Over the past few weeks, I have followed, with great curiosity, the Omani teachers' protests, started a little more than a month ago, over serious concerns with mainly teacher salaries, quality of education, and quality of teacher incentives.
I had to take a breather this past summer. The decision to pause and reflect was brought about by personal concerns that had to become the focal point of my immediate attention.
I declare this week ‘Support Omani Small Business’ week. I am as much guilty as anybody else of ignoring small businesses, but I try my best, at least once a week, to stop buying groceries and school or office supplies from big chains such as Carrefour or Al Meera (previously named Safeer) and other hypermarkets. Instead, I shop at small fruit and vegetable stores scattered in my neighbourhood and at local bookstores like Al Fiker Center and Al Manara Bookstore, all owned by hard-working Omanis.
Recently, I gave a plenary talk at the First Arab Conference on Arab Intellectual Capital organised by the Arabic Institute of Public Administration. The talk, part of a panel on Modern Management of Creativity and Innovation, was on the role that Sultan Qaboos University, the leading intellectual institution in Oman, plays in building innovation and promoting scientific research.
Envy or hassad is the main attribute of Omanis. Ask any Omani and they will confirm this feature to be true. In fact, in the language and culture class I often teach at Sultan Qaboos University, I start by asking my students to write a list of Omani features. Hassad always, and unfailingly, tops the list. It is time to change this unhealthy characteristic, for I believe a big percentage of Omanis are ready to do just that.