Hello all! Hope everyone is doing well!
As I spend more time overseas, I find that my views on many things have drastically changed. My view on the middle east began as interested, but ignorant. I wanted to learn more about this place that had so many poorly placed connotations. I held a conviction that every negativity placed upon the arab world was wrong. I now know most of these to be false, as I believed. But it is no longer childish naivety that grounds my beliefs. It is knowledge and experience.
Today I have a sense of identification with the area, as if it has become a sort of home. It is such a unique place, with each different locale different and exotic in it’s own way. As I learn more of the history of this land, I now understand more thoroughly the arab springs, and their less publicized counterparts (click to link to learn about the Bahraini Revolution we never heard about.)
As a note, Oman is a very stable country. Sultan Qaboos took over from his father in 1970 in a truly bloodless coup, and since then the country has developed an amazing pace. It was recently voted by the UN the “Most Progressive Country”. “The report measures human development by progress in achieving three capabilities: allowing citizens to live a long, healthy life, be educated and knowledgeable, and to enjoy a decent standard of living. The concept resulted in putting people at the centre of development rather than focusing on the economy only.”…”Reuters said the report looked into the progress the Sultanate achieved compared to its situation in 1970. It said this progress is not attributable to oil and gas earnings, as might be assumed, but to impressive long-term improvements in health and education; the factors not related to income, as measured by the Human Development Index (HDI). “- Read More
And while Oman is nestled between many “enemies” to the west (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran etc…), Oman is an extremely safe and welcoming place to live. The people are kind, and the government is on good terms with nearly every country on the planet- just a testament to the Omani way. The Sultan is a just and thoughtful leader. I think Oman is in good hands. The Omanis agree.
Comparatively, what comes to mind when I think of America has also changed drastically. Not for the worse, nor the better.
Take a moment. What comes to mind when you hear the word American? If you are like me, nothing much appears. It’s similar to hearing your name called. There are no connotations, it’s just another identifier.
My mind has opened so much in the past 7 months. I think everyone knows the America wields a huge amount of power on the world stage, but few have actually seen the effects of that. It is altogether strange to be watching the same television in two different living rooms, worlds apart . At home in Oman I have BCC, CNN, FOX and many other financial/political talk shows on my T.V, the exact same ones that those of you in the states watch. It’s identical to the cable package you probably have, only with arabic subtitles. (These channels cost extra, but why Omanis would even want to watch Good Morning America boggled my mind initially.)
We listen to American music (right alongside Amr Diab, an Egyptian artist) and the kids eat fries at home (Fries are even in shawarma, a type of Turkish wrap with kabob-like meat. Delicious!) Fast Food is prevalent.
It’s been an interesting experience to see American culture outside of it’s native habitat, taken and combined with an unmistakable Arab-ness. Truly living abroad, outside of the normal expat bubble that is usually created, has changed my perception of my homeland. Rather, I’ve absorbed the foreign concept of America alongside my own.
Some new titles, besides Home of the Brave:
International Bully, Noseypants, Holier Than Thou, and Know-It-All
Preferred Desination for University
Where all the Cool Stuff comes from (including skinny jeans and blackberries)
Home of the “American Style” haircut (still don’t know what that even is. Apparently everyone has it, or so I’m told.)
Where Everyone Lives Like MTV Cribs
The list could go on and on….
BUT. Omanis have done an amazing job at preserving their culture. Muscat is both a beautiful Arabian city, with every modern convenience at the same time. They’ve struck the perfect mix, the best of both worlds, literally.
Life is good.