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DIGITISING MEDICINE.

Byline: Our Correspondent

(Pics: alixirpage17)

Alixir Systems has introduced a new software which it says will revolutionise healthcare in Oman. According to Kommi Nath, representative of the company, the software from Acuotech establishes a wide area network (WAN) that will allow hospitals and clinics to interact and exchange information not only between themselves but also with other medical establishments that may be situated outside the country. This is unlike the local area networks (LAN) that are currently used by the sultanateAEs medical establishment for intra-hospital networking.

Besides providing a subscriber based network that allows exchange of information in a secure environment, the software is also capable of collating several medical records and reports to diagnose major illnesses. The software also provides subscribers cost effective storage and backup of medical information and reduces wait time for image acquisition leading to faster generation of reports for patients. The company also plans to launch a software specifically for diabetics within the next few months, Kommi informed.

For more information, log on to www.alixirsystems.com

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Few people are lucky or clever enough to turn their passions into profit, but sculptor Judy Nordquist is one of them. Her niche, bronze equine sculptures, combines her two loves - sculpting and horses.

oIAEve been sculpting since 1974, but I started drawing in third grade,o she said during a brief visit to Oman with her daughter last month. Horses also featured large in JudyAEs childhood - in addition to a literary diet of Black Beauty and other such stories, she was raised on a farm worked by horses rather than tractors. oI always loved horses and I still do.o At her home in Colorado in the US, she has a stable of six.

Today, Arabian horses are a

particular favourite in terms of subject matter, which explains her interest in the sultanate, where

she was able to research details such as Bedouin bridles. Many

of her works are life-size; past commissions include a portrait of a

stallion in the Al Shaqab stud farm

in Qatar. Judy works from photographs and from life. For the life-size

sculptures, she assembles models one-fifth to life-size and then scales them up. The first creative step is to make a wire frame horse over which she models clay, and it is then that the animal comes to life, acquiring expression and personality. She does not make sketches beforehand,

preferring to aesketch in clayAE. Large sculptures are made using the lost-wax method, which in simplified terms involves making a mould of a clay sculpture using rubber and plaster of Paris. After a layer of bronze is cast, the separate sections are welded together and the whole is then finished and patinated.

JudyAEs daughter Kim assists her with the life-size sculptures. KimAEs background is in psychology but her decision to change tack and make jewellery instead has been something of a bridle path as she now makes bridles and other saddlery for the sculptures.

Visit www.judynordquist.com

(Pics: saslo)

Said al Shahry Law Office (SASLO) plans to start a training centre as part of its commitment to groom legal professionals. The staff strength will also be increased according to an announ-cement made by Said bin Saad al Shahry during a seminar and workshop on international dispute

resolution. The seminar was held under the auspices of H E Abdullah bin Hamad al Busaidi, president of the State Audit Institution.

oOman has an excellent legal infrastructure and the challenge now is to create an element of confidence in the commercial legal system and enhance its appeal to foreign inves-tors,o Said Shahry said. oWe are now embarking on a project to train young legal professionals and pass on our knowledge to them. We are completing the formalities and the centre will materialise this year,o Said Shahry added.

Said Shahry explained that

arbitration is often preferred over court proceedings to resolve disputes in commercial circles because itAEs faster and comparatively cheaper than other legal procedures. The conference examined the mechanisms of dispute resolution available to businesses in Oman and abroad. It covered mediation, arbitration and judicial process and compared

their advantages and disadvantages. SASLO has been providing legal

services since 1992 and has experienced Omani and foreign lawyers.

(Headlie:PEIE LAUNCHES aeORIGIN OMANAE )

oOur aim is to raise the profile of locally made goods and servi-ces,o said Ibtisam al Faruji, head of marketing at the Public Estab-lishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and the person spearheading the governmentAEs new Origin Oman marketing campaign. In a press release Ibtisam said that the initiative is designed to promote Oman-made products and services and to urge institutional buyers and consumers to buy local first.

As part of the campaign,

PEIE is organising a series of events to help local manufacturers and service providers raise their domestic profile. A half-day workshop at the Muscat Inter-Continental Hotel on aeHow to Win Public Sector BusinessAE was conducted on February 25 with the support of the Tender Board, Oman Fibre Optic, Infocomm and Knowledge Horizon.

(Headline: ISM BIDS ADIEU

TO SENIOR STUDENTS)

Indian School Muscat bid adieu to its Grade 12 students at a

ceremony held in the schoolAEs hall on February 13. A press release said that students were awarded under various categories - Nikita Chengappa won the Best Sports Girl, Ms ISM and Ms Talented titles; and Varun Arora won the Mr ISM, Mr Personality, Mr Genius and Mr Talented titles. Best Sports Boy was Robson Sam Varghese. Sudha Rani Agarwal and Abhishek Sharma were the Best All Rounders for the year. Alisha Fernandes was Ms Personality, Ashwani Rao Ms Genius and the Hidden Gems were Shrey Wil-son, Mitika Jesrani and Deepika R.

Oman LNG and Oman Charitable Organization (OCO) have signed an agreement whereby Oman LNG will contribute RO150,000 for the renovation of more than 50 houses of low-income

families. According to a press release, the beneficiaries will be families from different regions of Oman under the supervision and management of the OCO.

