In 1959 WENDALL PHILLIPS in his book UNKNOWN OMAN had written ‘In terms of personality, of economics, of politics and of civics, there are no women in Oman; women exist in numbers always greater than men, but their existence is domestic and servile only.’ Again he says:’It has been truly said that the respect in which women are held by the men of a community is in direct proportion to the community’s level of culture and that level rises with the status of women. But this is a lesson that Oman has still to learn’.
In 1995 the ‘women in numbers’ had crossed the threshold towards social and economic advancement. No matter where I went, malls, parks, offices, public places, colleges, they were there, stoic in their resolve to ‘not be silent spectators’ anymore.
In 2000 I had met with and interviewed Omani women breaking stereotypes to walk in tandem with women of the world.
Now, 19 nineteen years later, Omani writer Jokha Alharthi has punctured the ‘silent numbers myth’ with winning the prestigious Man Booker International Prize for her novel CELESTIAL BODIES. A story about family connections set in traditional ‘Omani village slave-owning society’ and moving into a modern present of a rich Arabic culture.
Another bridge crossed.