Archive for category Oman

Oman FM visits Al-Aqsa in ‘historic’ move

February 16, 2018

Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf Bin Alawi bin Abdullah visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque yesterday.

Azzam Al-Khatib, the director of the Islamic Waqf in occupied Jerusalem, who received the Omani minister, described the visit as “historic” and said it was aimed at supporting the people of Jerusalem.

The visit comes after a meeting between the Omani minister and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

During a press conference with the PA president, the Omani foreign minister called on the Arab countries to “accept the invitation of Mahmoud Abbas to visit Palestine and occupied Jerusalem, stressing that the Palestinian people are not alone and that all the Arab peoples are behind them”.

“What is required is the hard work of the Palestinians to build their country, which has historically been a beacon of science, containing universities, schools, professors and experts,” he added.

Source: Middle East Monitor.



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Life on Mars: Let’s Try Oman Desert First for Space Mission

Moscow (Sputnik)

Sep 05, 2017

Life on Mars may still be light years away – but it clearly hasn’t stopped us from thinking ahead. Next year six space-suited and booted astronauts will head to the Dhofar desert in Oman in an attempt to simulate what life will be like on Mars.

According to scientists, the Dhofar desert is possibly the most realistic place on Earth that is as harsh and uninviting as the landscape of Mars.

The astronauts will take part in a lavish dress rehearsal for the first manned voyage to another planet as they attempt to retrace the footsteps of Marco Polo and the English explorer Wilfred Thesiger.

It is not the first time such an elaborate adventure has been staged in readiness for the real mission in later years. Teams have simulated identical missions in an open cast mine in southern Spain, the Sahara desert in Africa, as well as a glacier in the Alps.

“Every time we try to get bigger and better and closer to the real thing. We need to understand the capabilities and limitations of our equipment and what people need to do when they get there. This is the biggest mission we have ever done,” Gernot Gromer, president of the Austrian Space Forum, revealed.

When they head to Arabia next February the space crew will go armed with a drone, an inflatable hydroponic greenhouse, several robotic rovers as well as a host of other scientific equipment.

Although they will spend their time in complete isolation, their three week journey will be closely monitored by mission control, on this occasion, based in Austria. In order to make the event all the more realistic, any signal contact between them will be delayed by 10 minutes, just as there would be in real life.

“What we know about Mars has progressed massively in the past 15 years, and I strongly believe that the first human to walk on Mars is already born. We could see permanent human settlement on the Red Planet several generations from now, and they may not be happy eating canned food,” said Mr. Gromer.

A 50-strong army of support personnel – including Squadron Leader Bonnie Posselt, an RAF doctor who became Britain’s first trainee space medic last year – will be on hand throughout the mission. Some 60 researchers will also follow their every footsteps as they probe the 120 square mile test site looking for ‘alien’ DNA or, anything else they can find in the barren desert wastes.

In addition to the obvious inhospitable conditions beyond Earth, he explained, there are a number of less well known challenges to humans.

“The way our body processes food is different enough to matter a great deal. A person’s sense of taste changes in zero gravity. There are medical implications to different gravity effects. In our work we’re verifying whether the ideas and designs to survive on Mars work in practice, and the gaps between theory and practice that we observe range from trivial to serious matters.”

The astronauts are guaranteed to be put to the test during their mission, most notably temperatures will vary from 16 degrees and 27 Celsius, a far cry from anything Mars has to offer.

In many respects, however, the landscape in Oman will be similar to those expected on the red planet, thanks to its salt domes, sedimentary rocks and dried up riverbeds.

Source: Mars Daily.


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Qatar shipping company moves hub from UAE to Oman

August 9, 2017

Dubai’s status as a financial hub for the region is increasingly coming under threat as one of Qatar’s major shipping and logistics firm relocates its regional trans-shipment hub from Dubai to Oman’s Sohar port.

With the Saudi led blockade of Qatar now entering its third month, Milaha Maritime and Logistics, which “delivers a comprehensive range of services to some of the region’s biggest players in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors”, announced the move that may raise concerns in Dubai over its potential to remain the unrivaled economic hub of the region.

One of the measures taken by the blockading countries was to deny Qatar access to their ports. Typically, cargo for Qatar stopped at the UAE’s massive port in Jebel Ali, Dubai, or in Abu Dhabi, then got put on smaller boats heading to Doha. Following the blockade, international free trade zones like Jebel Ali were off-limits to Qatari companies. Hundreds of containers destined for Qatar were seized by the authorities in clear breach of the provisions and laws of the International Trade Organisation that safeguard the free flow of goods.

Oman was quick to announce its readiness to become the import/export hub of the region. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member was one of the countries that stood to benefit from the Saudi-led blockade after deciding to remain neutral and allowing Qatar-bound ships to use its ports. The country also launched one of its boldest projects; Bayan is the largest electronic system in the Sultanate that allows international traders to obtain government permits and licences quickly and efficiently.

An increasing number of companies have now turned to Oman, and that is likely to have a severe knock-on effect on Dubai. Analysts have warned that the economic embargo on Qatar could hurt Dubai’s status as a financial hub.

Industry analysts believe that both Kuwait and Oman will reap the benefit of trade transactions that used to take place in countries like the UAE. Qatar Petroleum chief Saad Al-Kaabi told Al Jazeera that, as the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) producing up to 77 million tonnes each year, it had to move quickly to mitigate the impact of the blockade and secure alternative routes. While stressing that the blockade has made Qatar much stronger, Doha was in any case unlikely to return to using ports within the blockading countries that previously serviced its global exports.

