Some changes might be forever, others for innovation

Changes we are witnessing are many as we go through this pandemic called Covid_19.  Being a broadcast journalism student had meant going through training to gain interviewing and reporting skills.

But during none of those learning years in the university did we ever think of interviewing people wearing masks.

Technically speaking it is a different experience.  As an interviewer, we learn to observe facial expressions and body language.  But not this time around, the eyes have to be the focal point.

There is a reason why facial expressions and body language are crucial and this is to know when to ask the next question because in the case of live interviews whether on radio or television we do not want ‘dead air’.  For the interviewee too, they need to feel the trust and the warmth to open up.  So here they are opening up to someone who is also behind a mask.  The identity has had to take a back seat.

The natural pauses are cues to step in with the next question or comment.  In the current situations, interviews might even come across muffled as we try to project voice through the facial masks during field reporting.

It is not just in the broadcasting field, but in all sectors of work, we have had to learn to adjust and accept new ways of functioning. The newspapers had to move on to become e-newspaper and utilize social media platforms.  But here too there is a question on how to stand apart from all that information, which is going on in the digital world.

The sentiments and emotions are high and generally, it is easy to provoke fears and sadness in public.  Although more reason for all of us pay attention to share information that is authentic and avoid creating confusion.

A classic example has been the news on expatriates to be replaced, which went to varying directions in the international media.

The fact is the Sultanate has always had Omanisation policy, which is a natural direction as the country moves to provide jobs for the thousands of graduates who are entering the job market.  The movement gained momentum in the 90s and has been progressively moving forward with a focus on various professions.

Expatriates have been part of Oman’s workforce ever since the development that followed the onset of oil discovery.  There were expatriates who arrived via sea before the aviation gained momentum in the region.

The difference has been in the number of years individuals dedicated to working in Oman.  People who came in the 60s and 70s continued to work in the modern nation until they were ready to retire.  The reasons are many but topping the list is the hospitality of the land and its people and the leader.

There have been friendships and partnerships but now it is time to think about job opportunities for the youth.  Covid_19 has made it clear that under pressure the talent of the nation will come forth with innovation.  Diversification of the economy is the only way forward, but Covid_19 disrupted the most promising sector in the Arab world and that is tourism.

With the travel industry frozen and airline industry chiefs debating on when the flights will recover its trend, the tourism industry waits impatiently to wake up and move on.

The priority at the moment has to be health. While the economy continues with the oil industry with the changes it will have to adapt to, the health industry needs all the attention now.  The lockdown has been in the interest of the health of the public and to flatten the curve.  Caution will be practiced as we saw this week – the opening of the industrial area in Wadi Kabir and its closure on Monday until further notice.

Again it is about changes we have to introduce ourselves to whatever the profession.  Every year the holy month of Ramadhan is considered a great opportunity to adapt and form new habits while discarding habits that are not beneficial or damaging like smoking.

This year, the spectrum of the change just got widened further.  Maybe the lockdown is a good time to reflect on what are the changes we need to be incorporating as we move toward the future.  Change is inevitable so is innovation.  So let us step back during this lockdown and look at the big picture.  After all, change also means trying out something new, and new is a good thing.

Oman Observer

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