Monday, November 29, 2010


There's no need for me to write a big article on the recent Wikileaks revelations of US diplomatic messages, when Muscat Confidential has done an excellent job here. I'll just mention some highlights which I found interesting.

Many world leaders haven't come off too well, although from what I've read I can't say much of it was shocking. Who knows why one of the stories most hitting the headlines is of a leak which mentions Libyan leader Gaddafi's relationship with his Ukranian nurse?! Exposed and embarrassed, the White House are condemning Wikileaks, one congressman even calling for it to be treated as a terrorist organisation!

Sultan Qaboos and Oman however have come off well. The Sultan's comments on international affairs such as Iraq and Iran show great wisdom and ration.

An excerpt in which he mentions women struck me the most; he said "Omani women were stuck in tradition and needed to be empowered to "take more charge" and to "be less shy". "Some customs (regarding women) shouldn't be kept".

The Sultan's views on the development of women are no secret; the progress he has pioneered says everything. The support and encouragement Omani women get is unique in this area of the world and its a great shame for any women who don't seize the opportunities given to them by this enlightened man.

Long live Sultan Qaboos and his Oman.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Prohibition Mission

More often than not these days, reading articles in the news about multi-faith communities gives me an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. The one I read which prompted this post describes another protest against the proposed construction of a mosque in Tennessee, US. Okay, this area of America isn't exactly famed for its religious broadness, but I can't help but be shocked at the lack of tolerance these people are exhibiting. The story is that the community's group of Muslims has outgrown their current mosque in a small office building and has bought some land on which to build a new one. A few non-Muslim locals who have got carried away with the hype of anti-Islamic feeling have in their small minds turned what is a mosque-come-community-centre to serve the small local Muslim population into some sort of centre for global domination reminiscent of a comic book plotline.

The response to the mosque has included vandalism, construction equipment on-site being set alight and a lawsuit. Even a couple of authoritative figures (one wonders how they came to be such) have put in their two cents. A Republican candidate for Congress commented that she was "opposed to the idea of an Islamic training centre being built in our community". Yes, right alongside their Christian training centres (if thats what we're now calling them).

Whilst theological debate is healthy, it is being used as a cover for prejudice and oppression. Scarily its beginning to feel as though all of these efforts towards so-called 'freedom' and human rights have been a waste of time and that humans are in some ways regressing. I don't suppose any of them have read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (major contributor: the United States) which permits every human to freedom of religion and "either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance". It shouldn't even need to be re-stated.

We can't just blame Americans, nor Christians for this transgression. The story is being repeated in many other parts of the world and among all religions. Egyptian authorities are currently in the news (again) for preventing the construction of churches, causing violent riots. In Syria too, the repression of Protestants and Evangelicals is being claimed as several buildings operating as churches have been closed down for not having licenses.

How, in our modern world of great scientific and technological advancement, is religion still causing such fear and fury?! At the moment Oman stands pretty well in terms of religious tolerance (at least officially). Lets just hope it doesn't get bitten by this dangerous bug.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Meeting of the Monarchs

The long awaited visit from Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh is upon us, marking another step in the positive and longstanding relationship between Oman and the UK. The city is looking pretty slick since the preparations for the National Day and I've been marvelling at the pretty lights and flower displays. Included in the itinerary is the Royal Cavalry Show (unfortunately not open to the public, but I'm assuming will be aired on Oman TV) in which a few students from the British School have been invited to take part. Information surrounding the visit is on the British Embassy's website, (including an article mentioning the buzz the visit has caused on the Oman blogging scene).

I'm wondering what the meeting will be like, the two monarch's have such different roles in their respective countries. Whilst Queen Elizabeth does not rule her country and has no official political influence, Sultan Qaboos is an absolute monarch and the head of the government. Also, in Oman only males are entitled to the throne. It will be interesting if these come up in conversation between the two.

In a small tribute to the visit here are a few interesting facts you may or may not have known about the Queen and the Sultan.

1) The Queen's last visit to Oman was in 1979 and this month's visit will be her first to the Gulf since then. The Sultan's last State Visit to the UK was in 1982.

2) During her reign the Queen has made over 60 State visits to foreign governments.

3) The Sultan studied in England and graduated from The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst.

4) The Queen is 84 years old, the Sultan is 70.

5) The Queen's official birthday is not celebrated on the same day every year, the Sultan's is celebrated alongside the National Day on 18th November.

