The Last Two Decades of Progress
By Gerald McLean
Having first visited, lived, and worked in the Sultanate of Oman in 1991, I have had the opportunity of witnessing – firsthand – far-reaching and controlled progress within Oman over the past nineteen years.
One of my first memorable impressions of the country was that, the people of Oman believed in the vision of the Omani government, and had genuine respect and care for His Majesty Sultanate Qaboos bin Said Al-Sa’id. This is one of the main factors behind the steady uninterrupted sustainable growth of the country. The authentic respect and care for His Majesty, which I experienced in 1991, still exists, as I discovered during a recent extensive tour of Oman.
The Oman of 1991 has dramatically changed, mostly for the best. From my point of view, what has been lost, is time. Certain aspects of Oman’s capital move at such a break-neck speed that there’s no time to absorb life. Therefore, on my numerous visits to Oman, a return to the interior and its real-life speed is always a must. But if the break-neck speed of the cities, with the latest entertainment systems, or outdoor sports, such as dirt-biking, is what the younger generation desire, then Oman can accommodate them as well.
During the early 1990s, as one traveled throughout the Sultanate, signs of impending progress sprung up everywhere. I remember overhead telephone and power cables, which removed the photographic ambiance of a rural scene, being a particular bug-bear. Yet, now that they can be easily removed from photographs within image retouching programs, they seem to take on new meaning and have come to typify a rural area, as underground high-speed communication, and power distribution cables become the new standard within Oman’s cities.
Even water distribution and waste collection have come a long way. For the most part, gone are the little blue trucks that were a visual lifeline bringing clean water, which still needed boiling if you intended to consume it. And the larger yellow trucks used to suck up the waste,
which road users would stay clear of. No one wanted an accident with one of those. Now, of course with Desalination plants and underground sewers, the old traveling game of ‘in’ and ‘out’ identifying the trucks, is a thing of the past.
So what are some of the most visible social changes over the past two decades? I’m sure everyone will have their own top three, and here are mine:
Firstly, it’s the widespread ownership and use of the motor car. This along with new communication technologies has had a profound effect on Omani lifestyles. And it’s not all bad. The importation and use of motor vehicles have progressed the country’s infrastructure and road networks. It allows access to jobs, opportunities, and services, such as medical care, to rural communities, supporting them if they wish, to stay within their tribal areas, without isolating them, which would create disadvantages and unrest. However, it has also meant that as young married couples start out on their new lives together, they no longer feel the need to stay within the family home or area. And the wider family support, which could only be accessed if you stayed close to home, is now only a car journey away. As a result, the cities develop to house Oman’s need to expand. The dispersion of tribal and family groups is something that Oman has not in recent times had to take into consideration.
Secondly, as mentioned, new communication technologies, the most prominent being the mobile telephone and the Internet. Two decades ago, if you wanted to contact the outside world, you befriended someone with a telephone, got a prepaid card and queued for access to the public phone, or wrote a letter. Now there’s a lost art, I miss letters, don’t you? Today, using a mobile phone, you can make international calls from deep inside Al-Wahaybah (Wahaybah Sands), atop Jabal Shams, or from Wadi Darbat (Dhofar).
Lastly, Oman’s child mortality rate has greatly reduced. As such, although young Omani families are producing fewer children, the population is growing. Also with improved access to quality medical care, the average Omani lifespan has increased. The downside to this is that elder members of family groups, who once could rely on the close support of youth, due to the effects of motor cars (as mentioned above), now increasingly have to fend for themselves. This is not an unexpected result of modernization. But it is new to Omani culture. Whether the elderly are experiencing a better quality of life mostly depends on maintained family groups to support and energize them. In other words, a social structure into which they were born. It is possible that this will have an impact on Omani society, culture, and economy. Yet it’s the traditional pursuits and Omani Arts and Crafts that stand to suffer the greatest loss.
Expatriates in Oman in the early 1990s, with English as their only language, found access to television entertainment was limited to vetted programming, at specific times. And so western VHS videos and taped music, which were also vetted, were the mainstay of home entertainment. I remember my four-year-old son and I were able to act out whole sections of movies we had seen so many times; it became more entertaining for us to perform than watch them again. So naturally, socializing; making friends, maintaining friendships, attending picnics, trips to the interior and close family ties were important aspects of life. And this was very much a cross-cultural exchange, as Omanis’, especially those who had lived, studied in, or visited western countries, wished to practice their foreign language skills and examine visitors, as a way of keeping abreast with the wider world.
Even if you were bringing in your personal movies or music, these would be retained screened, and in some instances edited before being let in the country. This didn’t upset the great majority of ex-pats of the time. It kept a controlling influence on the indigenous population. A type of controlled exposure, which I feel the country has benefitted from. And is one of the reasons that, of the many Gulf countries, the Sultanate of Oman has retained much of its confidence and culture whilst modernizing. This is why Oman remains a very special place to visit, work, live, and bring up a young family, in a safe, respectful, tolerant, and modern society.
27 thoughts on “OMAN CELEBRATES ITS 40th NATIONAL DAY”
Do you in no way stop! This is one of the better blogs There are ever before study. You have a few crazy expertise the following, gentleman. I recently desire which you won’t get rid of your look since you are definitely one in the coolest writers out there. Please continue for the reason that world wide web requirements you spreading the word.
I like this website because so much utile material on here : D.
Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive learn something like this before. So great to search out any person with some distinctive thoughts. Really, thanks for starting.
This can’t be just right! No details overload but just ample for my head. I’ll suggest this website to my colleagues.
I have recently started a site, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time and work.
Great post I have been reading all your posts and they are really great keep up the good work.
Some truly interesting information, well written and broadly speaking user pleasant.
I like this web site it’s a master piece! Glad I noticed this on google.
Glad to read this blog! Keep it going!
I think other website owners should take this internet site as an example, very clean and great user genial pattern.
you have an interesting post on OMAN CELEBRATES ITS 40th NATIONAL DAY | taSauwur.com. I’ll bookmark
and check back again for more new stuff. Thanks from Magnesium Supplement.
Very interesting info! Perfect, just what I was searching for!
+ HowDy I love your pages alot. Will come again.
Thanks for making this website. ;-D
I will immediately grab your rss as I can’t find your email subscription link or newsletter service.
Do you’ve any? Kindly let me know so that I could subscribe.
I usually get bored easily and close the tab but i think you can add some value. Cheers !
Well I was just searching on Google for some videos and songs of my favorite singers and just came across your blog, generally I just visit blogs and retrieve my required information but this time the useful information that you posted in this post motivated me to reply here and admire your good work. I just bookmarked your blog?.
WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..more wait .. …
I discovered your blog web site on google and verify a few of your early posts. Proceed to keep up the very good operate. I just further up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Searching for forward to reading extra from you later on!…
I’m often to blogging and i really appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and preserve checking for new information.
Good blog! I actually love how it is easy on my eyes as well as the details are well written. I have subscribed to your rss feed. Have a good day!
Good thing you have here! I really do love how it is easy on my eyes as well as the details are well composed. I am wondering how I might be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which really should do the trick! Have a good day!
Greatings, Super post
Thanks for that awesome posting. It saved MUCH time 🙂
I adore your wordpress web template, wherever do you get a hold of it from?
Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!
If you could e-mail me with a few suggestions on just how you made your blog look this excellent, I would be grateful.
What a great resource!
Comments are closed.