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Archive for January, 2010

Alright, I know many would squirm  at this topic, but it is; nevertheless, an issue that we have to discuss. Now, I would like to start by saying that this post is based on my own observations and, well, common sense.

Many times throughout my life I have been hearing the same phrase, on and on, about this issue. Some people even go through hoops to make it sound more logical. Some say: “Haven’t you noticed how el khwal (Omani Blacks) are dumb and only care about their traditional singing and dancing?”  I am pretty sure that most Omani’s can relate to this quote. We all hear it at some point of our lives.

Now, there is a twist. Obviously all of these observations by some of these Omanis do not come out of nowhere. Yes, as many of you have observed: The number of successful black Omanis are less than those of “brown – light skinned” Omanis. Someone described a scene to me once of busses loaded with blacks coming towards a “black-less” village to attend a wedding where a black singer was performing. Of course, the description was full of racist and sarcastic comments.

Anyway, in short.. the general idea is that Omani blacks have lower education, lower business successes, lower aspirations, and are mainly good for man labor. Sounds familiar?

Young Omani kids attending school

Now, lets examine this a bit further. Slavery was only abolished in Oman in 1970. Ex-slaves, though not treated as bad as slaves in the United States (in 19th century), were illiterate and their main profession was “man labor”. Oman’s ex-slaves living condition has progressed in the past 40 years. Though racism remains present in the society, the government does not favor or differentiate between races when it comes to education and jobs.

However, we need to remember that these ex-slaves are only two generations behind. Many are well and alive, and they teach their children and grandchildren the values that they grew up with, which are to serve your masters. Also, since many of these “masters” are also well and alive, they encourage these values and teach their kids and grandkids that these ex-slaves will always remain servants rather than equal contributors to society.

Though I consider this to be a major problem in the society, I do think we are living in the “transitional” point. Racism and this sense of belonging are fading (slowly) as these values contradict global emphasis on human integrity and equality.

So back to the point: Are Black Omanis dumb?

Well, in 1994, Richard Hernsterin and Charles Murray, in their book “The Bell Curve,” argued that blacks were inferior in intelligence to whites.  In other words, they argued that for blacks to become intelligent, they had to marry whites. The whiter you are the more intelligent you become. However, it is very difficult for me and many others to accept the idea that the skin’s production of melanin is connected to the brain’s function (intelligence).  Of course, Hernsterin and Murray were proven wrong, but I guess this message did not reach our Omani friends yet.

Here, we should not look at intelligence and success through skin color. Though these “brown-lighter skinned” Omani’s observations of success are somewhat correct, their reasoning is totally screwed up. The fact that some black Omani’s are unsuccessful  is not because the mere fact that they are black. No. It is because of their role in the Omani society as black people. Hence, when we look at this question again, we should not talk about black vs. white people’s intelligence only. Rather, we should look at the quality of the world that these black Omani’s vs. “brown-lighter” Omani’s have lived in.

It is only after that that we can come to the conclusion that the gap in Black Omani’s success vs. “lighter” Omani’s is becoming smaller as newer generations emerge. Their quality of life (from slaves to ex-slaves to a generation of ex-slave parents..etc) is growing better as they become equal contributors to society and compete for a better life.

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Okay, I need to talk about this because I absolutely have to. Being engaged to a non-Omani has its “small” challenges… I will have to get used to giving many clarifications from now on!

So yes B, I am dedicating this post to you. There are times, B, when I call you and give you a missed call, or what we call here a “Ranah“. When that happens, the response I expect is for you to call me back, and not for you to send me a msg saying “I missed your call, can you call back?”.

Sometimes I forget that there are certain aspects of my culture that can look silly to others, but nevertheless it is part of the culture and after this post.. I really hope B responds to my missed calls “appropriately”  so I can continue with my normal life and take this part of the culture for granted.

Okay, so the “Ranah” culture started a while ago, early 2000, when the younger generation started having prepaid cell phones (maybe even before that, but this is when it became popular). At that time, many young people who did not earn money would give their parents or friends a missed call, which means “Call me back”. The second party would call using either their cell or home phones.

Sometime, too, the “Ranah” could mean.. “Wanna say Salam” or “I’m thinking of you”.. but I don’t have enough credit to call you.. sort of thing.

