Muscat: Abdullatif Al Balushi, Chairman of the award-winning Bait Al Adam museum, is one of the lucky few, who was in the Sultanate when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said took over.
He was witness to His Majesty’s arrival in Muscat 48 years ago and recalls witnessing every moment of the day that ended up changing the Sultanate’s history for good.
“I was studying in Bahrain. In 1970, we came to Oman for a school holiday and suddenly a week later the government changed. And I call myself one of the lucky ones to have attended the arrival of His Majesty at Bait al Falaj airport. I remember the aircraft he had taken from Salalah to Muscat, which was Gulf Air. He drove a red car and we followed him to Muscat Palace where he came out to the balcony to wave at the people who had come to welcome him,” he fondly recalled.
Although he had to go back to Bahrain along with his family to complete his education, he returned next year. “We moved to Bahrain to continue my studies but a year later I came back in 1971 and joined the Ministry of Education. I was the only person who could type Arabic and English at that time. A few months later, I joined Muttrah Municipality and had the privilege of meeting His Majesty twice during his sudden visits,” he said.
Echoing the sentiments of most people who have seen the country progress and develop manifold in just a few years, Al Balushi spoke of His Majesty’s accomplishments in different sectors in a short span of time. “I remember all the developments that occurred in schools and roads. We used to drive from my house in Muscat to Muttrah Municipality on a cement road, not tarmac roads, from Riyam hill down to Muttrah,” he added.
“I’ve also taken flights abroad from the old airport. I’ve seen the developments in Madinat Qaboos and Qurum. I have a lot of nice pictures of empty lands from those days,” Al Balushi said.
Al Balushi used his talents and interests to start many interesting ventures in the newly reborn nation.
“I started the first pop music band and we used to sing in four languages: Arabic, English, Persian, and Hindi. I also started the first boutique in Oman called Venus Stores—we used to sell the best jeans from the United States, and I’m the first person who brought Clarks shoes to Oman. Slowly, my hobby changed to history and now I’m running this award-winning private museum.”
Attributing the nation’s success and “unprecedented progress” to His Majesty, he said, “I remember His Majesty’s first speech in which he said, ‘I built Oman in 10 years, something other nations did in 100 years.’ I would say bravo to His Majesty for the unprecedented progress. God bless him and insha Allah he is blessed with a long life.”