Focal Point

W’Oman matters,

Although I am very busy with a new project coming up about Oman, I want to point out some issues that somehow, somewhere took my attention by going through the main English newspapers of Oman.

The annual Cancer Awareness Week throughout the Gulf Region on Feb 1-7. This activity started last year as a partnership between the Gulf Center for Cancer Control and Prevention (GCCCP) under the Executive Office of the Health Ministers’ Council for the GCC and the Gulf Federation for Cancer Control representing 17 cancer associations.

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OCA, Oman Cancer Association, founded in 2004, is the brainchild of former founder Yuthar Al-Rahawy. In 2015, while preparing my book ‘Whispers of Oman,’ I met this honorable lady, a fourth time cancer survivor. In addition to the founding of the association, she also started the organisation of a mobile mammogram screening service, and established Dar al Hanan, valuable accommodation for families accompanying children for cancer follow ups. In fact she broke down and still breaks down a lot of taboos around the disease. Last year, at 65, she didn’t quit the OCA but stepped down, so that other people can come forward. And this is happening…In the newspaper one can read that OCA is planning a week long activities to celebrate World Cancer Day. These activities, called the Gulf Federation Cancer Council Joint Activities, will be done in all GCC states. They will be held at malls, parks, hotels and playgrounds. The aim is to prevent every cause of the disease and spread awareness among people. OCA wish to reach families, corporate companies and society in general. The legacy of this lady, who sees herself as a warrior in the war against cancer as one can read in Pulse of Oman, will live on. I am happy to have the story of her OCA and the testimonies of some women about the way they deal with the disease in my latest publication. What is written remains, one can say.

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I choose this picture because it reminds me on another picture hanging in the Museum of the Frankincense Land,  at Al Baleed archaeological park in Salalah, in the History hall, where women and men students hangs together. In the mean time I like also to repeat the words Sultan Qaboos spoke at several occasions but also at the time he ascended to power in 1970.  In his first speech on arrival in Muscat on 27 July 1970, His Majesty said: ‘The government and the people are like one body; if one organ fails to carry out its duty all remaining parts of that body would be inoperative. Because of the importance of his message, His Majesty reiterated the sentiment on 9 August 1970. His Majesty stressed his interest in the issue of women’s roles when he said: ‘We have never overlooked the education of women who represent half of the society.’ ‘We call on Omani women everywhere, in the village and the city, in urban areas and in the countryside, in the plains and in the mountains to contribute to economic and social development with their individual abilities, skills, expertise, and positions in society. The homeland needs all citizens to continue the march towards progress, stability, and prosperity. We call on Omani women from this podium to shoulder their vital part in the society, and we are convinced they will respond.’ The following is an excerpt from the speech made by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said at the opening of the Shura Consultative second session on 26 December 1994.

My congrats goes to the 107 doctors who graduated and I hope that they will take the opportunities their country offers to become the people they want to be, like all the women did in my latest publication, ‘Whispers of Oman.

The last choice about ‘New coins issued in Oman,’ is a little bit surprising perhaps. Five silver coins have been issued by the Central Bank of Oman to celebrate Omani national crafts.

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It reminds me at the interesting study of Dr. Badar Almamari, ‘What happens when Women dominate Traditional Craft Industries: The Omani Case’ in 2015 published in Sage Journals. While reading the study, the story of Galia in my latest publication, who stated, that she was two years older than the current leader Sultan Qaboos,  and who still produces incense burners in clay, came to my mind. Sultan Qaboos was born in 1940. Before he took over power in 1970, births were not registered in Oman.

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