The agreement was signed by H E Mohammed bin Ali bin Nasser al Alawi, Minister of Legal Affairs and Chairman of the OCO, and Dr Brain Buckley, general manager and chief

executive of Oman LNG. To

date, Oman LNG has funded the construction of 122 houses.

Gliding mammals equipped

with high-tech 'backpacks' fitted with sensors are giving

scientists new insights into aer-ial manoeuvrability, a new study reports. The study focused on the Malayan colugo, an animal the size of a cat commonly called a flying lemur - even though it is not a true lemur, nor does it technically fly. Instead, the animal coasts between trees using a skin membrane attached to its hands and feet called a patagium.

Colugos can glide the length of two football fields (110m), manoeuvre around obstacles and execute 90 degree turns in midair. To learn the secrets of the creatures' agility and how they can land safely after long glides, researchers glued small packages of sensors to several animals' backs. The packs - each about the size of half a stick of gum - included motion-

detection technology similar to that found in the remote control for the Nintendo Wii video

game console.

The findings shed new light on the biomechanics of gliding animals and could aid in the design of flexible-wing aircraft such as hang gliders, the studyAEs authors say.

Scientists working in Madagascar have found what may be the largest frog that ever lived. The bad-tempered Beelzebufo, or 'devil frog', also poses a big mystery - why do its closest relatives live half a world away in South America?

Palaeontologist David Krause of Stony Brook University in New York and his colleagues began unearthing the specimen in bits and pieces more than a decade ago. Over the years, a 75 piece puzzle emerged that was only recently put together by fossil-frog expert Susan Evans of University College London.

Susan, lead author of a new paper detailing the find, describes the 70mn year old frog as a rather intimidating animal the size of a beach ball, 41cm high and weighing about 4.5kg.

(Pics: pw1, pw2, pw3, pw4......, pw11, pwbasu,pwhamlai)

TodayAEs CEO has become more

fashion conscious than ever. A CEO has to look the part; in short he/she has to be a power-dresser. The term power dressing, which was first recorded in the New York paper

The Post-Standard, in September 1979 has come to mean a stylish and expensive clothing style, intended

to convey the impression of asser-tiveness and competence.

Some of the biggest names in the world of fashion have entire fashion lines designed only for such top honchos. The concept of captains of industry walking the ramp would have seemed quite unthinkable a few decades back, but now it is quite the done thing for high profile executives to flaunt their sense of style on the ramp.

The Power Walk 2008, at the Al Nahda Resort and Spa at Barka last Thursday, was an opportunity for some of MuscatAEs top executives

to make a style statement. It was

J J Valaya one of IndiaAEs leading designers, who had the task of transforming the big bosses into style icons. Valaya opted to give the men and women who matter a typically ethnic Indian look. Armani suits and designer shirts made way for classy kurtas, which made the crame-de-la-crame look positively regal.

In the first segment of the eveningAEs programme, about 22 corporate heads walked the ramp. Many of the CEOs were accompanied on the ramp by their better halves, while some made a solo entry. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and were wildly cheered on by their friends and well-wishers. The whoAEs who of Muscat were there raise a toast to the business gurus turned fashion icons.

For Ross Cormack and Kiran Asher it was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones, while for Ajit Hamlai it was a fun event that made a style statement. R Vaikunt described the event as an energising one, while Nilesh Mehta and R M Parakh felt

it was a great concept. Some of the power walkers were second timers and seemed at ease on the ramp, while first timers took their first

tentative steps and seemed to go with the flow.

In the second part of the evening, some of IndiaAEs top models donned sarees, lehenga-cholis and churidar-kurtas. These J J Valaya creations were inspired by the timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal. While the amateur models walked the ramp with great aplomb, their professional counterparts got off to a stumbling start. One of the models lost her balance, and fell. To her credit she got up and continued her routine without batting an eyelid. Earlier in the evening, a hard-nosed model coordinator, a former model of considerable repute was barking out instructions to the models. Perhaps being chastised like truant school-kids was playing on their minds, causing a minor slip-up.

Indian ambassador H E Anil Wadhwa looked quite dapper in a black outfit, as did the ambassadors of Bangladesh, South Korea, Spain, and the Charg d'affaires of Pakistan

Rajeev ChowdharyAEs Light and Shadow Enterprises organised the show which was presented by

the BEC group. Now in its second edition, the concept seems to have really caught on with CEOs in the sultanate.

(pics: avocado.jpg, asparagus.jpg, oyaster.jpg, ginger.jpg, strawberries.jpg)

AVOCADO

Treat your sweetheart to avocado stuffed tomatoes for a light and refreshing appetiser

INGREDIENTS

4 fresh tomatoes

1 ripe avocado, 2 drops of lemon juice

1 pinch of chilli powder, a handful of alfalfa sprouts

2tbsp of chopped celery

1tsp chopped parsley

1 pinch coriander

METHOD

Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides. Save the insides for another dish. Mash avocado and mix with the alfalfa sprouts, chopped celery, chilli powder and coriander. Stuff the mixture into the tomato shells and serve chilled. Garnish the dish with chopped parsley.

