Tears begin to well up as old memories come alive and unleash a unique nostalgia for Ahmed Harub al Mahrouqi, a 60 year old adventurer, who had the privilege of meeting Late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, as a little lad, way back in the seventies.
Mahrouqi, who currently works as an HSE professional at Sultan Qaboos University, told TheWeek that he had returned with his parents from Africa in the early seventies at a time when the young, forward-looking Sultan Qaboos had taken up the reins of he sultanate. The then existing population of Oman, and other citizens who returned from foreign lands, had put great trust in HM’s vision as he embarked upon his ambitious task of building modern Oman, he asserted.
Mahrouqi, now well-known for leading and guiding desert expeditions across Oman as well as other countries, fondly recalls the time when he got a unique opportunity to ride a horse along with Sultan Qaboos at Seeb, when he was a ten year old boy. Like him, many other young boys (many of whom are well placed in Oman today) also got this rare privilege given by the Sultan, who was immensely affable and approachable to his subjects in the early years of the Blessed Renaissance.
“Indeed, it was a great privilege to ride His Majesty’s horse along with him in 1973, at a time when he used to reside in the Seeb Palace,” Mahrouqi recalls adding, “He used to ride from Al Adiyat towards Seeb beach, along with a few guards of his armed force. And we, as kids, would feel thrilled to follow him. He would then stop and give each one of us 100bz and our joy knew no bounds to be gifted by the Sultan himself.”
He further says, “Around 50 children would always be following the Sultan’s horse whenever he came to Seeb beach and he would stop and pick us up, turn by turn, for a ride of about 50m each. I had been one of the lucky few on one evening. That was one privileged ride I will always remember.” Mahrouqi says he also got more chances to see His Majesty at close quarters during some of his tours in Adam as well as once in Marmul, in 1985, when HM visited an exploration site there and presented all those present with RO100 each as he left. “These memories never fade,” he adds.
“We have lost a great leader and no Omani of the current generation can ever forget him or what he has done for all of us,” Mahrouqi says, adding that he feels privileged to have witnessed HM’s progressive journey over four to five decades of his own life.
He also recalls one of HM’s early addresses when he spoke to people in the shade of trees, but pledged to build a modern Oman that every citizen would be proud of some day.
On January 23, at 9am, Mahrouqi will embark on a meaningful journey from a place called Al Jama in Adam, from where the process of building the nation began.
“This is the place from which Ahmed bin Said al Busaidi, the great, great grand father of Late HM Sultan Qaboos, started out a journey from Adam to Sohar to finish his studies and, in 1744, became the Imam of Oman,” Mahrouqi says, adding that he would take up a similar journey to commemorate this memorable journey – a milestone in Oman’s history in the 18th century.