic version of an undressed bed. Just google mandoos patterns, and follow the tutorial on the link above, using plain black painted wood, or faux brown leather instead of linen (which is shown in the link). Voila! Just add a canopy of mosquitoe net for that exotic feel. (OPNO has even done this in hot pink for her daughter but alas, the photos, the photos...).

PROJECT #2: Faux Moroccan Wedding Blanket

OPNO has always loved the look (but not the price) of Moroccan wedding blankets. Here is a link for the how-to [ ].

PROJECT #3: Khaleeji-Fabric Bukhoor Burner

OPNO has to apologize, this was her own DIY and the photos won't post, however, she took a bukhoor burner just like this one (which OPNO bought from Ramez in Seeb for half a rial) and then simply glue-gunned khaleeji fabric from Zuraiq Textiles in Al hail (can be found other places as well, on the squares to get this look:

PROJECT #4:  Yarn or Embroidery Thread Tassels to trim blankets or pillows

This is one DIY project OPNO also made (but used embroidery thread in black, burgundy, and red) to trim a throw pillow in a very bedouin design. However, this tutorial shows how to do the same, but using yarn to trim a throw blanket [ ].

Sunday, February 8, 2015

HOUSE UPDATE: building now, and my neighbors appear to be insane

Okay, so we finalized our floor plan with the engineer, it was approved by the Muscat Minicipality and the Ministry for housing (although those two places need to work together---they have different rules for the same thing). We hired a contractor who thus far seems honest and hardworking. No one knows I am blogging about them. I am temped to tell the materials suppliers to get a discount lol, but builder, engineers, I certainly won't;). Our workers seem pretty good. The land was cleared.

Then since all is going well, too well for Oman;)--- apparently, our neighbors are insane.

Yes. Of course, I have to have crazy neighbors that all hate eachother.

They keep pulling out the land marks. Now, the workers have finally, finally walled in the property but man, isn't that crazy?

The neighbors keep approaching us, telling us bad stuff about another neighbor. They are, apparently, one family, but, when someone died, they fought over the split of farms and lands, and went to court, and seem to still disagree and resent eachother.

Fun, fun, fun.

Since I'm terrible with guests anyways, I am sure they'll all visit me only a few times, then stop. When you mix up the garam masala with the cardamon for the coffee, it works every time;).

Anyways, we've met a few designers (mainly to get pricing on bulk discounts, since there are more homes than my villa going up)---one for the kitchen and one for flooring and additional materials.

I want a fireplace. Yes, yes I do. A fireplace in Muscat that I will use only once a year most like, but I need one.

The kitchen designer seemed awesome. Was a listener and understood me. I mostly like to design for myself but like options.

I like things and spaces to have a history, to have age, yet be functional, and have something elegant, chic or awe-inspiring (even something small) about them. That's a challenge, since I know what I want and what I don't like, but I don't know what's available, so apologies must go out to everyone working with us who I am like, nope, no, not that, sort of but no, uh uh, not the same, ugly, uh that's not me, ect.....

I still wish the facade were Arabic because I'd already sourced the materals for that, and furnishings, and costed it... so this is a lot of work and I have no time lol.

Anyways, that's everything for now. I will try to upload the DIY post soon inshaAllah.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Rape in Oman cont'd: the murder of a little boy in Sohar

Sorry y'all. My blogger account hasn't been working properly. After some of the heavy subjects I wanted to do an eye-candy post, a fashion post, a beauty post, and a DIY post but my blogger account isn't uploading the photos I want for those posts.

Of course, heavy subjects abound. By now you've probably read about the rape and murder of the little Omani boy in Sohar by two older Omani boys/young men. One of the rapists/murderers was 18 and the other 15 or 16? Something like that. They raped the boy who was abducted from a wedding then held him down while they stuffed sand into his mouth until he died and then left his body like garbage. I hope they kill them. I know, with the death penalty people can be unjustly convicted and condemned, but in this case, where there is no doubt, I hope for the harshest. I mean, even with the death penalty, they won't be so cruel as to kill them by puting sand in their mouths.

