The COVID-19 pandemic meant many of us were unable to celebrate the country’s 50th National Day with our friends and families. But SMEs in the country have made sure we will never forget this golden jubilee.
Oman's National Day, previously a time to meet with family and friends, this time required us to have more muted, toned-down celebrations this time. With November 18, 2020, marking the golden jubilee of the renaissance, this would’ve been the perfect time to share stories and make new memories.
However, the needs of the many have – and will – always eclipsed those of the few. Measures enacted to stop the spread of the disease meant we needed to halt social gatherings and communal meetings.
To many in the country, National Day involves linking up with the entire family or a large group of friends – many of whom you have known for a long, long time – and heading out for the entire day, perhaps at one of the many historic sites in town, at the beach, or on a long road trip.
But with few of these options available to us, it was the country’s small and medium enterprises that amazingly came forward and provided us an amazing way to ensure we remember this National Day for a long, long time.
From badges commemorating the golden jubilee and scarves embellished with patriotic slogans and images, to goods that have been integral to the culture of Oman – such as Omani halwa and frankincense – and mementoes featuring the red, white and green of the country’s flag, SMEs in the country boasted an impressive catalogue of items with which people could mark National Day.
One of the companies involved in distributing and selling the National Day badge – a gold-plated disc etched in the shape of the sun, with an inscription commemorating the day – was Warshah, a local design studio founded and run by young Omanis.
“This design has proven to be really popular among people,” says Malik Al Nabhani, the studio’s founder. “We received so many orders for it that we need to order more stock for customers. It’s good that even during these challenging times, SMEs are able to get some business, so I want to thank our customers for supporting us.”
Sharifa Al Barami is co-founder of Markeetex, a platform where vendors can put up items for sale to customers. She didn’t expect to see so much traffic on her site ahead of National Day either.
“We continue to receive orders for National Day collectibles,” says Sharifa, whose site sells a number of themed items, including caps, flags, badges and posters. “I think it will last this way until the end of the year.
“We have had many orders from individual clients, but what was really heartening to see was the number of bulk corporate orders we received from companies that wanted to buy them for their employees and clients,” she adds. “Sadly, a lot of the small vendors have had to close their physical shops because of the pandemic, so moving their business online has helped them during these tough times.”
It was a similar opinion shared by Talal Al Marhoon, the founder of Rawaj Marketing, designers of some awesomely thought out scarves that have, as expected, also exceeded initial customer demands.
“We have sold several scarves to government institutions, private companies, hypermarkets, and online,” he admits. “It was a great experience to share our product and our inspiration to others. People were amazed by the designs.
During the pandemic, we had hoped to conduct face-to-face meetings to discuss collaboration, but due to safety concerns, we needed these to be conducted online. We also faced issues related to cash flow.
“People were hesitant to invest their money because of the current circumstances. But what I have learned is that we must face challenges and overcome them by coming up with creative solutions so we can get around them.” – [email protected]