Saturday, March 5, 2011

Middle East populist 'Contagion' reaches Oman - Violence is without popular support. Sultan Qaboos retains confidence.

Wow. What a week since February 26th. (Note: I've been on the road, little access to the 'net, so apologies for the delay getting back to you!)

The protests that started in Sohar (with some idiotic and pointless violence by some of those 'idle hands') have expanded rapidly, encouraged by the immediate response it got from HM, and it has certainly rattled not just Oman's ruling clique, but also our neighbours to the West ("if it can happen in Oman, no-one is safe"). As a result, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Saudi are even offering Bahrain and Oman aid money to throw at the population.

The foreign press is also variable. Foreign Policy noted that HM Sultan Qaboos, "Oman's renaissance man", shouldn't even be mentioned in the same sentence as the butcher of Tripoli Ghadaffi.The FT's Simeon Kerr posted a great article on his time as "an honoured guest of the Oman military". It sooo captures the spirit of Oman!

Photo: The now infamous Globe roundabout in Sohar. Pic ripped shamelessly from the blog of Dan & Jillian

Note: For up to date info on Oman's riots, as I'm only blogging remotely, please check out Muscat Mutterings. In Sohar: the excellent blog of expat couple Dan & Jillian; in Salalah: Ever reliable Dhofari Gucci. Tourists should not cancel their holidays, by the way. All accounts indicate the country is safe, although actually visiting the sites of the protests should be undertaken carefully.

I have little sympathy for those killed in Sohar while attempting to storm a police station - what did they think was going to happen? It's not something that should have cost Al Mamari his job, IMHO.


Meanwhile,
As you will have read all over the net, Tunisian(?)-style riots were happening in Oman over the past week. It seems there were enough bored youngsters combined with a significant number of those suffering with low salaries to get out and wave plackards. But unlike the other riots in the regions there are a few key differences:

1/ There is no popular support at all for anything against His Majesty.
These riots, especially those with any violence or that show disrespect to the Sultan, are not supported by most adults in Oman. In fact, there is a general disbelief that violent protesters are even 'true Omani'. They're apparently either Emiratis, or 'Baluchis'. Or ... well, anyone else. Afterall, burning a Lulu hypermarket is really, really dumb. They were one of the few sources of unskilled Omani employment they had!

2/ No coherent organisation.
The demands are legion, and often both self serving and facile. 'Forgive all private debts', 'reduce the prices of things' etc. There is also a smattering of Saudi-style religious extremism 'segregate the schools'. As a result, some of the more potent messages, such as turning the Majlis Al Shura into a true legislative body, are being diluted. But the generally accepted demands are: jobs, more action for getting rid of corruption, more power to the Majlis Al Shura.

3/ Mainly stupid unemployed youngsters with nothing better to do.
Other movements have been broad based: including the middle class, military, academics, exiled leaders, women, etc. The ones in Sohar seem to be just ignorant youth with a desire to emulate the other countries and a message mainly involving 'give me stuff for free, especially cash'. How else to explain the total stupidity of trying to attack a police station with stones and molitof cocktails? This is changing however, as protests spread and are increasingly seen to be successful in getting results from the Government - especially in Salalah and now to Petroleum Development Oman staff near Haima.

4/ No agenda of 'regime change'
Even the violent protests have supported His Majesty and the core principles of benign dictatorship. Yes, there are compliants about corruption, but it's all within a general acceptance of the current system. Muscat Mutterer reported a demand for a new constitution however.

As other bloggers on the scene have indicated, there is no danger to the general populace as long as you don't go hanging around the site of a protest (and probably not even then).

The Omani Government's response, however, has been lacklustre.
Come on guys. Since the protest movement spread to Egypt, and certainly Bahrain, could you not have done some thinking in advance about how you would respond if it happened here too?

The announcements so far are unfortunately characteristic of the general ineptitude of the Omani Government of late: poorly thought through, knee-jerk reactions & top down statements of intent with no description of the 'how' or even the underlying principles (perhaps with the one possible exception of the desire to seperate puplic prosecution from the Police). The royal decree to 'create 50,000 jobs' was a classic example: this could have come as a school project from the very high schools that are pumping out these idiotic rioters. Where are 50,000 jobs supposed to come from? Doing what exactly?

