Sunday, October 9, 2016

THE ROYAL-IN-ARABIA INTERVIEW SERIES: Interview #1


Since people who can’t read often get mad at our blog and rage “you’re not a real Omani princess!”
...I thought it would be interesting to interview a couple “real” Omani princesses, and any other GCC royal that we are accidently connected to through our real , not on-screen lives. This is the first of the series.

My interviewees in the following series will remain nameless so that they, like me, can say whatever they want. I also won’t reveal their GCC nation. Some of them, that would make it too easy to identify. I do assure our blog’s readership however, that people actually do call them “Your Highness”, or follow them around with bukhoor. They really do get assaulted with vases of flowers and ambushed quite regularly with cases of Patchi chocolate. Some of them make important decisions, one of them is rich, one does have a body-guard, but other than that, the point of this series is to show you that they are quite regular, down to-earth people. ...If not that, then, they are people who are wholly aware of the irony of the farce surrounding them.

---And just to iterate, it means nothing of us OPNO girls... despite cruelly mean anonymous commentators...that we’ve met or deal regularly with these people. As white, somewhat educated, and employed, Western girls, you meet people in small oil rich nations, like those of the GCC. GCC royal families are BIG. At some point, if you live here as long as we have, and go to places like, I don’t know, a given club or restaurant, or work for a Ministry or Charity, eventually you are going to meet someone called “Your Highness.” IT REALLY ISN’T a BIG deal. It’s a fact of freakin’ life, not anything we could brag about. If you’re not in the GCC, you might not understand.

So, towards my first interviewee, to introduce him without giving away too much:

 He’s a dude. A royal one. I know how he takes his coffee, but that’s not really newsworthy, now is it? 

Maybe what’s interesting is he makes his own coffee, never asks an office girl or the “company tea boy” to do it, and to be honest, I never knew that he was that “His Highness” our floor kept referring to, for three years almost.

Lots of {insert nationality+s} ask me to make tea or coffee for them, even though that’s not my job at all. I don’t work for them, or in the general area of an office girl whose job also does not consist of serving tea or coffee, but who might be better mistaken for having that task assigned to them, than, well, me.

 ...So a busy someone who could have folks fussing over him regularly, who does things himself despite... Well, to me that is a character mark worthy of a journalist’s note.

For three years I just knew he was someone who used the same coffee machine I used. I knew that he was rather well-educated, with flawless [spoken anyway] English, and wholly more proficient in polite small-talk than I. I do long talk, and lots of it. Busy people, with full work schedules, like I knew him to be, I do not engage them in regular conversation, unless it is to warn them that an elevator is broken or something.

We had been introduced to one another on many occasions, but busy person that I am, I was always only ever half listening. It is actually very difficult to figure out our very fancy tea machine, I assure you. It’s not a kettle to simply boil water, regrettably. Thus, as I knew him, he was but to me, in possession of one of those highly irritating Arabic first names with a letter in it that people make fun of me for attempting to pronounce. So, I avoided learning or using his name altogether.

I eventually had to add his name to a document, so I remember asking him to spell his name out for me. This is what I always do when I can’t actually remember what someone’s name is.

And there it was: the Royal last name. I must have sounded like a total loser because my reply was only “oh,” because I had finally realized who he was.

 ...Of course, it doesn’t change anything to me. He’s still that guy from the coffee machine, but would I even be writing this stupid anecdote if he had been from another ordinary {insert nationality} family?

Of course not!

So that brings us to my silly little interview, which, needless to say, he was just as surprised to learn that I am an OPNO blogger, as I was, that coffee-guy was from such-and-such family:

OPNO: So, do you read the “How to live like an Omani Princess blog”? {Because that is an important question, right}.

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Not terribly often. I don’t follow, but I had seen it before. If you search ‘Oman’ it comes up quite often on google images. {OPNO is terribly flattered}
 
OPNO: How do you like to be addressed? I mean beyond correctly, the your Majesty/Highness mix-up of old-fashioned ettiquette aside...How do you prefer to be addressed? Do you like people to use "Your Highness" or your given name?
 
HIS HIGHNESS #1: My name.
 
...But it is a form of respect, so if I were the leader of a nation, or a crown-prince on a state trip, and not a person you bump into at the mall, I'd probably expect "Your Majesty/Your Highness." If I'd earned a Ministry Position, or Judgship, I'd like "Your Excellency". It's like that. I didn't earn "Your Highness" for anything yet.
 
OPNO: Which brings us to, 'what does being a member of a ruling “royal Arabian” family in your given country in this modern age, mean to you?'

HIS HIGHNESS #1: While I am definitely proud of my grandparents, it means surprisingly less than you might think. Since I am not, to my awareness, being considered for {Sultan/King/Ameer/Head Honcho Sheikh} I actually do not think of it as a responsibility or privilege of any kind... Unless someone else treats me as if it should be.

OPNO {interrupting}: And does that happen often?

HIS HIGHNESS #1:  {Just smiles, before continuing to answer the previous question}...I do think that it does allow a directed, well-intended individual, however, greater scope towards accomplishing their given pursuit. ...So I have always found.

OPNO: Are there any goals for your family and country that you personally would like to act towards?

HIS HIGHNESS #1:  Many. {...sadly, does not elaborate}.

OPNO: Does being an {insert royal family name} go towards aiding you in achieving those goals whatsoever?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: As you well know, I get to be more controversial than others when questioning the how and why of the way things are done. I, however, do have to be careful, that I am not the person doing any of the actual “changing” if we get to that point. Being from the family means people will think you are meddling, or only trying to look good or to get something out of it all, if you are in the middle of any great action or change, no matter how good your intentions.

