Muscat: Third in Arab world, first in our hearts
March 26, 2017 | 2:46 PM
by Mohammed Mahfoodh Al Ardhi
Muscat was ranked third among Arab cities, following Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in the 2017 Quality of Living Rankings published by Mercer, a leading global HR consultancy firm. Photo - File

It is difficult to write about your nation without bias, as one cannot help but reflect on the past, ponder over the present and dream for the future.

Along with many other Omanis, I felt a great sense of pride when our capital city Muscat, a shining jewel in our crown, was ranked third among Arab cities, following Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in the 2017 Quality of Living Rankings published by Mercer, a leading global HR consultancy firm. On the global scale, Muscat placed 106th out of the 231 cities covered.

Our beloved capital did not achieve this position based on material wealth or assets, but rather on the richness of its culture and heritage. It gives us great satisfaction that Muscat has received recognition for the values we Omanis have cherished for centuries, beating wealthier and more modern Arab cities on the list.

However, all the global indicators in the world cannot completely capture the wide extent of nuances that represent the core values Muscat and the wider Oman represent.

We must remember that the city of Muscat has emerged from harsh terrain and narrates a story with a multitude of facets. This is a tale where authenticity meets modernity and heritage embraces progress – a story where people are amiable, helpful, and aware of the meaning of citizenship and belonging.

The city’s unique social fabric epitomizes harmony and peaceful coexistence - effectively safeguarded by a stringent law and order system - and based on the principles of equality, responsibility and duties of citizenship. Such stability at a time when disintegration and unrest are the norm in the region, is surely a recipe for success. Tourists and residents alike are captivated by Muscat’s trademark social harmony and tradition of hospitality that constitute a foundation for prosperity.

Oman’s deeply rooted social bonds are the direct result of a conscious decision by its people who have chosen to cooperate and support one another and wholeheartedly understood that social disintegration is a major cause for decline. They are also the inevitable result of the Sultanate’s wise leadership and policies towards regional and international issues.

It is due to the combined efforts of our leaders and the wider Omani community that our country has been ranked last in the Global Terrorism Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace – notching up zero out of 10 points. The threat of global terrorism has no place in our coherent social and cultural structure that adopts the values of coexistence and prioritizes the national interest in all domains.

Whenever I read visitor testimonials on Oman, I feel an immense sense of pride to realize how highly tourists commend our country and its people. Arab author Zuhair Majid, pointed out to his American friends that Omanis welcome all visitors wholeheartedly and are aware that their nation mesmerizes every guest. He said Omanis have excelled due to the immense love for their country, which is integral to their being.

We must carry our nation’s successes with pride. The social environment we have nurtured over the past centuries is time after time proving to be a symbol of Oman’s heritage on the world map, and one of our greatest assets. It gives meaning and depth to the other facets of our nation’s story, whether those include our growing infrastructure, our prosperous economy, or indeed improving healthcare and education.

In this age of electronic media and information sharing, I anticipate further recognition for Oman and its natural beauty and cultural marvels. From Muscat, our beautiful capital city, to smaller towns and villages - ours is a peaceful, diverse and captivating country that is the cynosure of the thriving global tourism industry.

* The author is the Chairman of National Bank of Oman, Executive Chairman of Investcorp and an International Advisor to the Brookings Instituition. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.

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