Colonel Abdulwahab Abdulkarim Al Balushi (retd),
Former senior member of the police force, trainer, coach and motivational speaker
The impact of the corona virus pandemic is felt globally and its reverberations are also seen and felt in Oman. The immediate impact of the COVID-19 virus is the disruption it has caused in the daily lives of people in Oman.
People are all confined to their homes. Most activities have been closed down and businesses are affected drastically. The government has reduced its work force to only 30 percent, while the health sector is burning the midnight oil.
Oman is lucky
Analysts have noted that the global economy could shrink anywhere from one to three per cent in 2020 because of the pandemic. As far as the region is concerned, the COVID-19 impact will be a major factor in reducing oil prices for a long time. Therefore, its effect on Oman’s economy is enormous as the country relies mainly in the export of oil. But again, compared to other nations, Oman has been lucky in many ways. By the grace of Allah and the great planning of the government, we have not experienced any shortage of food supplies or any other goods. Therefore, the disruption has not been as devastating as it has been in other countries.
Crisis will slow down efforts
Unfortunately, the corona virus crisis has come at a time when His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik Al Said has just been appointed as the new Sultan of Oman. Naturally, this could slow down the efforts of His Majesty Sultan Haitham to embark on various developmental plans. But it goes without saying that peoples’ lives are more important and therefore that takes the top priority over everything else.
Positive aspects of the crisis
There is always a positive aspect to any given situation. And this current crisis has helped many in adopting a new way of life. Today, like never before, the Internet has become a way of life and in line with social distancing. Businesses, schools and many sectors are working remotely. I hope this new way of working and doing things through the use of technology and net culture continues to flourish. It is refreshing to note that there have been many advances and positive outcomes in the educational arena.
Blessing in disguise personally
I also feel that this crisis is a blessing in disguise in the arena of family bonding. The virus has brought families closer together. Of course it has had an adverse effect on individuals whose livelihoods depend on day-to-day work and don’t have any other sources of income. As in any society there are segments that work independently and this particular pandemic has become a nightmare in their day-to-day affairs. So this pandemic impact has its positives and negatives.
Personally speaking, recently, a brother-in-law of mine had passed away, and as culture has it, after burial we gather for three days to mourn and receive condolences from family and friends, but because of COVID-19 we were unable to do this. Similarly, I had some friends and relatives who had fallen sick. But, instead of visiting them to boost their morale, all I could do was to call and enquire about their health.
On the positive side, I have been able to utilise my time in doing many things that I was not able to do before, such as reorganising my papers, documents and files and also catch up with my readings. I could spend quality time at home with family and also became a much-needed handyman at home.
Good for the environment
On the environment front, I feel that this COVID-19 has brought upon miracles. It has helped in clearing the pollution across the globe. The quality of the air has become much better; the ozone layer hole has shrunk. In a way, the corona virus has imparted a great lesson to all of us on the major responsibility of taking care of the environment.
Many lessons learned
In fact, this crisis is teaching us a lot. The government itself will be more focused on reducing the cost of running businesses, which inevitably will help the economy in the long run. This COVID-19 season has also brought into sharp focus the stark need for all of us to pay more attention to our health system and how we need to make it much more efficient, more capable in dealing with such events like the pandemic in the future. More importantly, the crisis has shown man’s ability to cope and to flow with the tide and see the good side to even a problem!
Moving towards globalisation
The COVID-19 pandemic is closing borders and disrupting supply chains, but it can’t stop our long-term movement toward a more interconnected world.
In the months ahead, we are likely to see one of the sharpest economic contractions on record, and the downturn will undoubtedly serve as yet more evidence for those who have argued in recent years that globalisation is coming to an end, or at least being rolled back. However, globalisation is a reality, and it will continue to be so, because the world is so interdependent. Of course, countries like the US and parts of Europe will see them taking greater charge of their economies, but the rest of the world will not toe the line.