But another characteristic is the class system. To those who live in Oman, such news is not news. It is as obvious and un-newsworthy as the fact the sky is blue.
The prevalence of class is also common in the Gulf, and in the society of our neighbours. It is also prevalent still everywhere else pretty much, but in the West these days it is much better hidden. In India as well, the caste system is alive and well, and is partially imported into Oman too.
Lets be honest - if you're not obviously a man of means, it helps to be white in Oman. Or even better a white female. You get better treatment - at pretty much any service establishment - than if you happen to be - as Maz Jobrani so aptly put it in his upcoming comedy tour show ... "brown and friendly".
Omanis have their own stratifications too. Perhaps a few of my Omani readers are better placed to enlighten us on that. And the relative positioning and conditions we can debate. But there is a tremendous class system in Oman.
As one tiny way of supporting my outrageous statement, here's a recent story of an Expat (not white) Accountant visiting the ROP:
An incident that happened to myself the other day when i visited Oman Traffic Office (not very sure the department it goes by) to renew my registration. As it was a weekend (Thursday) for me i visited the office in Seeb to renew my registration. I approached the officer at the front desk who offers you a ticket number. He looked at me and said "You need to leave the building NOW". I was surprised and i asked him what happened. He told me i was wearing shorts !!
I was wearing Capri Pants (AKA 3/4 shorts). I was decently dressed with a proper haircut and spoke well mannered. It was a shock to myself and a friend who accompanied me. I quitly walked out of the office and my friend went to a higher official to inqury about this. An office with 3 stars asks him "HE ENGLISH OR BRITISH" (the two mean the same) and he says NO.
The officer says "he has to change and come back".
Well i understand racial discrimination in certain countries. But lets look at it this way.. Out of 9/10 Omani picked randomly from the street they have a brown skin tone. So why is a "WHITE MAN" allowed to walk into a traffic office in shorts and a person with brown skin tone being asked to go back home and dress appropriately.
I would note the officer could just be discriminating on the basis of Nationality, not skin colour, according to the written report...
Photo: Cops in Bermuda: would those shorts would only be acceptable in Oman because he looks British?
Its just that the services sectors - including Government - could make a bit more of an effort to reduce the racism. I know there are issues of variable levels of illiteracy, sophistication, education and behaviour.
But we could start to treat each other with a bit more respect, on the basis of our common humanity.