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ON Thursday last week, the Sultanate of Oman celebrated its 51st National Day. Throughout these 51 years, this country managed to score many achievements that were planned by a creative mind whose owner worked hard to bring it to what it is today.
Between yesterday and today, Oman triumphed in many challenges that it encountered in its long journey. When we go back to half a century ago, many scenes overlap to compose a historical novel worthy of contemplation to realize the extent of determination and persistence of man and nature.
I remember being the first journalist to visit Muscat in the year 1970, a few days after the late Sultan Qaboos assumed power. At that time, Oman was still closed in on itself as if it was centuries behind its era. At least that is what I felt when I wandered on its main street near the seashore, and met a number of Omanis who looked at me as if I was an alien. When they knew I was a Kuwaiti, they started asking about Kuwait that they knew in the 1930s and 1940s … about the wooden boats, their trips to India and Africa, and about a number of sea captains.
My answer was that what they are describing was the Kuwait of the past, and that the current Kuwait has modern oil tankers instead of wooden boats, and new buildings and roads, and that it is becoming more modern.
On that day, I met the late Sultan Qaboos and had one of the most important press interviews with him. During that interview, he presented his aspirations and ambitions for the development of Oman after years. Since that date, I have been frequenting Muscat, and with every visit, I see a country different from what it was when I left in the previous visit.
During my conversations with the late Qaboos bin Saeed, I also discovered new ambitions, as if the man was racing against time to realize his dream of a contemporary Oman. There is no doubt that he overlooked the country he dreamed of decades ago, because he worked on building man before stone.
In one of my meetings with him several years after our first meeting, I asked him, “Isn’t it time for Oman to open up to the world in terms of tourism and investment?”
He answered, “Our goal is to receive visitors from all over the world so that they can see the beauty of our nature, and contribute to strengthening our economic movement. However, that should happen in line with our culture and traditions. We are not aiming for an unchecked openness, but rather we are marketing our country in a way that suits our nature. We are studying every step in this regard”.
The Sultanate of Oman today, under the custody of a man of high culture, is working diligently to complete the process of development in the same spirit that his predecessor began decades ago – with openness to others, friendliness, calm, and perseverance enjoyed by its great people.
Under the reign of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, the country continues to advance with a steady pace towards the future, overcoming several challenges left by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oman has many opportunities that qualify it to continue its progress. In addition to its large geographical area and the nature of its people, it has become an important player in international relations in the past two decades after its success in a series of influential regional and international mediation.
There is also a great balance that enables it to attract investors from all over the world and launch major projects. It is also able to benefit from the surrounding countries that have excellent international economic reputations, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, after they became a major investment workshop.
The Sultanate of Oman, under the leadership of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, is on the verge of achieving more ambitions. It has an educated and self-reliant human force that is capable of overcoming all difficulties. It also possesses a sultan and people whose ambitions and aspirations complement each other in their pursuit of advancement both regionally and internationally.
Due to all this, we believe that we will celebrate with the Omani people not a year or two of development, but rather decades of it. We commemorate this every year for more achievements that every Omani and Gulf country would be proud of.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times