Category Archives: History

Special Visit by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, The Honourable John Baird, to Oman




John Baird giving speech

Mrs Brown at diplomatic club

front door

inside main entrance


diplomatic club in back

swimming pool

canada and oman

Ajay FM and Ambassador


swimming pool

front of diplomatic club

Just pics for now. More later…got a job and all! ūüôā What a great evening at the Diplomatic Club!

BBC World Service – “Accepting the Other” – Faith in Oman (Episode 1 of 2)

Image¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The podcast (radio) series from BBC titled “Heart and Soul” “explores the role of faith, spirituality and religious practice in the lives of people around the world.

In the last episode, they discussed religious tolerance in Oman.

Listen to the 1st episode of this 2 part look at Oman.  It is 29 minutes long.

Here are some of the parts which I found fascinating:

  • Douglas Leonard is a protestant minister from the Reformed Church in America. He runs the Al Mana Center for Interfaith Understanding in Muscat.”¬†“We have every kind of Christian church imaginable that worships here throughout the course of the week; so about 9 different Orthodox congregations, the Catholic Church and about 60 different Protestant congregations worship here throughout the course of the week. We’re hearing hymns coming out of the Orthodox church to our right, and to our left we can hear the preaching of I believe a Filipino congregation, so yeah, we can hear the sounds of ecumenism all around us.”
  • In Nizwa (at 13:10): “We are in front of an old building, built of mud. Can you tell us what it is?” Doug Leonard: “Yeah, this is a traditional IbńĀŠłćńꬆmosque and ibadi¬†mosques were constructed¬†in a very simple way, very austere. So you can see that this is just a simple square structure. Now this mosque is thought¬†to be¬†one of the oldest mosques in all of Oman. It’s Called “The Mosque of the Kibotane” because there are 2 directions of prayer; there is the direction of¬†prayer towards Mecca, but this mosque is so old that originally when this was created as a mosque, the direction of¬†prayer was Jerusalem. Currently, this building is dated¬†at about 1500, so it’s a little over 500 years old. So this is not the original building, but it’s located on¬†a footprint on a foundation that was the original Kibotane, the original, oldest mosque. And archaeologists also think this was a temple before Islam, that it was probably a temple both dedicated to the worship of many gods.” “I could still see a loudspeaker at the top. Do people still pray in this mosque?” “Yeah, people still pray in this mosque and actually, traditional ibadi mosques, instead of a minaret, the imam would just go on top of the roof and call with his voice to the people in the community.”
  • The Assistant Grand Mufti, Kahlan¬†al-Kharusi:¬†Tolerance and coexistence are not tactics Oman is playing for particular…political gains or because of particular pressure. They are principles that they believe in. They believe that their own existence is actually based on these principles and values. That’s why they do insist on being tolerant to believers of other faiths.”
  • -(At 19:40) “This Protestant church (my church!) in Muscat has a multi-national congregation of hundreds from all five continents and again, all of them are expatriates as Oman has virtually no indigenous Christians.”¬†(The reporter was very¬†wise to use the word “virtually” because there are in fact Omani Christians.) “Like the other churches here, this church sits on a plot of land donated by the Sultan, and here, too, the basic mood is one of genuine enthusiasm for the freedom and support Christians enjoy in Oman, but it was here that I also heard some mild discontent…”
  • One of the restrictions is proselytization; so in other words you cannot try and¬†convert another person to one’s own religion.” Douglas Leonard, “Interestingly, that prohibition is equal for Christians as it is for Muslims and the reason is Oman wants to be¬†very careful and responsible in protecting against religious division and strife and what they realize is that if a person aggresively starts to go out trying to convert someone else to their religion, it’s going to cause religion and strife. It’s going to cause a problem.”¬†(I strongly disagree here. Omanis often prostelize and they would never be discouraged from doing so. I have received many pamphlets and books from Omanis trying to get me to convert. This prohibition is not equal for Christians as it is for Muslims at all!)
  • “But what about what many western observers see as the ultimate¬†test of religious freedom in the Muslim world? Apostasy, or abandoning Islam in favor of another faith or no faith at all. I put the question to Ahmed al Mohani¬†from the legal firm, Seslaw. I cannot remember seeing the penal code a crime defined as apostasy. The law is not entirely based on sharia. Law sharia forms a basis of legislation but we have other codes like the penal code, the commercial code, the banking code, that are not entirely in line with sharia, but what I know, that apostasy, if it happens as an individual¬†affair, between you and God, it’s up to you. But the moment you turn that individual affair into a campaign, to ask people to leave their faith, particularly Islam, then you will be accused of causing public disorder, and that is a punishable crime.” “Any individual who takes such a decision is not obliged to declare this publicly.” The Assistant Grand Mufti, Kahlan¬†al-Kharusi:¬†“When it becomes public, or it becomes associated with insulting other sacred religious symbols, then, yes, in this case it is going to be taken to court.”
  • “If a Muslim, an Omani¬†Muslim, decides to embrace Christianity instead, and decides to go to church instead of the mosque on a Friday, is that considered a private matter or a public declaration? “Yes, it is a public declaration although it is not associated with insulting his own previous religion, so it is considered¬†in this case apostasy and it is dealt¬†with through the judiciary. Such an answer is unlikely to satisfy campaigners for religious freedom abroad but no cases of apostasy have been reported in Oman in recent years.”