ASPARAGUS

Serve fresh asparagus spears as a great

accompaniment to a main meal or as an antipasto

or meze dish

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup raw flaked almonds

2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 red onion (finely diced), 1 clove garlic (minced)

12 asparagus spears (woody ends removed)

1/2tsp sea salt

1/4tsp pepper (freshly ground)

METHOD

Toast almonds lightly until golden. Remove and set aside. Heat 1 and 1/2tbsp of olive oil in a frying

pan over medium heat and cook the onion for 3min. Add the garlic, asparagus, salt and pepper and cook for 2min, stirring regularly. Mix with the toasted almonds and serve on an oil drizzled plate.

OYSTERS

For the ultimate in romantic main courses, share oysters in breadcrumbs with a loved one

INGREDIENTS

18 live oysters, salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup breadcrumbs, 1tbsp butter

pinch of paprika, fresh parsley (finely chopped)

cocktail sauce

1 and 1/2 lemons (cut into thin wedges)

METHOD

Shuck and clean oysters retaining the larger half of the shell with oysters. Melt butter. Reduce heat and mix bread crumbs with the butter. Season oysters. Cover each oyster with buttered breadcrumbs and add a dash of paprika. Broil oysters for 5min until golden. Sprinkle each oyster with a pinch of parsley. Serve with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce.

GINGER

For a sticky, sweet and mouth-watering main meal, make your partner this ginger infused chicken

INGREDIENTS

1/2tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1tbsp ginger juice

1tbsp honey

1tbsp soy sauce

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts

METHOD

Mix the ginger juice, honey, soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds. Pierce each chicken breast a couple of times on both sides with a fork. Brush some of the ginger mixture over the chicken, coating both sides and keeping some for basting. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30min. Baste while grilling chicken breasts on medium heat for 8-10min.

STRAWBERRIES

For a delicious dessert, panna cotta with strawberry coulis is a light and romantic choice

INGREDIENTS

1 cup reduced fat coconut milk

1/4 cup maple syrup, pinch of sea salt

3/4 cup soy milk (rice milk or water)

2tbsp agar agar, 1 and 1/2tsp vanilla extract

FOR COULIS

1 and 1/2 cup strawberries (hulled), pinch of sea salt

2-3tbsp brown rice syrup or maple syrup,

splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice

METHOD

Mix first 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour liquid into ramekins. Refrigerate for 1hr. Puree coulis ingredients. Unm-ould panna cottas and drizzle with chilled coulis.

(pics:

CHOCOLATE

Although this feel-good treat is thought to increase acne and put on weight, the good news is that chocolate is also packed with vitamins B1, B2, D and E, as well as potassium and magnesium.

RYE BREAD

As a great source of fibre, rye is also richly endowed with non-cellulose polysaccharides, which have exceptionally high water-binding capacity and provide a quick feeling of fullness.

COFFEE

Packed full of antioxidants, a few cups of coffee a day could keep the doctor away. Protecting the body against toxic free radicals, coffee helps to protect against liver damage and ParkinsonAEs disease.

WHOLE GRAIN RICE

Rice and other types of whole grain foods contain a rich mix of phytonutrients, protein, antioxidants, complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals that work well together as part of a balanced diet.

ALMONDS

These nuts are known for their heart-friendly

properties due to the antioxidant action of vitamin E. Also, almonds contain monounsaturated fats, which help to lower cholesterol levels.

As an executive chef at the Mandarine patisserie, caf and restaurant in Beirut, Hassan Yass-ine explains that he is able to

combine his two passions in life - cooking and travelling. Taking his distinctly Lebanese cuisine to places likes of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, New York, London and Morocco to name but a few, Hassan relishes the cultural diversity and richness which goes hand in hand with world travel.

oThe only thing that frustrates me is not being able to find the ingredients I need in some countries,o he says. That aside, he loves to educate people of other nations about authentic, healthy Leban-ese fare. As part of the Lebanese food promotion, which ran from February 16 to 22 at the Senor Pico restaurant in MuscatAEs InterCon-tinental Hotel, a selection of hot and cold meze, including hummus, moutabel, fried kibbeh and spinach fatayer were available, besides mixed grills including shish tawook and kofta. Also on offer were various daily specials and arak, a drink native to Lebanon, made from grapes and herbs. To accompany the great food, entertainment in the form of a Lebanese singer and belly dancer was also on hand. Following the food promotion, he hoped the people of Muscat would be influenced by the traditional tastes of the Levant. He added that this type of food is very healthy and includes lots of vegetables, garlic and lemon juice, which should make up part of a balanced diet.

oThe most important thing is that it is tasty too. I make an effort to visit my customers at their tables to chat with them and ask how they are enjoying the food. Here in Muscat, everybody was very receptive, which makes me feel great,o he said.

For information about future promotions, call 24680000

I really think it serves me right. You may have read about my unending trials and tribulations of having a name that people inadvertently assume belongs to the opposite gender, when they write to me or call for me. Last month, I spent an entire day at a very high profile conference, (amply forewarned about high levels of security), with a name tag that announced my name as Lama Absah. I did meet the real Lama Absah but since she only spoke Arabic and French and I didnAEt speak either, I think she is still wondering why I was wearing her name. So am I.

