So I was staying at hotel in Oman. My friend and I bought tickets to see a show in the Royal Opera House in Muscat.
It was my first time in Oman and like I wrote in a previous post, I had opted to be muhajiba for a weekend rather than deal with potential street harassment.
I kept myself covered and men largely kept their distance. Well after the show my friend and I went back to our hotel and had dinner there. I, being the forgetful Susan that I am, left my phone in the restaurant and had to go back downstairs to get it. … After I had already put my pajamas on!
Not hijab appropriate at all!…. do I throw my abaya on and shayla (the scarf that comes it the abaya) and head down stairs. My friend and I were joking about something as I left the room and closed the door. A man apparently had just left his room a few doors down, stopped and turned around when he heard my voice, and no doubt saw me fidgeting with scarf.
Now, please note, my hotel room was as far away from the elevator as you can get and still be in the hotel. So after a 2 minute walk in silence, I reached the elevator. The man was there. He had already pushed the button.
Of course, as I said, people were pretty much always assuming I am Arab while in Oman. And this guy was no different. He greeted me in Arabic with a “Hi, how are you?” and I replied with a “I’m good thanks, how are you” but in Egyptian dialect. He was a bit confused but whatever.
Then, before we enter the elevator and he asks me, “Wayn al disco?” (where is the disco/club?) I was confused as heck and wasn’t really sure why he was aksing me this. I replied that I didn’t know.
He then asked me where I lived. Again, strange as heck question for someone you meet in a hotel. He did not ask where I am from, but rather where do I live. He then asked if I was staying at the hotel or something like that.
I just said, I am of course a guest at the hotel but I don’t live in Oman. The man then proceeds to ask me again about where the disco is. At this point he is creeping me out and we are both in the elevator.
I just tell him with as much indignation as I can muster, that I don’t know nothing about no disco and that he can ask at the concierge desk (which is where I was headed to see if they had my phone). Why was he still asking me about the disco? Why was he being so insistent about it? I got off on the ground floor, but the guy stayed in the elevator, headed no doubt, to the disco on the lower floors (so he knew where it was all along?????)d….
I got my phone and went back to my room, but reflected on the incident and decided that this guy was looking for something more than just the disco. His barely coded language flew right by me because I don’t know nothing about that stuff… ha ha…
An in retrospect walking out of a hotel room while looking like I was adjusting my clothing (at around midnight) probably led him to jump to some crazy conclusions.
A word on why I think he might have been Saudi… 1. The way he was dressed. He was not wearing Omani clothing and was dressed more like Oman’s richer Gulf Arab neighbors.
2. He didn’t look Emirati or Qatari… not that I have seen every single one, but his features and skin tone didn’t strike me as Emirati or Qatari, based upon my time in both places. 3. His accent. I am not a Gulf dialect expert at all, but he didn’t sound like the Qataris or Emiratis I have heard speak.
But I could be wrong on the nationality front. Truth is, I will never know.
Maybe there is a benign perfectly good explanation for this man’s weird behavior… but I doubt it.