Last night the draw was held for those free tickets to the great HiFM! comedy night at the Crown Plaza next week, 2nd June, starring Amer Zahr. Most people entered via email this time.
The draw was again done by the unimpeachable Ms Dragon, supervised by ISS. And the winners were:
You'll be sent an email with the details on how to collect your 2 free tickets at the door. Congratulations ladies!
Unlucky entrants can buy tickets by calling the HiFM booking line on (+968) 955-55699 but be quick as its almost sold out.
Thanks to Darren Shortt and the team at HiFM.
In other news:
Minister of Tourism at Majlis Al Shura
The Minister of Tourism was questioned by the Majlis Al Shura earlier this week in one of the regular Q&A sessions between the elected body (albeit with no real power) and Ministries. I wish someone would send me a translated transcript. From the generally factless articles in the media it seems the old 'Global recession/collapse in world tourism' was at the forefront of excuses for all the stalled projects and lower occupancy numbers. Was she quizzed about the poor Omanisation numbers or the preponderance of unsuccessful large scale ITDs? It seems her main response was promises and good intentions going forward.
The drop in the Euro against the dollar won't help either, I must admit. Oman is not a low cost destination, as anyone who's gone out to dinner at the Chedi or Bar Al Jissa Shangri La can verify. IMHO, Oman does need to broaden its tourism base to more value facilities if it wants to compete.
Anees and Blue City in the news again
Global business news organisation Bloomberg did a story on Blue City and the mess with the bonds and the court cases. "Oman’s Blue City Teeters as Bondholders Debate Future"
Some highlights from the article below. Not surprisingly, Omran is sniffing around too. LMAO. Like that's just what the project needs - the involvement of another failed property developer!
The Government clearly doesn't know what to do. Economy Minister Macki says - tellingly - that he has "nothing to do with it". At the moment it seems HH Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said is swinging in the breeze.
I like the part where Blue City security guards actually follow the reporters back to their hotel after they tried to visit the site.
Anees Zedjali - the owner of the other 50% of Cyclone LLC - is obviously unable to even proactively handle the PR mess he's in. I'd have assumed the brilliant Marketing dept. could give him a positive spin to release. 'No Comment' and bullying security guards is not the best response to international financial news agencies when you're in a $900 million hole...
May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Oman’s Blue City, a $20 billion real estate project central to the country’s economic transformation, is on the brink of liquidation and its fate may hinge on talks between bondholders trying to salvage their investment.
Owners of $661.5 million worth of Blue City bonds are discussing measures to push the project ahead, including trying to reduce the number of bondholders involved, a person familiar with the talks said. A vote on liquidating the project, proposed by holding company Al Sawadi Investment & Tourism LLC, has been put on hold, the person said.
Four years after construction contracts were signed with Turkey’s Enka Insaat ve Sanayi AS and Greece’s Ellaktor SA, idle yellow cranes hover above skeletons of buildings with dark holes for windows. Security guards turned Bloomberg reporters away from the site and one followed them to a nearby hotel.
Blue City turned down requests for interviews with its executives and declined to comment for the story.
“The business model was to keep building with the purchase payments received; now there are no buyers and those that did buy are no longer paying, so there’s no cash flow,” Dubai-based Khalid Howladar, senior credit officer at Moody’s Investors Service, said in a May 5 interview.
As of November last year, only $75 million worth of sales had been made, compared with a forecast of $860 million, according to Howladar. Mohamed Ayjaz, general manager of Hamptons International in Oman, which was responsible for selling the project from 2007 to mid-2009, said about 400 of the 5,000 properties on offer had been sold.
What happens next depends on what the bondholders decide as well as the outcome of a three-year legal battle between owners AAJ Holdings Company B.S.C. of Bahrain and Oman’s Cyclone LLC. Cyclone is 50 percent-owned by Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said, minister of culture and heritage in Oman and a member of the royal family, according to the bond prospectus. Al Said laid the ceremonial first stone for the project in December 2007.
The dispute between Cyclone and AAJ over ownership of the project is headed for the country’s highest court. If AAJ loses, it will appeal to the London Court of International Arbitration and the ICC International Court of Arbitration in New York, Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Janahi said. Cyclone Chairman Anees al-Zadjali declined to comment when contacted on his cell phone.
About 75 percent of the holders of Class A notes in Blue City are in discussions over amending the terms of the bonds, according to the person familiar with the talks. A liquidation of the project may limit the amount that debt holders could recover. The government can buy the land back at market value if Al Sawadi fails to complete the tourism elements of the project in six years, according to the bond prospectus.
Officials from Oman’s government, which endorsed the 34 square-kilometer (13.1 square-mile) project and agreed to sell it land for $83.2 million, were reluctant to speak about the current state of Blue City. Essdar Capital, an investment vehicle owned by members of Abu Dhabi’s royal family, last July offered to buy Class A bonds for 57 cents and 54 cents on the dollar, according to a company filing.
Economy Minister Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki said on April 25 that he had “no idea” about Blue City, and has “nothing to do with it.” Asked whether the government would step in to help struggling real-estate projects, he said, “we have no plans for that purpose.”
Oman’s tourism minister, Rajiha Abdul Ameer Ali, said on May 3 that she didn’t want to talk about Blue City because “the situation is still unclear.”
Wael Lawati, CEO of Omran, the investment arm of the ministry of tourism, said one option is to re-evaluate the market that it’s targeting.
“Now it’s time to see what the Omani investor is looking for, what he’s willing to buy and at what condition and what design he prefers.”
Lawati said Omran hasn’t been told whether it will have any future role in Blue City.
“Maybe this discussion is taking place at a higher level, but we haven’t received anything in Omran’s board about preparing to enter or that our role would include that.”