At the moment everyone is talking about the weather, why a rather important deal fell through, who else has received eviction notices and how brilliant The Kite Runner was (Oscar nominee for original score). And whatAEs with violent movies anyway? The Oscar goes toa whichever director can kill more people in the least time possible and in the most brutal way. I read The Kite Runner but would never see the movie and neither would I watch No Country for Old Men. Strangely enough, I admit I enjoyed Kill Bill u possibly because of the surreal treatment given to the fight sequences and the unusual soundtrack.

I watch the Academy Awards primarily to see what the women are wearing. There were so many pregnant ladies this time, and I was so uninformed that when the normally sleek, svelte Jessica Alba came on screen I started to feel very good about my own body image. Till of course, the presenter explained why some ladies were looking so much healthier than the others.

It was interesting to see the number of awards that went to foreign language movies across categories. By the way, I have often seen men (including my husband and son, and friends) find women like Penelope Cruz who speak strongly-accented English very exciting; Greek and Italian accents go down very well too. In India, we speak English in possibly 28 different accents and some really interesting ones at that u donAEt think I have heard of anyone getting excited about it!

Oman Drillers will be heading to Bahrain on March 7-8, for the 22nd annual InterGulf Netball Tournament with real hope of improving upon, or at least equalling, their previous performances. Last year, under the name of PDO Flames, the Drillers, who are now backed by Nab-

ors Drilling International Limited,

finished seventh amoung 20 participating teams.

However, it is hoped in 2008 that with renewed vigour, the team of ten will equal their better displays from 2004-2006, when they notched up third place for three consecutive years. oThatAEs our goal for this

tournament,o admits manager Kay Doyle. oThe strength of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain may prove too much, but to know that we at least reconsolidated our podium position after such a bad 2007 would be

very heartening.o

Kay continued, oIf ever there was a year where we were capable of pulling back some ground on the big shots it would be 2008. Our team has never been fitter, nor more prepared as this group, thanks to the leadership of coach Melinda Clark.o

Captain Jan Madden had won player of the tournament in 2005 and 2006, but she missed out on her hattrick due to a testing 2007. So for Jan there may be some point to prove as she leads her ladies out to battle this week. Oman dominated the competition in its first three years, 1986-88, but since then they have bobbled between obscurity and also ran. Despite this, the Drillers travel with the will and determination to set things straight. They are Jan Madden, Jasmin Clark, Jen Corbett, Kendall Green, Kristen Andrews, Lesa Elliott, Liz Davis, Mahesha Wijesooriya, Marsha Young, coach Melinda Clark and manager Kay Doyle.

Switz Football school won the youth football tournament for youngsters aged 9-12, held as part of the Muscat Festival sports programme. ItAEs the first major coup for the team since they started training in November 2007. The school now has 150 boys on itAEs books and will train everyday until August. Registration still open, call Pedro on 99766196.

Armaan Sattikar and Azza al Hinai have

continued to dominate in their respective categories of the Peugeot Monthly Junior Tennis Tournament, with a third consecutive group

victory just three months into the competition. Azza stamped a third successive win in the girlsAE U-16 while Armaan made it a hattrick of wins in the boysAE U-10 category. Faisal al Maamari took FebruaryAEs boysAE U-16 title, Maliha al Awaidy won the girlsAE U-12 and U-14 trophies. Mariam al Balushi won the girlsAE U-10, while A Charan took his second boysAE U-12 title. This left Anish Baruah to clear up the boysAE U-14 crown. Mutassim al Zadjali was on hand to award medals at Bausher Stadium. The tournament occurs on the last Friday of every month.

(pics: )

Author: Our Correspondent)

At a time when several parts of the world, particularly Africa and Asia, are reeling under severe water shortages and even in Oman, where this precious natural resource is sparse, it is time children learnt to respect this natural resource. In this regard, the Ministry of Education, in association with the Oman Wastewater Services Company (OWSC) and Veolia Water, has launched Water Box, a unique educational project to teach children about water conservation and to

act in an environmentally frien-

dly manner.

oThe project will be implemented in ten schools in Muscat,o said Omar al Wahibi, CEO of OWSC. Of the ten, seven will be Omani schools, the others being British School, Indian School Muscat and American British Academy. The project expects to reach out to 10,000 students this

year and will be expanded to 100 schools and 100,000 students the following year. The Water Box is a Veolia initiative developed ten years ago and more than 30,000 kits have been distributed worldwide. Oman is the first country in the Middle East to benefit from the project, with the worksheets and experiments translated to Arabic. The Water Box is a fun learning process for both students and teachers and seeks to make simple the complex concepts that students learn in the classroom. The unit contains all the needed equipment, chemicals, workbooks, charts and posters. The chemicals and other ingredients are easily avai-lable and can be ordered from water treatment equipment suppliers.

oA learning output matrix has been built for Islamic education, Arabic, science, English and social studies with concepts and activities consistent with the Water Box project activities to help integrate these with the school curriculum and activities,o said Said bin Salim bin Hamad al Harthi, director of Applied Sciences Curriculum Development Department at the Ministry of Education. Veolia is also assisting the Ministry of Education in training its teachers to ensure that the information and knowledge is transmitted in an uncomplicated and friendly manner to the children. oThe Water Box is a seed from which lots can grow. The experiments relate to the curriculum, sustainable living and issues facing Oman,o said Ted Casey, a Veolia executive with over 20 years of teaching experience in the UK.

