Conversations with… Oman.

Today, we speak to Miss Aisha Sahar Wahid Al Kharusi, Deputy Consul General, Consulate General of the Sultanate of Oman, Singapore.

The Sultanate of Oman is a beautiful Arab state in southwest Asia on the southeast coast of the Arabian Peninsula, positioned at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Oman follows the system of ‘Absolute Monarchy’. In the past, Oman used to be one of the richest countries in the world, with the wealth mainly originating from the incense trade. Today, Oman is enjoys a modern renaissance, luring visitors with first-class hotels, views, and entertainment. Attractions in Oman include Musqat City, the Frankincense Tree, and the spring-feds pool at the popular Wadi Bani Khalid.

Conversations with Oman 1Photograph by Jose Fuste Raga, Corbis

Q: Aisha, what is the best way to get to know Oman?

A: First you need to leave behind any stereotypes and explore the country with an open mind. The best way is to visit the Sultanate for yourself and once, there seek out places the locals frequent. There are great historical, as well as touristic sites, that speak of the country’s rich heritage as well as its aspirations for the future. Getting to know the people is very important too; you are sure to find a warmth and hospitality and charm that has brought many a visitor back to Oman’s shores.

Q: Would you consider working in Singapore?

A: Singapore enjoys quite a work-centric culture, which is something I admire. By the same token, there seems to be a healthy balance between work and leisure.  Being  based  here  for the  past year  and  a half, and witnessing firsthand the myriad of cultures  and backgrounds Singapore attracts, I’m certain that I have gained a lot from being part of the efficient melting pot that modern day Singapore has become. However, the life of an expatriate is not one I am looking to pursue.

Having   said  that,   I   would   encourage   anyone   who   has   the opportunity to seize it as Singapore has a lot to offer on more than one front.

Q: How different is the education system in Singapore and Oman?

A: In Oman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’s rule brought with it an educational renaissance;   the   country  took  a  quantum   leap   from   ad  hoc classrooms under shades of trees to a first rate education system with international renown. It is obvious that both nations have placed education as  a top priority.  English  as  a medium  of instruction is widespread and both countries’ curriculums focus on building citizens able to adapt to and shoulder the responsibilities of an ever changing world. The tier system practiced in Singapore is not found in Oman, neither is the utilization of technology that Singapore classroom emphasize, not yet at least. The level of higher education in Oman – while impressive – is relatively young. However, with the rise of universities and technical colleges the landscape of higher education is shifting; it is an area where Oman is keen to benefit from Singapore’s experience.

Q: What can Singapore learn from Oman and vice versa?

A: There is always room for development and growth. I think Oman may benefit from Singapore’s achievements in areas such as economic diversification, environmental protection, infrastructure and retail, among others. The efficiency of implementing policies across sectors is a notable quality Singapore excels in as is continuing to remain competitive in a fast growing region. Oman’s relations with Singapore are warm and substantive, spanning many areas of cooperation; the bilateral engagements to date, such as the Jewel of Muscat and Muscat Street projects, to name a few, have introduced Singapore to Oman’s unique way of doing business which always emphasizes fostering long term relationships with our counterparts and maintaining a firm yet measured grip on our culture and traditions while progressing boldly and eagerly into the future.

Q: What is the impression you have of Singapore?

A: Singapore, in almost 50 years, has managed to become an example and model not only for small states, but for all countries, emerging as well as developed. It is arguably the best example of a successful multi­-ethnic and multi-religious society. Besides being clean, efficient, and having every possible retail and culinary need met, there is a 24-hr feel about the place that makes one believe anything is possible. It is obvious that Singaporeans foster innovation and creativity and are keen to strive for perfection. I must admit the pace can be overwhelming at times but there is always a time for teh-tarik and colorful conversations either at one of the many 5 star hotels or the charming hawker centers dotted across the Island.

There is a pride and integrity among its people that reminds me of Oman, and that has made me look forward to visiting it again and again after my tour of duty is completed.