Don’t stop believing

Story Gautam Viswanathan

While there are many routes that can take us to success, this International Women’s Day, both local and expat women in Oman have one clear message to share with all of us: there are no shortcuts to success. On the road to success are several key ingredients that are needed in just the right amounts for those looking to do well in all aspects of their lives. For a well-rounded, balanced and successful life, it is the more intangible qualities such as dedication, sincerity and hard work that will help you go a long way. It is a view shared among scientists, researchers, fashion designers, working professionals, and even astronauts, whose messages of motivation and advice are meant to inspire all.

Never stop dreaming

Anika Mehlis
Analogue astronaut, Austrian Space Forum

The Austrian Space Forum does advanced scientific research with national and international institutions. Thus, its analogue astronauts are carefully selected experts who are trained to undertake activities in the science field while wearing spacesuit simulator prototypes, such as in the Oman desert for the AMADEE-18 mission in 2018.
That I would be an analogue astronaut one day would not have occurred to me even two years ago.


The tough selection process whittled our group down to 16 and finally, to eight. We were tested for physical and medical fitness, endurance, motoric skills, and capacity for teamwork, creativity and patience among other skills. When I was finally chosen as the only female analogue astronaut in the class of 2019, I felt elated, proud and also responsible to be a good role model.

Although gender didn’t play a role in the selection process, the suit that analogue astronauts train in is a hefty 50kg, which sadly causes a selection bias.
Today, as an analogue astronaut and public health professional, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals underpin everything I do. I encourage all Omani girls to take up an area of study they enjoy, to throw themselves into learning and exploring and to never stop dreaming and reaching for those dreams! You can do it!

Never stop learning

Dr Vijaya Padmanabha
Assistant Professor, Modern College of Business and Science

I’ve been teaching in Oman for a very long time, and the one thing I always ask my students to do is to follow their passions and to always be curious.
As teachers, we are here to guide students and help them nurture their talents and their skills, and from what I see in the classroom when I interact with Omani students, both the boys and girls and very sincere. They have the desire to learn and improve themselves.
Of course, this sincerity manifests itself in different ways: I see, for example, that the girls are more sincere in the classroom, when it comes to asking questions and taking notes, but the boys are more active when it comes to networking and reaching out to business owners.

Go PURPLE

Dr Priti Swarup, HR management consultant

Purple is internationally recognised as the colour symbolising women. It is a combination of the calmness of blue and the fierceness of red. It often represents royalty, nobility, power, ambition, luxury, extravagance, dignity, grandeur, pride, and magic. In my journey of self-discovery all these months, I was able to draw upon the real description of colour PURPLE, at least the one that works for me.

P: Prioritise self-love and avoid
procrastination
U: Unlock your potential and uplift other women
R: Recharge mentally and physically
P: Practice gratitude
L: Listen to your body
E: Eliminate guilt

Oman has many talented women

Asma Al Hinai, technical team lead, PhazeRo

My career started after graduating from the College of Applied Sciences in Ibri, in 2015, with a bachelor’s degree in information technology and software development. My first goal was to stand out from the rest of the students in my major. I sought training opportunities in virtual reality and mobile app development through placements that were organised annually by the Information Technology Authority (ITA), despite the incredibly long commutes.
I’ve overcome many challenges, from logistics to scouring the internet, for free high-quality learning resources to try to keep up with the latest tech trends.
My passion continued to grow, along with my skills and knowledge, and enabled me and my team to develop OMX – a smart unified communication server, which became popular and was used by several government and private organisations along with the OMX web conference software.
After three years of career growth, I joined PhazeRo, a youth-run software development company, as a tech team lead. This opportunity has granted me a new challenge, new responsibilities, and spaces to grow further. I’m very grateful and proud to be representing Oman’s women, who are more than capable to lead teams and directly support the growth of emerging tech leaders.

Leave footprints, not trash

Ammu Ravindran, Founder, Save Oman Beaches

We actually began by making bags from fabric to help those affected by the floods in Kerala, as this would also help reduce plastic, and then I thought to myself that it was important to reduce the amount of plastic here as well.
Let’s help clean up the beaches, and we want to tackle one beach every month. We started with Al Hail Beach on January 4, 2019, and we’ve only managed to finish about four kilometres since then: last week alone, we cleared 85 bags of trash, easily about 300 kilos of netting, and so many tyres. The areas we are cleaning up right now are a bit difficult to handle because there are so many things buried under the sand.
It is important to volunteer, because we have a responsibility to look after our environment. Keeping it clean and free of trash is also our responsibility, because we have put it there. I want to leave behind my footprints, not trash.
In the coming weeks, we have a company, as well as some university students joining us, so word is spreading, and it is important for all of us to work together. Otherwise, future generations will end up paying the price.

Creativity knows no bounds

Sherin Mansoor, fashion designer

I have been privileged enough to showcase my designs all around the world, and I see that there is a lot that people across the globe have in common.
So far, I have exhibited my designs in London, New York, Dubai and many other places, and consider myself lucky enough to have been given such platforms, where you get to meet some of the world’s best designers.
But to reach here takes a lot of dedication, sincerity and hard work. When you’re pursuing your passions, you need to prioritise what is important to you, and then put aside all the other distractions. I focus only on couture, customised pieces, but don’t try to restrict myself too much.
Young Omanis are very curious to know what makes a fashion label successful, because some of them are interested in taking it up as a career. Earlier, there were many stereotypes about the fashion industry, but I think people are a lot more broad minded today. – [email protected]