Friday, 22 January 2010

Private Colleges in Oman

Recently, there has been a large expansion in the number of private higher education institutions in the Sultanate. Within the last few years, more than 20 colleges and universities have opened their doors to both Omanis and non-Omanis from the Sultanate and abroad to pursue their higher education. Some of these colleges have gained a reputation of excellence such as Caledonian which is according to the people I come in contact with is one of the best (if not the best) higher education in Oman. Its graduates are sought in the private sector for their high skills ( well, that's what I hear, not trying to market the college).

However, many of these colleges are business-oriented and compete for students. Also, a lot are manged by disqualified personnels and Wasta is a prevalent phenomenon. Here is a story from one college. A student graduates with honours degree in information technology, yet he doesn't know how to disconnect from the INTERNET! The guy used his personal connection within the college to obtain "full marks" for some of his subjects, I mean 100%. This same guy also managed to make his friend passes a subject he has already failed its exam.

Also, I was given a whole exam paper for one student to translate so he can understand it well before going to the exam. The paper was of computational topics full of new terminologies. The student admitted that they never studied these topics and cannot comprehend its meaning especially as he is studying in English beginner level. These topics had to be in the curriculum so they don not have to do it again in 1st year of their specialty, thereby can cut short a year of their studies!

I wonder about the role of the the ministry of Higher Education in monitoring the curriculum of the colleges. Such irresponsible method of teaching can't be tolerated. The colleges need to be put under close surveillance or the consequences can be severe for the higher education sector and the Omani society in general.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Careless driving!

I feel like writing right now. Guilt overwhelms me. Just now I almost caused a stupid accident. I felt irritated by a car coming into my lane while I was going fast. So I overtook it from the right and immediately turned into the other lane in front of the car who sounded the horn. I felt so bad. People who recklessly drive always disgust me with their sick attitude. Today I felt like one of them. I guess this is the toll we pay for our confidence. I’ve been driving for 5 months now and didn’t cause any accident, Thank God. I am always careful even to tiny things when I am behind the wheels.
Ironically, the same situation happened to me but in reverse where I was the victim of careless driving. I remember, I was so outraged that I followed the man's car and called the police. He would have been in prison by now if it wasn't for my tolerant brother.
This time as well, the guys followed my car into SQU until I stopped. Once I realized they were trailing me, before I turned my engine off, I straight away went to talk to them. I first started apologising and admitting my mistake. The guys were more understanding but surprised with my unprovoked irresponsible driving. Really I feel ashamed. I have always stood against careless driving and here I was doing it myself!
Driving is fun. Once you get the grip of it, you enjoy being on the road. It is arts by itself. It is like you are drawing on the road with your car. It requires a lot of attention and care so your painting is well crafted and more appealing.
I promise, I will drive with more care and pay more attention to the road. I promise I will not be furious about other's careless driving. I will stay calm and pray for their safety.

Monday, 21 December 2009

My time in SQU

Sultan Qaboos University is at the top of the academic institution in the Sultanate. There are wide facilities provided to students and staff. I have had the opportunity to work there for couple of months. The least I can say is that it is impressive. The laboratories are provided with the latest equipments and the most expensive materials and tools. Unfortunately, quite a good number of these equipments are not in use. This is simply because no one knows how to operate them or because the staffs there prefer to do it the old-fashioned way. Beside, the amount of work done in the laboratory as measured to the university capabilities is very disappointing. A lot of studies can be made with a bit of planning. In the lab there is the Dr/Professor busy with his/her students and the laboratory manager engaged in preparing experiment s for students while there is no one at all who carries research work. I think they should appoint research assistant to do studies. Actually they have a lot of postponed research work, so why not employ someone to do it! I have found that efficiency and accountability are least regarded. The logo is to do the work, doesn’t matter how you do it or the time taken to do it.
Yesterday, I’ve attended a play made by the students, I guess for the annual theatre exhibition. It was quite well presented with good performers whom I didn’t expect to find such level of sophisticated work on the stage. I can only say that SQU and Omanis in general are eager for voluntary work and they have the creativity and the enthusiasm. I have seen and observed a number of other student activities and seen their organized dedicated work. Again, as it is in this part of the world, time is of no value and the play actually started more than 40 minutes from its scheduled time.
I have also noted that the number of Omanis working in the university whether in the management, teaching or technical sectors is pretty high. It is quite occupied by Omanis, makes us proud with such institution.
I am glad to have such an insight into an outstanding university.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Back to Oman

I am back!

I apologize for the very few people who follow my blog. The last few months haven't been easy on me. I am in a transitional state regarding the two facets of life, the physical part of at as well as the inner part that resides inside me.
Luckily, there is no more mandatory study, only the part that I feel I need to gain more knowledge on, basically topics that are related to my specialty which is quite a lot knowing that I am an academic. The days of taking life easy departed and the time has came to experience the reality of life.