Though the practice of “Ranah” started to fade in recent years because of the cheap msging, it is still out there. There is even a song by Salman Hameed that is called “Raneet lek Ranah“.. meaning, I gave you a missed call. The song goes:

“I gave you a missed call
and you didn’t give me a missed call,
you say you love me,
No no, you don’t love me.. “

As far as I know, this song has been very popular, and it still comes up in the radio stations.

So, dear B, next time you get a missed call from me and you wonder how come you didn’t have enough time to answer.. then don’t txt me explaining… just, call me back .. cause you didn’t really miss my call..

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Okay, I’m bored and sometimes when you are bored at work and have a bunch of customers chitchatting amongst themselves, you tend to.. well.. listen in. (Not like they are discreet).

They were a bunch of girls and guys (they seem college kids to me, worst kind of costumers). They are complaining to each other. The guys are complaining that all girls assume that they are trying to flirt with them when they try to ask a question or something, and the girls are complaining that the guys are misunderstanding them. …

This is the new trend in Oman. I guess we almost passed the phase where the two genders are segregated, and flirting between them (it’s harassment in the law’s definition) is slowly turning into conversations (though few are actually meaningful or intellectual conversations).

I remember when I was a teenager wondering around al-Qurum natural park (it used to be a dating area). We used to go there very often with the whole family. It was a tradition for us, though it grew to be an unsuitable place to have fun once the girls in the family became older. We were constantly harassed by guys that would follow us around trying to get us talk. They were annoying, but the definition of harassment those days was not clear. Everyone responded to the problem with the explanation that guys are just dogs and want to flirt with girls, and that to avoid it, you should keep your girls locked up in their houses.

Also, I remember the situation became worse during 2000-2005 when all the horror stories of men sexually harassing women started to come out. During that time, it seemed as though all the women I know had a first hand experience with some guy trying to touch them. The explanation was of course that the guys just can’t hold themselves! and that women should avoid public places. (the solution was always to lock up the women)

I think the situation started to become better once the two genders are not segregated as much. I mean, before many of these men never interacted (usually high school and college kids) with women. Plus, sexual deprivation does wonders. So they only saw females as sexual beings. However, today… the two genders talk about these issues. These days you hear these phrases over and over again “We are not flirting with you girls” or “you girls always think we want to flirt” or “You guys misunderstand us”.. etc. Communication, though sometimes on lame topics and unintelligent, brings the newer generation closer, and allows them to understand each other better.

Today, instead of kids looking at each other through “What gender are you?”, they are looking at each others personality and talk to the other’s intellectual side (even if that intellectual side only thinks about cars) rather than the physical. Nevertheless, flirting between them will never end, but lets hope it’s flirting and not harassing.

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A Ghost in Town

Okay, this story happened to a friend of someone close, and I thought it was amusing and quite interesting. So, I have to share it with everyone else.

Apparently there were sightings of a Ghost (Jinni) in town, and not just any ghost, but a touchable one too! A couple of guys living in an apartment complex were having dinner out in a restaurant. When they were done, they walked back towards their apartment. Two of these guys live together, and one of them proceeded to enter the apartment first. He opened the door, and before he turned the lights on, he saw this huge figure standing next to the wall.

Apparently, this Ghost was bright white, with scruffy white hair and a long beard. He was just standing there with his torn old clothes and holding a thick wooden walking cane. So the guy, instead of running away for his life, pulled his dishdasha up and did something rather stupid. He jumped on the Ghost in an attempt to restrain it.  Well, apparently this Ghost was solid and the guy’s attempt was successful.

The Ghost tried to free itself while this guy was determined to clinch as hard as he could. It didn’t matter to this guy that the Ghost started hitting him with the cane, he was determined. Screaming and shouting for his friend, the friend came running inside to find his friend tied up in a fight. Now it was the friend’s turn to scream, but it was a cry for the guy to let go! “Let him go, let him go!” he cried while pulling his friend away, “He is nothing but trouble if you keep holding him”.

The guy finally let in after receiving a couple of hits in the head (apparently there are visible bruises to confirm the story). Then, the ghost just ran away!

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Jacob (big thanks) sent me a link to an article in The National called “Divorce falls in Oman as more men take second wives“. According to this article, the good news is that “the divorce rate in Oman dropped by 12 per cent in 2008 from the previous year”. The bad news though is that “the number of men taking second wives increased by more than 20 per cent”.

Hmm, I’m not sure where this is leading Oman.

