Things have been quiet until very recently. There was a riot in Sohar which was well publicized a few weeks ago. Several demonstrators died. What happened is some distance from the inland mountains where I now live here in a town in Oman where it is often far more traditional and conservative than the cosmopolitan coastal areas. However, even in this elevated position, things are changing fast. Students went on strike today asking for more money and better conditions. The strike is expected to last at least a week. Students spent the best part of of the day voicing their concerns and vocally demonstrating on the college campus.
Yesterday, in a nearby restaurant, an Omani student asked an English teacher to put out his cigarette. The teacher continued smoking aware of a voice commanding obedience and an intense stare. Eventually, the teacher finishes his cigarette and leaves. This small yet telling incident revealed in a college cafe earlier this afternoon suggests to me that there is now a new-found confidence amongst young people in Oman who are just beginning to find their voice. Whether this is a voice which imitates the West or opposes it; finds its own way in the world or rejects it, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the Arab region has created its very own cultural tsunami.