Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is OPNO the best example of expat integration into Omani society?

My new work has decided that OPNO is absolutely perfect to show how expats can perfectly integrate themselves into Omani society and culture.

Maybe I am not the best example of an expat then I am thinking?

As far as I know I am not a typical one. Most expats (besides Pakistanis and other Arabs) are not Muslim. The white ones, their women don't wear abaya as a rule. They do not prefer Sarooj houses with no modern plumbing over marble villas with swimming pools. They would rather learn useful Arabic phrases than ooooold Omani words. They probably do not eat with their hands on the floor on a regular basis, and they DEFINATELY don't know how to go to a tailor in Mutrah to get themselves traditional clothes made at cheap prices. I am just saying. I am not the best example of an expat coexisting in Omani culture. This is my home. I don't truly consider myself an expat. My home country isn't exactly an option for me. I don't want to go back there.

M was an expat. She and I lived together in Ras Al Hamra when I was a child. M never ate with her hands, she did not wear traditional clothes, in fact, M was hardly friends with an Omani at all who she hadn't met in a bar or through work. So I am just saying, her experiences, were vastly different than my own. In fact, she had an entirely different opinion of Omanis than me. She thought the majority were lazy and selfish. I have found quite the opposite (though I can name on my hand a couple bad apples ;) for sure). When you meet all your Omani aquaintances are your drinking buddies, well, in GENERAL, they don't represent their culture to the fullest, is all I am saying. I am not one to judge.

Anyways, I was told today, that I am no longer an expat. I am "officially an Omani girl" by my Omani girlfriends. Which means, I actually have to buy a designer abaya (their words, not my own). I am not big on this. I fancy them and all, but when I can get a look-alike from a tailor for a quarter of the price, I am fine with that. Expats can't tell the difference ect... But for my work, since I am going to be meeting some "importants" and representing and all that, designer purse, evening and day, designer abaya, new shoes (ones that aren't flip-flops repaired in Sharqiyah ha ha ha @ S) well, it gets pricey, and I am a girl who can live just fine on 300 OMR monthly. So a 150 OMR abaya makes me gape. Love it, but I feel guilty wearing it, like I am trying to pass myself off as an Al Busaidy/Al Said Princess-y type or what not lol.
Abaya brands of choice in Muscat: Hanayen (for bling), Al Motihajiba (for quality), First Choice (for simpler bling). More option available in Dubai and Abu Dhabi of course. And Noblesse Oblige in Qatar.

As we were parking are 4x4 in Shatti for burgers at B&F (an Omani girl thaaaaaang) [and spending forever reversing into our spot, which is TOTALLY okay in Oman if you are a girl because no one fingers you or gets a baseball bat on your car or anything) I remarked as we passed one coffee spot that it looked like a popular day-time hang-out for the expat women. I counted many blonde heads and brunette pony-tails. S looked at OPNO and laughed.

"You're not an expat. You're an Omani girl now."
So I guess it is official.
So really, is it a fair example to use me to show integration of Westerners into Oman? Not really. That is like my work in home country in the West using my headscarf to show how into being all equal oppurtunity they were, trying to get me into a pamphlet or photo op. It is isn't 100% accurate but sure looks good.

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