Thursday, March 18, 2010


Day 2 here. Just back from an evening drive.

G. has been introducing me to the wonders of Muscat. A place designed for the car, it's where petrol's free (just have to pay a service charge), cars go at top speed, new roads are being built all the time, and all things go towards making Oman to having the largest ecological footprint in the world.

We pass by 8 storey concrete prefabs started 2 months ago - the Indian slavery here is efficient. We pass by a house built for "His Excellency" or for "His Highness" - there are many of these compounds. In front of us - and we are almost always on the road - are cars with special licence plates indicating that the driver is part of the Royal Palace. Untouchable.

We go by the former Royal Palace, now the Guest Palace. 2000 acres.

G. tells me about the facades of this city and culture. Sultan Qaboos didn't like how the shops looked on the street leading up to the Guest Palace, so he had a facade wall built to cover them up.

He tells me about the enormous convoys of 3000 people - 1,200 cars - that go into the desert, accompanying the Sultan when he wants to set up camp.

Huge planes, the largest in the world, fly every two hours above us, carrying some kind of something from Sudan or Afghanistan or Iraq. Oman is neutral, but the British and the Americans have some presence here.

Lots of road stories...

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