Hello Twinkie Kids!
Urbndervish here. Instead of getting into how long its been since my last posting, I’ll just get right into the topic at hand. What do you know about the Sultanate of Oman? How many of you have even heard of it? Well, if you’ve been following our blog regularly, you would know that the “Sleepy Sultanate” has been our home for the last two years. Since this is the longest that we have stayed in a foreign country, we have endeavoured to share with you ten reasons why we love our country of residence (in no particular order of importance).
1. Simple People— Next to Yemen, Oman is not your typical Gulf country. The people here are moderately wealthy with various degrees in their economic strata. Regardless, the Omanis still maintain a relatively simple lifestyle. They seem content with moderate means. Although the Omanis are far from slumming, I couldn’t imagine an Emirati or Kuwaiti living this simple. Of course, the simple lifestyle enables the Omanis to hold to the custom of Arab hospitality rather firmly. If you visit, get used to Omanis saying to you, “Fadl ma’na” (Tr. “Come with us [to eat or drink coffee]”).
2. Varied Landscapes— One pleasant surprise to us was that Oman consists of different landscapes throughout the country. We originally thought, as you probably do, that Oman is just an arid desert. However, some parts of Oman have rolling green hills not unlike those of Ireland. Other parts have beautiful coasts and beaches. You can find dry as well as humid. Don’t let the stereotype of an empty hot Arabian desert deter you from visiting Oman. You would be pleasantly surprised as well!
3. Sectarian Harmony— Oman could easily serve as a model for the rest of the Muslim world in that it is home to three different trends of thought: Sunni, Shia, and Ibadi. Here, all three schools live in sincere harmony with one another. You find no sectarian clashes or hostility. The Sultan, although Ibadi, makes it a point to have ministers from every sect in his cabinet.
4. English Widely Spoken— English could easily be considered Oman’s second language. Signs, billboards, and the like are usually bilingual. The average Omani may not be extremely deft in the language but he/she can usually direct you to a neighbor who is. All public service institutions (like police stations, banks, hospitals) employ staff who speaks English well enough to help you.
5. Relatively Inexpensive— It is not too expensive to live here; but much like anywhere else, that would depend on one’s individual living standards. That being said, if one were to monitor one’s spending, one could save truckloads of money! Some expats come here for that purpose. If you have some overwhelming college loans or debts to repay, this is the place for you!
6. Able to Blend— I didn’t know how else to say this without sounding too racially–insensitive. But I mean moreso that we are comfortable with the fact that Eastern Arabia has their fair share of Brown and Black Arab natives. In a postmodern multicultural society, I know that it is taboo to mention things like that. However, when a child (or even an adult) is inundated with images of the “ideal” and “standard” that don’t resemble him/her, it can harm one’s self-image. Oman has a wide variety of “standards” and this is healthy for people who are not always reflected in the mainstream definition of beauty.
7. Modern Infrastructure— Gone are the days of tents and camels for this Gulf country! That’s not to say that they don’t have tents and camels but Oman has undergone a massive modernisation facelift in the last 40 years. One can find amenities such as clean running water, electricity, and I–phones everywhere. Roads and modern buildings are constantly being built. One can readily find the latest and most up–to–date technology here as well. There is also a burgeoning “green” movement focusing on sustainability.
8. Maintenance of Public Recreation— One would be pleasantly surprised to find well–manicured lawns, parks, and the like in the Arabian desert. Public parks are cleaned and maintained. This is a breath of fresh air, especially in remote parts of Oman where greenery is not easily accessible.
9.Food Access— Different varieties of food can be found here, as Oman has a healthy importing industry. One can eat apples from Iran, pumpkins from India, garlic from China, and Frosted O’s from the U.S. One thing that is even more important to us is the availability of foods like tofu, soy milk, seaweed, and organic products—all of which can be purchased here. Once you travel here, you can continue your dietary regimens easily.
10. Social Welfare Opportunities— Omanis are not your typical Gulf Arabs who have massive amounts of oil money to burn. At the same time, they are not rustic camel–herders who disavow any signs of prosperity. The majority are a comfortable middle–class of the Gulf. All of that withstanding, Oman has opportunities for its citizens to be homeowners, business–owners, and self–made people. Because of what is termed “Omanisation,” the government enables and supports Omanis to replace foreign labourers in various segments of the society.
There are many more reasons to love this Eastern Arabian country! For now, these reasons and more make the Sultanate of Oman a pleasant country of residence for us!