OMAN CELEBRATES RENAISSANCE DAY UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF SULTAN QABOOS BIN SAID

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

MUSCAT – On Monday, the 23rd of July 2018, the Sultanate of Oman will celebrate the start of its modern renaissance (Oman Renaissance Day) under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

Way back in 1970, a new dawn shone on Oman, marking an era of development, progress and prosperity in all fields.

Sultan Qaboos has met with great success in building a modern state capable of reviving the country’s past glory and the leading role of Oman in the region and the world at large. This has been achieved with a deep involvement of Omani citizens, based on the principle of citizenship, equality and rule of law as stated in the Basic Law of the State promulgated by Royal decree in 1996.

While the 23rd of July 1970 constituted the beginning of a new glorious era with the prime aim of providing a better life for Omani citizens all over the country, Sultan Qaboos made it clear, since the first day, that the Omani citizen himself would be the maker, guardian and beneficiary of the renaissance. Therefore, extensive efforts have been undertaken at all levels to develop the skills of citizens, with special emphasis on youth, to instill confidence in them and help them shoulder the responsibility of nation building.

From this point of view, it is no coincidence that the Omani citizen became the very focus of all development efforts, plans and programmes over the past 48 years of the Omani renaissance. Therefore, the country rallied all its energies and resources, both human and material, for building qualified national cadres. Omani women have enjoyed equal status within this process of development. Women have had access to all levels of education, healthcare, social care and training in a highly unprecedented manner. The result—a formidable push forward in economic and social welfare that laid down a solid foundation for unity and the growth of an ideal state that was the dream Omani people made true at the hands of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

Over the past 48 years, and, despite critical conditions during the start of the Omani renaissance, Sultan Qaboos’s determination, his astute leadership and his deep love for Oman and its people—coupled with intensive rallying and allegiance by his own people and their passionate devotion for their leader—gave rise to a formidable march that yielded fruit in all governorates and wilayats.

It is highly significant that, in spite of the tumultuous waves of instability and wars whose price is paid by brotherly people in this region, the wise leadership of Oman espoused a clear-cut stance that guaranteed the country’s safety and made it an oasis of peace, security and stability that has earned the respect of all nations. The Sultanate has made extensive efforts to end the wars and revive a climate of peace to the countries in the Gulf, the Arab world and the region at large.

 

Objective Foreign Policy:

Since he assumed power in 1970, Sultan Qaboos laid down strong foundations for a frank foreign policy based on principles of justice, peace, cooperation, tolerance and equal treatment of brotherly and friendly countries. In particular, the Omani foreign policy advocates dialogue and the settlement of conflicts through peaceful means and in a manner that achieves the common interests of all parties, besides mutual respect for law and the international charter. The principles of Omani foreign policy also seek to improve relations among neighboring states and the solution of all Arab and regional disputes as a means of paving the way for development and progress. These policies have had a tangible positive impact on Oman and its status worldwide, as the country has gained reputation as a bridge-builder. The meeting of Sultan Qaboos and Chinese President Xi Jingpingon May 25 this year came as a further confirmation of this open-mined Omani foreign policy. The two countries have established strategic partnership to achieve the aspirations of both the Omani and Chinese people.

Thanks to this prudent policy, Omanis continue to reap success after success, locally and abroad. They enjoy respect wherever they might be. Whenever conditions require resorting to a country reliable to all regional and international parties—a country that can bring conflicting sides to the negotiation table to seek a peaceful settlement, Oman is the country to select as a trusted mediator.

 

AMONG RECENT RENAISSANCE PROGRAMMES:

Security and Stability A Pre-requisite to Development:

On the domestic front, the development of the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF) was among the priorities of the Omani renaissance. Sultan Qabooshad a conviction that the establishment of security and stability was a prerequisite to any nation building, progress and prosperity.

As part of the Sultan’s ongoing attention to upgrade all institutions of the state as one body, a training drill code-named “Joint Effort-10” was conducted last May with the participation of Omani military, security and civil sectors. The drill covered all strategic, operational and mobility levels. It was an activation of all economic, military, intelligence and diplomatic lines in preparation for a greater national exercise named “Ash’Shumookh 2” (grandeur), to be carried out next October, to be followed by a joint Omani-British military exercise, “Safe Saree 3” (or “swift sabre). Last May also witnessed the opening of Oman’s first-of-its-kind light ammunition production factory in the Wilayat of Samayil.

 

Good Rates of Growth:

In his follow-up of the country’s comprehensive development, Sultan Qaboos presided over a Council of Ministers meeting last February during which he expressed satisfaction with the government’s efforts “which helped achieve ‘good growth rates’ that took account of economic and social dimensions and maintained the standard of basic services rendered to citizens, besides focusing the full force of investments on mega projects supporting economic diversification”.

Within the context of social welfare, a fuel subsidy system was implementedto support various segments of Omani society last year and this year. Initially, the Council of Ministers offered the fuel subsidy to recipients of monthly salary of RO 600 in 2017, but decided to expand the subsidy base to cover recipients of monthly salaries of RO 950 by August 1 this year.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Manpower managed to provide 33,230 jobs for citizens in private sector establishments between December 3, 2017 and July 11, 2018—an increase of 32% over the target number of 25,000 jobs.

 

Economic Diversification:

The 9th 5-year development plan (2016-2020) accords priority to sectors that help achieve diversification of sources of income, including the role of the private sector in improving work conditions, the speedy implementation of privatization programmes and the development of small and medium enterprises. Specific sectors have been selected as promising sectors in the economic diversification drive, and these are the sectors of converting industries, tourism, fisheries and mining.

The National Economic Diversification Programme has been a pillar of implementation of the 9th Five Year Plan. The ‘implementation and follow-up’ unit of this programme, in its 2017 annual report, specified the projects carried out last year.

An important economic landmark launched this year was Muscat International Airport. Operations in the new airport started on March 20, 2018. The airport constitutes one of the pillars of development as it gives strong impetus to the growth of the tourism sector and the logistics sector, in particular, and activates the national economy in general. Muscat International Airport has a capacity of 12 million passengers a year.

 

Democratic practice:

Since the dawn of the Omani renaissance, the citizens’ participation in decision making was one of the interests of Sultan Qaboos, who was keen to let Oman have its unique experience in the field of Shura, an Islamic form of democracy. The Shura process met with many stages of success over the past decades of the Omani renaissance. Since the Shura practice has fostered the value of partnership and plurality of opinions, it has thus enhanced the development march and contributed to the establishment of the State of Institutions.

Within this concept of partnership, a joint meeting was held recently between the Council of Ministers (the government) and the Council of Oman, a bicameral institution which comprises popular bodies of Shura Council and State Council (upper house and lower house).

The Shura Council and State Council also held joint sessions in June and July this year to discuss areas of disparity of views over different issues, including the Law on Mineral Wealth and Water Resources.

 

Royal Salute to The People of Oman:

In a recent observation, Sultan Qaboos hailed the role of citizens in achieving progress on the land of Oman. He said, “The accomplishments of the Blessed Omani Renaissance would not have existed on the land of Oman, if it had not been for the concerted efforts of the Omani citizens. Hail the working hands which made the dream of renaissance come true. Many sincere wishes for everlasting growth, in ever-expanding horizons, for the achievement of the greatest and noblest objectives.”

The march of Omani renaissance enters its 49th year in full confidence and strong aspiration for a brighter future.

Indeed, on the occasion of this July 23 Anniversary, every Omani citizen and institution finds pride in hailing the leader of the nation, Qaboos Bin Said—expressing gratitude to him and wishing him continued good health and a long life. – Ends