6) The Queen is head of State in 16 Commonwealth countries.

7) The Queen has been married for 63 years, the Sultan's brief marriage to his cousin ended in divorce.

8) Since 1800 the two countries have been tied by a Treaty which states that their friendship will "endure till the end of time". The Queen quoted the Treaty during the Sultan's visit to the UK in 1982.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eid Indeed

I couldn't help but laugh at this image in a supermarket car park this evening. Someone was obviously getting prepared for Eid. I guess they had to pop in for some marinade....
On that note, here's to a happy Eid! (although not so much for the goats)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Underpaid, underinformed and overworked

Yet another news article about the afflictions of migrant workers here in Oman. The Times of Oman has reported the story of 9 Indian workers who were tricked and "illegally recruited" at the hands of two agents in India. Once the workers reached Oman their passports were taken from them, they were forced to work long hours and were denied pay. Is this story beginning to sound all too familiar?
Human Trafficking is a global disease but due to the sheer volume of migrant workers and the relative youth of the system, it seems there are a lot of cases here.
According to a report on Human Trafficking in Oman by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), although progress is continually being made, Oman is still not fully compliant with minimum global standards in trafficking. There was a Royal Decree issued in 2008 which can punish human trafficking with up to 15 years imprisonment and fines but what the system most prominently lacks are properly functioning procedures for victims of trafficking among those who are without identification (ie. those whose passport has been taken from them).
The implementation of laws and punishments is a huge step in the right direction but I think more should be done towards the prevention of expolitation. This should include assisting those who are most vulnerable (those who are poorly educated, or even illiterate, and those who do not speak Arabic or English). One way would to be to ensure that anyone entering Oman to work is informed in writing or verbally in their own language of their rights, the laws and where they can find support. Employers too should be given the same information so they are aware of the laws and what their rights and limits as employers are. Employment agencies could be controlled, or at least audited by the government (perhaps there is some sort of system in place already, if there is its evidently not fully effective).
Far from being exploited, migrant labour and domestic workers should be extolled because they have contributed so much to the development of Oman. I'm sure the majority of the Omani population do treat foreign workers with the respect and equality any human deserves, but whilst cases of abuse remain regular, its obvious there is still a long way to go.

Ahmed Ahmed & Friends Comedy Review

Last night I attended the latest in the line-up of comedic performances held at the Crowne Plaza, 'Ahmed Ahmed & Friends', (the friends being Angelo Tsarouchas, Sherif Azab and Erik Griffin). I'm not very familiar with the comic scene but evidently they are pretty famous. Ahmed Ahmed plugged a film he has brought out recently called 'Just Like Us', which was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. Azab is more of an up-and-comer but Griffin and Tsarouchas are both rather well established.
I have to say, for me the show was a mixture of enjoyment and disappointment. They did all make me laugh. However Tsarouchas in particular, who although seemed popular with the audience, gave me the feeling that he was using old and repetitive material and that he hadn't made a lot of effort to prepare to perform in Oman. Surely it wouldn't take too much effort for a skilled comedian to do a little research on the place they are performing and find something to joke about, in order to relate more personally to the audience, which is apparently just what Moz Jobrani did in his performance at the same venue last year.
Apart from this one bone of contention though, they all made great jokes and managed to relate to a very mixed audience. For me Griffin was the highlight of the show and his clever impressions and sound effects had me doubled up with laughter.
Oh, and on a slightly unrelated (though still comic) note, I think Ahmed Ahmed looks like a young Alan Sugar (from the British "The Apprentice").

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Divorce: an unfortunate phenomenon

As I heard news of yet another divorce back home I started to wonder about all the possible reasons there is such a high rate of divorce in the UK, particularly compared with Oman. Many questions have been arising in the UK surrounding the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family and the social effects this is having. Whilst I don't want to judge cases on an individual level, I do feel that as a whole the casual attitude people have developed towards marriage and divorce is having a detrimental effect on society.

I think that despite the disdain with which arranged marriage is looked upon in the West, perhaps there is something to be learned from it, or at least the attitudes that drive it. Here are some reasons I have come up with about why there are more successful marriages here (and I don't intend to show any bias to either side).

