Founder’s Diary: Muscat

InterNations Founder & Co-CEO Malte Zeeck returns to the Persian Gulf for a brief stint in Oman, attending an official event in our Muscat Community.

After I’d had the opportunity to explore both Bahrain and Qatar last year, it was back to “1001 Nights” for me this spring. In the capital city of Oman, one of the most important trading hubs between East and West since times immemorial, there’s now a flourishing InterNations Community with about 15,000 members.

Two of the Muscat Ambassadors — Rebecca, a New Zealand tour guide, and Fazlul, an events manager from Bangladesh — had invited me to the official event at The Lazy Lizard, the lush open-air restaurant and poolside bar of the Radisson Blue Hotel downtown.

A New Pre-Event Format: The Community Team Talk

Before the actual event started, we’d organized a Community Team Talk for our InterNations Volunteers (coming soon: a more in-depth report on this new format), and I was very impressed by the relaxed, familial atmosphere in the Muscat Community.

It’s our nearly 30 volunteers — three InterNations Ambassadors and 26 Group Consuls — who help to make expat life in Muscat a great experience. About half of them took some time out of their busy schedules to attend this session on a Wednesday night.

There was even a little treat for them in store: when I tried to invite them for a round of drinks to thank them for their commitment, the waiters made a bit of an exception for us and bent the rules about not serving alcohol in hotel meeting rooms. Cheers!

The introduction round gave me lots of insights into our active community life in Oman. For example, we currently have about two dozen InterNations Groups in Muscat, from “Life’s a Beach” and “The Great Outdoors” to the Desi Vibes Group to business networking meet-ups.

I hope I could provide them with some valuable insights into daily life and work at the InterNations head office in return: not only did I tell them about the founding and the company history, but it was particularly important to me to share our vision for the future — to be every expat’s best friend — and to ask them for their own suggestions and ideas.

Unsurprisingly, the volunteers were mostly interested in any and all features we are working on right now to make organizational matters easier for them: the brand-new guest list app, our feedback tool for events and activities, and the newly opened InterNations Volunteer Groups.

A Heart-Felt Thank You to Honor Our Volunteers

In addition to keeping them up to date about the development and growth of InterNations, I especially wanted to say a heart-felt “thank you” for the tremendous energy and creativity they put into hosting all these great activities: every one of them is a new chance for our members in Muscat to meet in person, to get to know each other, and to share their hobbies and interests with other expats and global minds.

For a few especially active volunteers, we’d prepared an “honorary diploma” to recognize their commitment to the InterNations Muscat Community. However, our impromptu award ceremony was cut a bit short since the event had just started and the rush outside to the pool bar began.

On that warm spring night, the weather was just perfect: temperatures were high enough to celebrate outside in the evening, but hadn’t become as unbearably hot as in the summer months.

The InterNations Muscat Event

The Muscat Community Team had set up a great entrance to the event, with an administration desk, a tablet check-in counter, and a Hollywood-style photo wall, which looked very professional.

After Fazlul had introduced me to the friendly crowd of around 200 guests, I seized the opportunity to say a few words of welcome and to thank our volunteers once again for everything they do for the Muscat Community.

Afterwards, it was time to enjoy the party and to talk to as many of our members as I could. The most memorable story of the evening was the definitely one I heard from Julie, a South African expat, who met her husband Andrew from the UK at one of our events and who told me how they eventually got married.

On the following day, I got my first glimpse of Muscat’s sights: Rebecca was so kind as to drive me around on a guided tour of the city. It was amazing to get this offer from an expert who does this for a living — thanks again for the wonderful opportunity, Rebecca!

You can find more information on worthwhile sights in and outside of Muscat in my InterNations Insider Tips for Oman.

(Image credit: Fazlul Karim & Malte Zeeck)

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