Muscat: As the Sultanate has celebrated its 50th National Day, many people are cherishing their memories of a lifetime. Expatriate communities who have made Oman their home for decades too have their own fair share of recollections about the country that has transformed into a modern nation since the Renaissance.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have lived in Oman for over three decades. I’ve witnessed the various phases of the Sultanate and shared many memorable experiences,” says Maggie Jeans, a well-known Oman-based British businesswoman who was awarded an OBE in Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List.
“As residents of this beautiful country we are very proud of its progress and the unique special relationship between our two countries which we hope will continue to flourish in the coming years,” adds Maggie, who is also the founder of the Oman Palliative Care support group.
Daynise Awad, Managing Director of the Caravans LLC, arrived in Muscat in August 1978 at the then ‘new’ Seeb International Airport not quite knowing what to expect and blasted by the heat!
“Many memories since then jumbled up in my mind, but what struck me was the welcoming friendliness of the Omanis that I met”, she said.
“What has impressed me most has been the development, perhaps not considered as economically important as mega projects, of the arts. Artists, galleries, theatre, writers, music which were barely starting when I arrived and play such an important role in our life in Oman today,” she wished the Renewed Oman Renaissance best wishes.
“Oman is magical and the people the most generous spirited in the world. Since my first arrival in the mid 70s I have seen Oman grow but it will never lose that magic for me.
Clews Everard, Founder and Director of Sununu Muscat, vividly remembers the 10th National Day celebrations, parades and pride as she set out to watch the fireworks in Al Amerat.“The early days were full of adventure, you never knew what you might get in Muttrah Cold Store so planning a menu was potluck! There was such excitement when John and Harry set up the hydroponic farm and we had fresh tomatoes.”
Clews had the shock of her life breaking ice on the Saiq plateau and then the first time she saw Wadi Tiwi from a helicopter.
“To this day the memory is indelibly etched in my mind. From the sun drenched jebel suddenly was azure blue water cascading in contrast to a profusion of green and such elegant women in colourful fabrics moving in unison down the track — pure magic!
If only what Oman has could be bottled, the world would be a better place,” Everard concluded.
Lillian Donders, the ‘Camel Lady’, is impressed by the incredible journey made by the women of Oman. When she along with her husband Robert set foot in Oman for the first time, she discovered a country that had already made a huge leap forward, building roads, houses, and public infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals.
“Soon after I arrived I befriended some Bedouin women in the Souq of Nizwa and was introduced to the still very traditional ways of their lives, which had not changed for centuries, if not longer. I was spellbound by their beautiful handicraft which I started selling in the Capital area on a non-profit basis. Very soon I had some 500 women in the interior working hard to satisfy demand. I am very grateful that this was later taken over by the Ministry of Heritage and now by the Dar al Herfiyah organisation,” Lillian recalled.
She witnessed their children grow up and embrace all the opportunities provided by the government, going to school and finding jobs in government institutions and private companies which sprang up all over the place.
“For girls especially this was an opportunity their mothers never had. It was inspiring to see how motivated these girls were and how much they achieved in such a short span of time.”
“They have become one of the pillars on which the current modern society of Oman has been built. I am so incredibly proud of all of them!,” Lilian adds.