A young businessman and three of his friends got together to pick others’ brains. Alvin Thomas quizzes the X-Quizitz brains about their busy journey so far and the ‘mega prelims’ happening today
As far as quizmasters go, few would ever imagine seeing a businessman on stage, tickling contestants’ brains. It’s just one of those things businessmen aren’t ordinarily trying their hand at. Creating Machiavellian schemes to take on the market or taking strategic decisions for the company is, though.
Yet, today, a businessman – along with three of his friends – is making a mark on Oman’s quizzing scene. And they’re the best you can find in the Sultanate. As far as breaking typecasts goes, this is up there.
This then is the story of how one established businessman – Hala Jamal – followed his dreams to help shape the minds of young kids for the future. But he’s not alone in his venture: his friends from his school days Fayas Fazil, Midhun Mukund and Midhun Thomas are all alongside him – sharing work equally – to help build their name in the community.
Together, they started X-Quizitz – an annual quizzing event, and Muscat Codex – their quiz company. They are also among only a handful of non-profit quiz organisations in the whole of the Middle East.
“We’ve always wanted to formulate and work as a group. Whatever one person lacks, I think the other person can make up for. Even in college, when we were conducting quizzes, we called ourselves the third eye and went all out,” laughs Fayaz, who is the marketing head of the company.
“This year marks a very important year for us. We are entering our fifth year of quizzing in Oman,” says Hala, the founder and resident quizmaster of the venture, adding that they will be hosting their ‘Mega Prelims’ and ‘Finals’ to their quiz show today and tomorrow (10th November 9 -10) respectively.
Currently, the quizzing squad clocks several thousands of participants with X-Quizitz, but their start in 2013 wasn’t all blissful, points out Hala.
“Initially, there was no funding for us. We have our families here, and we literally took money from them and from our own pockets to fund the show.
“And I can say that the first year was a huge loss. We even rented the Sur Ballroom for the show, and to our misfortune it was raining heavily,” the quizmaster laughs.
But they learnt from their mistakes in the coming years.
“We picked it up after our first stumble,” he asserts.
Where the youngsters prevail is in presentation. Each of their quizzes are based on a theme, which could be about the current events and occurrences around the world.
Then, Midhun Mukund designs and crafts an in-depth interactive quiz show wherein the participants are taken through a journey. They can click on the screen to reveal the questions and, furthermore, cut-scenes take them to the next round – it’s fan-bleeding-tastic.
They also make use of a live scoring mechanism and a buzzer system. The founders are also proud in revealing that they are the only quizmasters in Oman to have their own buzzers.
And if that isn’t enough, participants can now win prizes as big as LED TVs, smartphones and gaming consoles. The audience isn’t forgotten either; they can win branded tablet-computers if they can answer questions.
“A few companies do give us the gifts. But once the money comes in, we invest in more prizes. We try to maximise the number of gifts without compromising on the quality, and make sure that it is relevant to give out,” Hala adds.
All of this means Muscat Codex is now the hot commodity in quizzing. They are also asked to host quiz shows for companies, schools and even embassies.
“This year also we have two new schools – Muscat International School and Philippines School – participating with the other schools in our quiz.”
“It is this generation that we are trying to inspire and we want to make sure to keep on inspiring. I remember the first year, we only had 100-odd teams participating. But today, we have created a brand name for ourselves and children are looking forward to it every year,” says Hala.
“Another reason we do it today is because when we conduct the quizzes in schools, and when our teachers see us doing this, they are very proud of us. They give us their blessings for inspiring their students, and that’s what gives us all the happiness,” Fayaz adds, as we end our fruitful conversation. ν