It's Wednesday! And we have a LONG weekend! And I am DYING to get out of work and start my weekend projects. I'm going to finish reading 2 books, bake, write, attempt to make Biryani, do a lot of housework, vegetate on the sofa with movies, and just chill. Maybe go shopping. Or .... maybe not go shopping. Yesterday was payday for most people, so you can imagine what the traffic will be like today all over Oman. Funny how it's so predictable.
So back to the Marriot issue. New readers suddenly popped up to criticize/wonder why I said it hurts to know that young Omani men from the mountains and area around Mirbat will end up being offered jobs at these tourist resorts. They argued that tourism was part of the strategy for economic diversification, etc, etc. To quote some "It is also a lovely and interesting experience when a tourist meets a local instead of an expatriate while staying in a country. It adds to the fun of being on holiday. Having expatriate staff will only add to the resort alienating itself from the rich Omani culture".
And then FINALLY one reader understood my point of view. She wrote "After 25 years of living on and off in the UAE I have seen the ugly things that tourism can do to a country. It brings in more alcohol, more prostitution, etc...Oman is a beautiful country filled with beautiful people. It is pristine in the sense that it hasn't been covered in the ugly filth that Dubai underground is famous for. Oman isn't flashy and hedonistic like Dubai. I am sure that there many Omanis who do not want what happened to Dubai to happen to any part of Oman.It would be nice instead for the Omani government to focus on Eco-Tourism or something else to keep Oman beautiful the way it is.So I can see why Dhofari Gucci wrote what she wrote about". THANK YOU Miss MishMish!
So with all due respect to the Westerners who commented earlier, I am completely pro-tourism. I want the whole world to see how beautiful Oman is and to experience our culture. OUR culture. OUR culture. I want tourists to come and experience the real Oman. I want our young Omani men to show them our way of life. I want the tourists to experience camping under the stars, milking camels, mountain-climbing, traditional music, traditional food, ... I want them to visit the old archaeological sites, to study cave-writings and visit old tombs. I want them to admire our beautiful beaches. I want to meet them and invite them to my home to meet some real Omanis.
But wake up everyone, are young Omanis working in the hotel business going to help with this kind of real tourism? They're forced to wear hideous bellhop uniforms and speak English all the time. They're exposed to drunken tourists and alcohol on a daily basis, and then many of them start drinking too. They are exposed to over-weight Germans in tiny bikinis lounging by the pool on a daily basis or perhaps topless Swedes who think it's OK. They have to survive the hotel dance clubs and loud music. How is that going to help them? A young man who spends all his life in the mountains in a small village raising animals and then gets offered a job in a hotel and is exposed to all this ... what do you think will happen to him? Scarred for life? That may be the case.
So, yeah, I may have insulted the Germans and Swedes, but I'm just trying to explain why I feel ill when I see young Omanis working in the hotel business. The hotels are in NO WAY related to anything Omani. Besides the tiny gift shops that sell wooden camels made in Pakistan, 5-star hotels and resorts are a reflection of Western culture. If I were a businessman I'd build the perfect 5-star Omani hotel .. a true reflection of who we are. Tourists would love it. It would have all the comforts and facilities of a Western 5-star hotel, but yes I'd get rid of the alcohol. No matter how close I am to my Western friends, I will never ever understand why they drink. And I don't think they'll ever understand why I'm Muslim. And so we leave it at that. Synergize and celebrate the differences and remain friends.
I hope I got the message through. There's no way I can stop this kind of development, but the least I can do is speak up and let you know what most Omanis feel.
On a lighter note, evidently the locals in Mirbat think the Marriot is a curse because it was built over a very old graveyard. Some swear that before the hotel was even opened, they could hear racket and voices when there was no one there. My colleague from Mirbat told me that some of the older generation spoke to HE the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Yousuf Bin Alawi (who seems to be the mastermind of the project? Correct me if I'm wrong. I didn't have time to do research) begging him to stop construction because of the graves, ...
Food for thought. Cheer up, it's the weekend after all.