48th National Day: What makes Oman so special to expats?

T-Mag Thursday 15/November/2018 13:03 PM
By: Times News Service
48th National Day: What makes Oman so special to expats?

Oman is home to a significant expatriate population — those who have been here for years, have built their lives and have actively contributed to Oman’s development. As we gear up to celebrate Oman’s 48th National Day, we speak to the long-term expat residents of this country to know why their love for Oman is so strong.“Where are you from?” For most of us, that is an easy enough question to answer. You’re from the country of origin. Be it Denmark or Dominica, Spain or Switzerland, Monaco or Morocco, that’s where you’re from.But what if you’ve spent more time outside your homeland than within it? Does that then cease to be your homeland? Not quite, but then you have the privilege of calling one country your home, and the other your homeland. Oman is home to many expatriates and the country gives them a feeling of warmth and welcome that simply cannot be matched anywhere else.

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Life in Oman can only be experienced, not explained
Syed Saadat Shakil, Oman Airports Management Company

I first came to Oman back in 1997 during my summer holidays for about three months — I was around nine years old. We had to go back so I could finish my school year. I did my schooling in Pakistan School Muscat and later enrolled at the Modern College of Business & Science in Muscat.
Oman has been my permanent home since 1998 and I have not spent more than three to four weeks away from home. I feel at home — that sums up my feelings about this place. It’s something that cannot be expressed I have experienced the country from the eyes of a child, teenager and an adult it puts a smile on my face.
My two consistent passions have been gaming and driving, so my weekends and days off are spent either gaming or driving out. These are easily two of the best things to do in Oman. We have an endless list of amazing roads to go drive on and I have been out and about exploring those since I got my driver’s licence. I am a fan of whatever the country has to offer except the hot summer days which I’m sure a lot of others relate to, but those represent the uniqueness of the place. Life in Oman can only be experienced, not explained. Sometimes people say it is difficult to go to other cities in Oman because people are not welcoming and hospitable there. But on the contrary there has never been a time when I have not been offered assistance — be it the police or the local people.
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Oman is the only country I can relate to
Mukund Manohar, State General Reserve Fund

I am an investment auditor, originally from India, but have spent the greater part of my life in Oman, and moved here along with my family in 1995. My parents have resided in Oman since 1995 and although I spent 12 years in the US for higher education and work, Oman has always been my home where I used to spend all my vacations. I returned back to Oman in 2016 after getting an amazing opportunity in Muscat. I got a chance to bring back my professional experience as well that I gained in the US. Whenever people ask me where I am from, I make it a point to let them know that Oman is my home because Oman is the only country I can truly relate to. The culture here is very warm, and people are hospitable and respectful. Omanis always have a smile on their faces. Expatriates like me who have lived in Oman for the majority of our lives, often melt in this harmonious society and emulate some of the best qualities displayed by them.
The warm and the forthcoming nature of the Omanis get inculcated in our behaviour. Oman is indeed a unique country with a rich history and it creates a genuine eagerness amongst the expat community to be part of this wonderful nation. Though I have lived in the US for 12 years, I never felt like home there, the way I do in Oman.
Oman is not just a place for me, it’s a feeling. Living in this wonderful nation is a luxury and I am truly appreciative of making it even more luxurious than travelling the world.
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The cleanliness here spoils us
Tanu Bheda, Armour Insurance Services

