|.: 22-Sep-2015 :.
|Oman seeks to revive seafaring spirit|
Despite popular belief, the ancient Silk Road was never one single highway. Rather, it was a vast web of interconnected trade routes traversing land and sea. Taking pride of place as the maritime hub at the center of this vibrant network were the picturesque coastlines of the Sultanate of Oman.
Centuries ago, ships from the Indus Valley would dock in Oman's ancient ports - Ras Al Hadd and Ras Al Jinz - loaded with spices and semi-precious stones. In exchange, Omani merchants would trade frankincense, an aromatic resin that was once worth its weight in gold. Traditional wooden dhows would sail as far away as India, Indonesia and China. Over the years, Omani sailors became pioneers in navigation. It was their nautical abilities and the trade winds of the Indian monsoon that helped the country create a powerful empire stretching all the way from Persia - or modern day Iran - down to Zanzibar in East Africa. While filming the latest episode in my CNN series about the Silk Road, I discovered how Oman is seeking to revive that seafaring spirit and reclaim its historical place as a center of maritime trade.
At the Port of Salalah in Southern Oman, one of three major ports in the country, an average of five to six giant vessels full of tens of thousands of containers arrive every day. The 20 to 40 ton containers are offloaded within hours and transferred to smaller ships headed to cities like Dubai, Mogadishu and Hong Kong. This process is called transhipment and Salalah has become a regional hub for it for one main reason - location.
Perfectly positioned at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, Oman's Port of Salalah is at the center of east and west shipping lanes. Cargo ships sailing the Indian Ocean can bypass the narrow and congested Strait of Hormuz by stopping in Salalah. It cuts travel time by a few days and it's significantly cheaper for traders–making Salalah one of the most popular entry points to the Middle East, India and Africa and the second biggest port in the region after Dubai's Jabal Ali. And there are plans to expand even further with a brand new port in the Duqm region; as Oman tries to reduce its dependency on oil and map out a new future, one that’s once again dependent on the sea.
With over a thousand kilometers of coastline, the sea is never far away in Oman. It is an integral part of the nation's history, culture, people and economy. Dotted along the shores, in tiny villages, children play in the water using styrofoam for surf boards, local fishermen bring back their catch of the day. As the first Arab to sail around the world non-stop Mohsin Al Busaidi explained to me, "the sea is in the Omani blood". They live by the sea, for the sea, because of the sea.
Busaidi is part of Oman Sail, an initiative launched in 2008 to reignite the country's maritime past by inspiring the youth and developing the nation's future Olympic athletes. As the country turned to energy exploration in recent decades, many of Oman's younger generation have taken jobs in more lucrative areas like the oil and gas sectors. Oman Sail is actively trying to change that, regularly conducting recruitment drives across the country and re-introducing the concept of sailing.
Re-invigorating Oman's maritime past is also a unique way to bring in more tourists to the country. The giant sails operate like floating billboards at regattas. As Busaidi explained, many people still think Oman is all desert, they don't know that Oman has such a rich maritime past. Predicted to account for over 8% of Oman’s GDP by 2024, tourism is being identified as a key part of Oman's economic growth as the country preserves its ancient soul while still seeking out a modern face.
Source: Times Of Man
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|Deep-water Working Vessel "Offshore Oil 691" Delivered in E China Port|
A new ship designed to tow oil rigs has been unveiled at the Port of Qidong in Jiangsu.
Jointly-designed by Rolls-Royce Marine and the Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group, "Offshore Oil 691" has been built at a cost of 800-million yuan.
Yang Zhigang, chair of Wuchang Shipbuilding, says the ship has the ability to tow virtually any oil rig on earth.
"The towing capacity is designed to be 300 tons but it can tow 366 tons in actual use. This is the biggest highlight of this vessel. That means it can tow any oil rigs in the world."
The ship has been built to emission standards which are lower than any current standards at ports around the world.
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|Maritime Museum at Oswego Joins Smithsonian Magazine's Annual Museum Day Live|
OSWEGO - West First Street Pier - The H. Lee White Maritime Museum will open its doors free of charge on September 26, from 1-5 p.m. as part of Smithsonian Magazine's eleventh annual Museum Day Live!
On this day only, participating museums across the United States in conjunction with the Smithsonian Institution's Washington DC-based facilities, which offers free admission every day, will open their doors free to those who download a Museum Day Live! ticket.
Inclusive by design, the event represents Smithsonian's commitment to make learning and the spread of knowledge accessible to everyone. Last year's event drew more than 400,000 participants, and this year’s event is expected to attract more museum goers than ever before.
"Museum Day Live! is a great way to encourage visitation on a national scale to local museums by offering an opportunity for free admission to the public and we are proud to be a part of it," said Mercedes Niess, executive director of the H. Lee White Maritime Museum.
The Maritime Museum features exhibits telling more than 400 years of Oswego's rich maritime history, heritage and culture.
