In celebration of Oman’s 49th Renaissance Day, Team Y hit the streets of the Sultanate to bring you the faces and stories of its people as they express their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the nation.
The Sultanate of Oman: a haven in the Middle East for peace, prosperity, and unity.
Forty-nine years have passed since the day the lantern that guides the nation towards these values was lit, set in motion on this momentous day – the July 23, 1970 – when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said ascended to its leadership.
Since then, he’s taken the form of a guiding light who has shaped the basis of a country that holds with pride its status as a peaceful and diplomatic state in the Middle East and a light that we speak of today with love and respect.
His benevolence and compassion have echoed worldwide.
Perhaps, that’s why the Sultanate has since turned into a true global entity, embracing citizens and expats from the far ends of the globe.
It’s also why residents such as Dr. Venugopal Rao have resided in the country for over 40 years and considers themselves to be Omani.
“Indian by passport, but Omani by heart,” says the Indian-born pediatrician who first visited Oman in 1979 with his father, who was then a trader.
Life, however, had other plans for him, and he has since resided in the country; visiting his homeland of Andhra Pradesh in India only for vacations with his family.
“Oman [drew] me in pretty early and never let go. I still remember the day I first came to Oman: I’d just taken a flight for the first time and landed at the Bait al Falaj Airport in a Gulf Air flight,” he reminisces.
“I reached the airport; a small building with a customs office and officers. They were very sweet to us all, and immediately recognised my father.
“They immediately offered us kahwa (Omani coffee), which the officers were sharing among themselves, and proceeded to check our bags and clear us through.
The journey that laid ahead was awe-inspiring for a young child of his age, he goes on to say.
“Waiting for us outside was my father’s business partner, Sameer Sheikh, and his son Abbas – both Pakistani expats who had set up base in Oman.
“It was strange for me; interacting with Pakistanis considering how the tensions had been between the two countries. My friends from India would’ve shouted at me had they known I had made Pakistani friends,” he laughs, as he looks at Dr. Abbas, who’s seated right next to him. Their friendship has lasted the test of time – and they peg it all to Oman, His Majesty, and its people.
“Oman erases out every difference and unites people without boundaries,” Abbas adds. “If that is His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said’s goal, then he has achieved it. This is the only place in the world where everyone puts aside their differences to live equally.”
If that wasn’t all, the Sultanate has also laid the foundation for the families of millions of people – both citizens and expats – who have found solace in the governance of His Majesty.
Social, economic, and political rights alike – the Sultanate offers every resident in the country an opportunity to seize.
Since his ascension to the throne, Oman has witnessed nothing but growth. For instance, the GDP of the nation grew from a mere US$256.3mn in 1970 to a sizable US$79.5bn in 2018 (as per statistics revealed by the World Bank).
Moreover, the road networks have transformed from simple, unpaved sandy paths to a world-class road system, with over 65,000kms of paved highways.
His Majesty has also focused his efforts on matters of great importance, such as education, the empowerment of women in Oman, and forming strong cultural bonds within the nation that have helped it retain its identity as it forges ahead.
And, the story of Dr. Venugopal and Abbas Sheikh is only one among a countless number of stories of those who have come to the Sultanate in search of a prosperous life and safe living standards and have since resided here long enough to call Oman their home.
This falls in line with His Majesty’s statement to the nation on July 23, 1970, nearly four decades ago. He said: “My people, I will proceed as quickly as possible to transform your life into a prosperous one with a bright future. Every one of you must play his part towards this goal.
“Our country in the past was famous and strong. If we work in unity and cooperation, we will regenerate that glorious past and we will take a respectable place in the world.
“I call upon you to continue living as usual. I will be arriving in Muscat in the coming days and then I will let you know of my future.
“My people, I and my new government will work to achieve our general objective.
“My people, my brothers, yesterday it was complete darkness and with the help of God, tomorrow will be a new dawn on Muscat, Oman, and its people.
“God bless us all and may He grant our efforts success.”
As we clock 49 years of His Majesty’s reign in Oman, we speak to various residents to reflect on their emotions for this country, their land, and their beloved role model: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.
Professional in the oil and gas sector, and former CEO of the Oman Road Safety Association
Forty-nine years have passed since His Majesty has ascended as the ruler of Oman. And what an amazing ride it’s been. From developing the education system, to the infrastructure, and building a strong economy, he’s done it all for the people of the nation.
It’s because of all the planning, structure, and implementation that we could continue on this long and steady path to growth. Without his leadership skills, things may have been much different today.
Today, Oman has a great reputation worldwide; standing as one of the most peaceful and diplomatic countries in the region. For that, we’d like to thank His Majesty – it’s his vision to keep Oman as a place of peace that has resulted in us gaining recognition on a global stage.
That said, his focus inside the nation has been vital too. Take his vision to create a safe place to live in – be it at work or home, or even on the roads.
