There are a few sharp intakes of breath I can hear around the place. "Don't do it" said my friend Mimi. But don't be alarmed. Firstly, I've no intention of being rude to or about any individual. And secondly, I think most people - heads of state included - like to be told how it is, unedited, once in a while.
You see, Linoleumites, I've been wondering lately whether it's worth the effort to write the odd satire here and there, or rant on about something that irritates me or upsets me, whether it's a world political event or just a social habit. Sure, I get some pleasure out of it, and I'm truly grateful for and delighted by the feedback from readers. Even the negative ones; even the abusive ones, are all cool with me: if I'm simultaneously accused of being anti-Muslim and a Muslim fundamentalist, anti-Arab and an Arab apologist, anti-Western and a Western chauvinist, hating Omanis and making excuses for Omanis, then I must be getting it about right!
But at the same time, I have been asking myself: "but what's it for?". You might have noticed that I've been pretty quiet of late. That's partly down to the pressures of real life, but also maybe a lack of motivation: The posts I write about serious issues (the inspired civil wars across the region for instance), get relatively little response or interest. The ones that are just for entertainment get more - which is fine; making other people smile is rewarding and fun. But the posts here that are about social issues are the ones that seem to capture the imagination. My top ten most popular are almost all about real societal problems. A couple of my more lazy and obvious ones have snuck in there, but a top three of prostitution, FGM and false religious propaganda, satisfies me a lot more. So where to go now with that kind of thing?
Well, here it is: I'm going to write a couple of posts now that I've been thinking about for a while. They might turn out to be a bit of a stream of consciousness, but there's some stuff that needs to be said. Good and bad. Good things that this country's achieved that are not recognised sufficiently, and bad things that need urgently to be addressed for the future. The plaudits for the first, and the challenge for the second, can best be directed at one man. The personification of modern Omani identity: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taymor Al Said. There is a saying in Arabic that I've mentioned before: "your friend is the one who tells you the truth, not the one who believes you". These are the words of a friend you don't know. May God give you long life, Your Majesty: these are the thoughts I'd like to share with you.