Dinosaur Spotted at The Dubai Mall!

Image¬†Another great reason to visit The Dubai Mall is this “new dinosaur” which was unveiled just 10 days ago on March 11th, 2014. ¬†Apparently they paid 15 million dollars to purchase this dinosaur skeleton which was flown from the Dana Quarry in Wyoming, USA.ImagepamphletcoverThe dinosaur exhibit is inside the main entrance is free for viewing! ¬†I love the pamphlet that visitors are free to pick up on either side of the display case. ¬†I’ve scanned and included each page of that pamphlet in this blogpost in order to share the information on this remarkable exhibit.IMG_4537IMG_4538transport of Dubai Mall dinosaurdinosaurs long tailJust look at that tail!dinosaur from 1st floorWhen first looking at the dinosaur, I thought they had painted the bones purple or blue but as you can see, they have bluish lights that come up and hit the dinosaur giving it that look.dino infoLots of great info on this page. As with most pics on this blog, just click it to magnify it. ¬†Once on that page, you can magnify it more by clicking on the spot you wish to view.dino and crowdsThey anticipate even more footfall in the world’s largest mall with this latest exhibit. ¬†It certainly is worth at least a few minutes of appreciation as you shop there!closer look at skeletonunique intact dino boneslooking up at dinolooking up blue lightAs you can imagine and can see in these pics, this is a big hit with visitors! ¬†Just as I went photo crazy (seen by the number of pics posted here!), people couldn’t seem to get enough of this dino and with good reason; it’s remarkable!stats on sizeblue or purple light on dinoblack and white dinoBeing such a¬†magnificent creature of the past, it wouldn’t seem right to post this blogpost without at least one black and white photo! ūüôāminiature feature powershotanother view with mall crowdvivid blue dinoNoel and Andy at TDMI’m so glad that I found the time¬†to meet up with my wife’s brother-in-law, Noel, while in Dubai. ¬†The truth is the 2 of us in the foreground are the real dinosaurs in this pic as the pretty one in blue is fresh off the plane and the talk of the town! ūüėČ Here’s a video I put together using Youtube Video Editor and my Powershot A810:¬†

Coll√®ge Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean: A Trip Down Memory-Lane

An old mil-col buddy shared this video on facebook, and it sure brought back some memories from my officer cadet days at CMR!CMR¬†was my home in Saint-Jean, Quebec for 5 years (1990-1995) as I was trained¬†in my (univ) studies, leadership, sports/training and French.¬†¬†These were incredible years of discipline and great (and some not so great) memories!¬† Still hard to believe that I received a 5-year, $75,000¬†scholarship.¬† If you are a young Canadian with the chance to attend one of our military colleges or ever have children that have such an opportunity, you/they should definitely go for it.¬† Life changing!¬† Thanks to RMR (Rick¬†Mercer Report) for bringing back such memories.¬† Check out the CMR website to learn more. There are a¬†couple of videos on that page that are quite informative.¬† The video “Programme d’orientation” was my favorite as it brought¬†me back to my orientation days way back in¬†August of 1990!



V√©rit√©! Devoir! Vaillance!( or in English, “Truth! Duty! Valour!”)

Canadian Astronaut, Commander Chris Hadfield: “What I Learned from Going Blind in Space” (Ted Talks Vancouver)

Fascinating talk by Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space.  18 minutes and 21 seconds well worth your time.

There’s an astronaut saying: In space, ‚Äúthere is no problem so bad that you can‚Äôt make it worse.‚ÄĚ So how do you deal with the complexity, the sheer pressure, of dealing with dangerous and scary situations? Retired colonel Chris Hadfield paints a vivid portrait of how to be prepared for the worst in space (and life) ‚ÄĒ and it starts with walking into a spider‚Äôs web. Watch for a special space-y performance.

2 great quotes I enjoyed from this talk include:

  1. The jaw-dropping gorgeousness of the turning orb like a self-propelled art gallery of fantastic, constantly changing beauty that is the world itself“. ¬†I love the beauty and awe in this sentence. ¬† Although I don’t believe Chris Hadfield is a man of faith, by drawing attention to the beauty of God’s magnificent creation, one cannot help but be in reverential awe of the Creator Himself.
  2. I love that he ends the talk first with a cover of Bowie which he has done before and got a lot of attention for, but he also ends simply with the words “Fear Not“. ¬†This is one of the most quoted words of God Himself throughout the Bible and it has been said that there are at least 365 times in the Holy Scriptures that God has said “fear not” in one form or another. ¬†I would like to add that we are not encouraged to “fear not” simply for the sake of it but the motivation is often given following such encouragement by God’s Words “…for I am with you.” ¬†That is ultimately the only reason we need not fear. ¬†Thanks for the reminder, Colonel Hadfield! ūüôā

If you haven’t seen it, here’s Colonel Chris Hadfield covering Bowie in his “music video recorded on the ISS of a modified rendition of “Space Oddity” by¬†David Bowie.The video has over 20 million views on¬†YouTube.”