A marriage counselor in this article quotes the male’s perspective, which is “I will keep the first family as a dutiful husband, but I need to marry a second wife to keep my libido up“.. hmm, really!? What a lucky first wife she is… to have an asshole a wonderful person as a husband who is willing to honor his duties… what a dutiful husband he is!

I wont mingle much into this subject, but damn we need more marriage counselors in this country before the percentage in marrying a second wife increases. I mean, maybe just maaaaybe.. the wife has feelings and needs too.. just maybe.. and just because the divorce rate is lower, does NOT mean that those families are living in happy homes. I know too many families torn apart because of this. Half brothers and sisters hate each others guts. Years pass by before they talk because daddy is treating one mommy better than the other.. or whatever the reason is.

Marriage counselors please come to Oman, and not ones like Safiya Suleiman that would say something like this “In my opinion, women have only themselves to blame for letting themselves go. They need to look after themselves and stay attractive”… Yeah, thanx, that helps a lot.. solves the problem actually.. make women look like dolls! … yet also continue to expect them to pop out kids, clean, cook, and have a full time job.

So, Oman is empowering women by allowing them to be part in all kinds of jobs and activities. They make a living, sometimes more than their spouses.. Women will not keep their mouths shut for too long. Maybe a forty year old women is not going to demand divorce and fight for her rights because we are still living in the “acceptance” era. However, women are starting to realize that they have rights too.

Many working and married women refuse to contribute to building houses when it is under the husbands name. They are demanding to co-own everything, or mostly the major things.. like their new houses… so what happens then? How can these “wealthy” men afford a second wife then?

Divorce falls in Oman as more men take second wives

Saleh al Shaibany, Foreign Correspondent

  • Last Updated: January 05. 2010 12:40AM UAE / January 4. 2010 8:40PM GMT

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Safiya Suleiman says women need to stay attractive to stop their husbands marrying again. Ramla Hussein for The National

MUSCAT // The rate of divorce in Oman has fallen as a result of a trend in which men are increasingly taking second wives while keeping their first to prevent the break-up of their families, marriage counsellors say.

According to statistics from the ministry of religious affairs, the divorce rate in Oman dropped by 12 per cent in 2008 from the previous year. At the same time, the number of men taking second wives increased by more than 20 per cent.
“It is a way of making compromises… between men and their first wives,” Fatma Fallahy, a 74-year-old marriage counsellor, said. “Men say: ‘I will keep the first family as a dutiful husband, but I need to marry a second wife to keep my libido up’.”

In Islam, men can have up to four wives, provided they can afford to treat them equally, both emotionally and financially.

But when men decide to marry again, their first wives’ emotional well-being is usually the last of their concerns. “It is good that there are fewer divorces now; that prevents family break-up, but women still don’t understand why their husbands would want to add another wife when things are going well at home,” Ms Fallahy said.
For Aisha Suleimany, a 46-year-old bank supervisor, her married life does not have the same meaning now that she shares her husband of 24 years with a much younger woman. Her 51-year-old husband married a 22-year-old woman six months ago.

“What did I do wrong? I slaved in the house and at the same time go out to earn a second living and what do I get? Some woman to share my marriage and the fortune I helped to provide for our children. Half of it now goes to the new wife who came in with just a bag of clothes,” Ms Suleimany said.

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Ms Suleimany said she and her husband took a joint bank loan before he married again to build a second home.

“The second home that he now lives in with his second wife is partly my effort,” Ms Suleimany added. “I understand Islam allows men to have two wives, but it is hard for most women to accept that when the only reason is just to get a younger model.”

Other marriage counsellors have little sympathy for first wives. “In my opinion, women have only themselves to blame for letting themselves go. They need to look after themselves and stay attractive,” Safiya Suleiman, a 58-year-old marriage counsellor, said.
Ms Suleiman said men in their 40s and 50s are more likely to marry second wives than any other age group.

“They want to revive their youth and stay young, and a very young second wife is just the thing for them,” Ms Suleiman said.

But many ask why young women would accept a marriage proposal by married men twice their age.

“Middle-aged men are usually well-off financially. Some young women don’t want to struggle with men of their own age. Another reason is that it is difficult in our society for women to land a husband after the age of 25. They become a prime target for middle-aged, wealthy men,” Ms Fallahy said.
But Ms Suleimany dismissed Ms Suleiman’s suggestion. “That is stupid advice and I am surprised that, as a woman, she would say that. It is biologically impossible to retain one’s youthfulness as one ages. Besides, women look beyond wrinkles, can’t men do the same?” she said.

