Sunday, 11 May 2008


Oman, in common with most Gulf states is subject to autocratic, one-man rule.
Be they emirs,sultans,presidents,kings or whatever, Arab rulers are all dictators of one stripe or another.Western democratic notions of parliaments,political parties and elected representative government have simply not taken root here.The Omani political system was quite medieval in character.The various tribal chiefs assembled once a year in the capital to pay homage to the Sultan , similar to the barons in 14th century England.It was reported that one day the Sultan was out driving in his Landrover ,when he saw an apartment block that offended his sensibilities.It blocked his view of the mountain range.He immediately ordered its demolition – an operation carried out two days later. Henry VIII. would have heartily approved, I’m sure.

The position of women in Moslem society is, of course, quite different to the West.Oman is regarded as fairly liberal by Gulf standards and one does find women working in offices and banks, driving cars and attending university. They are only fully veiled in the remote desert areas. However, the sexes are segregated at the onset of puberty and girls are taught that their primary roles in life are to be good wives and mothers. Arabs are extremely possessive when it comes to their womenfolk. On my second day in Oman, I was warned by a British military policeman not to look at, talk to or make contact with Omani women. Occasionally, I had girl students in my class.This was always a time when I had to be on my guard not to say or do anything which could be construed by them as being offensive.In 1990, when Oman’s first university opened its doors, classes were strictly segregated.Male students would listen to a lecturer in one room and female students would have the lecture relayed to them by closed-circuit TV in another room.

ภาพ Al-Bustan Palace Hotel จาก Wikipedia