Snippets of the eternal ebb and flow of love, as opinion makers from different walks of life press the pause button on their busy schedules to reflect on the all-pervading emotion called love

 What is LOVE?

Ponderous question, we agree. For although everyone has a finger on the pulse of this universal emotion and, presumably, has an understanding of what it entails, there is no formula to govern its manifestations.

While literary giants over the years have found inspirational ways to describe and define this emotion and indulge lovers with doses of quotable quotes, it is the everyday expressions of love that keeps us captivated. How one perceives and translates this emotion is, in many ways, a voyage into human wants and needs.

With the approaching Valentine’s Day sounding the love gong loud and clear, we invited opinion makers from different walks of life to share their perspectives on this all-conquering emotion.

Here are their LOVE frames…

 LOVE is respect

Respect is one of the main pillars of love, states Sayyida Basma Al Said, Mental Health Counsellor and Psychotherapist

We usually associate true love with red roses, candle light dinners and words of love. At times, we equate it with songs that make us yearn to be with the one we adore…and there are movies that talk about romance and how beautiful it is to fall in love.

As teenagers, we are, often, preoccupied with thoughts of finding our true love and that amazing husband. It is a basic human want to look for love; we are on the lookout for true love and we want to find the one that will truly love us, cherish us and look after us all our life. It is one of those dreams that we all have as teenagers and even as we grow up – may be a bit more among females.

So what really is true love? Is it all that I said above or is it something more deeper and more sincere?

From my point of view, it is being with the person you care about in happiness, in sorrow, in anger and in dismay. True love is respecting that person, which may not be obvious as a teenager, when love is all about the lovely flowers and movies. I think true love is respect and it is one of the main pillars of love. To me, love is knowing when the other person is happy or sad; it is when you know the other person needs support and you are there to give it. True love is eternal.

There are some movies that come to my mind when I think of love, and ‘The Notebook’ is one of them. It makes you feel as if you have got the whole world in your hand. In The Notebook, the part that interested me the most, is the protagonist’s true love for the lady… To me, to have that time and respect and patience is true love and I think the movie showed that in an amazing way.

As we grow up, we notice that our understanding of love changes at every age. When you are a child you have a certain kind of love and when you are a teenager it grows into something else. It keeps changing as you pass through different stages of life – adulthood, marriage, family, old age…

Recently, I enjoyed a new kind of love. May be I have seen it before, but I didn’t realise it. It was when I had my daughter. Every time she looked at me as an infant – she is one year old now – I felt love through her eyes. I actually felt she loves me. Even though she couldn’t talk, I could see it. I can see love through my kids’ eyes. I can see it in my husband’s eyes at times… It’s not the same kind of love I felt when I was a teenager. It is more mature, more rational and more calmer – and I hope it will be infinite.

*Sayyida Basma Al Said is the founder of the Whispers of Serenity Clinic for Mental Health

 LOVE your business

Businessman and entrepreneur Qais Al Khonji presents a professional take on love and career success

Your business should always be treated like a grownup child of yours, and, therefore, loving your business and seeing it grow should be a loveable feeling of pride and joy, despite the tough times it went through.

Seeing how far you have come can be an amazing feeling. In the present situation, some things have become easier, with more inflow, while other aspects seem tough to deal with.

There are, however, a few things you can do to fall in love again with your business…

  1. Join a professional networking group of like-minded people, such as EO Oman chapter, of which I am a member.
  2. Find new opportunities and challenges that will always keep you motivated.
  3. Keep reminding yourself of the good stuff that has happened in the past and repeat with the new challenges you decided to get into.
  4. Remember that failure is a first step towards success. Don’t give up; follow your dreams.

* Qais Mahmood Al-Khonji is the founder of Qais United Enterprises Trading and Genesis International; he serves as a board member for many Omani companies and is known for assisting Omani citizens in starting small businesses in the country

 LOVE is all we need

If everyone focused on peace and love, the world would be a wonderful place, says Jane Jaffer

When it comes down to it, nearly all our thoughts and actions are governed by one of two opposing, powerful emotions: love or fear. An underlying fear of vulnerability, a fear of rejection, or a fear of failure, will lead us to think and act in negative ways – or not act at all. Fear paralyses us. We harm others and ourselves. Love, on the other hand, is really all we need. But learning to love your friends and family is just the easy part. Loving your enemies is a far more challenging task. Forgiveness is the key. An eye for an eye just makes everyone blind.

But it’s not just a case of giving love to friends and foes alike. We must also learn to accept and receive love ourselves. We all have baggage from childhood. Times when adults left us feeling hurt, neglected or misunderstood. We often carry these emotional scars into our adult relationships by developing defence mechanisms. Having a neglectful parent in childhood, may lead us to exaggerate our responses to our partner in order to seek attention. An intrusive parent in childhood may lead one to withdraw or not respond at all. We either maximise or minimise our responses. Sometimes we reject loving gestures because we feel unworthy or because we want to play the victim. Analysing why we think and act the way we do can lead to greater self-awareness and, ultimately, improve our relationships. Being aware of negative thought patterns and asking this question before taking any major decision, can really help. Am I acting out of love or out of fear?

