Sophia Tillie, SOAS

Submitted by admin on 07/02/2017
Person Name: 
Sophia Tillie

Two generations on from Thesiger, this was a unique opportunity to rediscover the Interior of Oman, and to see for ourselves how wrong Thesiger perhaps was about the inevitable loss of a way of life in the face of modernity. Our month at Sultan Qaboos Language Center revealed to us the extent to which Omanis have managed stylishly to preserve their cultural identity, traditions and honour, as well as their extraordinary reputation for hospitality. Rather than a convoy of camels, every weekend we would be whisked off by the Palace's personal convoy of four by fours to ancient mountain villages made of stone and desert dunes, whilst listening to the tales of the Bedouin drivers.  We witnessed great mother-ship turtles lay their eggs and disappear back into the ocean by moonlight, and cruised the turquoise coastline by day. The friendships that were formed attuned us to the subtleties of cultural exchange whilst allowing us to engage in lively debates and discussions on a rich variety of topics. This gave us rare insight into the perspectives and wisdom of a new generation of Omanis and the vital role they see themselves playing in the wider region post-Arab Spring.