Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Racial Tensions in Oman? : Zanzibari, Baluchi, Lawatia, African-Omani and Omani-Omani
Oman is composed of a variety of racial backgrounds and cultural influences, which is what makes the country so wonderful to me. The above are some of the cultural/racial groups that exist here. Of those groups you will find even a dispora of Islamic groups: Ibadhi, Sunni, and Shia, even some ethnic Jewish and Christian tribes! Even the Omani Omanis (as I hate to use that term) are divided into the Northern and Southern Arab stocks which used to war with one another. Using them as the first example:
My husband is a Southern Omani Omani if people are disgustingly technical about that. All my in-laws are that as well. They hate another Omani-Omani tribe nearby to them, who were of a Northern Omani-Omani origin, because that is just how tribal alliances were formed a couple thousands years back. I myself think it is ridiculous, and work quite peaceably with a dozen or so people of this so-called "enemy tribe" just fine. The only example of tension I find that exists, is within corruption within several of the government Ministries, where people favor tribe members over the former enemy tribe, regardless of accomplishments. But nowadays, friends from outside tribal crap are also involved in the wasta triangles formed there, so... I again, believe it to be an antiquated notion that only backwards people follow.
One of my bosses is Balushi and former boss was of Persian origin, and another Al Zadjali, and another yet was Zanzibari. None of them claimed about restrictions put on them along racial or tribal lines. Education and hard work were all it took to succeed they insist to me, and I believe them.
Racism exists against African Omanis of course. I hear people say "they used to be slaves of our tribe" and "so they are like this". Poverty makes people a certain way. No it doesn't keep them that way, but it does make them react differently than others. I do not believe they are truly discriminated against on racial grounds, as I know a lot of highly paid African Omani girls who stepped into executive positions in big corporations other Omani-Omani girls were too timid to fill, but I do believe chances to pursue higher education are harder to attain when for example, the parents do not speak English and cannot afford tutors for their children when it comes to schooling.
This problem is not exclusive to Oman of course. The situation is much worse if you visit the slums in Washington D.C., in the USA, or in Georgia.
One disgusting bit I DO hear however, is, "the girls wear their scarves like that" or "tight like that" because they are "Baluchi/Zanzibari" which is a stereotype, and quite unjust. I know some highly strict and Islamic girls from each group. It is just a stereotype, often bourne out of jealousy.
Same with saying "Lawatia" Omanis are cheap. Well, for one thing, most of the ones I know, save their money, and know that property is a good investment. I believe that statement also bears out from the jealousy of the person unable to plan or save.
I hate that. Hate it, hate it, hate it. As if one is claiming an "Omani Omani" is much more superior to anyone else, even though I have seen perhaps greater stupidity among Omani-Omanis myself, living among them more closely than others;).
There ARE cultural differences, that result in what careers Omani citizens are likely to take. That is true. Education, and the stress placed on education is one factor depending on culture. Another factor is planning, and savings. Some tribes/racial affiliations have this in their culture, others absolutely do not. Another is what stress is placed on security and what is seen as appropriate lifestyle. This affects career and lifestyle. Many Omani Omani I know favor the security of Government job positions, while the Zanzibaris I know, prefer the risk/chance of the private sector towards becomming more affluent/and having greater independance.
I am probably not the best to write on this subject, so forgive, as I am one of the most un-nationalistic of souls. As a Muslim, I simply don't find myself restricted in borders or passports, and any Muslim is kin to me, whether they hate me or not, whether they accept me or not. Those are my humble observations. Maybe a better Omani writer could take them, and write something great from these snippets of mine, but what I have is the firm belief, that being Omani isn't a race or a single Arab culture alone.
I do however prefer ,(when I compare Oman to other GCC countries with similar tribal and racial diversity, such as Saudi Arabia[ as much as they'd deny it]), that Oman keeps its racial and tribal identities. As much as that divides them, it also makes them so much more unique, than trying to brainwash the citizens into believing that they are Muscatis/Sayeedis you know, the way Saudi culture is often only narrowly reflected as being Riyadi/Sa'udi? I think the beauty of that diversity is a uniting factor, if there could be anything more powerful than the dissention of misplaced pride [in family, traibe or culture alone]. Let's hope to that,