Women volunteers from Oman's Ahad Foundation on Sunday distributed aid in areas affected by Cyclone Shaheen as the sultanate marked Omani Women's Day.
The foundation was set up in January by Oman’s First Lady, Ahad Al Busaidiyah, wife of Sultan Haitham, to help women, people with disabilities and low-income Omanis.
“The aim of Ahad Foundation today is to provide women and children in the cyclone-affected areas with emergency requirements," Ahmed Al Shikeili, director of communications and media in the royal court, told The National on Sunday.
Cyclone Shaheen hit Oman on October 3, causing 12 deaths and widespread damage that forced more than 5,000 people to move to shelters set up by the government.
Most of the damage was in the towns of Al Musannah, Suwaiq, Saham, Khaburah and Sohar in the Batinah region, which was hit by winds of 110 kilometres per hour and 12-metre waves.
On Sunday, volunteers of all ages took part in the distribution of packets of food, clothes and household items in seven cyclone-affected towns.
“Female volunteers as young as 17 and women in their 60s are here to help. It is a very worthy contribution.. in a very honourable and humanitarian way. It is rewarding to see many happy faces when we drop the supplies to them,” Mayam Al Habsi, one of the volunteers, told The National.
Women and men in the Batinah region praised the effort.
“It is good to see a group of women coming with loaded vehicles to help us with our losses," Fahima Al Hadhrami, from Al Musannah, told The National.
"They are distributing all the basic requirements that we lost in the cyclone. My family and I are very grateful."
Rashid Al Harthi, a civil servant whose house in Al Musanah was damaged by the cyclone was also among the beneficiaries. “The fact that there is a woman in every household affected by the flood, means men also are benefiting from the supply," he said.
"Now I know and fully acknowledge the contributions of our women in our society.”
Lamya Al Hajj, an associate professor of Molecular Biology at Sultan Qaboos University and a member of Ahad Foundation, said women had contributed greatly to Oman's development.
“Today we celebrate the achievements of Omani women in the development of this great country. Omani women have been among the first in the region to occupy important and diverse positions both locally and internationally and have taken big strides towards the development of Oman,” said Dr Al Hajj, who was honoured by the first lady this year for her contributions to women's empowerment.
The first lady has been honouring Omani women in different professions since Sultan Haitham succeeded his cousin, Sultan Qaboos, who died in January last year after ruling Oman for five decades.
Oman has three women in the Cabinet, holding the portfolios of education, higher education and social development. There are two women representatives in the Majlis Al Shura, an elected body which advises the government, and 12 in the state consultative council, which advises the sultan.