OPNO: Would you like to be a Minister one day?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: No. But it would be useful if a useful person was, whom I could call ‘friend’. Saying that, please don’t twist my words!---Let's clarify. Such a person would be someone wise enough to listen to whatever I could suggest to help out, but who wouldn’t be blind or fool enough to ignore anyone who could come up with something better, even if, that someone were, say, {insert name of Indian car washer} who washes cars in the parking lot. [Again, note, he knows the name of the guy who washes his car every morning].

OPNO: Is there anything you find or believe you can’t or shouldn’t do, that other {insert nationality} people of your country do?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Meddle, or ask for favours.

OPNO: Do you think the oil boom has led people in your country to become lazy and expecting of hand-outs from the government?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Yes, but should I really express that, given the ease with which I can stick my hand out and beg for something I have not worked for as well?

OPNO: You don’t have to answer, but do you think the government or your family is corrupt then?

HIS HIGHNESS #1 {laughs}: Do you love all your relatives? Is your country’s government perfect? It is a loaded question.

To an extent, yes, I will be brave, and say I do,  but then again, all nations and all families are. But I still find {insert country} to be better in these terms than other countries. I mean, we don’t have an Arab version of Donald Trump running for President, now do we?

 ...But for the most part we are working to acknowledge and eliminate this aspect. That is for the people of {insert country} however. They cannot say an important person called so-and-so uses wasta, but then, the first moment they are in a position to do so, become just as despotic, or maybe even more so.  

There are more {insert nationality(s)} than there are {insert family name(s)}. Tribes are the issue. Sheikhs are the issue. Alhamdulilah, not for us, but for other GCC countries, religious counsels insisting upon physical and ideological superiority are an issue. As long as these remain important to the people of {insert country name}, then either a royal family or a dictating military presence, will play the leading role in the politics of this part of the world, corruption of any given party aside.

OPNO: Again, you don’t have to answer, but what do you think the role of the media should be in {insert name of country} towards making it a greater country?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: I’m definitely the wrong person for this, but better regulation should exist. Clearer, regulation, for both the media, and the bodies overseeing the media. Islamic concepts of dealing with slander are well carried out in {insert his country’s name}, but these need to be balanced with truths and facts. Maybe I am not a scholar in the subject of ‘backbiting’ but I do believe truth and fact have a right to be printed at a certain point. Is there not a hadith somewhere saying it is not backbiting if truth is told pertaining to either a man’s character regarding his business dealings, or his eligibility for marriage? So, given that, some laws touching on media slander, deserve revision.
 
That said, I don't want our media to become as sensationalist as I encounter in other countries either, where news is more entertainment, than it is relevant to how one should go about their life the next day.

OPNO: Okay, onto lighter questions. What do you drive?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: I am definitely not going to answer that. After the last question, that is far too sensitive!

OPNO: What is your marital status?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Married.

OPNO: If married, was it an arranged marriage?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Not really, but both families were made happy by it.

OPNO: If married, how did you meet?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: School.

OPNO: If male, what is your inclination towards taking multiple wives? If female, have you or would you ever, contemplate being involved in a marriage with a man willing to take on or wanting more than one wife?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: ...And I was worried about the sensitivity of your political questions?
 
Not female so... Never seriously, so no. I have friends who have though.

OPNO: Do you work?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Um, yes?

OPNO: Do you have twitter, facebook, snap chat, etc.?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: I really don’t want people I don’t know to add me on anything so let’s say no.

OPNO: If you could trade places with a royal person from any other family, living or dead, who would it be?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Alhamdulilah, I wouldn’t. I praise Allah to be born the person I am and living in the time I am in.
 
OPNO: How many languages do you speak?
 
HIS HIGHNESS #1: Three fluently. More, terribly.
 
...Four, acually, if you count math as a language which I wish they would. I am really, really good at math.
 
OPNO: Do other people annoy you about being from such-and-such family? I mean, do you actually like opening yoghurt stores, and Opera galleries and the like?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Yoghurt stores? I’ve never.

 ...If I worked really hard on a concept and contributed to it more than others but it was a wholly collaborative effort, I’d be flattered to be asked to put my name on a report or to cut a silly ribbon. But I’d do it, if I was asked because of what I’d done and what I stood for, rather than being “one of those {insert family name}”.

OPNO: No, what I mean is, does anything about being an {insert family name} annoy you?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: I won’t complain about anything when the lives of others I have known are wholly more challenging.

OPNO: Since you refuse to complain about people always bukhooring you to death, what do you think is the worst habit or trait that you possess, that people let you get away with, just because you are an {insert family name}?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: I’m a very busy person. People, very busy people, always make time for me, but it is rare that I am able to do the same for them. Also, some people, laugh at what I say, even if it isn’t funny, and they believe me to be joking. That is... rather tragic.

OPNO: Okay, last question. What is the oddest favour someone has ever asked you for, or the craziest thing someone thought you were capable of doing, just because you are an {insert family name}?  

HIS HIGHNESS #1: You know us so well...It would have to be arranging meetings. People seem to think I can arrange for them to meet a head of state or a Minister, and really, I can’t.
 
But really the crazist thing? Someone thought I could ask to make the weekend longer over the holidays. That was...something.

OPNO: Last, last question. What do you think we should blog about? I mean, what would you want to read our blog for?

HIS HIGHNESS #1: Beyond Omani traditional dress, which I think you have covered quite well, you mentioned something about highlighting research finds in Oman? I’d probably read that.

Also from a tourism aspect, I saw your photos and read your descriptions of some of the places, that I, an {insert nationality} have never visited, and you could add to that with GPS coordinates really.

{END INTERVIEW}.

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