As a parent, I can say, if you rape one of my kids (not even murder) i WILL KILL YOU. It is, as simple as that. If the government won't do it, I will. Rape is common in Oman. My husband is teacher in a boy's only school here. He's told me as much.{ }

In Oman, the jail term for rape of a girl is 5-15 years in prison, a male is 3 years. (

I remember a while back now, perhaps you do recall, the school shooting in Shinas?: well a father had his son raped, it was reported to the police but not even a jail term was given, so the father barged into the rapist's school and shot him { }. I say bravo. I'd do the same.

As a female in Oman, I can say, all cases of rape I have heard of, happened to housemaids, or to expat or Omani women who put themselves into bad situations. I am not blaming anyone who puts themselves into a bad situation. Rape is still the fault of the rapist. It is never the victim's fault.

It happens. Be careful. That Omani dude you met at a night club who wants to take you to Qantab beach in the middle of the night could be a perfect gentleman. But don't chance it.

As a woman, I have had the experience of being molested (in a taxi). Again, as my Omani husband would say, don't chance it. If you must take a taxi when you find a good driver keep his number or ask other women you know to share a taxi or get their driver's number. I know two very good taxis in Al Hail Seeb if anyone is interested. They only speak Arabic but they are so so so trustworthy, for example.
----Or get a car and license (I shouldn't talk on this one---I am still the loser who doesn't drive---former city girl habit that is hard to lose).

Apparently, I can't wear my niqab (face veil I wear for religious beliefs) at Sultan Qaboos University because some man wore it to go into a girl's bathroom and molested and harmed a female student in revenge against her family.

Again, not to diminish the importance of rape of females in Oman, however, the statistic for female rape here is grossly smaller than that of rape occuring in Western countries. I believe from experience, that rape of women and girls is actually less here, although that rape statistic should be much higher due to under reporting due to cultural hold-ups on the value of virginity and female reputation, and limited domestic labourers rights and powers. For example,a raped housemaid will seldom be brave enough to report a rape with the ROP {Royal Oman Police} since a couple of rapes and molestations of women have occured while in the ROP offices (along with one attempted abduction by an ROP guy we OPNO girls got fired, alhamdulilah).

For men though---especially those who are boys----rape is actually common. In school of about 1000 students about 4 rapes occur annually. Maybe more. Attempted rapes of about 16 that were thwarted. These aren't Minstry statistics, this is coming from teachers.

While murder is rare in Oman, and abduction and rape also rare, rape is not so rare that we or Omanis find it shocking. So please, guard your children.

Of the two rapists/murders/monsters from Sohar, of one of them it is claimed that he has a mental disability that causes him towards this kind of behaviour. If that is the case, and true, and backed up by doctors, I don't think he can be killed, but he has to be institutionalized because his parents couldn't look after him and stop this. If his previous behavior was already known, his parents should face legal action and manslaughter charges---at the very least criminal negligence resulting in death. They should have been watching their mentally ill/violent child, not allowing him to go around abducting, raping, and killing another innocent human being.

Allah wills everything, we Muslims believe. But Allah also gave people free will. If you choose not to watch over your children, it is a choice. It wasn't Allah who made you stupid.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

UPDATES: Interpol, Muscat Festival, and Loving Oman despite all


Apparently, the owner of Tajer Ceramica was arrested by INTERPOL. I wonder what charges have been laid at his feet {trumped up perhaps?}. Was someone who knew him asked to attest that he was a terrorist or something? {like everyone in Oman already knows happened to the Qu'ran School teachers a long time back now?}

Anyways, I probably shouldn't write anything else on this subject right?   Anyways, thanks to the few (anonymous) commentators who requested I stop writing about this for the safety of the OPNO girls and their friends and families. I feel its totally fine since, well, everyone in Oman already knows about it, and the public already know what they think about it, and I am not naming names ect... I just think, that since everyone ALREADY knows about the corruption, isn't this harassment of the owner of Tajer Ceramica, his friends, his relations, ect... a little much? The man was already self-exiled. Everyone already knows the government is stealing. Omanis can tell by the villas, the lands, the projects, of persons here on this blog unnamed. One doesn't need proof beyond the obvious.

