Omani families are very close, and that might even be an understatement. In the past few days we have had multiple family members visit, during the most obscure hours of the workweek. This is some thing I really enjoy, but I wasn’t aware of the depth at which these roots go. The extent to which families support each other and tend to one another is incredible. It is not uncommon in a traditional family to have at least seven siblings and extended families are spread out over multiple generations. This creates a very strong family identity and personal network, lasting through all stages of life.
Whenever my young siblings need to be looked after for an extended period of time, they will simply visit their grand parent’s house. There, it is always very busy with people coming in and out. Large portraits of their ancestors line the hallways in simple wooden frames. Along the winding corridors are extra bedrooms, quite a surprising number for a house of its size. It was pretty perplexing for me. I understand that at maximum capacity the house must sustain a family of more than seven, though all their kids are well past 20.
In this culture, living on your own is stigmatized quite a bit. Most men and women do not leave their homes until they are married. Even under the circumstance of divorce, one must still return to the family home. If their child chooses to find education elsewhere, upon their return, they are expected to come back to the family. I know quite a few people who choose to pursue an education locally for that reason.
I do think it is important to keep this bond to your family. It is not strange here for a thirty year old to share a car with their siblings. If anything, there is high value placed on respecting your elders.
When I asked someone to explain it to me, she was able to put it quite simply. She said, these years are the most formative years of your life, why shame your most valuable mentors. She added how important it was to see the world, but not to forget to go home.