Work is a duty

November 19, 2012

The most significant event over the last week was the opening of the Council of Oman at its new building in the Al Bustan area of the city. I am sure that many of you read the words His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said spoke at the inauguration. The following is a quotation of part of his speech from the English translation.

His Majesty said, “A word which we wish to address to Omani youth on this occasion: Remember that work, as much as it is a right, is a duty as well. Everyone who has completed their education or training has to take up any useful profession which fulfils their sense of being and through which they can strive to achieve their ambitions, rather than wait to get a government job.

“The state, with all its civil, security and military institutions, cannot continue to be the main source of employment, as this call for capacity is beyond its reach and a mission that the state cannot sustain forever.”

This is an extremely powerful statement of intent and direction by His Majesty, which calls to action many parts of our society. The private sector was praised in the speech, but there is no doubt that it needs to do more. Better and more inclusive leadership is required so that all employees feel that they have a real role to play, and that their contribution will be of value and will be recognised.

This is how the workforce becomes motivated to achieve greater heights. Those in private sector management positions need to use their status like true leaders – manage by example, not fear. The private sector must also create more jobs and re-calibrate remuneration packages.

I was sitting next to a young Omani on a flight back from Dubai last week. He told me that he was living at home, and at the age of 25, had been introduced to a nice girl he wished to marry. His overall package from his employment was RO550 per month.

I do not understand how he can contemplate marriage, children, a house and all the other family expenditures, in Muscat, on an income of this level. To me, salaries must rise to give these young people a chance. But this can only happen if it goes hand-in-hand with better productivity in the workplace.

Absenteeism must reduce, holidays and leave must be rationalised so that more days are spent at work. Promotions should be awarded based on exceptional performance, not on family name or favouritism. Those who genuinely don’t make the grade should be removed from their positions.

The youth of this country must really start to perform. Private business must make profits, and profits do not simply fall from the sky, much as we may dream they will. Hard work, application, reliability, a problem-solving attitude, going the extra mile, team-work and good planning are needed from all workers so that long lasting and profitable businesses can be built.

I have done some work with a youth organisation called AIESEC, and many of those I have met have shown the positive attitude necessary. I regret to say that I have also experienced several other young people who do not show any interest in working hard. They would rather laze about and take the company that employs them for a ride.

I simply do not understand why some people, when they have a job, do not want to try to see how much they can achieve. Work has given me some of the greatest pleasures in life. It has not all been plain sailing either, I have experienced both great success, and redundancy – but I have always tried to do my very best. His Majesty’s words summed it up perfectly. Work is a duty, and all of us need to step up and perform.


Nick lives and works in Muscat and the views expressed in this column are entirely his own. You can e-mail Nick at