I am writing this article aboard a flight from Cairo to the United Arab Emirates. It was too late to regret that I had stupidly agreed to visit four Arab countries — namely Oman, Tunisia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates — in just seven hectic days. This is a tour of lectures and media interviews arranged by Japan's Foreign Ministry.

Although I was a Middle East hand in the ministry, I haven't been back to the region as often as I wanted since I left the government. Luckily in this tour, I could go back to my favorite cities, like Muscat, Tunis and Abu Dhabi, where I gave lectures on "Japan's Indo-Pacific strategy" from a geopolitical viewpoint.

Muscat, the capital of Oman, is a land of conscience in the gulf. Omanis are open, kind, friendly and modest, probably because they once were a maritime empire whose sphere of influence covered not only the southern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula but also the African and Indian coasts and even parts of the island of Java.