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  • It had been a long day. After my second failed attempt to decipher the characters of a restaurant sign hanging above a goat meat grill in the busy Salalah side street, my colleague Hamed looked across with an excited, and possibly mischievous, glint in his eye.

    ‘You know Gary, in heaven everyone speaks Arabic,’ he said.
    ‘Oh really? Wow. I’d better get practising.’

    It did cross my mind that I was being presumptuous. I mean, unlike everyone else in my office, I have never taken the Muslim pledge of submission to the will of God. I’m pretty sure they would all like me to. On the positive side, I did recently feed a hungry cat in an empty street behind my apartment and I’m hoping that sort of thing might eventually work in my favour. Hamed just shook his head.

    ‘Practise or not, for that it makes no difference.'
    ‘Ah, so, maybe I don’t need to bother.’
    ‘But it will be good for you in this life if you practise.’

    I signed up for a 50-hour course last Wednesday.
    It will be good for me in this life, Inshallah.
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