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Gie's Ma Medicine !

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  • Gie's Ma Medicine !

    It’s blue-book time ! Two years have gone past like a flash !

    Over here in jolly old Muscat, Oman, alcohol is permitted for non-muslims. It can be consumed in hotels/pubs/licensed restaurants and at home. Discreet un-glazed shops sell wines, beers, spirits etc which is put in black bags (so locals won’t be offended) and brought home.

    To qualify to buy alcohol for home consumption, foreigners and non-muslims need a permit book issued by the police. It has 24 monthly pages on which purchases are recorded by the shop-staff. Monthly purchases cannot exceed the permit’s monthly limit which is determined by ratio to salary and then how much a person theoretically wants to spend each month. Unused credit from one month cannot be used in a later month. The fee for a permit book (aka liquor licence) is equivalent to one month’s limit.

    And now my current 24 months are up and I need a new book !

    To get a new book, I need to go to a specialised police station, surrender the old book, hand over forms, a sponsor’s letter, passport photos and of course the dosh ! RO 100/month allowance (GBP 160 or US$ 260) costs about RO 107 (GBP 172, US$ 278). Though I don’t buy regularly to the limit per month, but may need to panic buy sometimes if we decide to have a party, I tend to go for RO 150 limit.

    A main part of the process is the sponsor’s letter. All foreigners need to be sponsored, usually by their employer. On company paper, our Omani company owner signs a prepared letter in Arabic for the likes of me to present to police. Being Arabic, I don’t know what it says, but I wonder if it’s something like:-

    To Whom It May Concern

    This man is an alcoholic.

    He is Scottish, which probably goes a long way to explain his desperation for strong drink, to the extent that he is prepared to go through lots of cost, police red tape and embarrassment to get his next hit.

    Pathetic really, but that’s non-believers for you.

    Please have pity on him.

    Take the cash and give him his next blue book.

    Allah is great (but not for those losers - ha ha !)