December 22, 2019
Our tour to the Grand Mosque was exceptional in that it is perhaps the most important thing that one must see when visiting the sister city to Dubai, and that is the capital city Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Our driver took us through tunnels and over bridges that appeared to be quite new, and as is the case, spotless. He detailed the area’s relevancy to the Ruler's master plan as well as its Islamic religious dominance of their population which is 20% by birthright, with the expats running at 80%. He talked about the young adult when getting married is given a significant amount to have the wedding of their dreams, a full amount of money to buy their first home, and a few additional contributions to get their young marriage off on the right foot. We are amazed at what appears to be factoids about their country. They don’t pay taxes, but if they can afford to give 2.5% of their earned or inherited net worth, it is a one time only donation to charity, and their medical plan is also their birthright and paid by the rulers.
And again the cranes on buildings being constructed are many in the city centre and blossoming in the outskirts. The bridges and tunnels are already built to handle the growing population - the expats are doing the grunt work and the well educated Emirates are calling the shots. In every business activity controlled by foreign investment there are mandated locals working in the administration office of these firms: it’s the law.
The weather at this time of year is in the mid 20’s Celsius, and higher than the mid 40’s in the summer. For us I’m sure their summer conditions would be unbearable, but for now, the air is warm, the sky is blue, the Azamara Quest is the place to be.
Last night we partied at the White Night event with a fabulous buffet on the pool deck topped off with Crepes smothered in sweets and cognac, and had an early night to sleep-in while we sail toward Muscat, Oman for our docking on December 23, 2019.
December 23, 2019
We arrived within minutes of our schedule and hustled up to the Windows Cafe for a nice breakfast of Pancakes and Fruit for me, with eggs and fruit for Terryl. Jamie dropped by and apologized for missing our cocktail and dinner engagement the other night; he was bushed and took a nap and slept right through the appointed hour. Totally understandable, and we had another nice chat with this 81 year old practising Physchiatrist from New York City before heading to the gangway and our Omarian (?) Tour Guide who had us for the next 4 hours.
The capital city of Muscat, and the country of Oman is a well run Muslin empire whose current ruler is Sultan Qaboos the son of the previous ruler who relinquished his crown in 1970. Sultan Qaboos has ruled for 49 years and if he can overcome his recent illness will celebrate 50 years as the supreme religious and governmental leader of Oman in 2020. Once again oil and gas is 90% of their GDP with tourism and editable dates completing their working lives. Earlier we talked about the citizens loving their leader. Sultan Qaboos is no exception; for an example, when he was younger and healthier he would ride through the villages tossing money out on to the streets for any all to use as they wished. No strings attached, just like their current practice of giving plenty of money to their citizens for marriage costs, home purchases et al. Remember, they have no income tax payable by the citizens and their medical and educational costs are born by the government, and the government is Sultan Qaboos. Our tour guide tells us that everyone loves this man who has no children to pass on the Royal Paton. So when the time is right he will appoint a member of his collective family such as a cousin or a nephew.
We are back on the ship after seeing the outside of their Grand Mosque, a certain Palace that Sultan Qaboos uses for guests, an incredible Opera house, a Souq (unfortunately with water running down one of its pathways from a broken water main), but just in time to get some jewelry to die for and two additional Pashminas for incredibly low bartered prices. The sellers enjoy this system just like the rest of us foreign shoppers.
|Some of the art adorning the walls of Azamara Quest|