Knowledge is the only real and ever-lasting treasure. One can hold on to it forever and keep on expanding on it. It is the building block of progress and prosperity, and the only bridge from misery to hope," says Mohsin Juma Mohammad Al Lawati, eminent social worker and author, who believes only the increased participation of youth in nation building, by acquiring education, shall lead Oman to new heights of development and prosperity.
Having authored around nine books on various issues, ranging from Sufism to social welfare, his latest work, 'A radiant star was born' (Bazough Najmin Muneer), is slated to be highlighted at the upcoming UNESCO, Paris Chapter meet.
Focussing on spiritualism, the book provides a valuable insight into the world of Sufism, and its mysticism. "The book unfolds the magnificence of Sufism and its virtues of uniting the world in the bonds of true love and getting rid of the greed of worldly things and materialism," revealed Mohsin, about the book.
Stressing upon the need of education, the former personal advisor to the minister of social affairs said Omani youth should realise the importance of education and pursue it pro-actively.
Adding the emphasis laid by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said on education had led to unprecedented progress in the field, Al Lawati said it was the youth's responsibility to take it up more seriously.
"A high class modern education system exists in the country with many world class universities. Apart from paying for the needy students seeking higher studies, the government provides maintenance to job-seekers and searches jobs for them as well. The government is providing many facilities to those willing to acquire education. What more is to be expected?" noted Al Lawati, hailing the government's efforts.
It's not just education, the author says, the government has also been extending facilities in every major and minor sector, and to everyone, from budding entrepreneurs to the disabled and challenged. "There is no misery in this country now. Oman is a land of opportunity.
Providing livelihood to such a huge expatriate population, it is doing a lot more for its citizens, Omanisation being the latest effort in the direction," said Al Lawati who played a great role in formulation of the nation's social policies, in the capacity of director general of social affairs. (The policies very much based on his findings and reports.)
Search for alternatives
Another factor integral to the Sultanate's consolidated approach to being a 'First World' nation was self-sustenance, according to the author-historian. "Wherever possible the government should regulate and promote indigenous produce. It would encourage the people to indulge more in trade as well as avert monopolisation by big foreign companies, as well as improving the quality of life. Hopefully, soon enough the efforts will be merged in the direction of self-sufficiency," said Al Lawati, himself a goat-rearer and farmer, owning more than a thousand date-palms in Barka.
Searching for alternatives to petrol was also a must, added the author. "Oman is a resource rich country, and very strategically located in the Gulf. We have the potential to be a self sufficient nation even without petrol, blessed with other precious sources like copper, asbestos, marble, limestone, chromium, gypsum, and natural gas, apart from the vast marine resources, and we must explore and increase our dependence in those areas. Petrol is not going to last forever," he said.
Water is another area where more efforts need to be made, according to Al Lawati. "The country's main produce, dates, is shrinking in size due to increasing salinity in ground water. At regular intervals, desalination plants should be installed, and the water stored in empty underground channels," he said adding that water distribution from Falaj should also be controlled to check wastage.
Reflecting upon phenomena in life
Still involved in social welfare activities, the septuagenarian keeps himself busy writing books. Writing since 1973, his commendable works include the letter addressed to the prominent Iranian leader and religious scholar, Ayatullah Khamenei – Kashfil Hujub (Lifting the veil), and Zaalal Yaasmein (The anger of Jasmine).
Another of his popular works is Dar bad ruh (The way of the ways), a story inspired by real events, about a small boy Nasser who faces difficulties in life until he comes to the path of education amidst too many cultural shocks, along with his friend Mustafa who helps him all through the way, and how together they come to realise the actual purpose of life through education.
The fictional work focuses on the dilemmas of Omanis who had to leave the country before the commencement of the reign of His Majesty, the Sultan, and the hardships faced by them. Al Lawati had himself left the country and lived in Kuwait for almost 20 years, before returning to Oman in 1972.
"The divide created in the world on various grounds like religion, class and caste, are among many things on my mind. The wandering questions about existence were always there in me ever since childhood. Those quests and feelings laid the path of my life. All my life I have been ambitious to read, observing things closely, and absorbing from my surroundings," he asserts.
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