1) Religion; people who believe in the afterlife are usually more content with what they have in this life and Muslims strongly believe there is religious benefit in a good marriage. (This view could be supported by the correlation between religious affiliation and divorce rates in the UK.) There are those who don't have these beliefs, who would like to get the most enjoyment from life and are on the constant search for "happiness" which is often accompanied by a sort of 'the grass is greener on the other side' attitude.

2) Love; feelings are great but they are also changeable. If you expect to be passionately in love with your spouse for the rest of your life you are likely to, at one point or another, be disappointed. Traditional Omani marriages are not based on any Hollywood-induced idea of being in love. It is hoped that love will blossom over time but it is understood that the key to marriage is effort.

3) Bad examples; perhaps those who are surrounded with more divorce are more likely to get divorced themselves. They may have a lack of confidence in the success of marriage as well as less positive examples to look to.

4) Arranged marriages; they aren't always the outdated tradition they are portrayed as. If you are lucky to have good parents they will find a spouse who will suit you, have the same values and the same ambitions, which will help maintain a balanced relationship.

5) Maybe Omanis are just more inclined to settle?! More serious grounds for divorce such as adultery and violence are probably no less common here, but maybe people are more likely to look the other way or forgive.

6) In some cases here in Oman an unhappy marriage is dealt with by the man marrying a second wife. While this is certainly a way of avoiding divorce I'm not sure it's a valid one....

7) More kids: Omani families tend to be a lot bigger. When a couple are completely consumed with children they probably have no time for personal disagreements! ; )

Anyway I hope this post hasn't felt like a condemnation of divorce, but I do wholeheartedly believe in marriage and only feel sad that it can't work out for everyone.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oman's Great Rep

Well it looks like Oman, this modest little nation, is gaining great credit internationally. An article in the New York Times written by columnist Nicholas Kristof praises Oman and the progress which has taken place here in the last 40 years. The article, titled "What Oman Can Teach Us" unreservedly criticises other nations, including the States, for not following Oman's example of gaining peace through putting more effort in the education and empowerment of the people.
In Oman education has been welcomed by all, but has not been at the expense of culture and tradition. This is certainly a reason why there is stability here. The reality is that Omanis (not to mention expats) have love for, and faith in Oman and their Sultan. There is a widespread drive to succeed, not just for the benefit of individuals but for the pride of the country. Also, the Sultan's efforts to maintain a peaceful relationship with other countries has earned favour both at home and abroad.

For more Oman-loving you can read Kristof's article here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The end of a long long pause

It's been far too long since I wrote a post...I'm going to blame life and, well, Oman! There is so much going on and so much to see that it's easy to get distracted from more serious purposes. From the beautiful post-Khareef Salalah to Muscat finally getting cooler (only slightly). I shall appreciate the cooler weather by spending as much time outside as possible, now I have lived (and complained) through my first summer here. I watched Amal Maher perform at the Oman Auditorium a couple of weeks ago. Even without fully understanding the lyrics, it would be impossible not to enjoy her amazing voice and listening to a live Arabic orchestra for the first time was wonderful.

So there is a lot going on in Muscat in the coming months; National Day, Eid al Adha, Omani Women's Day (tonnes of writing material!) There are also a lot more performances at the Oman Auditorium. Personally, I'm hoping to catch the Antonio Najarro Dance Company perform the "Flamenco Oriental" in November. Apparently in the last Flamenco performance in September the auditorium was so full people were having to sit on the floor in the aisles! It's great that the performing arts are so enthusiastically received in Oman.

Oh and it's great news that six girls have been chosen to represent Oman at the Young Arab Entrepreneurs Competition in Morocco. Another triumph for females in the Sultanate!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Responsible Eating

I've read a lot recently about the environmental effects of the production of our food, in particular meat. I thought this might be as good a time as any to mention the subject, it being Ramadan. This is a month we can dedicate to our conscience and a time when fasting should give us a more frugal attitude towards food.
The global consumption of meat has become a topic of concern among environmentalists and is something for us to think about here in Oman, which is a population of fervent meat-eaters. This will be brought further into context soon with Eid al-Adha on its way (the defining feature of this holiday being the slaughter of animals). Even on regular days red meat, which once would have been considered a luxury, and still is in many parts of the globe, is eaten frequently. For many families it would be considered bad hospitality not to serve such an excessive amount of meat to guests that they would barely be able to make an impression in it (forgive me for generalising, I'm sure its not universally the case).
Besides the well-known health risks of consuming too much read meat, there are some really startling environmental factors. Meat production requires vast amounts of water and grain and the animals' waste is pollutant (cow manure emits methane and nitrous oxide). For the grain alone,huge areas of the world's rain forests have had to be destroyed. The production of beef produces 24 times the amount of greenhouse gases as vegetables. Apparently, 12,000 gallons of water is required to produce one pound of beef, compared with 60 for the same weight in potatoes. And its not just industrial-sized confined factories; free-range meat has the same requirements but also needs substantial amounts of space.
I may seem like some ranting vegetarian but I'm not, I just believe in valuing moderation, not excess. The world's population is bursting along with its consumption, and a little moderation would definitely go a long way. I think the shocking stats are a deterrent enough (although if that doesn't do it the talk about methane certainly does).

