Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Alcohol in Oman: Drink it Up

As a Muslim woman living in a Muslim country (I made hijrah alhamdulilah) I wonder at the fact that alcohol is legally served to people who are obviously [AT LEAST LEGALLY TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE FACT] Muslims. I have no problem [I mean to say, it is not for me to judge] with non-muslims drinking (though I think it should be illegal for Muslims to serve them or sell them alcohol) [simply because it is prohibited in our religion] but I see some serious flaws in the system for alcohol in Oman.

Some argue that since liquor licenses are available for all non-Muslim expatriates and that all hotels serve both Muslim and non-Muslim patrons in the bars and nightclubs and restaurants, what is the point of alcohol being illegal in Oman? I agree: the law is STUPID!!!!

BUT I DO NOT IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE THINK ALCOHOL SHOULD BE LEGALIZED IN OMAN. I THINK HOTELS, NIGHTCLUBS, and BARS should require paperwork stating the religion (or non-religion) of the patron so that Muslims who benefit from protection from Islamic laws in Oman do not make a mockery of what they proclaim their religion to be.

Such a law however enacted would make it so less Omani youth feel pressured to engage in drinking just to have a social life. I know many who do. They want to be able to go places to socialise and even dance in groups of friends, but they know they'll be surrounded by others of their peer group who've already succumbed to the habits of the scene.

I grew up as a young impressionable teen emerged in the expat community in Oman. There, a social life of flitting from hotel to hotel, private club to embassy bar, almost came with the requirement of having a drink in one's hand for most spaces of the social scene. Many who are not heavy-drinkers before they come to Oman, become so for social reasons here.

Typical life for me before Islam: there is gin and tonic for lunch. Then there are cocktail parties and dinner parties hosted in friends' private homes. Then there is the hotel and embassy scenes, all of which cocktails (or beers) are requirements of your social set. This is not to mention the club bunnies (hopping from nightclub to nightclub) and bar stars (you know who you are). I was too young to have been ogled at Rock Bottom by the circled set of older Omani men in dishdashas (gross) or to have danced it up with my Omani guy friends at Shangri-la, but I knew of the scene.

Many drink and drive here in Oman.

Expats: those of you who do MAKE ME SICK cuz you know better. Omanis: Since alcohol is a social faux-pas for many Omanis, they often cover up the fact that they were drinking by driving home drunk. A young Omani guy can't just call his family, and be like, "Baba, I've had one too many." So it IS dangerous. And Omani girl can't have been there at all, so I mean, i can't even imagine what happens if she somehow managed to drink too much. None of her friends are gonna take her to the hospital for alcohol poisoning.

If I were a smart ROP fella, I'd just wait outside the nightclub, and make sure no one too drunk was driving. This would be a SMART initiative for the ROP.

I remember being pulled over by the ROP in PDO and they checked our drivers' [male] bags and trunk and personal items, but not my [woman] handbag. Seriously, if we'd really have bought booze from the expat liquor store, we'd have just put it in my purse, knowing women's persons' don't get checked. Since no one in our party had been drinking, this night annoyed me (they thought in a prejudiced, young white woman with Omani men, alcohol is probably involved) but had we been, we'd have been smart enough to hide everything on me. Duh!

And about the nightclubs.... Why can men in dishdashes go in, but not a woman wearing hijab???? Just a question, not that any Muslim woman following her deen would be discoing out on the floor, but how come the bouncers will enforce this but not the religion of their fellow brother's in Islam?????

That's a hard one to swallow, now, isn't it, but something really does have to be done. The way things are set up now don't really work, and come across as hypocritical.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hey one of three Omani girl,

This is in no way to ridicule you.

However, by enforcing such procedures (checking papers etc.) you encourage forced religion by birth. As citizens of muslim countries from muslim families, (as with other religion) we are automatically put into such faiths. When we mature, we perhaps stay in this religion or choose another but certain societies, laws, prohibit us from doing so.
When some, who appear to be muslims, but in reality are not, drink, they are ridiculed. It's not even a matter of what religion you are from, but some who actually believe are muslims, drink (as not all the rules of islam are strictly followed by them), they are still ridiculed.

Another point to stress on is society. If a girl does drink to the point of poisoning, who is there that she could call? She could end up dying because she was left untreated or she could be in a car accident from under the influence. However if this was not a social taboo then her life will probably be saved because she will not fear asking for help.

As kids, we all wanted to rebel and stay an hour longer after curfew for the fun of it. And as we grow older, we mature, and do what we think is right (right varies as morals are very subjective.) So to il-legalize alcohol would probably make kids look at it as something "cool" to do (just predicting).

I however also ponder on the issue of hijabi women not being allowed into bars and clubs. I haven't given it indepth thought.

Hypocritical .. i like that word. Its very interesting how stereotypes are formed and later connected hypocracy. For example, a woman from Saudi who ventures to a different country and is ridiculed for removing her hijab when in reality she doesn't even wear it with her family. (as the law demands that she does and so saudi is percieved to contain holy or what they call religious people)

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this.