When Christian, a young German mechanical engineer specialising in the oil and gas sector, first came to Oman with his wife Juliana in January 2016, he had little clue of how an Arab country would welcome him and how he should behave. Fact is, he had many apprehensions. One in particular of how he would be treated in a foreign land. It was his first time on a foreign stint in his relatively new career then.
He arrived in Oman with an aim of doing something different or acquire a new skill in life and ended up wanting to learn Arabic.
Upon arrival at the Muscat international airport, all his apprehensions evaporated. The friendly approach of the immigration staff and the local chauffer who welcomed him at the exit quite made an impression.
“It was a paradigm shift to my apprehensions. It was the first time that I came to the Sultanate to work for the company that recruited me. I was totally moved by the hospitality of the local people whom I met and talked to through my initial days here,” Christian shared.
This has naturally evoked a sense of wanting to know more about the local culture and traditions and he was welcomed by a Centre called ‘Arabian Experience Institute’ run by Nasser Al Jabri, an Omani who believed in letting the world know about Oman.
The following days, he was given a slice of Omani culture and traditions and Arab lifestyle which values relations and interactions more than anything else. He started learning Arabic language, visited historic places and mingled with the local populace wherever he visited.
Earlier in April 2017, his knowledge of Arabic and Arab culture helped him in his job interview with a leading company. Today, he’s a part of the company as project manager as he earned the love and respect of everyone in his organisation with his right attitude and friendly approach.
“Today, I’ve mastered the language to a great extent, know the culture and traditions of this beautiful country and am well versed with the Omani lifestyle. More than anything else, knowledge of Arabic has helped me in befriending Omani people and I’m a part of most of the strategic projects that my company is currently into.”
Arabian Experience is an attempt to tell the world the true essence of Omani cultural life with all its beauty. Born out of the aspirations of Al Jabri, a student will be offered with a complete package of local lifestyle and culture besides the knowledge of the language.
Today, nationalities including US, Canadian, Argentinian, Brazilian, Mexican, New Zealander, Nigerian, Serbian, Swiss, South African, South Korean, Turkish and the like find it an easy bridge to know Oman better. They learn the language, visit tourist destinations, taste dates and kahwa with the local people, sleep under the stars in the Wahaiba Sands, ride on camels, and optionally, they can spend a few days with Omani families and learn their traditions first hand.
“My team and I are dedicated to giving our students a complete package of our culture and traditions besides teaching the language”, Nasser said.
All these nationalities, irrespective of their ethnicities under one roof, celebrate their national days with introductions to their culture and traditions vis-a-vis the local life and is, according to Nasser, a strong message to the world on unity. They learn how to accept others with all their merits and drawbacks and they know how to be tolerant towards their fellow beings after learning from local experience.
“Our efforts to train foreigners learn not just the language but the local culture and traditions have brought fruits for all our students are placed at a better level after the course because of their knowledge of the local culture”, Jeremy, Director of the Centre added.
In associations with Musannah Women’s Association, these foreign students under the guidance of six Omani teachers comprising 5 lady trainers and a male are given a slice of different tourist spot as part of the package. And they involve themselves in the community activities of the villagers.
Learning Omani culture and traditions doesn’t stop there. Officials from various ministries, authorities visit the Centre ND deliver lectures on local rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, driving culture, business environment, and so on and so forth.
These earnest efforts, rendering a matchless experience of feeling Oman while learning Arabic, are no doubt contributing to the concept of ‘Education Tourism’ to gain a major fillip as it is the future mantra of the world.