Invest in Local Talents! Charity Begins At Home!
This article was First Written March 2010 in My Between Us Only! Column in The Oman Daily Observer!
Invest In Local Talents!
The other day I was watching a literary presentation of awards and I was watching keenly if there would be some Local Writers or Authors that I know who write in English (like me – rather than in Arabic) who would be presented with some awards, but I saw none. Than it dawned on me that peoples like us are ‘not recognised’ because we write in a ‘Foreign’ language, though I could see some ‘Foreign peoples’ but who write instead in Arabic being recognized for their skills and talents.
I have to admit that made me feel very bad, worse to see the Association built to recognize such skills and talents missing us ‘foreigners who write in a foreign language’. That made me realize of what is really at stake here, and if these kind of things are allowed to persist, not only it builds alienation and indifference, but would go a long way of killing any enthusiasm, initiative, keenness and budding rising talents and entrepreneurship – and especially after all the talks and focus in Human Resources Development in the country. It may even lead to bias, discrimination and polarization – things that are all bad and nobody wants to give even an iota of starting to come and creep in!
When I wanted to have my first book (Between Us Only), I had put an advertisement in all the local newspapers looking for a sponsor. I even wrote personal appeal letters to some CEOs in very high places for my book to be sponsored. They in turn gave the ‘draft book’ to their expatriate subordinates, and I then immediately realized that my book will never see the light of day because my book was very hard hitting (like the article The Chicken and Egg Story) and no expatriate – to say the least – would have wanted this book to be published in the first instance, let alone it to be sponsored! These facts were proved correct by the refusals and rejections (pink slips) by one or the other on the ‘flimsiest of excuses’ – like a large Financial Institution that had made large profits in the last year in not having ‘the funds to sponsor the book’ per se!
I was just contemplating of going abroad to other ‘help avenues indicated to me’ – coincidentally by well meaning decent and good intentioned expatriates – when this gentle person local CEO of a fully Omani run prestigious Company agreed to sponsor my book, and the book was finally published – after a very long delay of months whilst it was still under ‘censor’ to get its license to get it published. I vowed to myself (and still do) not to go through these motions again.
This time I vowed to print my second book (Psychology of Arab Management Thinking – ready for printing) by saving first myself and printing it in Book Surge in Amazon Com, or Trafford in Canada. But the savings have still not materialized, after one after another in paying peoples in my ‘failed Human Resources Development Consultancy business’ – which is a separate story all by itself! It seems to me that there is a ‘personal vendetta and agenda’ out there to ensure that this book too does not see the ‘light of day’ – and this time for sure too. One would definitely and naturally feel shy and ashamed to go to the first sponsor again for sponsorship of the second book!
The book coming out into existence was not the end of it, actually it was just the beginning of more things to come. Approaching different bookshops to run my book in their bookshops and stalls first here in Oman, there was only one Family run business that took the book in and ran it all over in Oman and in exhibitions, and portraying it in strategic positions in all their branches all over Oman. I am eternally grateful for this. The book is the only place still selling my book. They deserve a pat in the back for encouraging local talents and entrepreneurship.
The story was not successful in the other bookshops in the country. There were those who curtly responded that they only stock Arabic (and Religious!) books, but if I was so kind to translate the book into Arabic (although 80% of the issues were all local in that book in Socio-Economic features, like Marriages, Bad Driving, Muscat Municipality, Public Sector working, Divorces, Omanisation, Management Issues, Message for Teenagers, Advices like How To Apply For A Job etc) – then they would consider stocking the book. More than 200 copies were sent by me as Complimentary Gifts to very senior VIPs and High Profile personalities in the land, but with just a Thank You Note in responses. With some it was dead silence, and not sure if even they had received my book?
Then came the International arena of things, starting with the International Bookshops running in the country. One wanted a copy to read first ‘to clear the book (I thought there was only one official centre for this kind of activity!) He – with due respects Regional Expatriate – took his own time to read the book, and I had to go to his immediate European boss to push it to finally get its approval to be stocked – after a lot of foot dragging and reluctance. I was so happy because this Company stocks their books in International Airports and in International Hotels.
Then one day I was at a course in this International Hotel in Muscat, and I went to their stall ‘to see my book’! It was put just well inside, and one had to ask for the book if one wanted to buy the book, unalike the family run local bookshop that had put my book in a strategic prominent place and for a very long time too. Lack of support and encouragement is still there!
The irony is that this International run Bookshop stock all the titles of books that many others would call as ‘best kept out filth’ for that matter. Or they would feature Authors (foreign) who have ‘photo books’ of local issues like terrain, mountains, birds, animals etc. It seems the local birds etc fare far better than the local Omani National human being writer for that matter – and maybe if you are a believer of reincarnation than to come back as a local bird or animal, rather than an Omani National Author (or at least trying to be one!!) is still far better!.
In my job as a Freelance Human Resources Consultant, I have come across some International firms and their Managers from those countries that have ‘infested twisted vindictive biased and narrow minds’ of Omanis and their competencies, competencies, skills and talents. What makes it all so sad, tragic, sickening and pathetic is ‘just recently created artificial Senior Local Managers there’ agreeing wholeheartedly and giving credence and credibility to such narrow minded assumptions focus and outlooks.
To be honest and sincere here, in some countries even ‘so-called moderate and Western Supporters too’ they would send some of these expatriates back home en masse and even close down their so-called desire to invest here in the country, let alone allow them to still operate under such circumstances – simply because they have local powerful sponsors – who care the least on such issues but how much more money they are going to make – and how much bigger their tummies will be at the end of the day – let alone listen to complaints and accusations from their own local peers and kind!
But that kind of peoples are the minority, but if these are continued to be allowed and be tolerated, could lead to a lot of future troubles and problems ahead – with the new coming in of age youngsters who are lesser docile, tolerant, patient and understanding. It is high time that these issues are handled thoroughly and vigorously.
Personally I do prefer a person who is straight forward forthright and vocal – rather than a person who is quiet, unassuming and pretends to go along, or looks not caring or disinterested – whilst inside him is burning anger, fire, fury and frustration. If he is able to hide and not show these, who knows what he or she may be capable of doing next??
Think on it for a moment! Take Care!