My Year in Oman: An American Experience in Arabia During the War On Terror (American Experiences in Arabia During the War On Terror Book 1)

ABOUT Matthew Heines

Matthew Heines
Matthew Heines is a teacher and a writer. He has taught from Anchorage, Alaska, to Washington State in the U.S. He has also taught English for seven years in the Sultanate of Oman and four years under military contracts in Saudi Arabia. He is a graduate of Washington State University and t More...


What do you do when you find yourself alone in Arabia during the beginning of the War On Terror?

A month after the September 11th attacks, the somewhat skeptical teacher and ex-paratrooper decides to take a job teaching English in the Sultanate of Oman. In spite of the warnings of friends, family and the U.S. State Department, the author arrives in Oman to find the country is nothing that he had imagined.

What do you do when you find yourself alone in Arabia during the beginning of the War On Terror? A month after the September 11th attacks, the somewhat skeptical teacher and ex-paratrooper decides to take a job teaching English in the Sultanate of Oman. In spite of the warnings of friends, family and the U.S. State Department, the author arrives in Oman to find the country is nothing that he had imagined.

My Year in Oman

Matthew D. Heines

Heinessight, Inc.

9780990879305      $15.99


My Year in Oman: An American Experience in Arabia During the War on Terror should be read by any who have an interest in Middle East culture and affairs in general, and terrorism and education in particular. It's that important, and comes from the perspective of an American teacher, ex-paratrooper and writer who taught in the U.S. before challenging himself by accepting a teaching job in Oman.


One of the delights here is Matthew Heines' exploration of his own pre-conceived notions about what Oman will be like, in contrast with its reality. Not only does the country little resemble his imagination, but his experience there is something he couldn't have prepared for. (In fact, before he left for his new job, he couldn't even definitively identify Oman on the map!)


How many teachers would travel to a land they didn't know in pursuit of money and a challenging new position? How many would rent their own cars at a strange airport in the middle of the night and head off into what looks like a desert when they are stranded at the airport? And how many would fall in love with a beautiful Indian girl while on a two-week vacation, only to run into the secrecy that often permeates Indian society and relationships?


Layers of intricacy and cultural encounters come to life in a story that is far more than a travelogue. In fact, readers who come to My Year in Oman might be disappointed in its lack of 'fluff': there are no insights on where to stay, what to eat, what to do. This is autobiography and cultural inspection at its best and, as such, is a recommendation not so much for the armchair traveler as it is for those passionate about other cultures, other worlds, and thinking outside the box of the familiar travel or work pursuit.


Matthew Heines had many choices in his career. He chose to accept something different - and then, to share these insights in a powerful book that moves beyond autobiography into the realm of truly experiencing life and all of its swings.


Heines writes that "Humans have occupied Oman for the last ten thousand years. Archaeologists have uncovered settlements near Muscat that date back at least that far."


Given that this culture is ancient and its position in the region is central, it's a no-brainer that My Year in Oman should be considered for any reader interested in Middle Eastern culture and peoples.


Any who pick up the book expecting an entertaining travelogue will be in for a treat: it's so much more, and packs in the depth and attention to detail that doesn't just entertain: it educates. And, after all, that's where Matthew Heines's passion really lies.

D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, MBR

Book Review: My Year In Oman by Matthew D. Heines

Posted on December 11th, 2014

by Simon Barrett in All News, Book Reviews, Reviews


An American Experience In Arabia During The War On Terror

 Most people today seem to have lost the will to read a book, the world revolves around incomprehensible encoded messages 140 characters in length. So here is the review:

IMHO #MattHeines GR8 book US teacher in #Oman, local ppl ^5, culture dif, h8s uni teaching sys, falls 4 #Indian, 5*

OK, now let’s actually talk about My Year In Oman. Although I deny it if asked, under torture I will admit that I subconsciously put books in genre pigeon holes, however this one eludes my neat filing system, it has so many facets. It is part travelogue, part biting criticism of an education system, part love story, and part reflection of the differences between cultures.

