As an Arab country that has developed in a short period of time, Oman has successfully maintained its unique identity, culture, traditions and heritage. This hard work and determination of the Omani people was lead by the clear vision of Qaboos Bin Said, the Sultan of Oman. The Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Bin Taimur Al Said was born in Salalah in Dhofar in southern Oman in 1940. He is the 8th descendant of the Royal Al Busaidi family, which was founded by Imam Ahmed Bin Said in 1744. Sultan Qaboos is the longest serving leader in the Arab world, as he has been in the office for nearly 48 years. He attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in his twenties, and then joined the British Army after graduation. He also studied in England in 1966 before returning to Oman. Sultan Qaboos seized power in a coup against his father, Said Bin Taimur, in 1970.
Before July 1970, Oman was a very underdeveloped country that lacked infrastructure, paved roads, educational institutions, healthcare and work opportunities except for farming and fishing. With the political isolation that separated it from other countries, there seemed to be no future. Sultan Qaboos began the production of oil and used its revenues to modernize Oman. He laid a modern infrastructure, built schools, universities, hotels, hospitals, banks, ports and airports. He also established the Omani Rial as the national currency of the country, abolished slavery and changed the political system to an absolute monarchy.
He united the country, naming it the ‘Sultanate of Oman’ instead of ‘Muscat and Oman’, and named Muscat as the capital city. His policies have proved popular in spite of the lack of a democratic government. He instigated the use of oil revenues to develop the country’s infrastructure and modernised the government structure with the establishment of a Consultative Assembly in 1981, replaced by the Consultative Council – the majlis al-shura – in 1990 and the Council of State in 1997.
Over a period fast approaching four decades, Oman has witnessed a period of transformation unparalleled in its history, taking it from international obscurity to the frontline of regional politics, and international recognition as a measured exponent of stability, peace and diplomacy. Sultan Qaboos’ mission has been to build the nation the state, its people and its society and to work for security, prosperity, progress and the restoration of its international standing. His Majesty has devoted the greater part of his life so far to achieving this end. Over the past 46 years Oman has grown to maturity and reinforced the foundations of the nation’s future development. Despite the difficulties facing the country at the beginning of the 1970s, His Majesty resolved to include every citizen in the new Oman.
He pardoned those who had made mistakes and forged the path to national unity, a vital prerequisite for development. And, although the region has witnessed various challenges over the years, Oman has remained an oasis of security, stability and peace. “The development of the Omani individual, the formation of character, education and training are at the forefront of the noble goals that we constantly seek to achieve in order to provide everybody in this fine country of ours with a decent, prosperous life,” His Majesty once said.
Human development has been a cornerstone in construction of the Omani state. General and Basic education are available for everybody of school age and there are also thousands of students in higher education at the country’s colleges and universities. High priority is attached to training young Omanis in the knowledge and technical skills required by the changing labour market and the country’s sustainable development programmes. Moving with the times and remaining open to change will keep Oman and its people at the cutting edge of development.
Omanis celebrate November, 18 every year – the Sultan’s birthday – and consider it to be their National Day. Parades, performances, and celebrations take place, and it is usually a day off. Omanis also celebrate July, 23 every year, as it is the day His Majesty came to reign in 1970, and consider it to be their Renaissance Day.
The whole country turns into a big party, filled with happiness, festivals and celebrations to show gratitude to the modern country Oman has become, and the great life Omanis are living. Women, who make up half the population of Oman, have been playing an increasingly full role in the country’s life and its economic and social development. They enjoy the right to vote and stand for membership of the Consultation Council (Majlis A’Shura) and occupy around a fifth of the seats on the State Council (Majlis A’Dawla), whose members are appointed by His Majesty.
Women hold a significant number of government offices, including top positions in the state’s administrative apparatus, the diplomatic corps, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and in several other fields. Sultan Qaboos has sought to ensure that all citizens are effective partners in the decision making process, whether at government or municipality level, or through the Sultanate’s consultative institutions the State Council (Majlis A’Dawla) and the Consultation Council (Majlis A’Shura). Oman’s consultative process is deeply rooted in its heritage and history.
Over the years, mutual consultation, joint action and co-operation between the people and the state’s administrative bodies have become firmly established principles. With its candid, unambiguous policies, Oman’s dealings with all countries in the region and the wider world are based on mutual respect, neighbourly relations and common interests. Thanks to its cordial, trouble free relations with other states, the Sultanate is well placed to offer assistance in matters of diplomacy. The Sultanate and its leadership enjoy the confidence and respect of Arab, regional and international players.
As His Majesty once revealed, “We live in a world of overlapping and interconnected interests and policies, and our co-operation with this world is based on the Sultanate’s higher interests and designed to help promote security and prosperity across the globe. These policies have earned our country the respect and admiration of the international community. It is vitally important that there should be co-operation and the pursuit of mutual interests between states within a framework of peace and harmony.”
The relationship between His Majesty the Sultan and the people of Oman can be summed up in three words: simplicity, spontaneity and directness. This is also the aim for relations between government officials whatever their level and individual private citizens. In building a better and stronger Oman all citizens are on the same side, and this directive comes right from the top.