As in Saudi, the urge is to throw money at the problem and try putting on a bandaid to cover up the core problems. Announcing a universal unemployment benefit of 150 rials will just make things worse - if anything creating a larger disinsentive to avoid work, and subsiding idleness. And I'm sure the chance of a private business firing an Omani will now become (if this was possible) even more difficult, again, exactly the opposite of what's needed! The general uselessness of the unemployed youth to do anything that generates a profit, combined with their poor education, lack of work ethic, and an overwhelming sense of entitlement already serve to make imported labour (cheaper, smarter, work harder, and essentially bonded to their employer) the way to go.

So, as I watch the Reuters and FT reports, my expectations are low. [Note to foreign journos - please find another adjective to describe Oman than 'sleepy'] All signs are that the system will trundle on, a reshuffle here, a study there, a lot more public money thrown at the squeeky wheels.


What would I do?
OK. Here's some ideas. I'd love to hear what you think. What ideas do you have?

Allow a free media & crack down on mysterious income sources.
Encourage debate of public policy alternatives & allow the exposure of poor government outcomes. Have public trials for corruption cases and name them in the papers. Insist Senior Government figures and their immediate families publish the sources of income, and setting up income tax above say, 50,000 rials per year. Institute a wealth tax for assets (including international assets) above 200k (with an excemption for 1 domestic house up to 500k) at around 1% per annum. Punish tax evasion severely. Put term limits on Ministers so they can only be in power a maximum of 8 years. People should note that even saying the Government system is not perfect is currently illegal in Oman. A lot of these poorly defined and potentially highly draconian laws restricting the media and civil society need to be axed.

Change the political system.
Establish a new constitution that puts the Majlis on a path to take charge of legislation, along with accountability for results. Allow political parties. Ensure the religious extremists cannot overturn the rights of women. Allow real unions, especially for the underclass of manual imported labour.

Improve Educational meaningfulness.
Establish a University dedicated to the study of the business of Government. Ban degrees from useless 'paper mill Universities'. Seperate the delivery of education from its testing, to try and get students actually learning rather than 'passing' fake exams while being allowed to plagiarise and cheat.

Level the employment playing field.
Start to break up the oligarchs by taxing all imported labour at a flat minimum rate, say 30 rials per month, plus a % of their salary above that. At the same time, allow Omani's to be fired much more easily (even if they can only be replaced by another Omani). Over time, crank up the minimum rate and the %. The objective is to make it a lot more expensive to hire a non-Omani, and certainly more than the minimum wage for an Omani employee. Once this is done, make it easier to hire foreign workers to ensure businesses that need specialised labour from overseas can get them.

Stimulate the SME private sector.
Encourage SMEs that actually do something by allowing home run businesses below 50k per year with minimal regulation beyond basic HSE & public health related issues. Make it easy to register and run a business by cutting most of the red tape required by the Municipalities and Ministries. Get lots of low cost Small Claims courts established for matters below 5k. Start to break up the monopolies of the Zubairs, Bahwans, Kimjis, et al.

Bring in Compulsory pseudo-military service.
Start giving all these unemployed youth a job for 18 months between high school and University that brings discipline and on the job training in life skills. Get them building infrastructure projects, helping in orphanages, picking up trash, building housing for the poor, ... anything to get them off their fat asses. Do not allow unemployment benefit to be paid unless they have done this. And make sure any unemployment benefit is time limited - it should be temporary (no more than 6 months).

Widen the tax base.
Bring in a Value Added Tax (not just a sales tax). Compensate lower income earners by increasing the minimum wage. Increase the tax on imports (currently just 5%) to the maximum extent the World Trade Organisation allows and apply to anything that could be made/grown in Oman.

