March 26, 2021
CHECKING IN WITH DEEPAK NAIR
Founder, Editor and CEO, DestinationOman
Tell us a little about yourself and your business.
I am an IT and media entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of my company, Interactive Digital Media Technologies LLC, which I set up in 1999. DestinationOman is the web portal founded by me in 2001 focused on Oman in-bound travel; the annual print edition first came out in 2004. I founded another portal focused on Oman corporate public relations called Oman Vistas in 2006. By default, I am also the editor of DestinationOman and Oman Vistas.
How long have you lived in Muscat? What drew you to Oman initially, and what led you to make your home there?
I arrived here 29 years ago in 1992 from India, and Muscat has been my home since. I had just finished my master’s degree in Communication & Journalism in 1990 and was working as an advertising copywriter in Mumbai for 1.5 years when a friend offered to send me a visit visa to make a trip and explore the opportunities firsthand. So I came just for the lark of it, but I liked the place and stayed on, as I was lucky to find a job, too, in a reputed media company.
How has the country changed over the course of the time you have lived there?
When I arrived here in 1992 the country was modern, and over the years many more developments took place toward modernization. For example, there were no mega shopping malls and hypermarkets then, but now we have huge malls and hypermarkets spread all around Muscat and also across the country in all 11 governorates. Private hospitals were also not heard of in the early 1990s, but now we have so many of them all over the country. We also have excellent infrastructure in the shape of roads and telecommunications.
What changes has Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq introduced over the past year, and how have they and his rule been accepted by the citizens?
His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq had vowed to continue with the policies laid out by his predecessor, the late Sultan Qaboos, and that is what is happening. He has continued with his progressive vision, and citizens and residents of this blessed land are equally happy.
What do you think makes Muscat a good place to do business, and what sectors provide compelling opportunities for foreign investors and businesses?
It is not just Muscat, the capital city, but the entire Sultanate of Oman offers ample opportunities for foreign investors. The most important factors being a stable government, a most modern infrastructure, trade free zones and modern banking and financial systems. The Sultanate of Oman also offers excellent lifestyle and recreational facilities for foreigners.
What do you think are the best aspects of Muscat and Oman?
The best thing about Muscat or Oman is the people are kind and friendly; all foreigners and expatriates are treated well here, and every visitor would feel much at home and carry back good impressions. Muscat is a modern city which is blended with the rich culture and traditions of Oman and its beautiful people.
History, beaches and culture provide abundant options for sightseeing and recreation. Visitors can charter boats for fishing and diving. The waterside corniche lined with date palms and monuments connects the historic fish market and Mutrah Souk. One of the oldest traditional markets in Oman, it features handicrafts, jewelry and silverware. Follow the corniche south toward the massive city gates into the ancient center, now a region of restored historic adobe huts and flowery boulevards surrounding the sultan’s palace.
Scattered in both regions, museums focus on culture and folklore. The National Museum of Oman, opened in 2016, features digital immersive experiences and children’s discovery zones among its 14 permanent galleries. Tourist attractions include restored Portuguese forts Al Jalali, Al Mirani and Mutrah. Keep in mind offices close for lunch from noon to 2:30 p.m.; stores close from noon to 1 p.m., then remain open until 8 p.m.
At night, the area north of Seeb transforms into a warren of fish restaurants and clubs where shop windows display dazzling, colorful women’s ensembles of harem pants, gauzy veils and jangling coinage. The multidisciplinary Royal Opera House presents an incredible array of programs including ice skating shows, classical ballet and opera, symphonies and timeless Arab songs. Oman’s leading arts and cultural institution, this mammoth gold and marble structure, surrounded by extensive gardens, merits a visit in itself.