(Headlines: Omani entrepreneurs feted at Middle East Entrepreneur of the Year Award)

(pics: SamirFancy, MaqboolSaleh)

Matrah Cold Stores (MCS) received a delegation of Nawras Executive Management at its offices in Azaiba to conduct a business review, according to a press release. Nawras CEO Ross Cormack, COO Khalid al Mahm-oud, chief commercial officer Tore Solberg and others repres-ented Nawras. MCS director in charge, Imad Sultan, MCS oper-ating companies CEO Dominic Myers and business head, direct distribution, Biju George repre-sented MCS. MCS passing the impressive 250,000 Nawras customer activation mark was announced. Nawras also announced that its Mousbak (prepaid) customers can now send MMS when travelling

abroad, including all the GCC countries. Sending MMS nation-ally is 45bz up to 200Kb, while roaming prices vary country to country. Customers can also make voice calls with one of the 37 Full Prepaid Roaming partners in all the GCC countries, UK and India. Call Back Roaming is available in 147 countries.

Pics: CertificateofExcellencefromMoulinex,Feb2008

Khimji Ramdas, Luxury & Lifestyle division was awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Groupe Seb senior vice president Patrick Llobregat at the Groupe Seb International Distributors Seminar, held in Dubai, according to a press release. The Certificate of Excellence was awarded for the outstanding promotional activities conducted for the Moulinex brand in 2007. This is the second consecutive time that Khimji Ramdas has been awarded the Certificate of Excellence - in 2006, it won for the best Ramadan Promotions conducted in the region. Khimji Ramdas was also presented with a memento for the longstanding business partnership in connection with the 150 years of Successful Business Adventure of Groupe Seb.

ItAEs fun, itAEs extreme and is therefore a sport for those with a taste for adventure. Such are the thrills of kiteboarding

Born and brought up in a part of the world where kites are an integral part of local culture, I thought I knew all there was to know about the world of kites. So when the opportunity came to learn how to kiteboard, I found the idea of being hooked to a kite and letting the wind provide the power to surf the waves intriguing. After two days of theory and one day of practicals I have returned an utter failure and with an entirely new

perspective on kites.

Kiteboarding is not for the

faint-hearted. It is an extreme sport that demands a skilled technique

in developing a delicate balance between prevailing winds, the kite and the kiteboard. Trying to learn

the basic skills I discovered my own limitations when it came to a combination of wind and waves. On one occasion, I lost my balance and flopped face down in the water when the kite hit what kiteboarders call the power zone. When I stood up I was a good ten metres away from where I had started. My colleague, Mariam on the other hand seemed to be enjoying herself thoroughly for she had been, in the words of our instructor, aeinfectedAE by the sport.

The key to success in this sport is to be relaxed and gentle with the controls. oYou must learn to ease the tension out of your body. If you fight with the kite, you cannot win,o said Alexander Friesl, manager and instructor at the Hawaii Dragon Kiteboarding Centre located at Al Sawadi beach. But learn to do it properly and you will find yourself grinning each time the winds are favourable and you are within driving distance of a good beach.

The principle behind the sport is simple. The boarder or surfer attac-hes a giant kite to a harness that he wears around the waist. Once the kite has caught the wind and developed enough power, the boarder can use the energy of the wind to pull him along as he surfs the waves. At the kiteboarding centre, the only one of its kind in the Gulf and run by Oman World Tourism, this is exactly what Alexander teaches his pupils who, on completion of the course, earn a kiteboarding licence

from VDWS Watersports, the International School Association for Watersports, Germany. oIt is an extreme sport that can prove to

be dangerous if the kiteboarder

does not know what he is doing,o he explained. Hence the need to earn

a licence.

An avid skiing and snowkiting enthusiast, Alexander, who hails from Germany, got addicted to kiteboarding six years ago when the snow melted in summer and he could ski no more. Three years later, he wanted to turn his kiteboarding hobby into his profession with his own kiteboarding centre. Things fell into place last year when he met Issa Sultan al Ismaili, partner and business development manager, Oman World Tourism, at the Gulf Incentive Business Travel and Meetings Exh-ibition (GIBTM).

At the Hawaii Dragon centre, we went through theory classes where we were instructed on how to gauge wind conditions and select a spot for

kiteboarding, and about the sport itself. Theory over, it was time for the practicals to begin, so we got into our wetsuits and headed for the beach. While the first day was spent learning to set up the kite and control it in the air, the second day saw us learning how to get on the board and start kiteboarding.

Unfortunately neither of us could complete the course that culminates with a theory test and the awarding of kiteboarding licences - wind conditions on the second day were not conducive to learning. oYou learn that such disappointments too are part of the sport, which is entirely dependent on nature,o Alexander said with the characteristic shrug of a man with sufficient experience. So would we go back? Not me perhaps, but for those like Mariam who catch the infection, it is certain that the lure of the waves will prove difficult to resist.