Reduce population growth
The place can't sustain 3rd world birth rates combined with the modern medical care that ensures they survive. Have a child allowance for 1 or 2 kids per male, that then is taken away at 3 or more. Make education free for the first 2, then charge after that (again, by reducing Government handouts).

Reduce tribalism.
Yes, subsidise weddings (as they do in the UAE), but double the subsidy if the couple are from different tribes. Conversely, if the couple are first cousins, there should be no subsidy. There is no reason we should be encouraging further in-breeding.

OK. That's it for now.

Postscript:
Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands is coming to visit (a 'personal' visit at that) after all. It seems the Queen was worried that cancelling would give people the mistaken impression that she was siding with the protesters...

43 comments:

  1. ''Education for Education, not education for jobs '' this year's GDP for education is only 2%

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  2. Great post, Dragon, loved reading your ideas. I'm planning a post on Oman and how the foreign media has completely mis-portrayed the events. No time right now though. Maybe next week.

    I like some of your ideas, though. Certainly more long-term and better thought out than, say, creating 50,000 jobs without specifying how. We'll see what comes of that, if anything.

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  3. As you said correctly proactive and pre-emptive action could have avoided all this trouble in hindsight. But hindsight is an easy thing. As you have observed earlier in wiki leaks, the administration had lost touch with the public at large.

    Unless reforms are taken up with equally strong enforcement of rule of law, there will be more and more protests for unsustainable demands.
    Yes you are right, filthy rich should be taxed and their sources of income should be investigated to bring down corruption.

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  4. My friend, your out of touch.
    If it was your kid that got shot, you wouldn't be calling him "Stupid"
    your arrogance is amazing, who are you to decide how should we run our country "I am blogging remotely", what a Condescending bastard.
    My friend, you are just another whore that got paid & went looking for the next pimp.
    one more thing, here is a FREE advice "Consultation" GET A LIFE
    Regards
    Dragon Slayer :)

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  5. I dont agree with these points:

    Reduce population growth
    You dont play with God's job (simple)

    Reduce tribalism.
    (Its an Arab embedded thing) and its not bad at all (reduce non patriotism in tribes)

    i suggest three points:
    -Green jobs
    -Empower Talent and not just women
    -Create corporate liscense to work from home (makes every home employable and gives individuals ceap means of taking care of themselves)

    no need to throw in money..except they have to reduce the taxes on corporates since they are forced to increase the basic wage.

    my two cents that i gave due to some one asking me a penny for my thoughts.

    the Jobs are coming from the police 35000
    and the privte sector 15000

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  6. Good blog - I am a regular reader.
    With regard to this post, most of your ideas are spot on. However, taxes and other disincentives on business, applied broadly, are not the right way.
    We are owners of a medium-sized establishment, and we have been here for years. We are earnest in our wish to employ Omani. However, most of them are not educated properly (for reasons you mentionned), plus they want to be managers immediately. Many also have a grudge against expatriate colleagues, even though the expats perform better.
    To employ a competitively qualified Omani is expensive (relatively), and they are few and far between. Plus, they prefer to work for large corporationas/semi-governmental.
    The Omanisation policies have to be modified. Currently, they are like diktats - employ Omanis or else. There is no incentive for companies if they employ Omanis, e.g. lower tax, reduced fees, etc.
    As a business owner, I would prefer to hire Omanis over expats, as they cost less in theory (no air ticket, less EOSB, etc.). But in reality, the expat is more productive. Disciplining an Omani is taboo and can land you in trouble with the Ministry (although it is legal to discipline Omani workers).
    Just to give you an example: for the 40th national day, we were called by the Ministry of Manpower, and 'persuaded' to grant Omani staff a bonus for the 40th national day. We could have refused, but we would have exposed ourself to bullying by the MoM down the line. An Omani friend of our (business owner) told the MoM to buzz off. He can, because he is Omani.
    And yes, many ministers and officials are extremely corrupt. But then again, many govt employees at lower levels need 'greasing' to facilitate things.
    I love this country, and it has a lot of potential.

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  7. First of all who are you to talk about Omanis and the protesters like this ... they are not idiotic people ... you need to mind your language when talking about Omanies.

