“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position.”You look out the window. It’s dusk. There’s a haze to the air and through the haze, mountain ridges stick out into the sky. You begin to wonder if it’s haze or a permanent sandstorm that obscures your view of everything else. “Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins.” You’ve been wondering a lot lately. The Sultanate of Oman is a place most Americans have never heard a thing about. When packing and preparing to go to such a land, most people you talk to say something along the lines of ‘Oman? Where’s the heck is that?’ or ‘Like the country?’ Again, more questions. ‘Why Oman?’Why not?“Flight attendants, prepare for landing.” You’ve never been to the Middle East. Only heard about it on the news. Most mentions of it aren’t necessarily that encouraging. But then again, you hear a lot on the news these days. Maybe it’s best to go see and experience for yourself.“Cabin crew, please take your seats.”Maybe that’s it. There’s a lot going on around you. Social media updates and video from people doing things that you used to find inspiring. Now you somehow feel like you’re missing out. For some reason, you now feel like those places, journeys, and adventures are attainable. Perhaps that’s because they are?“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Muscat International Airport. Local time is 17:55 and the temperature is 26 degrees Celsius.”You look out the window again. The haze is still there, but you can make out buildings and more mountains. It reminds you of either Star Wars, Mars, or some ridiculous combination of the two. And those homes and buildings do look exactly like the ones seen on the evening news from both Gulf Wars.“For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until the Captain turns off the Fasten Seat Belt sign.”Too late now. You’re here. You’re doing it. Anything you forgot at home…guess what? It’s still at home, and it’s going to stay there. Any internal hesitations about not speaking Arabic must be left on the plane. Any preconceived notions or expectations of any sort are about to be shattered.“On behalf of the entire crew, I’d like to thank you for joining us on this trip and we look forward to seeing you on board again in the near future.”It’s game time. You stand up, grab your bags, and start walking.
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – On 14 March, the countries of the Caribbean Sea will engage in the Caribe Wave 19 exercise to test the effectiveness the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Early Warning System, established in 2005 under the auspices of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). The exercise will be an opportunity to test the effectiveness of alert systems for emergency management actors in the region.Caribe Wave 19 consists of a double scenario. First, the occurrence of a tsunami caused by an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 associated for the first time with a volcanic event, in this case the underwater eruption of Kick’em Jenny, followed by a landslide. The second scenario forecasts an 8.5 magnitude earthquake on the Northern Panama Deformed Belt. Dummy messages will be issued by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) and sent to the 46 participating countries and territories.The exercise will engage the cooperation of representatives of national warning organizations, emergency relief services, weather forecasting offices and coastguards. This year, it will also involve the active participation of schools and hotels.Seventy-five tsunamis have occurred in the Caribbean over the past 500 years, i.e. nearly 10% of all ocean tsunamis over that period. Tsunamis, whether generated by earthquakes, landslides or volcanic eruptions, have killed more than 3,500 people in the region since the mid-19th century, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Moreover, the population explosion and the growth of tourism in coastal areas over recent decades have made the region more vulnerable.The Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Early Warning System for the Caribbean Sea and Adjacent Regions (ICG/CARIBE-EWS) assists Member States in the establishment of tsunami warning systems. read more