For more information on the Hawaii Dragon Kiteboarding Centre, log on to www.omanworldtourism.com or call Alexander on 96323524

(Headline: New air purifier now in

the market)

Category: news)

Office Supplies Company has announced in a recent press release the introduction of the IQAir

high-performance air-cleaning systems in Oman. The Swiss product provides high-performance air-cleaning solutions for a wide variety of indoor applications.

The manufacturer of IQAir, INCEN AG of Switzerland, is a world leader in providing indoor air-cleaning solutions; it has 45 years of experience in the development and production of high-quality air-cleaning systems. Since its

introduction in the 1990s, IQAir has become recognised as the world number one in the range of mobile high-efficiency air-cleaning systems. IQAir solutions are available in more than 70 countries in the world, and now also in Oman.

The key to the success story behind IQAir is the recognition that air cleaning is a science and that only air cleaners that use appropriate technologies can really work

and lead to true long-term customer satisfaction. IQAir concentrates on manufacturing high- performance air-cleaning systems that offer outstanding filtration efficiency and represent the best value-for-money air-cleaning solutions in personal and professional applications. The systems find prime application in the medical sector where the air hygiene demands are high and specific. In critical hospital environments, IQAir systems help to save lives by reducing the risk of airborne transmission of infectious micro-organisms, including MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphyloco-ccus Aureus), Tuberculosis and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Synd-rome). In 2002, they were awarded the Class H13 classification by the world's most stringent HEPA filter test norm - the EN1822.

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When any player makes a mistake during training, he (Alan) shouts and is very hard so that the mistake is not repeated. But we realise he

doesnAEt shout for no reason. When he had just joined, he told us that if we did according to him, weAEd do well. And we sure did.

But all the shouting and strictness is only on the training field.

Off it, he laughs and jokes and treats us like equals.

Basem Khatar Ragab Drobeen,

Captain of Oman Junior hockey team

When Alan William Sinclair's two year contract in the UK as Derbyshire Hockey Development Officer ended in June 2006, he deci-ded to return to Australia. He could have renewed his contract and stayed on, but he'd have to take a cut in pay. He and his wife, Lynette, went back home instead. Only, there was no home because it was rented out. So he lived in a caravan driving around Sandon River in New South Wales. They were on a beach one fine July day contemplating life, where it would take them next, when Lynette got a call from an employment agent. They offered her a position

in Muscat. The jobless 52 year old landed here with his wife on September 1, 2006. After several edits on his CV and circulating it far and wide, he found appointment as assistant coach of the Omani hockey team headed for the Doha Asian Games in November. On New Year's Day 2007, he was elevated to the position of head coach of the Omani Hockey Association.

That's the unpredictability of Alan Sinclair's life. At 54, 'going

on 13', the Aussie believes there's

an opportunity somewhere waiting to be grabbed. Now he's making

the best of what he has at hand - preparing teams for the the Junior AHF Cup in Hyderabad in July, the Asian Hockey Federation Cup in Singapore in June and an invitatio-nal tournament in Azerbaijan on March 6. He's obviously upbeat about these engagements, considering the recent wins of the juniorsAE team over China and Chinese Taipei. He'd rather be training, chasing the boys around the field and planning three years in advance, but he's slowly

getting used to the way of life here.

Sitting in his humbly done up office near Ruwi roundabout, waiting for things to happen, Alan looks the kind of person you wouldn't

like chasing you around anywhere. Not even in your nightmare. He's solidly built and agile on his feet. He claims he's been this tall since he was 13. "I looked a lot older and drove trucks by then," he starts narrating a life story that's quite simply extraordinary. He hopes to put it into a book some day.

Born into a poor family of sheep breeders in his mother's side and transporters on his father's side, Alan grew up in Brisbane. When he was 12, he was hired to drive a truck. That income plus other odd jobs in a bakery and selling soft drinks at cricket games took him through school. "By 13, I could take a truck to pieces and put it back again."

All this while, he also played hockey, rugby and cricket at 'a fairly high level' but eventually found the latter boring. "I've been playing hockey now for 43 years," he does a quick count to inform. He left school in the tenth grade to work on a sheep farm in the Nullabor Plains for a year. "It's one of the driest places on earth; Muscat's feels like tropical climate after Nullabor," he says. Following his stint on the sheep farm, he joined the army. It was a very short stint as he was 'asked to leave'. He wonAEt go into the details why, but the self-proclaimed world's worst soldier was put in the infantry division when his purpose of being in the army was to operate heavy machinery and drive bigger trucks. And while he was in the army, he continued to play hockey and was the Interservices Middle Weight Boxing Champ.

At 19 and a half, he found himself working as a labourer while he played First Division Hockey and represented Queensland. Soon ther-eafter, he joined a used car yard. "I worked there for three years and made a lot of money, but I hated it because I don't like telling lies." So he quit and started a transport business with one used truck. Three months later, sold it and bought a better one. At the end of the year, he had three trucks, one of which he put together himself. And at the end of the fifth year, he had three

businesses - all transport related - employing 20 people. But what he didn't see coming was the recession that hit Down Under in 1990. "I went from almost-millionaire to broke very quickly," Alan recalls. In this while, as always, he continued to play hockey and Australian rule

football - a new sport he'd taken a fancy for during this period. "I played hockey on Saturday, Austr-alian rule on Sunday and went to work in absolute agony on Monday."

