The New Londoners

Arwa Al-Khaburi with her daughter Lujain, and sons Talal and Ali.

“I did my undergraduate degree in Dentistry at Bristol University, and from there went on to do a membership exam at the Royal College of Surgeons in Glasgow,” says Omani Arwa Al-Khaburi, “I went back to Oman for ten years, got married, had children, and then decided it was in their best interest, and mine, to return, so here we are.”

“Upon returning in 2009 I decided to continue my studies, gaining a postgraduate qualification in Periodentology, the study of gum disease, by 2013.” She now works in various practices and teaches at Guy’s Hospital.

Arwa hopes to get indefinite leave to remain; as an Omani, she cannot have dual nationality and is not willing to renounce her citizenship.

“Whether post-Brexit intolerance has been inflated by the media or not, I feel like the discrimination is still something experienced by the minority—neither myself nor my children have experienced it here,” she says, “I’m confident and hopeful that any new laws won’t affect me given the qualifications I have.”

The children’s father, her ex-husband, lives in Dubai and comes to visit often, as do Arwa’s parents, sisters and brother. The Al-Khaburi family returns to Oman twice a year to visit Arwa's parents and the whole family, including their father’s family.

“My children think of themselves as Omani,” explains Arwa. “Even the youngest who was five months old when I came here, is very patriotic”.

Her daughter Lujain speaks broken Arabic though her passive understanding is good. “The boys less so—my son Talal came here when he was four and didn’t really develop the language at that age.”

Arwa: I miss Oman; I miss the good things about it: the weather—even though it’s really hot, it’s what I’m accustomed to. I miss my family and my ex-husband’s family very much. The pace of life as well, although they say now that it’s quite fast compared to what it was like when I left. And I miss the family support.

Arwa’s family have no intention of leaving Oman: “My parents, they come here for a week or so and they’re in their seventies so they wouldn’t be able to adapt to a different lifestyle away from their friends and their community. I wouldn’t expect it from them.”

“There are many Omanis in London,” Arwa says, but due to the constraints of full-time employment, Arwa has little free time to see anyone. “That, and most people come here for a particular reason, such as university, and then go back. Few remain on a permanent basis.”


Also from Oman are the Sulaiman & Metzgen Family