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Oman Summit

On conferences.

MUSCAT, Oman- “I strategically positioned myself in the back of the room,” a British banker joked to an older white dude who was sitting to his right. I got the joke.

We watched a promotional video for Duqm.

Someone was presented with a ceremonial dagger in the front of the room.

“There is no economy in the world that can survive from only one sector. In this case oil and gas,” a man wearing a yellow turban speaking in a panel said.

I was at the Oman Free Zone summit today. Development stuff — building new cities in the middle of the desert stuff. These events are clutch for meeting the people that I want to get to know and to do interviews on the sidelines but the actual programed talks and panels tend to be a little on the hard to watch side. This is normal for conferences on all topics everywhere. I have no idea why.

These conferences are generally made up of rather interesting people who do rather interesting things who get up on stage just bore everybody into oblivion. I often meet with them later and they provide essential insights and intriguing perspectives. I don’t know why they don’t say the same things on stage that they tell me when talking one on one. Maybe it’s safer to be boring?

So I usually spend my time wandering around, taking pictures, making small talk, scoping out people to engage, and drinking massive amounts of coffee.

I also gouge myself on food. The meals are usually grad-A buffets, and everybody jests “This is why we really come to these things,” but they’re often not joking.

Although I have to admit that I usually spend most of my time hanging out with the camera goons. These are the guys they bring in to photograph and film the event. After about three hours in they’re about ready to blow their brains out. I went to film school for this?!?

“It’s so difficult to find anything interesting to photograph here,” one of them lamented.

I like the camera guys, well, mostly because I like cameras and we can geek out together.

These guys also tend to be working class dreamers who like drinking beer. Kind of like me.

I sneak out of the conference at strategic intervals to run to the bar around the corner. It’s a sports bar and has happy hour from noon to 10 pm. “Shouldn’t that just be called a happy day?” The Indian bartender agreed.

The beer tasted good. Real good. Tiger — one of my favorite beers.

I’m not a craft brew guy. Why would I want to pay twice the price for beer that tastes like sour garbage? Give me a Budweiser, a Mythos, a Tiger, a Tsingdao, a Kingfisher, a Stella. I like laobaixing beer that has the taste of a place and the aroma of a culture. I have no need for wooden axe cutter blueberry pale ale.

I returned to the conference and ate a massive, incredible buffet lunch. It was probably the best meal I’ve eaten in months. This alone was almost worth the trip to Oman.

Filed under: Oman, Travel Diary

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3547 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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