At about this time - at 39 - he realised he had to decide what to do with his life. He applied for a course in sports science in the Southern Cross University in New South Wales and got accepted. And to pay the fees, he cleaned toilets, science labs, filed sports articles, coached in a development programme and also played hockey. When he graduated in November 1993, well into his 40s, he finally found his calling and employment as Regional Coaching Director of Central Queensland Hockey, Mackay Queensland. Since then, Alan claims, he's done just about every job - from administrative, physical training, motivational, networking to setting up fixtures - conceivable in the line of coaching in Australia, Brunei, South Africa, the UK and now Oman. But even as he chased hockey teams around the world, his helpless habit of seeking new challenges prompted him to buy a loss-making lattice factory in March 2003 that he turned around and sold off in September 2004.

Taking over as the coach of the Omani hockey team, Alan's biggest challenge was changing the app-roach of the players towards the game. And at the risk of being lynched in soccer-crazy Oman, he says hockey is not given its due. "Technically, hockey is more dem-anding. It takes 37 motor skills to stand still and stop a ball coming at you with a hockey stick. Multiply the effort by a factor of 10 to 15 if you have to stop the same ball with your hockey stick when you are running. Hockey needs infinitely more skills than football. I have no problem with football, but hockey is not appreciated like it should be," he clarifies, clearly aware of what's best for his health.

Hasan al Moosa, marketing and fundraising manager of the Association of Early Intervention for Children with Special Needs, was presented a cheque for RO120,000 at the closing ceremony of the BG Energy Challenge 2008 Oman. The sum was raised by the 25 teams who took part in this annual event, a three-day fundraising and teambuilding event that saw 160 people tackling a series of team challenges through the mountains and beaches of Batinah, a press release said.

The closing ceremony was attended by H E Mohammed bin Hamad al Rumhy, Minister of Oil and Gas, and H E Nasser bin Khamis al Jashmi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Oil and Gas. H E Rumhy participated in the

DirectorAEs Challenge and also presented medals and awarded team awards to all the participants. Each team took part in a course that saw them trekking 10-20km over an elevation difference of 1,300m, participating in a 5km beach obstacle course and taking part in various team competitions in the evenings.

Receiving the cheque from the Minister of Oil and Gas and Peter Dranfield, VP Middle East of BG Group, Moosa said, oI am delighted that we can now start work on the new centre to provide additional services to children who have special needs. On behalf of all the people who will benefit from this centre, I would like to thank the 160 participants, all their sponsors and BG Oman, the event sponsor, for their generosity and hard work.o

Presenting the cheque, Dranfield said, oI am proud that this second BG Energy Challenge Oman has been such a success. Congratulations and thank you to everyone involved. I look forward to seeing you all again next year.o

In congratulating all the participants, H E Rumhy said, oIt is my pleasure to support the BG Energy Challenge and all the companies who have participated in the event. The Energy Challenge provides an opportunity for those of us in the energy sector to work together in support of a very worthwhile local charity.o

At the closing ceremony, the following prizes were also awarded: Most money raised and overall challenge winner - HSBC Team 1 (RO17,500); Challenge points winner - Desert Wadi Sapte (Denton Wilde Sapte); DirectorAEs challenge winner - H E Mohammed Rumhy; Best team spirit - OGC Spirit Team and OGC Charity Support Team; Most innovative fundraising idea - HSBC Teams 1&2 (auctioned off their annual leave); Best team name - The Bee Geesa Just about StayinAE Alive! (BG Oman); In the face of adversity - PTTEP aeShamsAE; Best team T-shirt - The IMPersonators (BG Group, UK); Quiz winners - MB Holdings; Mountain trek winners - Stairmasters (Schlumberger); and Beach course winners - Linklaters Squadron A.

I really think it serves me right. You may have read about my unending trials and tribulations of having a name that people inadvertently assume belongs to the opposite gender, when they write to me or call for me.

Last month, I spent an entire day at a very high profile conference, (amply forewarned about high levels of security), with a name tag that announced my name as Lama Absah. I did meet the real Lama Absah but since she only spoke Arabic and French and I didnAEt speak either, I think she is still wondering why I was wearing her name. So am I.

At the moment everyone is talking about the weather, why a rather important deal fell through, who else has received eviction notices and how brilliant The Kite Runner was (Oscar nominee for original score). And whatAEs with violent movies anyway?

The Oscar goes toa whichever director can kill more people in the least time possible and in the most brutal way. I read The Kite Runner but would never see the movie and neither would I watch No Country for Old Men.

Strangely enough, I admit I enjoyed Kill Bill u possibly because of the surreal treatment given to the fight sequences and the unusual soundtrack. I watch the A

cademy Awards primarily to see what the women are wearing. There were so many pregnant ladies this time, and I was so uninformed that when the normally sleek, svelte Jessica Alba came on screen I started to feel very good about my own body image.

Till of course, the presenter explained why some ladies were looking so much healthier than the others. It was interesting to see the number of awards that went to foreign language movies across categories. By the way, I have often seen men (including my husband and son, and friends) find women like Penelope Cruz who speak strongly-accented English very exciting; Greek and Italian accents go down very well too.

In India, we speak English in possibly 28 different accents and some really interesting ones at that u donAEt think I have heard of anyone getting excited about it!

