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The Village Sheikh

“When I was young, I used to sit with my friends fishing on the beach
and I would stare at tour boats of Europeans with intrigue”

Fahad is a diving instructor at Euro Dives in Muscat, and took us out on a couple of dives last weekend. I met up again with Fahad at a friend's house party and just thought that his background highlighted the transition from a traditional lifestyle in Oman to a more modern way of making a living through tourism.

Fahad grew up in a small village just to the south-east of Muscat, but always considered himself a Muscat-boy. His grandfather was the village Sheikh and so his family carries a lot of respect within the community, even to this day. Although Fahad doesn't live at home with his family, during Ramadan, he visits everyday for Iftar (the evening meal that Muslims break their fast with during Ramadan).

From about the age of 9, Fahad used to regularly go to the beach with friends from the village and cast their fishing rods into the sea. It was from this age, that he used to encounter tourists passing by on dolphin watching excursions and snorkelling trips. The intrigue started with the snorkelling boats, full of Europeans in swimwear, which was out of the ordinary for locals to be exposed to in this quiet Oman village.

When it came to working, Fahad inherited his fathers fishing boat to supplement the farming he did to make a living. He realised that there was more money to be made from giving tourists tailor-made day trips, than there was from fishing. Fahad started to do many snorkelling and dolphin watching trips for tourists, offering a cheaper alternative to the tour operators form the city, and in turn, he was learning better English and meeting friends that he has to this day.

It was one of these new friends that offered Fahad an opportunity to train as a diver for a local company. It's a job that enabled Fahad to carry on learning English and start saving money for the long term. Fahad is now the dive master at Euro Dives, a PADI registered diving company, and is left with the responsibility to judge the best dive sites depending on the conditions and organise the daily trips.

It was Fahad that took us on a dive to Fahal Island (Shark Island).

 

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