With a level of humility bordering on shyness, Yousuf Ahmed was not at all how I expected him to be. He is the man behind the Facebook page “Support Nobel Peace Prize for His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said”, a group that has garnered nearly 105,000 likes since its creation back in 2010.
The aim of the page is clear, but the question on my mind was what led Yousuf, who was born and raised in India, to start the page.
“Back in 2010, I lost my job and was about to leave the country, it was then that I thought of this page,” he explains. “I had been in Oman since 2004 and in those six years I had developed a very deep love for the country and for His Majesty as well.”
The page initially began as a small-scale tribute, a way in which Yousuf could thank the country that had provided his livelihood and a good life for six years, but it quickly escalated beyond that.
“I left the country and started this page in March 2010. So deep was my love for the page [that] even when I was away from Oman, I made sure to post something interesting regularly,” he says.
Yousuf had been working for a mattress manufacturing company in Oman and despite his departure, he couldn’t shake the call of the Sultanate and returned a year later to continue with the page.
“At the beginning I got only a few likes on the page,” Yousuf tells me. “But I wanted to promote it and tell the world how great our visionary leader was and so I started asking more friends to like and follow the page, and people did.”
Slowly the number of page likes grew, as did interest among the people of Oman and abroad. However, not for a second did Yousuf think that it would reach a point where he had more than 100,000 likes for something he started as a simple thank you.
“I did not even dream of it,” he says. “I knew the page would do well, but I couldn’t imagine something that I just started as a tribute would grow so big one day. I am not surprised, though, because everyone in Oman loves The Sultan so much.”
And it seems this love spreads beyond the Sultanate’s borders as well. With photographs that provide a rare insight into His Majesty’s life, the page has also generated an international following.
“I make sure that I am posting something unique every second day,” Yousuf says. “There are many old videos, photos and illustrations that people need to see.
“When His Majesty returned to Oman from Germany in early 2015, I made sure that my page was one of the first to break the news to people and then it grew viral from there, as everyone was already so excited about it.”
Several dignitaries from around the world also follow his page, but Yousuf generally prefers to remain in the background. This is the first interview he has given.
After diligently updating the page for five years and continuously researching and reading about the country and The Sultan, Yousuf says that his knowledge of the country has grown threefold.
“Earlier I knew quite a bit, but after managing this page for such a long time and doing some extensive studies about The Sultan and the country, I have come across such amazing information. It fascinates me and I try my best to spread the message to [the] followers of my page,” he says. According to Yousuf, social media has a lot of power and if used in the right way, can work wonders.
“There are so many problems in the world and a lot of it is because of social media, as people are posting wrong information on it and that is outrageous because people tend to believe what they see on social media.
“However, if it’s used for the opposite purpose – to spread peace and happiness – so much can improve and I am glad that I am posting positivity.”
Judging from our conversation, it is clear that Yousef is passionate about peace and he strongly believes that more people should come forward to preach peace rather than hatred. “The whole world is in turmoil. At this time, we all need peace in our lives and we need the ambassadors of peace to spread the word and make this world a better place to live in,” he says.
Yousuf feels that that His Majesty is actually above the Nobel Peace Prize, but it is still his dream to one day see the country’s exalted leader awarded the honour. “Oman is an icon of peace in the world, [so] maybe they could also start something equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize, because it would fit if a peaceful country gave this coveted award away.”