Its not looking so tasty now is it?!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Iftar at the Chedi

Since coming to Oman I have become somewhat of a connoisseur of restaurants and cafes (well perhaps connoisseur is stretching it a bit). The variety of cuisines available around Muscat means you will never be bored...or hungry. For someone who does most of the cooking at home, there is not much more appealing than dinner outside. During Ramadan particularly, a lot of time and the little energy one has is spent in the kitchen preparing for Iftar and then cleaning up afterwards. The thought of just once in a while having all of this done for you is quite wonderful.

One of my new favourite places to have a treat in Muscat has to be The Chedi, where I spent Iftar recently. For those who haven't been, The Chedi is a modestly luxurious hotel along the beachfront in Boushar. I say modest because the drive leading up to the hotel would not convince you that there is a multi-award winning hotel at the end of it. Anyone who has seen the traditional Omani-inspired architecture and interior of the hotel will agree that it is beautiful.

The restaurant itself is so attractive and has so many interesting features we found ourselves spotting new things we liked about it all night. The service was one of the highlights of the night. And that's not to say the food was bad, just that the service was exceptionally good. Our waiter was attentive to the point where he escorted us to the lobby after our meal and brought us coffee.

The food itself was delicious (well not much isn't after a day of fasting), well presented and well timed. The Iftar set menu included five courses, including a selection of juices at the start. The jallab was my favorite which was a mixture of peach and rose-water. In line with tradition, dates and laban were already on the table ready for the moment of breaking fast. This was followed by a light lentil soup and cold and hot mezze. A much needed pause....then the main. Mixed grill (nice and charcoaled) and hammour fillets. The fish was so good we asked for extra, which of course the waiter happily obliged. Followed by another pause and a breather outside, and then fresh fruit and Arabic sweets for dessert. All of this with the accompaniment of a pianist.

If there was one thing I had to find fault in its the dessert, which seemed a little unimaginative. But to be honest I was so full at that point I couldn't have eaten much anyway.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ramadan Kareem

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

This is a particularly special Ramadan for me because it is my first in Oman. And whilst I have some reservations about how I will cope with the unfamiliar heat while fasting, I am looking forward to it. The idea of observing Ramadan along with my (Omani) family, and even the whole country, is a great feeling and I'm keen to see all of the Ramadan conventions that for those who have lived here a long time are just routine. For example, I was pleased to learn that restaurants and many shops comply with fasting hours by closing during the day so that even those not observing Ramadan will give it some thought.

In my experience non-Muslims have often expressed their aversion to the idea of fasting for a whole month. But what they are not grasping is the fact that Ramadan represents so much more than just not eating. It is a time for spiritual reflection, attentiveness to faith and charity, and for paying tribute to Allah's grace, from which we have so much, though it doesn't have to be so. Of course it would be ideal to apply this all year round but I'm certain that for most people, life just becomes overwhelming. This is the purpose of this special month.

I hope this Ramadan is peaceful, productive, and painless for everyone!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Impressive Dresses

I am going to use this post to honour a new love of mine...the Dhofari thobe. The Dhofari Thobe is, to those that don't know, a very loose-fitting dress with the back trailing and the front being approximately shin-height. It is teamed with a lossi (a big rectangle of fabric worn over the head) and sometimes a pair of leggings, called Sarwal. I'm sure other styles of Omani thobe are just as nice but as my family is Dhofari, Dhofari thobes are what I wear.

There are many reasons why this ensemble is so amazing. It's very feminine and elegant being so flowy and trailing. It is available in any material you like, for every single occasion. For example, wedding thobes are usually in velvet with intricate embroidery and crystals on. Beautiful silk thobes are often worn for occasions and my favourite for everyday is cotton or this stretchy heavy fabric (I'm not sure what it's called so maybe someone else can tell me).