(pics: Johnburridge.jpg)

So you thought I had been silenced for my outlandish behaviour and unruly comments? No such luck IAEm afraid. I just took a little time off thatAEs all, but now I am back with a vengeance. This week IAEve been asked time and time again about my old Newcastle United teammate Paul Gascoigne and how heAEs doing after having been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

EveryoneAEs offering their support and saying they hope he gets well soon. I donAEt! HeAEs done it to himself and deserves to rot. GazzaAEs been given that many chances to get on the straight and narrow that I am just getting fed up with talking about him.

Footballers put into a kitty called the Professional FootballersAE Association, in theory it looks after players who get injured and have to retire and it helps pay to educate them as coaches or managers when the whistleblows full-time.

Unfortunately instead of going to those who really deserve it like the Dave Bussts, Eduardos and Alfe-Hinge Harlands - all of whom have suffered career threatening injuries - it goes to top drawer losers like Gazza or George Best. It paid for Best to have another liver after he had drunk holes into the first one and now itAEs paying for Gazza to kick the habit. Crazy!

WhatAEs wrong with people who call these loons their heroes? TheyAEre certainly not my heroes. Gazza, Best, Maradona werenAEt even that good theyAEve just hung about in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and somehow people admire them because theyAEve self abused themselves and come out with a book about it.

DonAEt even put me in the same class as these losers. IAEve never drunk alcohol in my life and never so much as taken an aspirin to cure a headache, I kept playing Premier League football right up until I was 46, with 771 league games. I am proud of my record and I only achieved it with a stable mind, staple diet and highly professional attitude. So, donAEt even put me in the same breath as Gazza - instead Bobby Charlton, ckenbauer, Cryuff and Pele are real men, gentlemen at that - and I would like to be associated with their class.

See they were real greats, but no one hardly talks about them now, because theyAEve grown old gracefully.

I was persecuted for my professionalism when I was a player. All the noisy boys sat at the back of the bus and drank while I sat in the front with a Mars bar and a diet coke. I said to Gazza many a time, donAEt go back there lad. Stick with me, but everyone laughed at me and gave me no end of stick.

I was the nut who slept with a football and goalie gloves on at night. I was the freak who had self help tapes

to talk me through negative thoughts. I was the one who had my wife throw oranges at me - ready to catch around the house at a momentAEs notice. Yes, they thought I was barnpot - but really whoAEs turned out okay in the end? IAEve got six houses in Oman and one in Dubai, me mamAEs in Blackpool and now my body is still suitable for an audition in Baywatch.

WhatAEs Gazza got? WhatAEs Paul McGrath got? WhereAEs Best? They laughed at me but whoAEs had the last laugh? aeWin or lose, weAEll always booze and if we draw weAEll have some more,AE they used to sing. Gazza used to give a ballboy a tenner to get a round in ready for him, in the dressing room, after a game. He re-hydrated with alcohol. ThatAEs mad! What I did wasnAEt mad. The things I did during the drink culture of the 80s, like hypnotherapy and aesumasultsAE to warm up are now common practice in modern football.

Yes, I was a show man. I did walk the length of the box on my hands before a game and I did sit on the crossbar with my legs crossed looking bored in a derby between Villa and Birmingham, when I should have been keeping goal. This was passion, this was showmanship, but donAEt confuse me with the jokers and the clowns. ThatAEs not me. I will never disagree with Gazza that giving up the game is the hardest thing for a footballer to do.

My wife booked me into Rehab when I retired because I was suicidal without my three oAEclock adrenaline buzz of running down the tunnel - that was my drug. My playing days had gone and I was depressed. I can empathise with Gazza on that subject. Three months in The Priory at three and a half grand a week with a whole lot of prozac sorted me out and gave me hope for the future. I could have hit the bottle. I didnAEt. I could have become a druggie, but I didnAEt.

I battled through it the scientific way. ThatAEs a real manAEs resolution. GazzaAEs was the wimpAEs way out. Real heroes are those who play down the beach at Shatti, the blokes who keep fit, eat right, look 35, but are actually 45, keep down a marriage and work their fingers to the bone.

The views and comments expressed in this column are the authorAEs own and not necessarily those of TheWeek. Email Burridge at budgie@apexstuff.com

Best Picture : No Country for Old Men

Other Nominees: The other nominees for the Best Picture included Atonement, a movie dealing with juvenile misunderstandings, Juno, about teenage pregnancy, the corporate espionage thriller Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood, an oilmanAEs ruthless quest for power

Best Director: Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Picture : No Country for Old Men

Other nominees: Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Jason Reitman, Juno; Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton; and Paul Thomas Anderson, There will be Blood.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Picture: There will be Blood

Other nominees: George Clooney, Michael Clayton; Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street; Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah; and Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises.

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard

Picture: La Vie en Rose

Other nominees: Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age; Julie Christie, Away from Her; Laura Linney, The Savages; and Ellen

Page, Juno.

Supporting Actress: Tilda Swinton

Picture: Michael Clayton

Other nominees: Cate Blanchett, IAEm Not There; Ruby Dee, American Gangster; Saoirse Ronan, Atonement; and Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone

A[umlaut] Apex Press and Publishing

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Jun 30, 2008
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