Anselm Perera and his wife Frances now live for the day "we can retire and spend the rest of our days watching the family grow and progress". Image Credit: Supplied

Muscat: It was in 1975 that this ambitious young graduate working with National Grindlays Bank in Sri Lanka heard about a job in Oman — a country just rising and a salary offered would help him start a family and take care of his relatives.

He jumped at the chance and today, Anselm Perera is one of the longest-staying expatriates in the Sultanate. Since his landing in Oman in 1975, five years after the late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said ascended to the throne, Anselm has added a lot of feathers to his cap. Having retired from active banking career in 2008, Anselm is since then the Chief Executive Officer of his organisation, Business Process Outsourcing Services LLC, which has events management as one of its core portfolios.

“I have seen the nation rise from dirt roads in Salalah, to booming metropolis’s across the nation. I remember the days of Muscat with only one road from the airport to Al Alam Palace, and one hospital and a few schools. The quiet peaceful existence of an almost bucolic nation, has given way to the progress and drive of a modern nation filled with opportunity and wealth.”

He came as a senior banker to join BBME which is today known as HSBC. “I was a strategic member of the Management Team of HSBC Oman, which was responsible for developing the bank from its manual.”

What struck the young Anselm as a first thought when he arrived in Oman were the open economy and the kindness of the people. “The first thing I did when I arrived was buy a Yashika 37 Camera on the side of the road. Quality and availability was something foreign to Sri Lanka where I had come from.”

While living in Oman has been one of the greatest pleasures for Anselm, the other perks and responsibilities he derived came as a natural corollary. The current business venture that Anselm is helming, the mentor role for his community members, as well as the role of a business catalyst for the many Oman-Sri Lankan ventures that have blossomed with his intervention, are all part of his long-term experience in Oman.

Dual passport of Canada and Sri Lanka

His three children and wife are all Canadians and Sri Lankans with dual nationality now. “The kids are well established in Canada, and we couldn’t be prouder of that fact. My wife Frances and I live for the day we can retire and spend the rest of our days watching the family grow and progress.”

“Irrespective of the years that have swung past, Anselm remembers his home back in Dehiwala, Colombo, which has long since been sold. Even as he owns another piece of land elsewhere in Sri Lanka, Anselm considers himself a Colombo boy. “To walking the streets of your youth, and seeing how far you’ve come will always be wonderful things in your life. No matter how far you travel in life, there is always a pull to the place you were born, it is your first introduction to the world and as such a strong part of existence within it.”

“I love Oman and it is a home to me where all my children were born. The better and more developed Oman became the greater my chances and opportunity grew. Mind you, I worked very hard for what I got, but Oman was what made that work possible. It’s a part of me and I’m a part of it.

Among what he did for the Sri Lankan community Anselm is proud of being one of the founding fathers of The Sri Lankan School Muscat, and opening the Sri Lankan social club in Muscat.

“Even from my early days, I have been working on trade between Oman and Sri Lanoka. I was the first person to bring Ambul bananas commonly known in Oman as Mysoor and King Coconut to Oman by importing the plants to Salalah to be grown there. Most recently I organized a trade delegation of Omani businesses men and the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce to visit Sri Lanka, to develop investment opportunities. The delegation was able to meet with the President of Sri Lanka at the time.”