Talking to young Izki mother of two, Rahma al Yahyai, is easy as she speaks immaculate English, something she gives credit to her father Nasser for, the Izki businessman inspiring her love of the language, discussion, conversation and literature. A quiescent poet, she hesitated to share her prose but was less reticent about sharing her artistry, another of her passions.
Married to policeman Malik, and with children three-year-old Qabas and one-year-old Assad increasingly demanding of her time and energy, Rahma’s current priority is to manage their time and their development, with her mother Nassra “the perfect mother and a great example of how to manage a house and home. Growing up, our parents loved, protected and provided for us, taught us good habits and behaviour, and Mum has taught us to be good cooks, but they also made us aware that we need to be challenging ourselves all the time, and that is why I have tried so many different hobbies and interests.”
Schooled locally, and a student of Majan University College, Rahma joined the extracurricular Chess Club and learned to play creditably saying, “I became quite good, and was competitive, and a semi-finalist, but could not win. I like painting too and may start that again soon.” She has prioritised her health and fitness as early as Grade Six saying, “I stopped doing workouts when I was in Grade Eleven or Twelve at school but started again during my second year of college, where I tried to get a proper gymnasium established, but it didn’t happen.”
Mostly, however, and somewhat unusually within the Islamic culture, it is the outdoor sports that have taken her fancy. A tall athlete she has played table tennis, basketball too, and liked it a lot, but volleyball probably ranks as her favourite sport. “I played for the Oman Women’s Association, and for a long time was the youngest player in a team that won a lot of medals. The sport is still close to my heart.”
Like most Omanis, Rahma is a football fan, with Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Ronaldinho her favourite players. Unlike most, she doesn’t have a favourite club team though, as her favourite team is always that which she is playing in. Yes, she plays football! “I found it difficult at first because volleyball and basketball are played with the hands, and in my first game I got yellow carded as I ‘caught’ a throw-in. And to be fair, though most of the technique in football revolves around the feet, my feet may not be the most blessed, and I don’t kick the ball very hard either’’, she laughed, “I’ve been trying to master Archery too, which is not as easy as it looks. My technique and results are showing improvement now, and I’m becoming quite a good shot!”
Steeped in her faith, Rahma is a thoroughly modern woman who lives within Oman’s cultural and traditional modesty, who is herself not given to demonstrativeness, but who confesses to “red as my favourite colour, while I like Skechers shoes and Nike sportswear.” Pressed to identify her favourite food and knowing the active young woman in front of me, I should have expected the response I got: “I love seafood. Oh, you guys are fishermen, can you teach me to fish?” How could we say no? It’s just another way to get busy living.
By Ray Petersen