One of the main reasons I haven’t been active on Muslimgurl.com is because 4 months ago I came to live in Oman.
A quick recap of Oman; it’s a predominantly muslim country, one of the most peaceful and safest places in the world, and most importantly, a muslim country where even religious sects pray side by side in harmony. I’m talking like Shia and Sunni’s praying side by side without being at each others throats, like if that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.
And it sounds nice doesn’t it? Well, it gets even better 🙂
1. EVERYTHIG IS HALAL
This one might be obvious, as a muslim country it’s readily assumed that everything there will be halal. However, in Oman it’s even better because they include all the major diners and restaurants you might’ve had back home, except now you can eat whatever you want in them at any location. Nandos, Subway, Pizza Hut, Burger King, McDonald’s, Chilies, Tim Horton’s… they’re all here and they’re all halal! No need to search online for halal
restaurants before I leave the house anymore :p
2. BEACH, GYM, POOL…BEACH!!
You know those stares that you get when you’re at the beach fully dressed while everyone else isn’t? You don’t get that here. You can swim dressed in anything you like at the beach. And there’s plenty of women’s only gyms and pools that you can go to without having to feel like you’re doing something horrifically wrong simply because of the way you’re dressed. And actually, you can wear whatever you want, put on an abaya, then take off the abaya in the locker room and voila. Zero awkwardness. Zero uncomfortableness.
The target consumer is you! Toothpaste ads emphasize things like “minimal breath” during ramadan and those delicious food commercials apply to you as well! Furthermore like with restaurants, all the major brands you’d want like Zara, Mango, H&M, Victoria’s Secret and a hundred others are all here. How sweet is that.
Many Middle Eastern countries now a days, lack diversity due to the safety issues prevalent in the area, however, in Oman, you will find a large population of Indian, Philippino, British, Bangladeshi, basically many ethnicities so you don’t feel ethnically bound to only one group, one culture and one way of thinking.
5. FITTING IN
When I first stepped foot in Oman, there was a strange feeling of relief: not because we’d landed safely, but because I no longer had to prove that I’m a normal human being who doesn’t carry out terroristic acts for my religion to every single person I passed by.
I know it might sound a bit extreme, but the brutal reality is that unfortunately, some people really do believe that I, as a hijabi woman, would try to hurt them as part of my “religious beliefs.”
And the worst part is, there is no way to distinguish between someone who dislikes me for my personality and those who dislike me for my religion. The relationship is so gray that I’m constantly torn between, should I try harder to make a good impression to represent my reigion better, or do I change something about myself because it’s setting people off. Is it me they hate, or is it what I represent?
It’s a very confusing battleground, and the worst part is I can’t imagine the middle schoolers and high schoolers having to deal with this in addition to their life overload at this stage in their lives.
And that’s where the relief comes now that I’m in Oman: nothing is gray. The majority are muslim and the expats are here willingly, furthermore there is no sectarianism here. Meaning unlike other muslim countries, they don’t care about the political sunni-shia issues, the mosques here are beautiully packed with worshippers praying with their hands at their sides or across their chest, each to their own.
6. ENGLISH, ENGLISH, ENGLISH!
Though it is an arabic country, the majority of transactions and interactions are done in English. Signs, prints, ads, everything is in big, bold beautiful English! To me this is a major plus since even day to day interactions such as at the cashier and restaurants are carried out in English, making my life so much easier since I no longer have to explain why yes, I’m arab, and yes I can speak arabic, but no, I have no idea how to communicate with you when I’m trying to order food or trying to open a bank account.
And though Oman is a quiet and traditional country, it is organized and well-maintained, obviously there are downsides, but overall, it’s a not too shabby place to be in, and I will most definitely miss it when I leave next week. If you have the chance, give this charming quiet little country a visit.