On Monday, Qatar’s transport ministry said three new direct shipping lines are being opened with Malaysia, Pakistan and Taiwan. These countries, along with Oman and Kuwait, are expected to benefit financially from doing trade with the countries affected by the boycott.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


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Omanis vote in municipal elections

25 December 2016 Sunday

Voters in Oman headed to the polls Sunday to choose municipal councilors in only the second local election held in the Gulf sultanate.

In 1994 it became the first Gulf monarchy to give the vote to women and in 2011 Qaboos decreed that elections be held for municipal councils.

More than 620,000 voters were registered to take part in Sunday’s polls, which will choose councilors for 11 municipalities including the capital Muscat.

The councilors will have limited powers, as authorities will designate chairmen and deputy chairmen for the municipalities from outside those elected.

“I voted for the person who will best represent me,” Jawhara al-Zadjali said as she left a polling station in Muscat.

Voters across the country are choosing 202 councilors from among 731 candidates, including 23 women, for the four-year posts.

At the national level, Oman has a consultative council with limited powers, the 85-member Majlis al-Shura.

In 2011 Qaboos slightly expanded the powers of the Majlis al-Shura after unprecedented social unrest when the normally quiet nation became caught up in protests which swept the Arab world.

Source: World Bulletin.


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Iran appoints ambassadors to Syria, Oman

December 17, 2016

Iran’s foreign ministry has announced that it had made decisions on its new ambassadors to be appointed to both Syria and Oman, and that their names would soon be released, The New Khaleej reported yesterday.

Foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said that the names of the two ambassadors to the two countries would be released when a series of diplomatic and strategic considerations were concluded.

He noted that the sensitivity of the situation in Syria is one of the reasons why the appointment of the ambassador to Damascus was delayed.

The news website noted that the appointment of Iranian ambassadors is subject to strict censorship by the intelligence branch of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its Qods Force brigade that focuses on Iran’s extraterritorial activities.

Reports indicated that the administration of President Hassan Rouhani had been severely criticized in the Iranian parliament due to the delay of the appointment of the ambassadors for the two aforementioned countries, especially to Syria, where there are Iranian forces fighting alongside Assad regime forces.

In April, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the former deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs, was chosen to head up the Iranian embassy in Muscat, but he withdrew himself from consideration for “personal reasons”.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


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UAE’s Masdar to build $125-million wind farm in Oman

Abu Dhabi (AFP)

Oct 22, 2014

Abu Dhabi energy company Masdar said Wednesday it will build a 50-megawatt wind farm in neighboring Oman that will provide 16,000 homes with clean energy.

The $125-million project, the first large-scale wind farm in the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, would be constructed in the southwestern region of Dhofar, Masdar said in a statement.

Masdar signed a joint development agreement with Oman’s Rural Areas Electricity Company to build the farm, which would mitigate 110,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly, it said.

Masdar is overseeing Abu Dhabi plans to generate seven percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

It said last month it was partnering with Norwegian firms Statoil and Statkraft to build a multi-billion dollar offshore wind farm in Britain, big enough to power 410,000 homes.

The company already has a 20-percent stake in the 630-megawatt London Array project, the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest of the seven sheikhdoms that make up the federation of the United Arab Emirates.

It sits on proven oil reserves totaling 98.2 billion barrels — 95 percent of the UAE’s reserves, which are the world’s seventh largest. It also has a large gas reserves.

Source: Wind Daily.


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Oman orders NASAMS air defense system

Tewksbury, Mass. (UPI)
Jan 27, 2014

An advanced surface-to-air missile system developed by Raytheon and Norway’s Kongsberg Defense Systems is being purchased by the Sultanate of Oman.

The purchase order — a direct sales contract — is valued at $1.28 billion and includes provisions for the supply of ground support equipment, training and technical assistance, Raytheon reported.

“The Sultanate of Oman’s competitive selection of Raytheon’s National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System validates the superior performance, system adaptability and overall security that NASAMS provides,” said Dan Crowley, president of Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. “Raytheon is committed to delivering the exceptional defense capabilities of NASAMS to Oman.”

NASAMS is a modular, networked ground-based medium to long-range air defense system for AIM 120 AMRAAM missiles. It works with the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System and the Hawk Air Defense system and is used by Norway, the Netherlands, Spain and Finland. It is also deployed by the U.S. military in the National Capital Region.

A NASAM system consists of missile launchers, radars, a fire control center and a tactical control vehicle.

Raytheon said work on supplying the system to Oman will be conducted by Raytheon at its Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, Mass., and in Kongsberg, Norway.

Kongsberg is a sub-contractor of NASAMS elements to Raytheon. Its work on the Oman project is worth more than $440 million.

“The cooperation with Raytheon has over the years developed into a close and strong partnership with a large potential market for our air defense solutions,” said Walter Qvam, chief executive officer of Kongsberg. “This agreement with Oman is the single largest supply contract in Kongsberg’s history and is strong evidence of NASAMS’ international position.

Added Harald Annestad, president in Kongsberg Defense Systems: “NASAMS is the most sold air defense system in its class in the last 10 years. Its modularity and open architecture enable a continuous evolution in performance to meet the latest threats.”

The contract for the system was signed at a ceremony attended by Mohammed bin Nasser al-Rasbi, secretary general at the Omani Ministry of Defense, Air Vice Marshal Matar bin Ali al-Obaidani, commander of the Royal Air Force of Oman, and others.

Neither the number of systems ordered by Oman nor their schedule for delivery have been announced.

The original NASAMS program by Raytheon and Kongsberg began as a joint effort on behalf of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. It became officially operational in 1998.

Raytheon, in announcing the contract with Oman late last week, said it was awarded in the fourth quarter of last year.

Source: Space Mart.

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