From the editor's desk: Oman, a safe haven
July 25, 2019 | 8:45 AM
by Charles Lavery

My three-year-old daughter is a wanderer. An explorer, with a head full of dinosaurs and jungles and adventure, wearing her backpack to wade through two inch high grass as if she’s in a dense jungle canopy.

She stalks the birds, slowly creeping up behind them as they peck at the garden soil, hunting for worms, unaware that a tiny explorer is stealthily hunting them down.

Thankfully, she hasn’t honed her stalking skills sufficiently to catch one yet, but it is only a matter of time.

One fine day, last summer, my wife looked out from our kitchen window to see an Omani man standing in our garden, gesturing her outside.

She walked out to see what he wanted and saw that Nadya was there, beside him. She had opened a locked door, walked outside, closed the door behind herself and gone on an adventure. This Omani man had been sitting on the beach, had watched her walk out of the garden and gently turned her around and brought her back.

When my wife picked herself up from the floor, she thanked him profusely. We have since put the lock bolts higher up on the doors, but it brought home to me, as we spend this week celebrating Renaissance Day in Oman, just how safe this place is.

It’s a wonderful country for families. Omanis love family life. I remember taking my son to the mall and an Omani man, surrounded by eight or so of his own children, took a ball from a shelf and played football with my wee man along the aisles of a Carrefour store.

I remember the Omani family in a fun zone who paid for every ride that my son wanted to go on as their child was suddenly his best friend in the world.

When the world seems so fractured, Oman is safe. While others rattle sabres, Omanis sit down to talk.

You can see it in action every day. If you see a minor road accident here (and they are reducing fast, thanks to Royal Oman Police) you won’t see any of the shouting and bawling common in other countries. Both drivers will shake hands, greet each other, before arranging to fix and remove vehicles.

That roadside chivalry goes all the way up to the top where, on the world stage, Oman is regarded as the peacemaker, never the troublemaker.

It is testament to His Majesty’s vision for this place, and it makes me thankful to be here, at a time when the United Kingdom, staring down the barrel of a Boris Johnson premiership, is in full self-destruct mode.

The beaches, the roads, the malls, the fun zones, the people. People make a country. Omanis can be justifiably proud of the place they call home.

I feel very privileged to call it my temporary home. When I was stopped by the police for unwittingly driving with my fog lights on, the officer apologised when he handed me the fine and smiled and waved at the children in the back. They were so excited to see a real life police officer up close, and when my son asked him if he was taking me “to the jail” he laughed.

I’m struggling to think of any other country where that would happen.

In 1970, when His Majesty assumed the reins of power, he asked all Omanis to return home to help shape the future. He knew that Oman’s best asset is its people.

I see that in action, every day.

Tourism is up by 46 per cent, year on year, and the country is now on the global map for visitors keen to experience the unhurried, authentic Oman.

After Cyclone Mekunu, an Omani told me that the Sultanate has always suffered from these natural events but, prior to 1970, there wasn’t much to be swept away. His Majesty’s vision has changed that forever, and we should all be thankful for it.

Subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know all the latest news