Nasser Kindy, a 56-year-old businessman who took a second wife two years ago, refuted the popular belief that men who take second wives simply want to boost their libidos.
“Far from the truth… most men with two wives do that because their first one turned the house into sheer hell,” Mr Kindy said. “At my age, I want peace of mind and not constant nagging all day long. The home of my second wife is an escape route when the first wife starts to blow the roof.”

But Mr Kindy conceded that polygamy is not always an enviable lifestyle.

“Children from the first wife can be rebellious, causing constant friction… And your two families can never be close, virtually becoming lifelong enemies,” Mr Kindy said.
Clerics say the practice often leads to disputes over inheritance.

“Usually, the children of the first wife, being much older than the second wife’s children, tend to take more than their share after their father’s death, resulting in bitter court lawsuits,” Sheikh Salim al Amry, imam of a mosque in Muscat, said.

Many second wives also say they often have contentious relationships with their co-wives. “We are called ‘husband snatchers’ by first wives. If anything, it is their fault for not satisfying their husbands,” Khadija Marhoon, 33, the second wife of an army officer, said. “Yes, there are problems… I personally don’t care as long as I get what I need.”

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Living in Wonderland?

I think I can honestly say that I live in Wonder Land, where all the magic doesn’t happen and you are left … well …  wondering… (Does that qualify as wonderland?)

  • I wonder why my e-mail takes 15 minutes to load.
  • I wonder why every time I want to comment on a blog or even read other comments, it takes 10 mins to load.
  • I wonder why I can’t watch my favorite series. Monk can rest in peace now from my constant harassment on watch-series.com to see the ending, but what about the others? The Mentalist, Private Practice… and my favorite of all … House..
  • I wonder why I can’t rely on the internet for speedy access to information.
  • I wonder why a University’s registration website is blocked because of some mysterious porno content.
  • I wonder why it is almost impossible to multi-task on the internet.
  • I wonder why google’s books and google’s scholar are so slow that you’d rather slaughter another poor goat for eid rather than wait for google to upload.
  • I wonder why facebook is so crappy on firefox that opening my own profile is a hassle.

I’m wondering a lot about our internet connection, but those are just the thoughts that are running through my head right now as I am trying to submit a comment on a fellow blogger’s page. Last night I was able to take a shower before CNN’s website loaded, I mean, you can kill someone AND clean your mess up (make it spotless) before anything opens on this net.

Since I came back from the US, my reliance on the internet for information has decreased dramatically. I no longer go online to check reviews of new gadgets and technology before I make the purchase. I can buy the damn thing and return it faster! I also can’t don’t read as many articles. I mean, of course, if I’m determined enough to read the articles, I should could just have it download before I go to work and hopefully find it ready when I get back.

*on the moment reaction* UGH.. the stupid comment has not uploaded yet! I seem polite here.. not so much in my head.. I’m wailing all kinds of curses in this little brain of mine.

The only thing that seems to work right now is Google talk. It’s just open, and teasing me with a pop-up window saying I have a comment on my blog.

Ah, finally…. Working!

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Annoying Foreigners

Now, I would love to say that you guys are just perfect expats in Oman for the sake of looking good, but that would be a lie. Nevertheless, it took me a while to think of the most annoying thing Omanis, in general, find in foreigners.

So, when it came down to it, I had to think hard.

I mean, yes, to many of us it is annoying to see foreigners half naked in the beaches, or foreigners showing a lot of affection to their significant others in public. Even those with tattoos (crosses, satanic tattoos, or just tattoos) showing on their arms and backs are many times annoying. Some Omani women become annoyed when they see their Omani guys hanging out with gorgeous female foreigners. Yes, annoyed though some are jealous too.

But many don’t care about any of the above.. We are all glad that you guys are here and spending money!

So, when do you see all Omanis agree and grunt at all foreigners? It is when foreigners are earning more money than their equal Omani co-workers solely based on them being foreigners. I remember someone was telling me about his experience. This Omani guy had 20 years of experience in some field; he had a PhD from one of the best Universities in the world. He knew more people and visited so many places in his field that you would lose counting. He was hired by the government, a good job nevertheless and with huge responsibilities. However, this government agency hired a couple of foreigners with inferior experiences and qualifications, but offered them three times more income!

So, foreigners are annoying in Oman when the country and companies make them seem better than the hard working Omani.

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