While I can understand the cultural reservations Omanis may have had, in the past, in terms of the hospitality industry as a legitimate employment option, I think wherever that reluctance has its origins, it’s time now to look at the brighter side. In the past, there has been uneasiness about exposing young Omanis to the less conservative cultural influences of the tourist and hotel industries, but actually, there are so many positives to be found in working in any number of positions, particularly within the front desk and culinary and catering sections of the hotel industry.
One thing that should never be forgotten is that the type of tourists the Sultanate attracts tend to be activity-based tourists, and have probably paid handsomely to come here. They tend to be mature, intelligent, articulate, good natured, exceptionally well-mannered, extremely respectful, culturally sensitive, and in all respects, exactly the profile of people you would encourage your sons and daughters to interact with as they seek to develop the ‘global citizenship’ skills their generation will certainly need, much more than ours.
The World Travel and Tourism Council has nominated Oman as ninth in the world for overall tourism growth, and third for sector investment, so now is the time to get involved. Oman is not a destination for backpackers, freedom campers, ‘All-Inclusive,’ and ‘All you can eat and drink’ type tourism. It’s just not going to happen here. Because of that, the hospitality sector has become a realistic employment option.
Specifically, the National Hospitality Institute’s Principal, Robert McLean, explained recently that they are keen to develop more local flavour among those seeking skills, knowledge and qualifications from their courses, and offer the concept of Omani ‘fusion’ dishes becoming an international culinary concept worthy of exploring, and most appropriately when young Omani chefs are involved.
Local Master Chefs, representing the Omani Chef Guild, Oswald Joachim, Executive Chef at the Oman Convention Centre, and Neil Sequeira, Executive Chef of the Golden Tulip, have judged “Master Chef,” type events for budding culinary superstars, where teams had a set amount of time to identify the ingredients and plan a four-course menu, with another specific time to create and present their dishes. McLean added that, “Not only, however, is the meal judged, but each team includes a waiter, who must then meet the high standards of the hospitality sector, in their service of the meal, and Omanis have always featured prominently when the medals are handed out.”
As McLean put it, “The Sultanate’s hotels actively support their courses and continue to play a significant role in educating young Omanis in what are certainly, non-traditional skills, creating greater potential for Omani employment opportunities.” So, it’s clear that opportunities such as these, are available, and they demonstrate a commitment by the hotel industry, to hospitality sector development, and provide competitive and rewarding experiences for the potential Michelin ‘stars’ of the future.
Oman needs visionary and energetic individuals, who will ‘push the boat out,’ ‘push the envelope’ and be ‘agents of change,’ like Christoph Schlessing, at the Mussanah Millenium with his professional development programmes, the NHI’s McLean and his competitions and Sandeep Jaitly from the Golden Tulip Nizwa who recently hosted a school visit, to open the door. That has happened, now the youth of Oman should get pro-active, and not just seek these opportunities, but go and get them. Just a quick look on the net today indicates ‘naukrigulf’ as having 426 vacancies in the hotel industry, ‘indeed,’ 101 opportunities, monstergulf, and OLX, all with plenty of jobs.
Oh, I know, you don’t want to be a waiter, a bellboy, or a dishwasher, but honestly, you have to start somewhere in order to demonstrate your commitment, reliability, adaptability and resilience, so put a smile on your face and take a good look at tourism, how better to learn about and understand the world?