I went to dinner at the Grand Hyatt last night to hear a lecture with Dr. Salim, who is more or less the patron of the SIT program here. He gave the lecture pretty much just for SIT, including a bunch of education abroad people from various universities in America. This group also included the head of all of SIT's Middle Eastern programs, Christian Sinclair. Also in attendance last night was Brian Grimm, who it turns out, is the head of the Economics and Commerce section of the embassy. While talking with him, he mentioned Dick Cheney's recent surprise visit to Oman. Turns out, Dick Cheney is a HUGE fan of the Al Bustan resort in Muscat. Unfortunately, the Al Bustan is currently down for renovations, so he had to stay at the Shangri-La. While I'm sure that the list of things he talked about included such serious fare as Iran and the recent Oman-US FTA, VPOTUS had made four previous trips to Muscat in the last 7 years. I think he seriously likes the Al-Bustan.
After the lecture. we went to dinner at the Hyatt, and I managed to grab a table with both Dr. Salim and Brian Grimm. Unfortunately I got bumped because it was decided that the head of the SIT Middle East programs also needed a seat at the table. But, I will be heading to the embassy soon to meet with a bunch of people about research and to breathe the sweet, sweet air of American soil, since all embassies technically constitute foreign soil. I imagine the sweet, sweet air of freedom will smell a lot like the rest of the city. Anyways, it was a pretty good night, the lecture was on economic issues, which everyone except me found incredibly dull, and the little amount of time that I had to talk with Dr. Salim and the embassy guy was rather useful. Unfortunately, the Grand Hyatt is basically some perverse designers idea of a Oman theme ride within some larger metaphorical Disney theme park, it was a touch tacky. But, the food was good, and the conversation was great.