Man-o-man

Back to Oman this week after a gap of a few years, after finally managing to persuade the boss that the department travel budget isn’t actually his money.

It’s a place that I’ve visited a lot since moving to the region and on my last trip I stayed over and ran the very excellent Muscat Marathon, clocking a personal best (though suspect the course was short!). For that a few other reasons it’s a place I’m quite fond of.

One of the reasons I like it is the difference between it and Dubai, everything from the slightly scabby airport to the fact the locals have regular jobs and – shock, horror – even drive taxis! Whilst the Omanis have regular jobs (and unlike the UAE about 70-80% of the population are locals) they approach work with a ‘pro-active approach to work-life-balance’, so that after the 4pm the office is deserted. It’s a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Dubai, but I must admit it’s too quiet for me and couldn’t imagine working over there.

Like everywhere in the Gulf, there is still a massive difference between the have and the have-nots and it was interesting to visit a couple of construction sites and realise the guys live and work on site. Catching a few z’s between shifts. Not a lot of privacy.Fitting the ceiling.

I’m not about to enter the debate about the working conditions of builders in the region as I can see both sides of the argument, but suffice to say, its a pretty tough way to carve out a living and I do feel for them. When we’re bitching about the slightest bump in our five-star privileged lifestyles, we should think about these guys and get a bit of perspective.

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