    These people did not come out for nothing ... they have been trying to convey messages for long time but this could be the best time to do it because they discovered the best way to pass their demands to to the goverment.

    Second you have no right to state what need to be done in Oman. Such reduce population .. what pouplation you are talking about we are still 2.5M and it is nothing to compare with other countires ... moreover it is not the root cause of what is going on.

    Mr. Know everything .. the root cause is the corruption in our system that need to be fixed.

    Oman is a rich country and like many other countries it is lacking good leaders with clear and correct morden vision..We hope with these movments the goverment will wakeup and understand that we are living in new era and different mindset that they have to take into consideration.

    Your artical has provoked me and I've a lot to say but in short before talking about Oman and Omanies you have use a proper language and don't you dare to lable Omanies.

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  8. Antipodean Guitar SlingerMarch 6, 2011 at 11:13 AM

    Ah, yet again, let me speak on behalf of the intelligent few (and perhaps the restless many) and say "we've missed you Dragon!"

    Well thought out, and it is unfortunate that no other Oman-based blogger can succinctly cover all of the salient points of this matter - and be capable of creative and positive direction.

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  9. Yr suggestion of temporary (18 mo) compulsory pseudo military experience is spot on -- so much could be achieved: test all participants for aptitudes and interests and offer some training alligned with these aptitudes and interests; teach all participants the basics of job hunts: how to make a good, concise CV; interview skills; punctuality for interviews; offer 'reality' thought re: what jobs likely to exist out there and encourage participants to do training in the military for these jobs -- e.g. driving heavy equipment, plumbing, air conditioning installation and maintenance, etc. Good on ya Mr. Dragon. Hope to read more from you in coming days.
    A question: How do the demonstrators in Oman know which are the most corrupt ministers??? Where do they get their info??

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  10. Having read both UD's excellent blog and the comments it prompted, I feel saddened at a few of the reactions. Clearly some of the discussion points put forward by UD have been misinterpreted and in some cases taken as offensive.The people who wrote the comments "you have no right to state what needs to be done in Oman" and "condescending bastard" might employ their time more effectively by contributing to what is a very serious debate in a more constructive manner.

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  11. ALL COMPANIES SHOULD HAVE OMANI CEOs.

    MOTHERFUCKING INDIANS SHOULD BE KICKED OUT OF THE COMPANIES.

    ESPECIALLY FROM THE COMPANIES IN SALALAH.

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  12. One thing is very clear from the comments. If allowed freedom, these young boys, using foul language and have no patience to articulate their views, will usher in total pandemonium in the country, all expats will fly out and then they will fight amongst each other and will convert Oman into a lawless place.

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  13. sad sad sad. Anonymous 8:28 PM who is cleaning up your shit and who brought your country up to what it's now? shame on you for being such a racist

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  14. Taxes ? NO! .. we have the oil and the tourism..

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  15. Crikey Dragon, the one response indicates the very root cause of some of the problems in Oman - no freedom of speech or expression. The very fact that someone takes offence at Omanis being criticised shows that, even from outside the country, you dare not criticise an Omani.

    How pathetic is that? Someone needs to grow up and come out into the real world of freedom of thought and speech, which is what a lot of this nonsense happening in various countries is about - right now.

    Heaven help us - get a life !!!

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  16. WAY OF THE CAMELMarch 7, 2011 at 2:19 PM

    To his most honoured Majesty, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, I respectfully propose the intellect and vision of his humble servant Undercover Dragon.

