Time for Oman to accelerate reform

04 October 2012

Reforms announced in 2011 did not go far enough and if progress is to continue a clear agenda must be set

For decades now, Oman’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, has been seen as one of the Gulf’s most proactive reformers.

Since he seized power in a bloodless coup in 1970, the sultan has overseen the transformation of the country’s economy. In the 1990s, he codified a basic constitution, which gave Omanis freedoms unheard of elsewhere in the region.

In 2011, Sultan Qaboos was praised for the speed with which he reacted to uprisings across the Arab world and protests at home. But some Omanis are now questioning whether his legendary powers of persuasion are on the wane.

Many had expected him to appoint a prime minister or to open up the political system after protests in the country. Instead, he sacked some members of government accused of corruption and unveiled an economic package, which his critics saw as an attempt to appease Omanis in a similar manner to the country’s oil-rich Gulf neighbours. Economists worry that Muscat cannot sustain further largesse of this kind in the future.

Omanis are concerned that the sultan who was a proactive reformer in the past has now become reactive. Others say Sultan Qaboos and his inner circle have reached the limits of the reforms they are willing to enact.

The sultan has unquestionably changed Oman for the better, but if progress is to continue, a clear agenda must be set for the future.

You might also like...

A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current MEED.com package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.

Get Notifications