Friday, March 11, 2011

Middle East/African Revolution/Protest Series: Oman

The protests in Oman kicked off on January 17, 2011.
See the whole Middle East/Aftican Revolution/Protest Series.
Oman is up next. don't remember hearing much about these protests except that American journalists didn't think much of the way the Omani government handled the protests.
Basic History
Oman's official name is the Sultanate of Oman. Geographically, Oman is located in southwest Asia, but it is considered a Middle East Country. Important bordering countries include: Saudia Arabia, and Yemen. The capital is Muscat. The population is estimated at 3.8 million people. The language is Arabic.

Oman's most recent leader is Sultan Qābūs ibn Saʻīd as-Saʻīd (surname Qābūs). His name in English is Qaboos bin Said Al Said (surname Qaboos). The Sultan of Oman runs Oman as an absolute monarchy. He is the head of state and also the head of government, and he appoints a cabinet to assist him. In the 1990s, he added an elected advisory council, but Omanis don't have suffrage for all their citizens, so the people still aren't all represented.
In terms of  independence, Oman has been mostly independent. It was never part of the British empire, and the Portuguese only held coastal ports for a short time period.

The Protests
The main causes cited as the reasons for the protests include: unemployment, lack of representation in government, low wages, unfair distribution of oil revenue, and high costs of living. It's interesting that the Omanis have specified throughout their protests that they are not challenging the rule of their sultan, they are simply asking for reforms.

The protests have included marches, riots, and sit-ins.

It started on January 17th in the capital city Muscat with 200 protesters marching for higher wages. The protests continued the next day. They demanded and end to corruption and had a list of demands. They also carried signs of support for the sultan.

At the end of February, the protests spread to other cities, specifically Sohar. The protests had been mostly peaceful, but as we entered March, the protests got more violent as the police clashed with them. At least one person has been killed and many injured by fights with police and rubber bullets. At one point, the set a market in Sohar on fire. It definitely went against the grain of most protests because they didn't remain peaceful, yet they maintained allegiance to their sultan.

The protests have spread outside of Muscat and Sohar as March has continued. One thing that is helping these protests not spread out of control, and to keep the confidence of the people is the fact that the sultan has responded very quickly by instituting some of the reforms requested. He removed specific people from the cabinet. He also decreed that students would be given a stipend from the government. Also, there has been an independent institution setup for consumer protection.

The Omani sultan would be upheld as an example of how to deal with these region-wide protests, except the violence against his people is unacceptable. Time will tell if more reforms are instituted and whether the Omani people remain faithful to their sultan.
More information can be found at,, and

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...