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  17. While agreeing with much of what has been said – including reaction by crowd to shooting (seem to remember riots in USofA and UKay for similar events) , and corruption and …..
    I have to quibble with
    Anonymous March 6, 2011 9:36 AM
    Many Omanis “have a grudge against expatriate colleagues” because many expatriate employees give no help or ‘on job’ training to their fellow Omani workers(and of course verbally belittle them given a fraction of a chance) – and yet spend all day helping their own man from “Gods own Country” .
    And strangely enough why shouldn’t you ‘have’ to employ nationals from the country you are setting up your business in – you don’t pay any tax – spend some of it giving decent training and setting up an effective recruitment process.
    Dan & Jillian are one of the many North American Teachers who bad mouth Omanis on their blog – repeat crap about Omanis (I paraphrase) being lazy (cause Dan & Jillian friends say they are ) and then quietly remove the post when its either dawned on them that it aint true or to save abuse by Omanis who know them.
    I have been watching (incidentally ) a team of non-Omani road diggers – 10 people – 2 for working and 8 (I kid you not) for sitting around doing nothing at all over a period of several days.
    So criticize individuals – but don’t stereotype a nation – especially when you have no idea what road they were forced on to get where they are.
    DavidRJones

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  18. see above for a fine example of the ingrained racism and elitism preventing the creation of a competent, integrated Omani workforce.

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  19. UD has to definetely delete certain unethical annonymous comments please!!!

    Please donot encourage the use of bad language aimed at certain expat community

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  20. Well, an interesting post to say the least! I can't say I agree with your comments entirely. Some are well thought out (National Service and political change, for example) but others are quite wide of the mark (incentives for inter-tribal marriage).

    You seem to be applying a western-style solution to what is, patently, an Arabic style problem.

    Regime change is paramount. A cabinet reshuffle without root and branch change is absolutely useless. The Ministries need a good "spring clean".

    The Majlis requires teeth - real power to govern. Qaboos should realise that his job is done and he needs to hand over to a democratically elected government. He has worked wonders for his country, but Oman is now past the point where a dictator, albeit benevolent, can rule absolutely any more. Yes, he should stay as head of state - but as a figurehead only.

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  21. Anon - come out with something useful and not some bigoted, idiotic rant and we might listen to you.

    Down to the "all companies should have Omani CEO's", why? Provide us with a valid reason for this? Some businesses are international, and if you try to force that then some will take their operation and go elsewhere (like Dubai). Oman is not the centre of the world, try to enforce stuff like that and some companies won't even consider setting up an operation there.

    Why throw out all Indians? That is just bigotry. Quite a number of companies prefer to hire Omani's, but sadly, some are just not ready or are not capable of doing the actual jobs. A lot of the graduates I've met all want to be managers and not start from the bottom which is madness. We all need to start somewhere.

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  22. After living and working 8 fantastic years in Oman it was time for us to move on. I have a warm spot for HM, the country and most of the Omani's in my heart.
    The suggestions made by the Dragon are spot on and from the comments it is clear that the suggestions are controversial in any other part of the world are also controversial in Oman. The only way forward though will be to get democracy established including political parties, elections, separation of religion and state, separation of legislative, executive, and judicial functions of government.
    These are all fundamentals of a modern society and they only work if there is respect for opinion and discussion through debate.
    Unnecessary rudeness does not have any functionality and as such the remark about the people who lost their lives in Sohar is inappropriate as is the provoked response in the comments
    Mark

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  23. Finally the big push has happened for major reform. OMG why he had to scrap a whole ministry itself for the sins of the Minister

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  24. MET Office, fantastic post, so true and a very real way to provide a future for the Omani youth and enable them to have a proper role in their country's future. We all know this is exactly where the country should be heading and perhaps it hasn't happened yet simply because the renaissance is still in its infancy. And perhaps also because the increasing crime and drug scene here has only recently become such a visible problem - this has to have contributed to these protests.

    I love this country and would like to see it continue to thrive but to do this the younger generation have to have a real sense of pride and a strong work ethic instilled in them, which at the moment is very sadly lacking. Of course this should come from family and from schooling but so far no good. And please, give the kids something to do other than play football on the beach. Boy scouting, Duke of Edinburgh, community works, different sports - anything - make them proud.

    Yes of course it should be obligatory for the youngsters to continue education after school rather than receive handouts from the government. What sense of pride is that going to instill in an individual. Just look at the countries where that happens and the escalation in crime and violence and abuse of the system that comes from that. Handouts will merely encourage the aforementioned drug and crime scene and added to that will be the disappointment and unjustness felt by their peers who are working.

