Values matter

Al Habib and Company financially supported and sponsored a series of children’s books, as part of its CSR initiative, Ali Malallah Habib, Chairman of the company tells Oommen John P.

Al Habib and Company, one of the largest real estate service companies in Oman, has taken its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative to a new level, by sponsoring a series of children’s books, titled Ahibu Watani (I Love My Country) in order to instill values in children.

‘I love my country,’ is an anthology of eight small parables written by Zainab Bint Mohammed Al Ghuraibiya, an expert on child upbringing, who has to her credit numerous books and research materials on the topic. The stories are aimed at inculcating values in children such as love, empathy, compassion, religious tolerance, patriotism, commitment, social responsibilities, love of nature and so on.

Sheikha, the protagonist is a typical Omani girl who is being taught and trained to grow as a great human being and an ideal Omani citizen who loves her country, serves its people, respects its culture and upholds its values. All through the collection, she is beautifully portrayed as a traditional Omani girl living in the interiors. Each story is told in a simple and lucid style, amply illustrated with pictures in order to drive home the message easily. The first story ‘I love Oman’ focuses on educating children about their rights and duties as responsible citizens of Oman. The story highlights that as citizens of Oman, children enjoy a lot of blessings and privileges which make them obliged to serve the country in return, when they grow up. ‘O God, protect me on the road’ reminds children about driving carefully and warns them about the dangerous consequences of violating traffic rules. ‘My beautiful Garden’ talks about the importance of preserving public amenities and keeping them clean. It also teaches children how to behave politely. ‘I love to work’ exhorts children to be actively involved in the process of nation building by working hard and proving their mettle in their respective areas of expertise.

‘Sheikha and Tortoise’ highlights the harmonious coexistence of man and nature, portraying the beautiful story of a girl befriending a tortoise. ‘A drop of Water… And a unit of electricity’ is a story designed to create awareness against excess use of electricity and water. ‘Sheikha and a date palm tree’ portrays the vital role of date palm trees not only in shaping Oman’s topography but also in the development of its culture and heritage over a period. ‘We are all brothers,’ the eighth and final story in the series which draws on the potential of prayer to unite all human beings in front of God, talks about universal brotherhood and religious tolerance.

Says Ali Malallah Habib, chairman of Al Habib and Company, “We received requests to bring out a series of books on values for the benefit of children. While the first seven books are collection of parables, the eighth book was our suggestion. The collection has been financially supported and sponsored by Al Habib.”

The collection of children’s books was launched under the auspices of HE Dr Fuad bin Ja’afar Al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries recently. The name ‘Sheikha’ was chosen for its longstanding history in Oman and its popularity. “Instilling values in children will go a long way in turning them into responsible citizens in the future. Children can be easily shaped and guided to learn about what is right and what is wrong. It’s the positive values that lead to success,” he says.

“This collection is for children in the age group of three to nine years. Around 5000 sets have been printed and 40 per cent of it is being distributed free of charge,” Ali says. “The collection is basically in Arabic. Plans are afoot to develop a bilingual website,” he says.

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