* Jane Jaffer is a writer and therapeutic counsellor.


LOVE of the game

All golfers in the world have this unique love relationship with the game of golf, maintains Azaan Al Rumhy, Oman’s leading amateur golfer

Being a passionate sportsman since I was a little kid of six years got me to devote a lot of my time to practice and compete in tournaments. I have always loved sports in general, but particularly tennis, when I was really young; that was till I switched to golf when I was 14 years old. Pretty much all golfers in the world have this unique love relationship with the game of golf and there have been many jokes about how golfers love the game even more than their wives (hahaha) and find any reason to spare time to have a round of golf! It is even known that ladies who have husbands that play golf are called Golf Widows…

It’s so easy to get addicted to the game once you get the hang of it and start hitting good shots that make you want to come back and play again for the love of the game. For me, personally, being supposedly the best Omani golfer, I feel responsible to practice harder and play better for me to represent my country Oman in the best possible way in regional championships.

* Azaan Al Rumhy is Oman’s leading golfer


LOVE is energy

Learn how to love your own self in a humbling way, is the advice from Rym Aoudia, Director of Knowledge Oman

You are love. I am love. To love is to both give and receive. To love is to uplift. To love is an energy that awakens, connects and transforms. Simply said, yet not easily applied, and that itself is a journey.

To love is to also overcome the barriers that get in the way of truly loving. To authentically love and not just love the concept of love, is to first learn how to love our own self in a humbling grateful way, to tap into love within and not seek it in external matters, and from there we are able to channel out this flow of love to the people and world around us.

Diverse concepts have been moulded to fit the frame of love. Find love within, savour it, be in the moment with it, you will taste it, you will realise and appreciate when you receive it from others and be open to embracing it, you will give it to others; you will be love.

Let us all awaken the love within, give and receive, and live life from the loving vibes.

* Rym Aoudia is an entrepreneur, coach, TV news anchor, and is actively engaged in community leadership and development through Knowledge Oman. She is involved in capacity building and has facilitated sessions in youth empowerment, personal development, creativity and innovation, and entrepreneurship. 


LOVE is all conquering

Love makes life easier to comprehend, feels Saif Al Kindi, author of Tales of Zenus

Love is a word that equals the world to us. It is one of the greatest feelings of existence. It is the core that all relationships evolve around. It is a force that we need to make the world as better as we need to. It conquers both heart and soul, smoothing our conscience to realise what it means to live. With love, life is easier to comprehend and things become meaningful. The more you give love to others, the more you express it to others; the more you feel it, the more you value yourself. Love is a sign of a good heart. It is the air humanity needs to breathe.

Without love, humankind would live in endless turmoil and chaos. We depend on love for living, as it is the water that fills our emotions. It is what makes our bonds exist and grow stronger. In life, one should hold on to those who love them. Nothing can make our lives worth living like the inner feeling we realise as love. If I would write a serenade of love, a thousand words wouldn’t be enough to describe what it really means to be touched by love.

Plant the seeds of love in your heart and water your existence with the love you have from those around you. It is never fair to live your life alone if you want to enjoy every moment of it. Love and spread love to others for life is about love.

* Saif Al Kindi is a teacher of English language. He wrote his first novel in 2007 and published it as a booklet for the students of SQU. His first published book, ‘Tales of Zenus’, is a fantasy novel. He is currently working on two new books. 


LOVE and leadership

Shatha Al Maskiry, Managing Director of Protiviti, equates leadership with sincere love

Leadership today is just like sincere love. You need purpose and passion to fuel your potential. Your vision and values create the environmental culture and it is in your power to tactfully foster that positive climate. Any misalignment between your values and your actions results in consequences that are tough to sustain because progress is usually at the speed of trust.

Good love is sometimes tough love, and it is the same with leadership. Just like lovers, leaders who try to be pleasers end up diluting their essence; without essence, you lose your purpose. Strong leaders always aim high with a need to play a transformational role, which requires authenticity, compassion and strong ethics. We all fail sometimes, be it in romantic relationships or friendships, and the same applies in business relationships. But we can change our mindsets and view such experiences as valuable feedback and lessons to educate others.

What differentiates great leaders is the level of emotional intelligence that they tap into, as it is the core binder of making relationships work, just like it would make a friendship or romantic relationship work. We have heard, many times, that talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. This is a great reminder that lip service does not give any weight to commitment or accountability. It all boils down to the commitments you honour, the deals you close and the people you help.

Those who succeed in life and business keep an eye on the big picture. This means letting go of petty perceived slights and road bumps that present themselves each and every day. When you keep the end goal at the top of your mind, it is easier to negotiate with a difficult client, create successful win-win partnerships, and focus your energy on what is most important.

Good business feeds off good energy – and negative people can destroy an organisation. Entrepreneurs with high EQs know there are enough positive people in the world that there is no need to waste valuable energy managing the toxic ones. Sometimes even high performers are not a good fit if they are manipulative, combative or otherwise a negative force in the office.