I have found out that there are three basic pillars of life Omanis have to consider once they are paid their first salary.
- First: buying a car to facilitate movement as the transport system here is not the best in the world! I miss the old days of Melbourne and UK. Beside, you will need to take extra precaution when driving as quite a large number of Omanis are reckless drivers. Personally, I managed to get hold of my license 3 months ago and with the help of my bro I bought my first car!
Car is done!

Second: Getting married. Once employed, the family automatically starts hunting for a suitable wife. As it is known, there is no choice (applies to the majority, hopefully me not included) regarding the person you are bound to spend the rest of life with. Family exhibits a list of possible candidates and you take your pick. I am not yet in this stage! I asked for a postponement, not ready for nagging, lol.

Third: Once the second step is over, housing comes last. I have already bought a small piece of land to build and spend the weekends in my village. Will have to rent a place in Muscat as most of my time will be working here.

This is the physical part of it. The list above is not exhausted, it is just the three most urgent things one must consider.

The second part of it will be published soon.
So keep checking.

Sunday, 2 August 2009


I have to admit that I am not a big fan of Friday's prayers. I have stopped praying Friday's a while after I arrived to the UK. First time, I sat reading Quran and a bearded Mullah approached me. He started preaching about the importance of choosing Muslim friends "especially" as we are living in a Western society with all its "seductions". I seriously couldn't stand it and if it wasn't for my first time I would have burst in his face. I managed to hold my nerves but I showed him my resentment. He halted his talks while inviting me for Islamic lessons held in the mosque after noticing my discomfort.

The second time I attended, the trend of the Imam's speeches about the ages of the companions and their assumed perfectionism continued. I was particularly shocked by the way the Imam's presented the concept of equality in Islam. An example, a Sahaba rich man was standing next to his "slave" in the prayer! See how some Imam's can manipulate and fool us! I mean ok a rich man was lining next to a poor man is a form of equality but what about the "master" and his "slave"?. Or is it something accepted in Islam? I have always thought it is supposedly part of what Islam calls for? Didn't the prophet said there is no difference between an Arab and a foreigner but in faith?
To be frank, this is not the first time I heard it. This particular "holy" story is circulated among Muslim scholars!

Unfortunately, we have became receivers. Our abilities to think and question the authenticity of narratives are impaired. Impaired because we are afraid that we might be stepping over the lines and getting into the territories of the scholars. We are bound to follow what they state, because they are Caliphates of Allah on earth. We will be committing a sin if we dare or even thought of more clarification.

In fact, it happened to a dear friend of mine who hadn't yet learned those rules. He innocently asked his lecturer why would women inherit half that of men? The lecturer furiously asked him out of class. The the dear friend was forced to beg and kneel down then repent his grave sin!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Me and the scarf

I don't usually go shopping on the weekdays as I prefer to stay home and do my work. Today was different. I gave my friend a buzz, so we hanged out in the city for hours. I did a lot of shopping. Though, I am quite picky in styles, today I managed to buy some really nice stuff.
We then headed for lunch/dinner and I had fierce arguments with my friend about the long-bearded people and women Abayas and Hijabs. It is so sickening when they keep using the same excuse that women are out to be protected from the "sexual desire" of men! This is one of the lamest excuse for making women wear Hijab. Have we, as for men, become so sadist! and if so why do we need to ask the other, woman, to take extra precaution as not to drive our aggressive sexual acts against her. What happens to the self control? what happens to the values that we as Muslims possess? Are you saying that everything can go into ruin including Islamic teachings and virtues when we are faced with a non-hijabi females? Is that all what this pretty creature represents? Why do we have to hide Allah's beautiful crafting from our sights?

I blame it all to the culture rather than the religion. So let's all pray that one day people realize that Allah looks deep inside our hearts rather than "his" dress code!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Ignorance is a disease

As a Muslim I feel ashamed by the ignorance and arrogance that some of my people have. I get to know an Omani who came to the UK to pursue his Master. He hands everyone, he knows, a copy of the Quran including his class mates! He has this mentality that all people if they get to understand Islam then they will be convinced and convert. But the reality that they can't comprehend is that NOT everyone in this world is in a quest for faith! But he can't grasp it. He can't believe that others can be as faithful to their religion or atheist beliefs as much as a Muslim or even more. I seriously, feel sorry for his ignorance, for his incapabilities to respect other people's own beliefs, ideologies and the need for their own space. Beside, his English is shit, yet he only listens to Quran 24 hours.

The most thing pisses me off is that he thinks that because people welcome his preaching about Islam, they are already convinced! He doesn't know it is part of the Western culture to listen to others and discuss views in a very sophisticated way. I suspect that these people actually are mocking his actions and his ignorance! He so disillusioned about his beliefs to the extent that he told me once that more than 2 millions converted to Islam in a matter of a week of Swine flue outbreak. How pathetic we have become.