    And exactly where would this beautiful country be today without the expatriat workers anyway? It probably wouldn't be that beautiful. There wouldn't be any highways, hospitals, drinking water, Royal Opera House. The oil would probably still be in the ground too. And just who is it that trains the Omanis that do want to learn (and those who actually bother to turn up and work for a whole day). Most of the western expats here are very keen to share their knowledge and to train the local workforce up - for many it is a big and rewarding part of the job. Take them away and the country will regress overnight. It's been tried before and it didn't work then and it certainly wouldn't work now.

    Oh, and get rid of these people who say you can't fail an Omani in his or her exams - we are talking about pilots, doctors, dentists here, people who can save your families lives or kill them outright. All qualifications should be through internationally recognised examination boards and meet genuine international standards - there shouldn't be one standard for those who have studied long and hard for their qualifications and another for the Omani who has the right surname and gets all of his or her boxes ticked with glowing colours. Prime corruption here and has to cease, so very very dangerous.

    Get the youngsters to be proud of their country and respectful of one another and their elders and this has to be done by education and example - yes in the schools but far more importantly it has to begin at home with the most important part of an Omani's being and culture, their family. Their families should be teaching them to be proud, to work hard, to work smart, to drive carefully, not to drop litter (another job the expats do), look after their own children (or employ another Omani to look after them perhaps), the list is endless.

    I live in hope, for the youngsters and for the country.

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  25. I agree with this anonymous reader that all Indians should be kicked out of companies like KALHAT, AL NABA, GALFAR - ROAD CONSTRUCTION DEPT, MUSCAT MUNICIPALITY - ROAD & GARBAGE CLEANING DEPARTMENT, especially all CIVIL CONSTRUCTION workers need to be replaced with Native Omani nationals!!! Let’s start from Grass roots!!! Why do you directly want to Shit/sorry sit in the CEO chair?
    Let all expats in coffee shops, laundries & Barber shops bee replaced by jobless Omani Nationals!!! And I forgot to mention about the Heavy Vehicle category. Like Pickups & 3 Ton trucks, please make it illegal for expats to drive heavy trucks and employ jobless Omanis in this post…
    What about 100% Omanisation in jobs where Overall & Safety shoes are mandatory for work!

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  26. seebwundergroundMarch 8, 2011 at 5:27 PM

    Thanks Undercover Dragon for your effort in posting your well thought out ideas. I am fortunate to have worked in Oman for more than 8 years. I have admired the development of Oman and especially the positive response of HM Sultan Qaboos to his people's protests. It's amazing that he has removed the corrupt ministers who were so close to him. God grant him the wisdom to choose his moves wisely. Yes I agree that it is difficult to hear the crucial suggestions which are blurred by facile demands. I too would like to know: how do people know the facts and figures involved and how has this information been concealed for so long?

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  27. good suggestions UD thanks

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  28. thanks UD for thoughtful suggestions.

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  29. Thanks UD for making the effort to make these thoughtful suggestions. I have been fortunate to work in Oman for 8 years and have witnessed the progress. I'm especially impressed by HM Sultan Qaboos response to the protests. It's amazing that he has removed corrupt ministers who have been so close to him. May god grant him the wisdom to make the right changes. It's true that it's difficult to hear the crucial requests above the din of facile demands.I also wonder how the corruption facts and figures have been unearthed and how they have been concealed until this Arab Spring.

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  30. Considering some of the comments of supposedly Omani nationals on this post, one would indeed hope that Sultan Qaboos will be able to stay in charge of this country for many years more. No way these guys can deal with the responsibilities that come with democracy and freedom.

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  31. Ohh well, here we go again!!
    It really sadens me to see some Omani's reaction. Though I do not agree with reducing population (maybe put the cap at 4 children), I do agree that the youth need to have an attitude change.

    It is true though. I worked in a college and students sucked really bad. It was education to get a job, and by the end of the day.. only 10% of all students were qualified to hold a real job. Such a disappointment.