{It is a funny memory for one Omani taxi driver, all the Omani women he drove in his taxi who asked to be dropped off in front of one minister's grand palace of a house to make duas [prayers that in the sense they were being used, asked for the man's punihsment from Allah/God] for the man's destruction (or quick change of heart)}.

In the case of the Qu'ran school teachers and courdinaters who were wrongfully jailed His Majesty eventually had them freed. But I wonder myself if that is enough? Surely punishment of those who wrongfully jail people in the first place is matter more important than royal pardons and belated apologies?---now of course, that is just my humble opinion and the rumbling sentiments expressed on that twitter feed by the public (Omanis).

That's all you'll hear from me on this. Back to regular programming.

Muscat Festival opened up last night. I had a lovely time (ate far too much jola). The Heritage village in Al Amerat is my favourite, but this year I did more shopping than learning Omani handicrafts (bedouin carpet, eye kohl, and Dhofari abu thail dress).
Muscat Fashion Week is coming. Thinking what to wear... That's your usual OPNO programming....

Despite what I wrote above, know that Oman is a super safe and pleasant place to live (I have lost my 3 year old plenty and no pervert has ever made off with her---nor have I been harassed by locals' opinion of my dress and demeanor ect...) with a lovely heritage, great architectural beauty (I am from Canada so natural beauty here can't compare), and a climate of perpetual sunshine. 

I love it here. My life is always desired to be here. I think despite corruption, there are many, many good people. More good than bad. And at least the corruption is obvious. I think that makes it easier to fix in the long run, that Oman's thieves aren't even smart. And even some of the corrupt people here;), are nice. Of course, not the ones who jail people for no reason or deprive widows and divorcees of their legal rights ect... I mean, nice as people.

People are not perfect. And the system, is really more at fault than the people in it (most of the time). The system has rules that are far too vague, with not enough transparency in government. This is already a well known fact. I don't think saying this is risky at all since so many before me have already said it, and almost every Omani you could ask off the street will say so. People are tired os hearing the government say "we are planning for the future". Action and results have a time as well.

However, the progress made under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos from before the start of his reign?: simply beyond the grasp of most nations, especially in terms of education and healthcare. I acknwledge that, and that gives me hope for the future. Corruption exists, but all Omanis are educated enough to be aware of that, and to begin thinking of solutions for their country. And that is what His Majesty has always related that he wants for his country. I believe in having faith---my Omani-husband would laugh at that statement---but I do. I may be a pessimist, because I believe in aknowledging all that is wrong and all that could go wrong, but I believe having hope, and trying at the same time in that, is the best recipe for change. Fear, anger, and bleak morose hopelessness, and trying for change?: that's a recipe for disaster.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Twittering from Germany can Apparently get Friends and Relations in the Sultanate "detained" without cause

According to Oman Collective Intellgience [ ]  twitter "has seen a tremendous increase in its number of active users, which reached 38,000 in 2013 from 14,000 in 2012. Talking in terms of total number of accounts on the site, the figure reached 300,000 in 2013 from around 200,000 in the year 2012. Twitter has become a quick and convenient tool to view and spread news."

Lately, an obsession for many Omanis I know is quietly checking out the twitter account of the currently self-exiled owner of the Barka-based tile and ceramics supplier, Tajer Ceramica. I won't post the link because mostly the man has stopped posting in English due to not wishing to reflect badly on Oman to the international community, but if you haven't heard about his case already, he has written about many high flying officials, how they took expensive stock from his stores without paying [to charitably hypocritically build Mosques and the like], in return for "friendship" although he insisted they pay instead. He has proof for many of his allegations, excepting of course, about what happened to him while he was jailed "for speaking out".