Our fleet of historic vessels includes the National Historic Landmark WWII tugboat, LT-5; the National Register of Historic Places canal barge, Derrick Boat 8; the last American commercial fishing vessel on Lake Ontario, Eleanor D; and the 19th Century replica three-masted schooner, OMF Ontario.
The museum is open all year 1-5 p.m., with expanded hours of 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. during the months of July and August.
The Museum Day Live! Ticket will be available for download now at Smithsonian.com/museumday.
Visitors who present the Museum Day Live! ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues for one day only.
One ticket, per household, per email address is permitted.
For more information about Museum Day Live! 2015 and a full list of participating museum and cultural institutions, please visit Smithsonian.com/museumday.
For more information, please visit Smithsonian.com/museumdaylive.
About Smithsonian Media
Smithsonian Media comprises of its flagship publication, Smithsonian Magazine, as well as Air & Space, Smithsonian Books, and the Smithsonian Media Digital Network.
In addition, Smithsonian Media oversees the Smithsonian Institution's interest in the Smithsonian Channel, a joint venture between the Smithsonian Institution and CBS/Showtime.
Smithsonian Media is a division of Smithsonian Enterprises, the revenue-generating business unit of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Smithsonian Institution is the world's largest museum and research complex consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities. Approximately 30 million people from around the world visit the museums annually.
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|Hamad Port to get two new container terminals|
Hamad Port will increase its handling capacity to 6-million teu by 2020, with the first phase of the mega project due to open at the end of 2016, officials speaking at the 4th annual Qatar Transport Forum revealed.
At the Forum, experts said Qatar is moving ahead with more than US $40-billion worth of planned transport projects. These include the expansion of Hamad Port, the Doha Metro and long-distance passenger and freight network, and the expressway programme.
One of the highlights of the Qatar Transport Forum was the unveiling of plans for the estimated US $8-billion expansion of Hamad International Airport (HIA). NDIA Steering Committee Project Director Peter Daley, said the project includes an expansion of the main terminal building and concourse D and E.
Also revealed for the first time were plans for two additional container terminals at Hamad Port that will increase US $7.3-billion project's handling capacity to 6 million teu.
Qatar Rail's chief of service delivery Andrew Tailor updated the Forum on Qatar's US $20-billion-plus integrated transport plan, which includes 21 tunnel boring machines being used on the Doha Metro project, a world record.
The project so far has seen almost 50 kilometres of tunnels completed. A total of 26,000 workers are employed on the project, equating to more than 78 million man hours worked as of the end of August.
Work on the Lusail tram scheme is even more advanced, with four of the five at grade stations completed, while the tender for the first phase design and build of the long-distance freight and rail network will be issued to contractors early next year.
On the roads side, Nasser al-Kuwari, manager of highway projects department at Ashghal, presented an overview of the US $10.8-billion expressway programme. The massive project, which involves 1,000km of new or upgraded roads, 240 major interchanges and 360 bridges, has already seen 43 major contracts awarded.
A total of 15 contracts are either in the market or are being prepared, while a further 23 are in the planning stage.
Source: Arabian Supply Chain
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|Seafarers announce new medical scholarships|
A new scholarship was announced Monday (21 September), offering up nearly a quarter million dollars over four years for specialist medical studies.
The money is coming from a group that's benefited from the country's doctors, and government also looking inject more funding into training medical specialists.
"You need a good talent pool, you need a healthy population. That should be the country’s priority," said Finance Minister Hon. Marco Archer, who told Cayman 27 times have changed in the field of medicine.
"Years gone by, you were ok just being a general physician. Now the starting point is specialization so, we want to make sure we play our part,' said Mr. Archer.
Monday morning, the Seafarers Association announced a new four-year, $240,000 scholarship for two Caymanian doctors to receive specialty training abroad.
"We've always been grateful for government’s contribution to the seamen," said Leonard Ebanks of the Seafarers Association.
He told Cayman 27 the scholarships show the organization is not looking for a handout. Instead, he said, it shows their gratitude by 'paying it forward'.
"Most of us are aging, there's no question about it, and obviously we rely heavily on the Health Services Authority for care," said Mr. Ebanks. "If we are able to make a contribution to assist in reducing that cost, and also if we get specialists on the ground here, our own people, then we are able to reduce that cost."
Mr. Archer told Cayman 27 his ministry has plans to make money available for specialized medical scholarships. These would be in addition to the Education Ministry's nearly $11.5 million in total scholarship availability.
"The specialization aspect of the medical profession is something that is new to our radar, and hopefully it will be a major part for government’s funding going forward," said Mr. Archer.
He calle the investment human capital a very important one for the country's future.
Mr. Archer said these investments are needed now to make sure Cayman has the right skill sets to cover the country's areas of need five to ten years down the line.
He told Cayman 27 he's unsure what the exact dollar figure would be, but says it would likely be enough to fund at least five doctors for their specialty programmes.
Cayman 27's Joe Avary filed this report.
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