Noble Art of Listening to People in Oman

MUSCAT - When sultan Qaboos met sheikhs and dignitaries from the governorates of Al Dakhiliyah and Al Wusta at Seih Al Shamekhat on the 27th of January there was joy and celebrations among the citizens. On such occasions, the Sultan always gives a patient hearing to the citizens, listening to their problems and getting a feedback on social and economic development as well as the efficacy of government services in the region. Such Royal tours form an integral part of the Sultan’s visionary approach to improve the quality of life of citizens in the Sultanate, and as a result of these interactions the country has seen much improvement in infrastructure and provision of essential services to people in all regions. People rejoiced in Al Dakhiliyah and Al Wusta governorates over the latest visit of their leader by organising cultural festivals and camel and horse-racing shows.
The Sultan, the creator of modern Oman has steered the Sultanate on the road to progress and prosperity since he came to power in 1970. The Omani leadership laid the foundations of the country’s road to great economic and social development, and citizens and residents alike now enjoy the fruits of these remarkable achievements. One may recall the numerous Royal orders and directives that have changed the life of citizens in all spheres of human endeavour; thousands of jobs were created and are continuing to be filled while students now have a brighter future after scholarship quota for studies abroad and at home was raised. These are among the many benefits that have come about as a result of the great interest of the Sultan in improving the economic and social lives of the people.
Sultan Qaboos believes that by listening to the views of citizens and incorporating their demands in government policy is vital for real and positive development of the country. It is this wisdom that has seen huge development and progress in various economic sectors; besides, the Sultan follows each stage of the development process and places special emphasis on key sectors like education and employment in the State Budget. The aim is to develop a knowledge-based society that would continue the Sultanate’s march to greater progress. Special care and attention is given to the youth who are future nation-builders, and thus their participation in the development march is vital for economic and social stability. Various strategies and initiatives have been incorporated in the country’s Five-Year plans and the pace of execution of projects and programmes is swift and closely monitored by the government.
In the Royal address before the Sheikhs and dignitaries, the Sultan said, “The wilayat of Bahla, which has this great history, is also an incubator for traditional crafts and deep-rooted heritage. We would like to tell you that we have decided to set up a college here, in the wilayat of Bahla, that will be named Ajyal College.
"The College will play a role in training Omani men and women in the field of traditional crafts industries in a bid to revive and develop this heritage vocation. I believe that the output will be 200 persons at the initial stage, later expected to extend to 800 persons during the coming four years."
Speaking about youth projects support, the Sultan pointed out that, in the past years there were many sources for supporting youth to enable them to set up and promote their own projects, the most notable of which is Sanad Programme which, the Sultan said, has really performed its duty in the best manner for many years. Other youth support projects exist at other government departments, the Sultan explained.
He added in this respect, “We have now decided to group all these sources under a fund to be known as Al Rafd Fund, which will carry out a specific mission. Al Rafd will be established for the sake of these young men and women, to enable them to develop their small and medium enterprises.
Al Rafd Fund will have a great significance and that “We have decided it will have a starting capital of RO 70 million, to which RO 7 million will be added every year. This fund will be a bounty for our sons and daughters.”
Speaking about this latest symposium, he said that it came out with 14 very good decisions. “The decisions are binding, not merely decisions that are subject to procedures. As it should be understood, these decisions are also time-bound to varying periods, some of which are immediate and some will succeed in the next year and beyond.”
“One of the important and binding decisions of the symposium, which we blessed, is the one related to the issue of land plots allocated for the owners of projects, whether industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise – for them to benefit from the lands. This, we believe, will be a matter that supports our youth, both men and women, and encourage them to take up these projects of potential value”.
The Omani leader proceeded on saying, “Years before, if we recall, the trend was to distribute some land plots for people with limited income to benefit from. Now, the practice is to make these land plots available for people to benefit from them and for a long time. We pray to the Almighty that our youths will take more interest in these different options.”
Then, he spoke about illicit trade, noting, “We say in very clear terms that illicit trade should be avoided which does not serve the interest of our sons and daughters, not even the interest of the grown-ups, who might have found out in the past period that this kind of trade was absolutely harmful to the Omani economy. We have to be aware of this matter and give it full attention. We have to be aware that illicit trade is direct loss to our country!”
Further to the Sultan’s comment on this harmful practice (illicit trade) and its relation to expatriate workers’ money transfers, the Sultan said, “These transfers are more than the known official income. Billions of Omani rials are transferred abroad annually,” said the Sultan, noting that the government and all segments of society have to do their duty to eradicate this illicit trade which keeps depleting the Omani economy, thereby minimizing chances for the employment of Omani youths. “This practice is not at all acceptable.