Muscat: Adults and children alike are taking advantage of the lockdown hours in Oman to improve their skills and develop their passions.
Many recent graduates are choosing to add to their existing skills and open businesses to achieve financial independence, while their younger counterparts are taking up more creative pursuits such as drawing and poetry.
19-year-old Sarah Mohammed Al Harassi, who is studying nursing at Buraimi University, chose to use the lockdown hours to hone her art skills. Having always displayed a passion for the subject, she then set up a creative service and is earning a steady income crafting and selling artwork.
“I tried to benefit from my passion so that I can both have a good income, as well as sharpen my creative skills,” she said. “Drawing takes a long time, because it is an accurate subject, and because I had so much free time, I decided to see if my skills were in demand.
“I set up a home business and while my sales were few in the beginning, they have steadily picked up over time,” she added.
Oman was under lockdown from 5pm to 4am between the 16th and 29th of July, as part of measures to bring down COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalisation numbers. Since then, lockdown hours have been scaled back to between 10pm and 4am.
Lubna Baniorabiah, an English language major, set up a printing service with a friend when she realised many shops that offered the same were required to close early.
“It took some time for us to develop the project step by step,” said the Sohar University graduate. “When we had more free time, we came up with ideas to develop our project and innovate more, because we are keen on printing on different kinds of material.”
To help promote her fledgling business, Lubna turned to social media, getting in touch with influencers who agreed to promote her project on their handles.
Among the younger children, 12-year-old Reham Al Riyami also chose to improve her drawing skills, in part due to encouragement from her mum.
“I first saw her talent when she was just nine,” says her mother. “She drew something that appealed to everyone, and since then, I’ve been supporting her desire to do better.”
Reham’s first drawings were of the cartoon characters she used to see on TV. Since then, her pictures have been inspired by iconic landmarks around Oman, as well as the country’s rich and varied landscapes.
Realising that the lockdown hours would be a great time for Reham to deepen her understanding of art, her mother lovingly bought her plenty of paint, as well as materials such as paintbrushes, oil, and canvases.
“I also gave her a special corner in a part of our home so that she could be free and uninterrupted while drawing,” she said. “My daughter’s dream is to become a famous Omani painter.”
Another young child, Al Harith Al Badi from Saham, is known in his neighbourhood for emceeing many programmes at school, a talent that was encouraged by his English language teacher Tharaya Al Buraiki.
“My son then refined his talent on his own, because he loves to read,” said his mother. “He was asked to host the opening of a new cosmetic clinic here, as well as many public events held in our area. He used to also host our weekly family meetings that brought joy and created fond memories for all of us.”
“He also participated in Quran recitation competitions at school level, and was honoured by the Wali of Saham for being one of the best academic achievers in 2018/2019,” she added.
“The lockdown hours helped him memorise many verses from the Quran, as well as gave him the time to read many books and learn about poetry.”