Monday 11 December 2006

Oman: dinner at the Palace

Had to clean my shoes again to attend a dinner hosted by His Majesty at the Al Alam Palace to mark Armed Forces Day. While seated on the palace lawn, we had several hours to plan our approach to the buffet tables which, we had been warned, was survivable by only the fittest. During the long wait, we realised our survival rations (a packet of Tic-Tacs, bought from a petrol station with all the money we collectively possessed), were still in the car.

After the Sultan arrived we dined heartily while military bands and bagpipes played in turns. At midnight a spectacular firework display was launched from the floodlit fort while one band strained to be heard over incredibly load explosions. With ears still ringing, we headed back on empty roads, lined in many places with Omanis waiting to catch a glimpse of the Royal motorcade in the wee hours of the morning.

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