This type of corruption is rampant on a larger scale everywhere in Oman and I can confirm it from friends and relatives working in many sections of Oman's government myself [examples: housing Ministry, Ministry of Education, Baladiyia, Ministry of Fishing, Minstry of Economics and Commerce, the Tourism Ministry, the Diwaan, ect...] (with no one brave enough to be harassed for it though of course).

If you are jailed in cases like the owner of Tajer Ceramica, often you are forced to sign a gag order before release. Being Mr. Tajer Ceramica is in Germany, he doesn't care of course, but writing as he has, harassment of his family and friends in Oman has not stopped. For example, a female friend of the family, and his mother, were arrested/detained without cause... which is done on purpose, considering some of the more conservative culture will think... "that woman has been touched by men---the police" and thus one can see why this is usually an effective initimidation tactic. It makes people want to distance themselves from the family in order to "save or protect themselves".

Jail is enough to scare many who have confided in myself (and since I am applying for citizenship---and I know the Ministry of Interior is corrupt since I was personally told to buy someone's wife a new Galaxy phone in order to get marriage permission----I am not all that brave either right?).

My "friends" all know someone who was arrested.

For example, some teachers who were jailed and beaten for protesting, the Islamic Sheikhs who were forced to sign papers saying they were planning to take over the government in order to get out of jail when arrested for basically running Qu'ran schools that taught citizens to question government [an aspect of Ibadhi Islam since Ibadhi Islam the notion of what makes a Caliph is decided by the Muslims they rule], and simple Omani guys who protested the Opera house {while I disagree with them a little, I don't think they deserve to have been arrested and sent to a "secret" prison}.... all of these people were forced to sign gag orders and seem afraid to discuss even with their closest friends what happened to them in prison. They just say "think before you protest" when asked about what happened to them.

That to me, is more scary than details.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos cannot support this. I know he is busy, and the situation is complicated, but accountability and transparency has to be added in government AND law for true development of the country.

Anyways, I don't really know if I should write more... This really isn't anything new, but twittering about it, I guess is.

Monday, January 12, 2015

DESIGN IDEAS: Omani BATHROOM (traditional or traditional contemporary Arabic/Khaleeji design) pt. 1

As mentioned on the previous post, not all rooms in the hotel have space for their bath, in a traditional-seperate-from-the-bedroom-bath sense. However, I am stocking up on inspirational photos nonetheless...since, inspiration IS required. Traditional Omani bathrooms?: non-existant. Traditional Khaleeji examples: very, very few. For a culture obsessed with perfume, cleanliness, teeth-brushing, and washing to the point of almost obsessiveness (my non-muslim father observed;) ---love you Dad) this may seem a little odd.
Traditionally, this area of Oman---where the hotel is situated---had a women's bathing area, and a men's bathing area (outdoor photo above), and same goes for the toilets;) (both outdoors). Bathing and washing was otherwise taken care of indoors with a bowl of water (often scented with rose water). The only typical Khaleeji design I COULD find for a bathroom was from Saudi, pictured above (Narjan). Other examples included Yemeni houses with European plumbing but nothing distinctly... Khaleeji, the way Iranian tiles, or Moroccan hammams are native to those countries. So thus, Greece and Morocco, and othe hotels in Oman helped inform this new style developing in Oman for a traditional "Omani" bathroom. (another major thing I'd like to incorporate in our hotel, is selling locally made products and helping the local business women out in this regard. I'd like all the soaps and shampoo and conditioners for the room ect... to be Omani, and to stock Omani perfumes for purchase, and Omani embroidered linens, Oman does have a rich handicrafts tradition with handwork usually reserved for dressmaking and hats ect... but bathrobes, sheets, blankets, and towels can be updated, for a traditional but utilitarian purpose for the modern traveller. I haven't seen this done very well by hotels in Oman yet.