Al Amana Centre welcomes Pyry Paulasaari, a Finnish student from the University of Stirling in Scotland. Pyry arrived mid-August and is with us for six weeks. Thanks for all that you are doing, Pyry!
Salaam Aleikum! This beautiful wish of peace is often countered with an English “welcome!” when I visit the corner shawarma stand here in Muscat. I like to think that my pronunciation isnʼt the problem, but that the shopkeepers are starting to recognize me. While I wait for my wraps, another employee hands over a cup of sugary mint tea. Just beyond the marketplace where Iʼm enjoying the bustle of a cooling Omani evening, the tide of the Sea of Oman is reaching its lowest point.
In this tranquillity of sipping tea and waiting for piping hot delicacies, itʼs easy to forget that those waters have seen much tension in recent months. Attacks on oil tankers have brought regional challenges to the fore in a profound way. While situated at the shore of these water leading to the “jugular vein” of global oil trade Oman remains among the most peaceful countries in the entire MENA region.
Retaining ties all across the region, combined with the countryʼs history as a seafaring nation, has ensured no lack of diversity, as centuries of trade with Asia and Africa has brought peoples of all shapes and sizes into the very same markets where I now search for the secret to sustainable peace experienced here. Being accustomed to diversity has brought openness and acceptance of the other, making it possible for even the most disgruntled parties to join each other in discussion over coffee and dates. When conflicting parties listen to and begin to understand one another, the foundations of lasting peace are established.
Despite my devoted search, my tenure falls short of Al Amanaʼs over century-long legacy of taking this Omani Way to heart. Bringing people from all backgrounds and world-views around a shared table, these individuals get to challenge their own concepts of the ‘otherʼ – and ultimately their own understanding of the surrounding world. With confidence that this Omani Way of peace-building can be exported, both locally and globally, I keenly follow what this country can teach me. Perhaps Iʼll even get a response in Arabic one day.
Student, International Politics and Law