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Pauline Searle's DAWN OVER OMAN

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Pauline Searle's DAWN OVER OMAN


Searle, Pauline, Dawn over Oman, Muscat:   International Printing Press, 1979.


By Kevin Stoda


            Oman of a half century ago would be unrecognizable for many visiting here today. The late 1950s and 1960s found Oman in the midst of a civil war.   Meanwhile, both the Cold War spies & insurgents plus the drumbeating led by religious wars of the region also shook the Land of Frankincense and Myrrh. This was occurring in a land that had only recently officially abandoned slavery.


Las autumn, when I first moved to Oman, I came across Pauline Searle's   three and half decade-old primer on the country, entitled DAWN OVER OMAN.   Because Oman is such an ancient land, the book still reads rather well in helping any reader to come to terms with current Omani culture and history.   Searle, whose husband worked with Petroleum Development Oman in the days before national reform took place, spent the better part of two decades getting to know Oman as wife, employee, and journalist for Reuters.   She lived in the country starting from a   period when ground wars still enveloped the land through the actual dawning of an age of peace in Oman.   This occurred after the present ruler, Sultan Qaboos took over in the 1970s.


On the one hand, through carefully   gleaning Searle's publication,   DAWN OVER OMAN (1975, 1979),   for pearls of insight into era's gone-by, one can discover what most modern travel books might otherwise provide on Oman's geography, peoples, languages, and traditions.   On the other hand, as the title, "DAWN", of her classic work presupposes, Searle gave witness to a major new set of developments in Oman (since the early 1970s).   This "DAWN" and its fruits are what one now witnesses in Oman.   In short, in a few short decades, Oman has moved from a medieval world into a modern age.   Meanwhile, the very same Sultan Qaboos, who took over in 1970, is still on the thrown here.


An example of the "gleaning approach"that I take when reading a historically important works, such as Searle's DAWN OVER OMAN, might include simply looking at the variety of quotes cited at the beginning of certain sections and chapters of this well-packed 150-page work.   Searle wrote:


"The Kesra named Oman Mazun

And Mazun, O Friend! Is a goodly land

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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