With thobes you don't have to worry whether you are a size 10 or a size 18 because they are very loose fitting and don't display all your lumps and bumps. They are also nice and cool to wear. But their most economical feature is that they are cheap (I'm mostly talking about the everyday ones now). It's refreshing to see that those who are wealthy go to the same shops and buy the same 3 Rial thobe and lossi set that those who are poorer do. Ideally, you can just have a small selection of thobes in different colours and then just keep buying different lossi's...for 1 Rial each! My first shopping trip to the street in Salalah where all the thobe shops are (I know it as Al Gharbiya) was heaven!

I must just mention one drawback...the Dhofari thobe doesn't appear to be intended for those who are particularly active. I have struggled to achieve household chores while wearing one, constantly sucking up a corner in the vacuum cleaner or tripping over the tail. And I have nightmares about setting myself on fire while cooking. But they are so very pretty....

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cultural Convictions

I don't want to sound grumpy, having just moaned about attitudes to women drivers, but I do have another matter of irritation that I would like to mention. I have noticed more in Oman than elsewhere the habit of making generalisations about groups of people. It isn't a thought I observe because I like to give humans the credit that each is individual, or at least has the ability to be. Also, in today's globalized world people are less inclined to conform to stereotypes of race, religion or culture, if they ever did.
In particular I will mention people's comments about "the West". I've heard a few comments but the last straw was an article I read in a newspaper (I would quote it but unfortunately I can't remember which one it was) where someone was writing about the merits of family in Oman in comparison to the West.
Now believe me, I am the first to criticise my own country for its social flaws but I like to think, having lived there all my life I have the knowledge and experience which allows me to do so. I'm not, like some, making sweeping judgements which are loosely based on some image I have gathered from TV or from hearsay.
I also don't group all the countries in the West together and make assumptions about the lot. Just as I wouldn't make generalisations on the "Middle East" as I'm aware that the cultures of say, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia are very different.
Some people obviously just like to use blanket phrases such as "the West" as a tool to elevate their own culture. Denouncing aspects of another culture is a good way of validating aspects of your own. And I am well aware that this is also relevent when applied vice versa (from West to East).
Well, I say each should look at their own flawed culture before condemning others, because if I may make one generalisation, it's that they are all flawed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dodgy Drivers?!

One thing that really bugs me about Oman is that there is still a misconception around that women are worse, and more dangerous drivers than men. This is a bit of an outdated opinion as we are afterall in 2010 and women have been driving for a considerable amount of time. I'm not going to argue that women are better drivers than men but that they are equally capable. In fact, considering Oman's horrendous accident rates (28 in 100,000 people in comparison to the global average of 19) it seems that neither women nor men have the right to be cocky!

So as I have been persistently informed that women cause more accidents I thought, perhaps Omani women just can't drive, because this is certainly not the case in the UK (in fact there is more literature than not arguing that women are safer drivers). But this just doesn't seem plausible. So I had a little look into it. I couldn't actually find statistics on the cause of accidents by gender but I did find in The Oman Fatality Statistics 2008 that 86% of deaths caused by road accidents are men as well as 75% of injuries. Interpret these statistics as you will.

Anyway, after my many rants about the fact that there are car insurance companies in the UK which provide women with cheaper insurance because they deem them to be safer drivers, I was happy when I found an advert in Y magazine for car insurance exclusively for women. I'm hoping this one has the same sentiment, showing support for women drivers in Oman, although I suspect its just a marketing ploy.

(It's probably best to look ahead of you)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Passion for Fashion

I know my titles are really lame but I can't help myself! Anyway...

In September, along with the National Day celebrations, a fashion show is being held at the InterContinental Muscat to showcase Omani fashion from the last 40 years. According to the organisers everyone involved is Omani, including the models and the designers. It is also intended to highlight the progression and achievements of Omani women since the reign of the Sultan. I am always excited about anything which demonstrates the great contributions women can make, and have made, to society. This is particularly significant in Oman where women have made incredible progress in a fairly short period. It also serves as a testament to how much effort the Sultan and his government have made towards the advancement of women.