Mum and Dad were true lovers of Oman, and thus my mum rushed me back here as soon as I hit two months after being born in Mumbai. I have been here for about three decades now and I did my schooling from Indian School Muscat. I went to university back in Mumbai, since my mother wanted me to see the real world and burst the safety bubble that I had gotten used to while living here. Although I spent three years in Mumbai, I kept flying in and out of the country for several months. What brought me back every time had to be my parents and their warmth, the comfort here and most importantly, the cleanliness with which Oman spoils us.
I grew up with some very close Omani friends, and despite having differences in religion and food habits , we still stand connected as a family. I think being brought up here you hardly feel the different of being an expat. This place is home, a feeling that has nothing to do with being an expat. So my simplest explanation to describe Oman to people abroad has always been, ‘Have you been to Dubai or heard of it? Well then we are just a tad simpler than them, and we love our natural mountains and beautiful beach sunsets a lot more than any other countries.’
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They helped us without thinking about their safety
Pooja Shah, VFS Global Services
I was raised here and I work here now. Having lived here for more than 27 years, it has been a great experience. I did my schooling here and although I left Oman to do my graduation in Mumbai, where I spent three years, Oman felt more like home. It’s hard to explain, but I just had a feeling of wanting to be back.
If I try to put it in words, I can say that Oman is such a peaceful place, and honestly, you don’t really find this anywhere else. Everyone here are so helpful. I remember when I was about eight years old and my family and I had gone with a group of friends to Sur, it was raining really heavily at night. The roads are now excellent, but we didn’t have this sort of facility back then, and all the roads had been blocked due to the rain. Many of us were stuck in our cars through the night, but the Omanis were so helpful. They gave us food and water, and what really surprised me was that they physically pushed our cars through the mud and stones without thinking about their own safety.
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The natural beauty of oman is unique
Ahmed Behlim, Design Unit Engineering
I am a businessman and an engineer by profession. I was born in Oman, and I have lived here all my life. I completed my high school here and then went on to do my bachelors and masters in engineering from Cardiff University in the UK. I spent four years there before coming back. I received the Omani citizenship in 2009. Oman will always be home to me, and the feeling I get here, no place can match it. I have travelled all around the world, but this place has a very different vibe. If you have a good job or a business, a group of friends to spend time with, the comfort level this place offers is difficult to match.
When I tell people whom I meet abroad about Oman, first I have to explain the location. Not many people have heard of this place . But the ones who have, they have a stereotypical way of thinking about an Arab land, where there are deserts, women and men conservatively dressed, and strict rules and regulations to follow. I always end up pulling my phone out to shown them Oman, and they get awestruck. I tell them about how the Omanis are very hospitable. The natural beauty of Oman is very unique. I find the Omanis to be the friendliest people in this region, and they never allow you to feel like an outsider.
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Best place to live in with your family
Ashish Kumar Mallick, Ericsson Oman
I hail from Chittagong in Bangladesh and came to Oman when I was four years old in 1993. My dad has been working here since 1983 and have his own business. I have been here for more than 25 years now. Initially we used to stay in Ibra but later I came to Muscat to complete my schooling. I have never felt like an outsider here because the locals are always welcoming and helpful. Whenever we meet they are always happy to guide us. They are extremely tolerant towards our cultures and have a lot of respect for us. When I finished school, I had many options, but then I found a good engineering college here and I decided to stay back in Oman. I would never want to leave this country, because Oman is very peaceful to live in. There is an utmost sense of peace here. Living here for so many years has shown me how safe and secure life is. Also you get everything you want here, and get a lot of respect at work and treated equally. You can showcase your talent and your abilities. Your family also gets a peaceful environment to live in. Oman is not just about the deserts. There are so many beautiful locations to explore across Oman.
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Proud to be part of Oman’s Healthcare
Dr Mathew Varghese, Ministry of Health

I have been in Oman since 1978. My parents came here then, and I have done my schooling here. I left my school in 1991 to go back to India for medical education and for my post-graduate studies, and I came back to work in Oman in 2002. I have been here with the Ministry of Health in Oman since May 2002.
I have spent most of my life here. This place is extremely clean, the people are so friendly, respectful and peace-loving, and everyone here are law-abiding, so my family and I feel very safe here. There are really good facilities for education as well. Medical facilities are at par with the rest of the world. In the recent ranking of the World Health Organisation, Oman’s healthcare facilities were ranked eighth in the world, so I am very proud to be a part of this healthcare system. I have seen a lot of warmth and hospitality here. I am invited to a lot of people’s houses, because I am friends with many Omanis. I am invited to their houses, where we spend time with them for Eid, for their weddings, and for so many other functions. I go and join Iftar parties at their homes.
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Feels special to give back in a unique way
Arvind Venkataraman, Waterfarmers Aquaponics
I was born in Oman in April 1985. My parents were in Oman at that time and have been here for almost 35 years. I did my schooling, from kindergarten to my final grade, in Muscat before pursuing my higher studies in the US, and it took me about 10 years to come back when I was given an interesting opportunity to develop aquaponic farming in Oman. Having spent a great deal of my childhood here it does feel extremely special to be able to give back in a unique way. We had offers to develop this technology in any of the GCC countries and I am glad we decided to choose Oman, as it had the personal connect. Today when we see that Oman has the most aquaponic development in technology in the Middle East, it makes me feel very proud. I am usually in Oman for about three to four months every year, and I believe Oman has enjoyed the reputation of consistency both on the global front and in the Middle East. So we must give credit to the social and political evolution the country has seen over the past four decades. The growth that Oman has made from the 80s till now is incredible.
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Oman has something that grows on you
Tanvi Mohindra, IEON IT Consultants
My dad got a job opportunity in Oman and the family moved within a few months. It was difficult initially coming to a country where we had no family but eventually it got better with time. I did my schooling here from 2004 onwards, and then went for my MBA in Pune, where I spent about three years.
I was looking for a job after my post graduation and my dad met someone who shared about an opportunity with a startup in Muscat. That’s how I settled back in this beautiful country. Oman is a peaceful, laid back, no hurry kind of a place. No one is in a rush to do anything. The people of this country are extremely hospitable, kind and helpful. Since it has a good number of expats you don’t feel like a complete stranger lost in a foreign land. This place has something that grows on you.
I am a crazy dog lover and initially I had heard that the Omanis don’t like dogs but surprisingly I came across many locals who are crazy dog lovers themselves.
—gautam@timesofoman.com