It is September 11 2001, Matthew Heines finds that sleep is eluding him, he catches CNN right as they are showing The Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre with gaping holes in them.

What could a teacher do to fix the obvious rift between the US and the Middle East? No one man is capable of changing the world. Sure many have tried, but few have succeeded, at least not for the better.

For Matthew Heines 9/11 was the perfect storm, for six grueling years he had toiled in the public school system, what a waste of a Masters degree in education. Schools were not interested in teaching, all they were looking for were coaches that could push students to pass standard tests.

It was with sadness and a huge amount of empathy that I read this biting criticism of our school system. Teaching alas is a lost art. To me a teacher is someone that imparts the skill to learn, the thirst for knowledge and the ability to think. Not some moron cramming test answers into kids heads.

Within two weeks Matthew had found his calling, teaching English in a University in Oman. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually quite a lot. The school turned out to be a university in name only. The students were indeed of university age however their abilities in the English language were anything but. While this lack of English was a hurdle it was compounded by culture. Many of the students came from wealthy backgrounds and had little enthusiasm for learning, this was compounded by a management philosophy of too rich to fail.

Matthew writes all of this with humor, however it was clearly a less than humorous situation. I have great admiration for the lengths that he went to attempting to motivate his students. Oddly enough this effort seemed to create an air of resentment, not with the students, but with the faculty. New brooms they mused were no more effective than old ones.

The second aspect of My Year In Oman that caught my attention is Matthews personal life. Omani men do not take lightly to foreigners messing with their women. It is a sure fire way to end up with broken or missing body parts or worse! The solution therefore was to find social contacts among the other foreign workers in Oman. Americans were a little scarce, I am sure that Matthew was not the only one in the country, but they were hard to locate. Brits, Ausies, South Africans, and Indians were more plentiful.

Having spent extensive time working and socializing with people from all over the world, I found the stories pretty darn funny.

Matthew does fall in love with a very pretty Indian woman, there is little humor in the story, and once again he is faced to accept the fact that love cannot always conquer culture.

I give very high marks to My Year In Oman. We all look for aspects in a book that we can relate to. I found many. On the humor side was his love of camping and BBQ’ing burgers. Why on earth you would travel half way around the word to make burgers is beyond me. On the envy side, Indian food. It is a very fine cuisine. It has been 6 years since I had an Indian meal, apparently it just doesn’t work in rural Mississippi. On the Culture side, Culture is what it is, we may live in a global world, but it is not going to change anytime soon.

To get your own copy of My Year in Oman use the Amazon link above, you will not be disappointed.

 Simon Barrett in All NewsBook ReviewsReviews 


"I finished your book yesterday, and I want you to know how much I enjoyed it. You did a great job describing the country, the people, the contrasting cultures, and your relationships..."


Bellevue Washington

"...It was hilarious; because as a student in a private school I've been taught by many Western teachers as well. I've sure been part in that scene myself; where the poor teacher totally loses track! 


Hala Ahmed

I want to start this Review by quoting what the author had to say in a conversation on Page 475 of this book.

Back in America, he is asked by colleagues to join them for something to do, but he declined as he is busy writing this particular book. And in conversation, this is what he has to say about Oman..."Well, about my experiences. I've been almost every place and I've met lots of wonderful people. Oman is the best country I have ever been to and I'd like people in my country to know about it."

I did not know much about this country in the Middle East. I don't remember reading about it in school, nor have I read or seen media coverage on it.
I recently looked up Middle Eastern countries and found Oman. I'm glad that
I chose this particular book to read as it is quite interesting.
The author gives us great insight on Oman, and he writes about all of his adventures.

These adventures detail the Omani people, their history, culture and geography. His role as a college English teacher, an avid weekend explorer/ camper, as well as a man who falls passionately in love with a woman from India, is what keeps this book so interesting.

Well before I finished the book, I ordered his next book, which I believe sends him back to this beautiful land. Hopefully it will be on my door step any day now.