Recent reforms in Oman add to the feeling of hope

Emphasis on the welfare of citizens

There is an apparent feeling of satisfaction among the Omanis, despite the demonstrations that took place in Sultanate recently.
The good news is that Oman has maintained its 34th rank in the World Economic Forum’s annual report on World Competitiveness for 2010-2011. And this is no mean achievement since 139 countries were included in the World Competitiveness Index survey. Moreover, the Sultanate maintained its top ranking despite the global economic slowdown.
The report is based on three partial indices – economic requirements, efficiency enhancers and innovation and sophistication factors. There is more great news. The Sultanate was placed 24th in the goods market efficiency index, 36th in work market efficiency index and 30th in the financial market development index. The Sultanate was on top in other ranks in several areas in surveys conducted by the Forum.
It was 24th in the context of property rights, 25th in intellectual property rights, 18th in the diversion of public funds, 11th in public trust of politicians, fourth in wasteful government spending, 17th in favouritism, 16th in the judicial system’s efficiency, 12th in overall infrastructure quality and 10th in the context of the quality of roads. All this proves that the government, under the directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said had always moved in the right direction.
Ever since the beginning of the Renaissance in 1970, stress has been laid on progress in every sphere. Thanks to right-thinking planners, there was rarely any kind of lopsided development. This was because the emphasis was on the welfare of citizens. That’s why priority was given to education, healthcare, infrastructure, housing and similar areas that directly benefited the people.
The progress in the sphere of education is noteworthy. Both in the public and private sector, institutions of every hue sprang up. Schools, colleges, universities and technical institutions have sent into the labour market thousands who are gradually taking the place of expatriates. The Omanisation policy, initiated by the Sultan, has also helped uplift the country’s youth. In area of healthcare too, the Sultanate has taken rapid steps forward with primary health centres and ultra-modern hospitals springing up all over the country in both the public and private sectors.
The rapid development in the infrastructure sector is evident from the existing roads and the new ones being planned in every nook and cranny of the country. The modern ports at Sohar and Duqm, the planned ultra-modern airport terminals in Muscat and Salalah also prove that the Sultanate is moving with certainty on the road to progress. The same is the case with seaports.
The recent reform measures add to the feeling of hope, security and stability that has prevailed over a long period of time. And if the current policies and plans are pursued, there is little doubt that the citizenry will remain a happy and contented lot.
The well-being of the people has been the primary goal of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. And even today and in the future too, the welfare of citizens will remain the first priority. Development programmes in every sector are being undertaken with this aim in mind. Minister of Manpower Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al Bakri’s statement last week, about providing employment opportunities to job seekers and improving the working conditions of employees in cooperation with representatives of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the General Union of Workers in the Sultanate must be seen in this context.
Al Bakri asserted that enough job opportunities will have to be provided to nationals at the earliest. The manpower minister also stated that the labour market needs to be stablised in cooperation with the private sector in the aftermath of the recent reforms.
Employment for citizens is highly crucial for the advancement of the Sultanate. Jobs alone will improve the lot of the people. And this can be done only by making available enough opportunities for education. Under the directives of the Sultan, a lot has been done already in this sphere. At a cost of many millions of rials, educational institutions of every hue have sprung up in every nook and cranny of the Sultanate in the private and public sector. From primary and high schools to universities and technical institutions for advanced studies, the Sultanate has everything. But it seems like this may not be enough.
There seems still a long way to go. In this regard, Al Bakri said that the current five-year plan has many new human resources development policies and programmes for citizens graduating from different types of educational institutions. Perhaps, the Omanisation and Job Opportunities exhibition scheduled to open on April 19 at the Oman International Exhibition Centre will shed a lot of light on the way forward for citizens. At the expo, which will have shows on technology education and vocational training, educational technology and services and private and international boarding schools, citizens seeking jobs can gather information about training and employment opportunities and meet human resources officials of major companies and seek their guidance.
The dependence on expatriates will have to be gradually reduced. No doubt, they have contributed a lot to the development of the country. But building a strong nation is the primary and most sacred task of citizens. The citizens are the nation’s backbone. Hence, citizens must take up and overcome all the challenges before them and do their duty which is building a strong nation.
Omani leadership is deeply concerned about the welfare of its citizens in a non-compromising, fair and firm manner.
In a wide-ranging session of discussions held in Muscat the third of April, with the editors-in-chief of various newspapers, Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, said that Sultan Qaboos has pledged to look into all the genuine demands for reforms.
Sayyid Fahd added “People have the right to voice their concerns, but demonstrations to demand their rights must be in a civilsed, non-violent way to make sure that it is in keeping with the centuries-old lofty Omani traditions”.
The Omani Deputy Prime Minister assured the media-gathering that the government of His Majesty the Sultan fully recognises that the citizens are the fulcrum of the whole process of development and hence the beneficiaries of the country’s progress and prosperity.
The government is already busy looking into all the legitimate demands of the people for reforms and is all set to make an impact within a reasonable time frame.
In his meeting with the Omani media, Sayyid Fahd outlined a range of steps that will see the government pilot a new national strategy on various fronts. The new strategy will promote Omani culture, heritage, educational sector and work culture ethics and thus support the country's bright future.