The Jewel of the Gulf: Oman!

Trip Start Jul 28, 2009
Trip End Aug 10, 2010

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Where I stayed
Al Naseem Hotel

Flag of Oman  , Masqaţ,
Monday, February 8, 2010

We found Oman to be a conservative and Muslim country but the people are gracious and friendly. Most of them speak English and even if they don't they will stop and say "Welcome“.  The men wear an ankle-length, collarless robe called a dishdash that buttons at the neck with a tassel hanging down. I was told that traditionally this tassel would be dipped in perfume. Today the tassel is merely a traditional part of the dishdash.  The men also wears either a scarf turban or a small cap with pretty designs.  The women wear hijabs and abayas and some cover their faces and hands, but most of them don't.  I heard that the Sultan has forbidden the covering of faces in public office.

Oman seems so far away from the neighboring unstable country of Yemen.  The sultan believes in creating a highly skilled workforce and therefore, education is free for all Omanis.  The economy is stable and we have not found ONE beggar.  It was refreshing to see that the workforce consists of both men and women working in all areas of the country.    Omani people have had to work hard to make their country what it is today and don’t seem to have the arrogance that the neighboring countries have. 

The sultan of Oman overthrew his father in 1970, who did not believe in free education and ruled with iron fist.  However, Quaboos (Sultan), went to university in the UK and said that Oman should be run like a company.  He has certainly done an excellent job because everyone seems content in their jobs and their lifestyles.  I heard from one of the tour guides that the Sultan does not have any children and that he does not like women!!!   Hmmm……makes you wonder how he can still be respected in a culture which frowns upon that type of behaviour.

Our last day, I went to the Souk in Muttrah and met the nicest shop keeper, Mohamed.  We sat and drank tea and he told me that he had 7 children, the youngest was 9 months old and the oldest was 24 years old.  I asked him about finding a wife for his oldest son and he said that nowadays, the families don’t arrange marriages as much, only in the villages, and that his children will choose their own husband or wife.  Times are even changing in this part of the world.

Oman is famous for its khanjar knives, which are curved daggers.  Mohamed told me that in the old days, all the Omani men would wear the khanjar on a daily basis, but nowadays, they are worn during holidays as part of ceremonial dress.  So I decided to buy this as my souvenir from Oman.  Mohamed helped me pick out a nice dagger that was within my budget.  Some of these daggers can cost over $1000 USD. 
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