Al Jameel Orphanage in Muscat, pictured, is one of eight orphanages in Oman. Saleh Al Shaibany for The National
Al Jameel Orphanage in Muscat, pictured, is one of eight orphanages in Oman. Saleh Al Shaibany for The National

Oman sees rise in number of abandoned babies



MUSCAT // Maryam Al Ajmi heard the familiar muffled cry from her bedroom window and knew at once that another baby had been left on the doorstep of the orphanage.

It was just after 5 o’clock in the morning, a few minutes after the call to prayer – the most common time for babies to be “dropped” on the doorstep of the orphanage in Muscat.

She found a bundle wrapped in cashmere blanket, picked it up lovingly and walked inside.

“It was a baby boy and the third newborn we received this year,” said Ms Al Ajmi, one of 12 surrogate mothers living in Al Jameel Orphanage in the Omani capital of Muscat.

“We can tell that the mother is from a wealthy family because of the quality of the blanket.”

Al Jameel is one of eight orphanages in the country, most of them managed and funded by the government.

The number of abandoned infants left in the hospitals or in orphanages in the Sultanate rose 11 per cent in 2016 to 54 compared to a year earlier. Social workers say that about 75 per cent of the babies are fostered by families before they reach the age of 8 months.

“The rest, unfortunately, stay longer and some up to the age of 12. If they are not fostered by the age of 18, we find them jobs and they start looking after themselves,” Jamila Al Siyabi, a social worker in the ministry of social affairs, said.

“We strictly supervise their welfare – from their food, accommodation, play areas, education to the clothes they wear – while they are in the orphanage.”

Most of the babies are abandoned by unwedded mothers under pressure from their families. But some are discarded by housemaids when they get pregnant, after having an affair with their boyfriends or even their sponsors.

“These are the two main reasons, apart from a few babies who are deformed. We can’t always tell under what circumstances these babies end up in orphanages but sometimes we know from neighbours or friends of the mothers,” said Asia Al Hallabi, another social worker.

She added that information on how children are abandoned is difficult to come by.

Individual orphanages and hospitals have their own privacy policies about whether to release information to the public about abandoned babies.

“It is also about the local culture. Parents avoid the shame of having a daughter who got pregnant out of wedlock. The girls are sent into isolation until they deliver then forced to abandon their babies,” Ms Al Hallabi explained.

There are no statistics on the total number of children who have been fostered but those who are still in orphanages are estimated to be around 3,500 nationwide, according to Ms Al Hallabi.

Official manpower agencies say some abandoned babies are left at orphanages by the sponsors of housemaids who become pregnant.

"The sponsors, usually the wife, come back to us to demand their fees back when housemaids get pregnant. Then follows the argument that nobody can win when the housemaid claims the father of the unborn child is her boss," Kareem Hassan, a manager of one of the agencies told The National.

“To avoid legal procedures, the sponsors would allow the baby to be born, leave it to the orphanage, pay generously to the housemaid and send her back.”

To encourage foster families to take in orphans, the government pays a monthly allowance of 100 rials (Dh950).

All orphans get Omani citizenship regardless of their mothers’ nationalities. They also get free scholarships when they finish secondary school and automatic jobs when they graduate.

The perks also include free land of about 600 square metres when they reach 25 and a low interest mortgage to build their homes.

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Teams

Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Sahibzada Farhan, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Usman Khan Shanwari, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf.

New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Mark Chapman, Lockie Ferguson, Colin de Grandhomme, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

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Tips for entertaining with ease

·         Set the table the night before. It’s a small job but it will make you feel more organised once done.

·         As the host, your mood sets the tone. If people arrive to find you red-faced and harried, they’re not going to relax until you do. Take a deep breath and try to exude calm energy.

·         Guests tend to turn up thirsty. Fill a big jug with iced water and lemon or lime slices and encourage people to help themselves.

·         Have some background music on to help create a bit of ambience and fill any initial lulls in conversations.

