Oman Reborn: Balancing tradition and modernization
COPENHAGEN - Professor Linda Pappas Funsch has written a well documented book on Oman, revealing her skillful talent and an enterprising academic capacity. It is an essay that could easily be titled: Pride and progress in Oman.
The author traces the history of independence, legacy of interaction with diverse cultures, and enlightened modern leadership. This leadership has transformed the country in less than fifty years from an isolated kingdom to a stable, dynamic, and largely optimistic country. The skilled architect of modern Oman, is sultan, Qaboos bin Said, friend to both East and West, whose unique leadership style has resulted in both domestic and foreign policy achievements during his almost five decades in office.
Before 1970, Omani people across the nation as well as those who had felt compelled to leave their homeland in search of education and opportunity elsewhere, were waiting for a leader who would take them on a journey towards progress and prosperity. Sultan Qaboos assured them he was that leader, and so it has proved. With his military and academic background and comprehensive knowledge of his country’s history, Qaboos understood not only the role Omanis have played over the centuries but also their potential to transform their land from the sleepy, isolated desert backwater it had become, once again into a thriving and forward looking nation. It was essential, he decided, to channel the country’s human and material resources towards a single goal - the development of the modern Omani individual.
The Omani leader pointed out: “The achievements in various spheres are all aimed at realizing one noble goal - the building of the modern Omani who believes in God and is committed to maintaining his own identity, while keeping abreast of the technology, sciences, literature and arts of the age in which he lives, and reaping the benefits of modem civilization in building his country and developing his society.”
From the moment Qaboos assumed the reins of power on July 23, 1970, he dedicated himself to the nation and people of Oman with the words: “The land of Oman and its people are in my heart and in my thoughts, and the job I have taken on is a duty, not at a ceremonial honour.”
Oman Reborn is also a personal account of how the author fell in love with the country during her first visit in 1974, and how she continued to follow its developments with great interest before returning in 2006, some 32-years later.
The book illustrates how the Sultan has used his discrete foreign policy to successfully defuse tensions between Washington and Tehran after the Iranian government arrested three Americans in different situations. The Omani diplomatic efforts behind the scenes have also proved quite effective in releasing other hostages in areas of conflict.
Rather than mediating, Qaboos's preferred role appears to be that of a go-between, in which he responds to requests to third parties to help defuse tensions rather than attempting to mediate between the opposing parties.
Professor Pappas-Funsch has efficiently managed to reach a larger audience conveying the uniqueness and integrity of Oman within the Arab world, and the genuine respect it has gained from the international community.
The author is a specialist in modern Middle East studies and Islamic history. She has studied, worked, and travelled extensively throughout the region. A freelance writer, consultant, and educator for more than forty years, she lectures frequently about Oman at scholarly symposia and institutions such as the World Bank, the World Affairs Council, and Georgetown University. Book by Professor Linda Pappas Funsch Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan Dr. Hussein Shehadeh is a journalist and a lecturer on Arab culture and society. He has resided in Scandinavia for more than fifty years. During that period he made various visits to Oman.