Life with the Big Blue

Friday, September 30, 2005

Yana Al-Hewaa Yaaana

Another post written in Oman:

Swahili is almost an second official language in Oman. Most of the people who speak it come from Zanzibar/Zinjibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania once ruled by Omani dynasties. Almost all of them trace their roots back to Omani ancestors but some do have African blood in them. Sometimes they're derogatorily referred to as "Zinjibariyyeen". Good People, though!

The African connection is not always obvious. Some of them would look like Me7mas al-3taiibi or Njir al-Bgomi but would go: OGA BUGA MOMBA SAKALAWLAW as soon as he meets one of his kind.

Mohammed Badar, Marmul's Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment (QHSE) officer. A Swahili speaking Omani and also a great person.

w'Yana el-hewaaa yaaaaaaaanaaaaiii……..yaaanaiii min ZINJIBAAAAR!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Nose-Kissing Problem

Disclaimer: this post was not written under the influence of mind-altering substances.

Visitors of Arabia are always confused by how homosexual the behaviors of traditional Arab men could seem, like holding hands and public embraces. However, perhaps one of the most revolting sites to foreigners is nose-kissing. Two men would stick their noses together then make kissing sounds with their lips. In certain cases, one would kiss somebody else's nose. Kissing somebody's nose is a sign of respect and a recognition of superiority. Look at the figure below for clarification.

hey...don't look at me that way!......i find it repelling too.....neither myself nor any member of my extended family do it.....

In the oilfield you run into interesting cultural phenomena. One of them I like to call: "the Nose-Kissing problem". Since workers in oil locations are required to wear PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), which include hard-hats, nose-kissing ability is impaired. See the illustration below.

Nose-kissing attempt with hard-hats, introducing the nose-kissing problem

The Nose kissing hard-hat trick!

The Omani Bedouins, being the brilliant problem-solvers they are, came up with a solution to this problem. It's simple! One party would tilt their heads to one side and the other would stand steadily to graciously receive the traditional greeting. Unfotunately, I couldn't convince any of my colleagues to perform the trick on camera!

By the way, I got an answer to why oil locations are given female names in Oman....cuz they're full of sexually-deprived men who are there to drill holes! :-p

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Gay Omani Oil Wells

I couldn't help but notice the benign (mostly feminine) names of Omani oil regions. You'd have to understand Arabic to notice.

Oil Regions in Saud Arabiai: Haradh, Shedgum, Udhailiyah, Shaibah,Khufff, AbGAIG, Tanajeeb, Khrais, Barri, ZULUF, Ghawwar, Hawtah

Oil Regions in Oman: Amal, Al-Noor, Bahja, Reema, Osfoor, Rajaa, Zomorrod, Kaukab, Raihan, Naseem, Salwa, Zahra..........and many more......the list goes on

I guess it's because our regions were named by Bedouins whereas their regions were named by the government. Can you imagine a Bedouin calling a place Zomorrod? Well, maybe their badoo were gay.....Allahu A3lam....

Speaking of gayness,,,,,Omanis' reputation among expats is not of sexual Canadian manager told me about the "famous Omani saying": "women are for children and men are for fun"...........I gave him that "aiiiiiiiiish 3arrrafak?????!" look........

Another Omani saying:
اذا جاك مطوع صغير....ف شل وزارك وطير....
واذا جاك مطوع كبير....ف غطي فقحتك بحصير!!
Comments very welcome....

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Marmul, Oman

  • Marmul, home of the company's 2nd base in Oman. When I first knew I'd be sent here instead of Mexico (due to visa processing complications), I thought of it as just another remote desert location that nobody wants to go to. But now that I've spent about 2 weeks here, I wouldn't mind working here for a few years.

  • In a way, this remote PDO post is like Dhahran in the 1950's or Haradh nowadays, just an oil camp with a number of pumps, rigs, hoists, and an ugly small town surrounding it.

  • The closest major Omani city is Salalah, which is a 3 hours drive to the south-west. You could spot Marmul (mid-south, above Salalah) on the map shown below.

Breathtaking Scenery!

The logo of PDO (Petroleum Development of Oman) at the entrance of their Marmul camp. Sometimes it makes me realize how great Aramco really was compared to other national oil companies.

Marmul's bar in disguise, dubbed: the White House by the Mutawwas, Code named: Rig#1 by the sarabeet.

I arrived at Nimr Airport (one hour drive from Marmul), which was my frist experience landing on a gravel air strip! Not a good idea to cut costs, if you ask me!

Baggage Claim, Passenger Pickup, and Car rentals, tourist info.....etc.

  • The weather here is really nice, contrary to what you would think of a desert location in the month of August. It could be 1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon on an August day and you'd still feel alright walking outside. I think it's the elevation that's bringing all the fresh breezes.

  • I like my Omani coworkers. I never knew Omanis were this cool. I get their jokes, they get mine. It's like mixing Saudi with Yemen then adding some African influence as garnish.
  • The engineers I work with (1 Canadian middle-aged guy, a Vietnamese dude, an Indonesian bro, and a Nigerean lady) are alright too but they're too busy to be nice and helpful. There's SO MUCH to learn and you really need to ask many questions to know what's going on!

My Vietnamese friend Viet (aka V6)

My operator buddy Nassir al-Tubi (aka 2 piece)

Another cool operator: Mohd. Al-Mahri. His first language is Mahri which sounds like arabic in reverse. Bellah ma ythakkirkum b'shabab althugbah? Just add 6agiyyah+thoob+kabak thahabi+ditsin 3alaih sticker "special",,,, and u've got urself a typical Saudi street cruiser. He told me Saudi Jawazat guys wouldn't believe he was Omani when he was crossing the infamous bridge to Bahrain.

  • Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to see Muscat. I arrived exhausted on the night of the 23rd of August then had to leave to Marmul the next morning. Check out the trashy hotel I to had stay at in Muscat (Ruwi Hotel).