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Why is the number 13 unlucky for some, lucky for others

Oman Tuesday 12/January/2021 20:44 PM
By: Times News Service

Muscat: Travel to some apartment complexes in Muscat, and you might find flat number 13 missing.
With the number 13 considered unlucky for many, property developers in some parts of the capital, especially those populated by large numbers of expats, have done away with it on the main doors of homes rented to them.

The reason for this, said a manager of such a residential complex in Bausher, is because expatriates do not want to invite the bad luck associated with this number, with many of them categorically refusing to move into this particular flat, despite it being a very good one in a nice neighbourhood.

“This was something we’d seen in a lot of complexes,” said the building manager associated with the above property. “It was primarily expatriates from Europe and North America who had this superstition around this number. They thought something very bad would happen to them.

“We offered to show them the flat, in order for them to see that it was just like any other, but their association with the number is that it is very unlucky,” he added. “When we built these homes, we actually had to take special permission from Muscat Municipality to not include a house number 13, otherwise, we would have had to use continuous numbers.”

“This assumption is not so strong with expats from other countries, such as those from South Asia or Africa, or even the Omanis. They honestly are not bothered about living in a house with the number 13,” said the manager.

According to legend, the number 13 is considered unlucky, thanks to a translation mix-up with the Code of Hammurabi, one of the world’s oldest legal documents, which reportedly omitted the 13th law from its list of codes. In reality it was just a simple clerical error made by one of the document’s early translators.

Mathematicians and scientists consider the prominence of the number 12, which has been considered a perfect number in the ancient world. The ancient Sumerians also developed numeral system based on the number 12, while a single day consists of two 12-hour half days.

Directly following the so-called perfect number 12 was the numerical value, 13, which was considered lacking and unusual.

“They do not want to go out because they think something bad will happen to them and their families,” Rachid revealed. “Even if we ask them to meet us, they will ask us to come back some other time.”

While some people in Oman did have negative stories to share about the number 13, others recalled more positive instances.

“When I first came to Oman, my family and I lived in flat number 13 in a building in Muttrah,” explained Kishore, an Indian expatriate who’s called this country home for more than 15 years. “I had just started out in a good job: the company took very good care of us, provided us allowances for accommodation, transport to and from work, and our meals.

“I have been working for that company ever since I arrived here, and I have made a very good life for myself and my family,” he added. “My son is now well-settled abroad, I have saved enough for my retirement, and the money I’ve earned from my job has helped me secure my future with investments in property back in India. I no longer live in that building, but I will always have fond memories of flat number 13.”