Tom McGee, Cambridge University

Submitted by admin on 07/02/2017
Person Name: 
Tom McGee

I spent an exhilarating month in Manah as part of the Anglo-Omani Society’s Arabic Language Scheme. Shortly after arriving in the sweltering Dakhiliyya governorate (a ninety-minute drive from Muscat), I was struck by our hosts’ hospitality. The emphasis which the Omanis placed on greeting us each time we met, the lengthy hand-shakes and the occasional touching of noses, together with the generous servings of dates and cardamom-flavoured Omani qahwa (coffee) quickly made me feel welcome.  Our home for the month of August was the college’s guest-house just outside Manah. The facilities (pool table, gym, televisions) were excellent and the food, kindly prepared by Dipak and his team, was delicious. The guest-house also provided us with a quiet environment in which to consolidate the Arabic we studied each morning at the college. The classes were rigorous but varied and a particular highlight was the ‘media campaign’ focusing on health and sport which we organised and we published pamphlets to convey our messages in Arabic. Our Arabic also improved considerably outside of the classroom: we had fascinating discussions with our (extremely patient) language partners, sometimes while playing football, sometimes over a game of cards. I remain in touch with some of them. The weekend excursions were a fantastic complement to our studies. Swimming in the waters of the picturesque Wadi Shab, looking down at the valleys of al-Jabal al-Akhdar, camel-riding in the Sharqiyya desert and meeting turtles on the beaches of Ras al-Jinz will all live long in the memory and helped demonstrate Oman’s incredible diversity and natural beauty. I would like to thank Dr Kendall and the Anglo-Omani Society for organising the programme, the staff at Sultan Qaboos College for their warmth and encouragement and the Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their support.