Khalfan al Toqi’s, book is titled, ma lam tata’alamuhu fil jami’a (What You Didn’t Learn in University). It’s message is not so much that university education is bad, but that something else is needed to prepare one for the workplace. That’s where Toqi fills the gap.
“I have the degree as a qualification, but I don’t have the skills. This is a reminder for everyone that besides the certificate, you have to have the soft skills package,” he said in an interview at the Muscat International Book Fair.
Everything about the book is meant to be practical: From the spiral binding that makes it easy to go through the pages, to the simple language and clearly defined chapters. It starts from how to look for a job, how to write a CV, all the way to work ethics, teamwork, self-growth and development. The book, which is in Arabic, is 23 chapters long and was launched this month. It is available for RO3 at book shops and petrol stations across Oman. “It’s not Shakespearean language. It’s practical. It’s realistic. It’s from you, from him, from others. I tried to collect all this information and keep it in one small, short package,” he said.
In a way, the book reflects Toqi’s own background. He worked for 17 years in career guidance at SQU, where he acted as a bridge between industry and students. After resigning, he turned to column writing at a local newspaper, focusing on youth issues. This new direction has culminated in his book, which he spent one year writing. “I tried to collect all the industry’s thoughts and all the student’s thoughts and I tried to link them together. I acted like a broker to facilitate between these two parties to minimise the gap between them,” he said.
He also built his business knowledge as a student, studying business and marketing in the UK, where he also worked part-time in career guidance. Now, he is able to use his experience to give back to his country. Indeed, Toqi wants to help change the culture of youth: To be more self-reliant, less dependent on the government, and more engaged in activities that teach soft skills.
“I want to change our people from the theoretical to the doer. You have to work harder. You have to go beyond people’s expectations,” he said. And his aim is beyond Oman. He wants the book to be read throughout the Gulf. “One of my missions is to prove that Omani writers can reach beyond their borders,” he said. Toqi said he is trying to play his part towards Oman’s future. “I think it’s a national role to help our students become better,” he said. “There is a challenge if you want to guarantee sustained development and prosperity.”