·         The meal certainly doesn’t need to be ready the moment your guests step through the door, but if there’s a nibble or two that can be passed around it will ward off hunger pangs and buy you a bit more time in the kitchen.

·         You absolutely don’t have to make every element of the brunch from scratch. Take inspiration from our ideas for ready-made extras and by all means pick up a store-bought dessert.

 

Representing UAE overseas

If Catherine Richards debuts for Wales in the Six Nations, she will be the latest to have made it from the UAE to the top tier of the international game in the oval ball codes.

Seren Gough-Walters (Wales rugby league)
Born in Dubai, raised in Sharjah, and once an immigration officer at the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi, she debuted for Wales in rugby league in 2021.

Sophie Shams (England sevens)
With an Emirati father and English mother, Shams excelled at rugby at school in Dubai, and went on to represent England on the sevens circuit.

Fiona Reidy (Ireland)
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Poacher

Director: Richie Mehta

Starring: Nimisha Sajayan, Roshan Mathew, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

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Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
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COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Sav
Started: 2021
Founder: Purvi Munot
Based: Dubai
Industry: FinTech
Funding: $750,000 as of March 2023
Investors: Angel investors

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

How to book

Call DHA on 800342

Once you are registered, you will receive a confirmation text message

Present the SMS and your Emirates ID at the centre
DHA medical personnel will take a nasal swab

Check results within 48 hours on the DHA app under ‘Lab Results’ and then ‘Patient Services’

hall of shame

SUNDERLAND 2002-03

No one has ended a Premier League season quite like Sunderland. They lost each of their final 15 games, taking no points after January. They ended up with 19 in total, sacking managers Peter Reid and Howard Wilkinson and losing 3-1 to Charlton when they scored three own goals in eight minutes.

SUNDERLAND 2005-06

Until Derby came along, Sunderland’s total of 15 points was the Premier League’s record low. They made it until May and their final home game before winning at the Stadium of Light while they lost a joint record 29 of their 38 league games.

HUDDERSFIELD 2018-19

Joined Derby as the only team to be relegated in March. No striker scored until January, while only two players got more assists than goalkeeper Jonas Lossl. The mid-season appointment Jan Siewert was to end his time as Huddersfield manager with a 5.3 per cent win rate.

ASTON VILLA 2015-16

Perhaps the most inexplicably bad season, considering they signed Idrissa Gueye and Adama Traore and still only got 17 points. Villa won their first league game, but none of the next 19. They ended an abominable campaign by taking one point from the last 39 available.

FULHAM 2018-19

Terrible in different ways. Fulham’s total of 26 points is not among the lowest ever but they contrived to get relegated after spending over £100 million (Dh457m) in the transfer market. Much of it went on defenders but they only kept two clean sheets in their first 33 games.

LA LIGA: Sporting Gijon, 13 points in 1997-98.

BUNDESLIGA: Tasmania Berlin, 10 points in 1965-66

How to wear a kandura

Dos

  • Wear the right fabric for the right season and occasion 
  • Always ask for the dress code if you don’t know
  • Wear a white kandura, white ghutra / shemagh (headwear) and black shoes for work 
  • Wear 100 per cent cotton under the kandura as most fabrics are polyester

Don’ts 

  • Wear hamdania for work, always wear a ghutra and agal 
  • Buy a kandura only based on how it feels; ask questions about the fabric and understand what you are buying
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Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

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Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).


Cycling
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Swimming
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Athletics
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Results
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  • Nia Jax won the Raw Women’s title against Alexa Bliss
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Engine: 2.0-litre turbo 4-cyl

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Price: Dh169,900

On sale: now

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Fire and Fury
By Michael Wolff,
Henry Holt

England v South Africa Test series:

First Test: at Lord's, England won by 211 runs

Second Test: at Trent Bridge, South Africa won by 340 runs

Third Test: at The Oval, July 27-31

Fourth Test: at Old Trafford, August 4-8

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Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices


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