Good news also, that after the show they will be auctioning the designs. It's definitely going to be a fun event for fashion enthusiasts and those interested in Omani culture as well.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Salalah Khareef Opening Show

Last night I was watching the Salalah Khareef Festival Opening Ceremony on TV. What a great experience! I have to say that it didn't quite have the militant precision of say, the Chinese Olympic Opening Ceremony (understatement) but it was great entertainment value nonetheless. Lots of colours, music, shiny costumes, strange stage props and A LOT of make-up! (I shan't comment too much on the obvious lip-syncing). I feel it was a little bit chaotic but it did look like fun. I must buy a ticket next year : )

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fat Fears

I was reading an article in The Week about childhood obesity. It's a popular and current topic in the UK, where the government are heading all sorts of campaigns to prevent and remedy it. It's important for it to be addressed here in Oman too, which is why I liked the article (although I was a bit shocked that they used the term 'little roly poly' to describe an obese child). It is true that lifestyle is a big factor. We are no longer in an age where most people's livelihoods are made through physical labour. Things are particularly relaxed in Oman where so many families have maids and children aren't expected to help a great deal around the house, particularly boys (I'm generalising here so no offense intended). Put it this way, I don't see many fat maids. Diet is also an obvious factor and a lot of that could be dealt with by educating people about nutrition.
Also, from what I've heard I don't think sport is greatly encouraged as an activity, especially for girls. This is such a shame, I think it's important for every child to be encouraged to participate in some type of energetic extra-curricular activity, whether its football or dance or just walking. Exercise is not only good for your physical health but is also a great tool for de-stressing, confidence building, co-ordination and social interaction.
What is perhaps not pushed enough is that so many health problems are related to obesity, which can have really damaging effects in later life. And once a person becomes overweight it becomes harder to get back to good health. Getting your body accustomed to healthy eating and exercise from a young age will set you up for later, when you will need it most.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Queen is coming to town!

Although I'm not usually particularly interested in the affairs of the British Royal Family, this one is quite exciting...the Queen is coming to Oman, on invitation from HM Sultan Qaboos. She'll be coming as part of a celebration to mark the 40th anniversary of the Sultan's reign. She will be accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh (AKA her husband) and it will be their first visit for 30 years. I'm sure they'll be quite surprised at how much the country has changed since then.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Women are from Venus.....

An article in the Times supplement last week called, 'Are girls' brains wired differently from boys'?' really caught my interest and made me want to revisit my thoughts on the great male/female divide. The subject is of greater interest to me now, since moving to Oman from England, and experiencing two such contrasting societies.
The distinction between the behaviour and treatment of males and females, and gender in general, is a current and popular topic in England, although I'm not sure it is such in Oman. There is of course the famous nature versus nurture debate; whether we adopt certain gender-specific roles because we are wired that way, or because we are trained to from birth. The article doesn't really come to a specific conclusion. It basically claims that although boys and girls appear to yield to gender stereotypes very early, which tends towards the 'nature' argument, it may just be that society immediately encourages the behaviour without even being aware of it.

In England for example, women for years have been trying to reverse stereotypical female roles and win equal rights which have universally been denied women. Unfortunately there has been some sort of mix-up between the two issues and women's attempts to secure equality has just resulted in women imitating men's bad habits. The point they're missing is that equal rights are fundamental, but identical behaviour/ treatment isn't. In fact, the loss in value of traditional roles is being rethought as detrimental and the family structure is undergoing a bit of a crisis. This change has been considered to have some connection with the deterioration of children's behaviour, success in education, marriage and divorce rates and crime.

Even drawing the conclusion that behaviour is influenced more by nurture than nature isn't a bad thing. It is important for girl's to be taught nurturing qualities because they will use these skills as mothers. Just as, idealistically speaking, men will use their protective skills as husbands and fathers.

However, this isn't set in stone and it is not nice when things are forced. Some people may find the freedom to interchange roles beneficial and are able to in a society where people choose their partners based on mutual interests and attitudes. It is more difficult in a society such as in Oman, where arranged marriages are the norm. This is because not knowing the intimate details of a future partner's personality and their desires, parties can only assume that traditional roles and attitudes will be fulfilled according to what is expected by society. This in turn compels girls and boys to observe the norm in order to be sure of securing a future marriage.
Moving from family to professional roles (which is maybe a subject for another day), it is clear that women are more than capable of taking on roles that have been traditionally thought of as men's and it is a great loss to a society who denies this. I am happy that Oman is not one of these societies and at least officially, women are encouraged to seek success in whichever field they like.