Ditto for your love life and business relationships. If someone zaps your energy or otherwise makes you feel bad about yourself, have the strength to move on. Emotionally intelligent people have little tolerance for others who are insincere (or downright lie), critical, needy or have addictive habits.

Just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean that you have to obliterate the bridge. Even if a deal falls apart on a sour note, emotionally intelligent people make all efforts to take the high road and keep the connection alive and positive. You never know when you may cross paths again – or need that person in the future.

*Shatha Al Maskiry leads a multi discipline consulting practice and has 18 years of experience with global firms. She devises strategies to lead with impact through client service excellence across a spectrum of innovative business solutions.


LOVE and responsibility

An unconditional love for the less privileged has defined the lives and goals of Barka Al Bakry, founder member of the Association for the Welfare of Handicapped Children, and Tariq Jawad Al Khabori, founder of Oman Disabled Divers Association, who present their perspectives on the importance of love in the care of handicapped children

For Barka Al Bakry love is a sense of giving. “It is an acknowledgement that you have enough and are able to give a little back,” she says, pointing out that that ‘giving back’ may manifest in a variety of voluntary works – whether it is cleaning the beaches or volunteering in places like old age homes, handicapped centres, etc. were love and dedication is needed. “You have to have an interest and you have to enjoy the act of giving,” she maintains.

Reiterating similar sentiments, Tariq Al Khabori equates love with responsibility. “It is a part of my social responsibility which I have to fulfil, irrespective of the religion I follow,” he stresses.

It was this sense of responsibility that spurred him to initiate events like Race Aid, which saw the publication of a booklet, way back in the 1980s, to raise funds for the handicapped children. He became a part of the Welfare of Handicapped Children with Barka Bakry and Raya Al Riyami and conceived ways to generate funds, one of which was the picture postcards, created from art works made by the handicapped children.

He attributes his long association with NGOs dedicated to help handicapped children to his personal belief that it is a duty to fulfil. Pondering over the subject, he states: “I do not know if it was love for the children or a sense of duty, but thanks to like-minded friends I have been able to do whatever best I could.”

The objective, in all the welfare projects undertaken, is to see that somebody benefits from the ‘giving’, maintains Barka, stressing that love is all about making life a little more easy for the other person.

The element of giving was the inspiration that drove her and the team, including Raya and Tariq, to establish a handicapped centre in Quriyat. Narrating the events leading to its set up, in the early 1990s, she explains: “We knew there were a few handicapped children in Quriyat, but what attracted us was a 12-year-old boy who was deaf and was regarded as mad by the community, as he couldn’t talk to other kids. They threw stones at him and he used to, naturally, react violently. We went there and started an ad hoc school with two children behind the boundary wall of the government school. Raya is the one who did the initial work with the children.

“But we soon had to move from there as the weather was getting warm and the school was reopening for the new term. The local Omani Women’s Association gave us a room, as their activities were limited during summer. But we had to give that up too in October when they started their programmes…”

The team then enlisted the help of mothers to look for a place and picked the old office of the Wali. It was in a decrepit state with broken windows and rusted pipes, but the ladies agreed to turn that into a centre and got together to clean it up and make it habitable.

The core team then went about collecting funds for the renovation and, with the help of some benevolent individuals, managed to open it with a grand inauguration at the hands of Sayyid Bargash Bin Said, the then deputy governor. Barka however recalls that the renovation had happened despite the orders for demolition of the structure by Sayyid Bargash. “I explained to him about the children and he expressed his helplessness as he could not legally give us that place. So I said ok, I will rent it for one rial a month and we signed a contract…” she recalls, adding that the structure later was converted into a library.

There were, however, several snags in the completion of the renovation work. One that she remembers distinctly involved a municipality personnel, who called her up to vent his anger for undertaking the work when they had orders for demolition. “After he finished his rant, I asked him, do you have a handicapped child. ‘Do you think parents who have handicapped children asked for them?’ I said, ‘don’t think you are above anybody. It could happen to you it could happen to me. If you think you are strong today you never know what could happen tomorrow to you.’ And then I banged the phone down. In half an hour he called me back…very apologetically. He said you told me something very painful. You go ahead with the work,” she recounts, adding that it is basic human love that helps us in identifying the goodness in others.

But she feels that the ‘giving’ is never enough. “Sometimes you cannot do everything, but if it is within your power and ability then you are called upon. If somebody needs and calls you, will you have the peace of mind to ignore…?” she asks.

The essence of giving is resplendent in all their activities. There have been many success stories since, but what makes Tariq emotional, even today, is the story of a young handicapped child, whose father approached the Association asking for a wheelchair for her, as she had to otherwise crawl everywhere. The girl was so passionate about her studies that she passed out with the top 95 per cent, he points out, proudly.

In all the positive stories he acknowledges the help rendered by individuals and companies in meeting the needs of the disabled children -whether it is a pharmacy supplying a wheelchair or the Municipality hosting the children at the annual Muscat Festival. “It is always a team work,” he states, crediting the sentiments of care and giving shared by people in the society.


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