Oman is undoubtedly a melting pot of different cultures, religions and customs and the scores of nationalities that live here and follow their tradition and rituals on a daily basis is an epitome of the blend of such a diverse spectrum of people.
The diverse and all-inclusive cultural fabric has been repeatedly in the attention of the international media and that has prompted some 11 students from the United States to visit the country as part of the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue programme to understand the culture and tradition of the Arabian countries and their lifestyles.
Their nearly 1-week long visit to the Sultanate gave them a chance to experience various aspects of the Middle Eastern cultures and perspectives, particularly in the fields of religious understanding, social entrepreneurship, and conflict transformation that helped them fortify their role as thought-leaders and informed actors on the frontlines of hope, empathy, and innovation.
The Winter 2023 Ibrahim study tour under the leadership of Mark Rosenblum, Director; Sophia Salguero Mcgee, Associate Director; Hindy Goldstein, Programme Coordinator and Alumni Trip Leader; Nashwa Lylah El-Sayed, Alumni Trip Leader; and Dr Samir Altaqi, Ibrahim Distinguished Scholar and Content Expert, had 10 students from diverse backgrounds.
They included Seena Alamarie, City University of New York; Charlie Ehrman- City University of New York; Yaas Farzanefar,University of California, Berkeley;Bricen Fisher, City University of New York; Ekram Ibrahim, University of Pennsylvania; Aman Javid, City University of New York; Gav Meiri, City University of New York; Tasfia Nawar, City University of New York;
Suaad Nour, University of California, Berkeley; and Jacob Shofet, University of California, Berkeley
“It is a totally different feeling to have visited Oman and met and talked to people. The image that we comprehended from the region is totally different from what we were fed by some western media and the warmth of the Middle East is truly admirable,” Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue Program in the Middle East, Queens College CUNY
The visit, as the first leg of their visit to the region, encompassed several socio-cultural exchange programmes between the students of both countries.
The team has visited the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM), Grand Mosque and on Monday, the students are visiting SQU, the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and the US Embassy, besides meeting many individuals, as part of the 7th such visit from the Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue programme.
In addition, there is a plethora of cultural events as part of the five-day-long visit by the multicultural diverse group from different religious backgrounds, according to a source from the Programme.
The Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue Middle East Programme is a unique once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for university students and early-career professionals to directly learn from and engage with experts in policymaking, conflict resolution, social entrepreneurship, and grassroots activism.
"This experience of meeting and greeting, interacting and spending time together goes beyond the traditional confines of study abroad programmes, incorporating practical and applied activities designed to improve and expand participants' leadership and dialogue skills," said Maggie Jeans OBE, who is part of the organising team.
This Programme also empowers cross-cultural and multi-faith networks of student-scholar activists with a nuanced understanding of the region.
The Ibrahim Student Leadership and Dialogue Middle East is an opportunity for university students and early-career professionals with strong leadership potential to gain firsthand experience in the region. It also provides an opportunity for university students and early-career professionals with strong leadership potential to gain firsthand experience in the Middle East.
The 11 visiting US students are being given an opportunity to engage with organisations and leaders in the Middle East working to overcome religious, cultural, ethnic, and political prejudice and hostility in the region.
"From the diplomatic perspective, this programme aims to create a more knowledgeable cohort of young scholars who will become the thought leaders influencing US foreign policy in the Middle East," she adds.
From Oman, these students with four group leaders will head to Jordan, then Israel followed by Palestine before they get home by second week of January with a better understanding of the Arab region and the life of people in this part of the world.
This is a continuous process and an ongoing programme and the next group will visit the region in May, she added.