The latter is something I’ve been involved in, and I can tell you from experience that we’re moving closer to his vision – which is accident-free roads – by the day.
All of this, along with the constant support from Omani citizens and expat residents alike, creates a country that can be considered one of the best places to live in the world.
Teacher and Italian expat
I believe the extraordinary thing that His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said managed to do was to create a country where everyone feels like they’re at home.
If you think how many foreigners there currently are in Oman and how many nationalities constitute the ethnicity of Omani – for example Omanis who came from Africa, Omanis who came from Baluchistan, Omanis who came from Iran, and the like – you can see that they brought with them different languages, traditions, and cultures.
Still, His Majesty created a country and a system from scratch that would suit everyone. And regardless of that system, he managed to [have] people live together in peace.
So, it’s not just the mix of Omanis, but this mix that we see today – of expats and Omanis living together – that’s simply beautiful.
Muscat is essentially smaller than a city like Dubai, but just being able to see these many people from different nationalities, communities, and religions is truly amazing.
I chose Oman for this and I feel like I’m at home even if I realise that I’m surrounded by people from all around the globe.
So, what His Majesty built is more than just a nation that’s ever-developing in terms of its economy, politics, education, and health. He built a place that lets people from all over the world work and live together, and that’s unique.
Nowadays, there are a lot of challenges to keep this balance. And because the country is growing, there’s a lot of competition in this regard. But where His Majesty succeeds is in maintaining that balance while keeping this mix of Omanis and expats.
This is why if you speak to someone who has left the country, they will say: “I miss Oman” or “I want to come back to Muscat.”
I’m personally waiting to see the future that lies ahead for Oman. But from what we’ve seen so far, the Sultanate is on the right track.
Former general manager of Al Yusr Islamic Banking, Oman Arab Bank
They say that it’s hard to remain objective about your own land – so, there’s no way I can talk down my land even though we’re on the cusp of tough economic times that [are] testing the best of us.
Even so, I’ve lived in several countries in my time to know that the Sultanate is the place for me – it’s my home. Perhaps it’s the beauty of the place that’s coupled with the welcoming nature of the people that allows me to love it even more.
They say that the people of a land follow the footsteps of their ruler. And, what better role model is there than His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said?
It’s a matter of pride for me to say that I live in a land where he’s the Sultan. Not only is he trying his best to constantly develop this nation – from its nature all the way to the economy and various other sectors – he’s also fostering a nation with loyal residents.
The love and respect that the people have for His Majesty is a mark of his character and success as a leader. Even though 49 years have come and gone, one thing will always remain: His Majesty’s signature on the nation.
We’re forever indebted to him.
19-year-old Omani shopkeeper and cashier in a fruit shop in the Seeb Suq
Firstly, let me take time to congratulate His Majesty on the 49th Renaissance Day. This is truly a great moment for us as it is for him. His vision and goals have made life in this country a peaceful one where we can all co-exist.
It is because of him that we’ve received good education and can compete on a global stage. I can even speak in English when expat and tourist customers who can’t converse with us in Arabic come.
There are several countries in the world – some even in the West and in Europe – where that wouldn’t happen.
I work here in a shop to gain experience for my future, and its’ opportunities such as these – even though it may seem small to others – that have been created for us that lets us grow into a country with a wide variety of professions.
Right now, there are no restrictions on the youth – the sky’s the limit. And, it’s up to you to go and grab these opportunities.
It’s the way that the structure of our education system has been set that lets us do that.
The goal is simple: you get to do whatever you desire and want to become.
We’d like to thank His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said for that – and we wish him a long life and all the best for the future.
Canadian expat in Oman working as a researcher in an engineering firm
What makes Oman a desirable place to reside in? That’s the million-dollar question, if you ask me.
I’ve been in the country for only 30 days now, and I’ve already felt settled in and welcomed – be it at my workplace or even at home.
I do miss my hometown of Québec and my second home which is in Dubai every now and then, but it’s hard for me to complain when the people of the nation are as polite, caring, and even modest.
People who have been to and lived in other Arab countries will tell you how some people can come across as arrogant. But, I’m yet to find one here in Oman who seems that way.
In truth, I feel more comfortable here than in both those places; maybe it’s the calmness and the pace at which the country moves that makes me feel that way.
I’ve been told by my colleagues that all of this is because of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, the ruler of the country.
It’s truly amazing to see how much love there is for him in this country. His political and diplomatic standpoints shed light on how tolerance must be adopted as a major factor in international relations in the region.
The Sultanate has a very long and successful path lying ahead of it. And I’m just glad that I get to be a part of it. Whether I’m here a decade from now or not, I can tell you one thing: I’m going to enjoy my ride while I can and soak in the beauty and culture of this beautiful country that is Oman.