We’re late on this but last month, the US Embassy in Oman celebrated the 236th year of the independence of the United States of America. We were once told that heat is the reason for these early 4th of July celebrations at various overseas posts, even at one EUR post. And we bought that until we saw then Ambassador Eikenberry eating ice cream at a 4th of July in Kabul.
Here is a note from Ambassador Richard J. Schmierer via FB:
The U.S. Embassy marked the 236th year of the Independence of the United States of America with a festive celebration on the Embassy grounds on February 28, 2012. Timed in conjunction with the U.S. President’s Day holiday which is celebrated each February, the event featured a ceremony by the Embassy’s Marine Color Guard and food and beverages from ten American franchise outlets. I had the honor of welcoming the official delegation of the Government of the Sultanate of Oman, led by the Honorable Shaikh Khalid bin Sultan bin Saif al-Hosni of the Majlis al-Dowla, and the Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, His Highness Sayyid Mohammed bin Salim al Said (pictured center and right above). The event highlighted this year’s 40th anniversary of the establishment of the first U.S. Embassy in Oman, which was opened on November 1, 1972 on the seafront in Old Muscat. More than 500 guests joined us for this year’s celebration.
The embassy’s Flickr account includes two sets from the event including 564 photos here, and 150 photos here. Unfortunately, both sets are photo dumps with none of the photos appropriately labeled.
Even with no captions, the photos below are clear as day, of course, since they all feature popular American fast foods. The brief explanation above makes it sound like the fast foods were on exhibit, doesn’t it?
We’re missing three sponsors. We think the more appropriate term should really be sponsors since these American fast food outlets served food and beverages to 500 guests during the Independence Day event.
This is a troubling trend that seem to have started in the 1990’s when embassy officers were sent out to recruit sponsors for the embassy’s July 4th celebration. It this sounds cheap, well, because it is …. especially if you’re the designated diplomat with the begging bowl. We heard that it’s not fun, but that if you’re good at it, they let you put it in your EER.
Perhaps you’d like a tall glass of warm milk to go along with that
snark. Then you could peacefully dream of days gone by, when DOS was
flush with cash and could afford lavish events with expensively
catered meals. Until then, go ahead and continue passing judgement on Post’s national day. Like it or not, this is the new reality.
Thank you, Zing – I’d loved a tall glass of warm milk with that. Of course, I know this is the new reality, silly. And that’s why it deserves highlighting. If the State Department and its missions can no longer afford to fund these events, then it should have a simple ceremony and learn to live within its means. Instead of begging corporate sponsors to underwrite its birthday parties around the world. Because that’s what our diplomats are doing, begging corporate sponsors to feed the US embassy guests every 4th of July celebration.
Granted that these sponsors are American franchises, I bet that these are Omani-owned local outlets. There’s nothing troubling about celebrating the US Independence Day party attended by Omanis, paid for by Omani-owned American franchises, of course. McDo in Oman for instance is owned by Al Daud Restaurants LLC, 100% locally owned and operated. The FAM has conveniently allowed the acceptance and solicitation of gifts for 4th of July under 4 FAM 386.2 from “U.S. organizations/firms.”
One could argue that all US missions do this every year, around the world, so it’s not like the US Embassy in Oman is a special case. And just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right. And just because its legal doesn’t make it any more palatable. Its like having grandma’s party and having the neighbors bring in all the food, drinks and music. I get to do the toast, but it’s still bad taste.