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Under the lanterns’ glow: unveiling Oman’s entrepreneurial spirit

Ramadan opens up many opportunities for entrepreneurs, particularly women

The Ramadan fairs in Oman are an opportunity to show off creativity, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit Sharon Ang/Pixabay
The Ramadan fairs in Oman are an opportunity to show off creativity, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit

The sun sets in the heart of Muscat and the city bursts into life. 

Streets quiet amid Ramadan’s daytime fast are now bustling with markets. These lively lanes have become a hallmark of Ramadan evenings in Oman’s capital city. 

As my car stills amid traffic on the way to the street fairs, I reflect on the unique blend of tradition and entrepreneurship that characterises this holy month.

Ramadan opens up opportunities for entrepreneurs, particularly women, who turn to fairs and exhibitions to showcase their consumer goods.

These events are not just marketplaces but vibrant showcases of creativity, innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives within the Omani community. 

For many female entrepreneurs, Ramadan presents a golden opportunity to connect with customers, test new products and build their brands in a supportive, festive environment.

There are two reasons why I am always in a hurry to visit these fairs. Firstly, I want to support local businesses, especially women who have turned their passion into a livelihood.

From the intricate handcrafted jewellery that nods to ancient craftsmanship, to the bold fashions that speak of a modern Oman, every item is a narrative waiting to be worn and lived. 

Second, there is the personal anticipation of discovering something unique – the ‘good stuff’ that calls for an early arrival before other shoppers swiftly claim it.

My journey through these souq-inspired exhibition halls is not just about finding the perfect attire for Eid but an exploration of the heart of Omani entrepreneurship.

From a broader perspective, these fairs underscore a vital narrative in Oman’s economic diversification efforts.

They highlight the necessity for local businesses, particularly those outside the government contract ecosystem, to innovate and seek new avenues for growth. 

The entrepreneurial spirit I witness each Ramadan is a beacon of what’s possible with creativity. However, the journey is not without challenges.

Access to funding, market visibility, and sustainable business mentoring are hurdles that many face. 

The entrepreneurial spirit I witness each Ramadan is a beacon of what’s possible with creativity

Yet, the resilience and ingenuity displayed by Omani women in overcoming these obstacles are nothing short of inspiring.

Their success stories, often born out of the bustling Ramadan nights, offer valuable lessons in entrepreneurship: the importance of understanding your market, the power of community support and the relentless pursuit of your passion.

As I arrive at my destination, the air is thick with the scent of Omani halwa. Women greet me with smiles that tell of nights spent in the soft glow of workshop lights and hands weaving tradition into the threads of the future. 

This dynamic represents a microcosm of the potential within Oman’s private sector to drive economic development and innovation.

The lessons learned here, amid the festive atmosphere and entrepreneurial zeal, are applicable far beyond the Ramadan season.

Shared vision

In the midst of this lively scene, my thoughts drift to a recent Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ramadan dialogue session, a melting pot of ideas and shared visions for Oman’s entrepreneurial journey. 

This was not just a discussion of challenges but a celebration of innovation and persistence. Within the chamber’s walls, conversations covered private enterprise in Oman, sharing triumphs and navigating hurdles while expressing the need for all sectors to work together. 

The gathering was a catalyst, stirring Oman’s business community towards collective action and productive changes.

Entrepreneurship is woven into the fabric of our nation. It is a force that is essential for our economic landscape, underscored by tradition, faith, and a drive for innovation.

As the night wears on and I weave through the market crowds under the Ramadan moon, each stall tells its own story of Oman’s historic fusion of tradition, modernity and community.

Rumaitha Al Busadi is an Omani scientist and environmental advocate working on sustainable solutions to climate change in Oman and beyond. Hailing from Muscat, Rumaitha is named in Reuters’s climate hot list and on the BBC 100 Women list for 2023. She has degrees from Harvard and Oxford University

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