    And Omanis (not generalizing) need to suck it up!! Throwing the "How dare" is such a backward mentality.

    and I am against forgiving people their private debts! They need to manage their money and own the responibility! Having their debt forgiven is not a right! and NO ruler has the right to give it to the people!!

    and I agree.. 6 months for unemployement is good as long as they don't reject an offer given to them.

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  32. Against all Zoo BearsMarch 9, 2011 at 3:53 AM

    Right on, Dragon. Would that we could all live in a world such as that you describe. And, it is hoped that at least a few of your suggestions are incorporated into the governance of Oman.

    As to your detractors: What on earth does Oman need 35,000 more police for? And where is the private sector that can absorb 15,000 more Omanis and to do what? Most Omanis would never accept the minimum wage, even with increases.

    Finally, the judicial system should not be a tool of the "old boys' network." It should treat disgraceful, unethical, unlawful behavior as such whether the guilty party is an Omani patriarch or a fisherman or even a foreigner. If there is a breach of contract, that breach should be recognized and not treated to a blind eye. Witness the transgressions of the Zoo Bears, that are now supported by the judicial system.

    What Oman needs is more foreign investment in job-creating projects. And, Oman won't get that if it treats its investing expatriates as though they are cursed infidels.

    Oman does need a meritocracy, but where are the masses of Omanis with terrific educations and foreign experience. There are too few. More Omanis should have been sent abroad to universities over the past two decades. Then, the various "anonymous" writers would have less to take umbrage about. Posts could then have been held by qualified Omanis rather than importing the qualifications from somewhere else, whether it be India or somewhere else.

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  33. how about somnolent?

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  34. UD

    Spot on, I would like to get your permission to translate what you wrote into Arabic and post it in Sablt Oman (www.s-oman.net).

    I am really worried that what is happening in Oman is a turn in the wrong direction

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  35. The above is a prime example of everything that is wrong with some Omani youth!

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  36. Generally agree with your prescription. However as a supporter of free markets, am wary of solutions containing 'compulsory', 'subsidy', reservations (Omanisation), taxes and such.

    Compulsory pseudo-military service: Would rather have this optional. Making it compulsory could mean sub-optimal distribution of human resources. It should be attractive enough to be preferred over unemployment. But this should not be an obstacle to youth directly entering the job market, if opportunities exist.

    Reduce Population Growth: Denying equal opportunities (in free education or other placers) to third or subsequent children is discriminatory. Especially for no fault of theirs. Other ideas to control population:
    1. Incentivize female education and employment. This has generally found to have a co-relation to lower birth rates.
    2. Increase awareness of birth-control. Also on benefits of smaller family.

    Reduce tribalism: Yes. But why subsidize weddings?

    Taxes & Omanization: Omanization should also be seen as a form of tax. Generally all taxes tend to distort allocation of resources. Any action in this direction needs to be proceeded on with extreme caution. Taxes lead to increase in costs for all consumers (i.e. the entire population of the country). Any form of tax or reservation always harms more people than it benefits.

    An aspect that has not been addressed is 'reducing' costs. Why does 200 OMR have to be the minimum wage? Any minimum wage to tends to increase unemployment.
    We need to look at solutions to bring down the cost of living. The biggest costs seem to be housing & transportation.
    The lack of low cost lodging solutions in the country is quite surprising. Why do we not have more hostels and condominiums?
    Oman also lacks any credible form of public transportation. Surely buses are a viable business! Why does everyone need to own a car?

    A Groucho Marxist.

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  37. "1/ There is no popular support at all for anything against His Majesty.
    These riots, especially those with any violence or that show disrespect to the Sultan, are not supported by most adults in Oman. In fact, there is a general disbelief that violent protesters are even 'true Omani'. They're apparently either Emeratis, or 'Baluchis'. Or ... well, anyone else. Afterall, burning a Lulu hypermarket is really, really dumb. They were one of the few sources of unskilled Omani employment they had!"
    Where do you get your information from or is it all created in your fuzzy head after your alcohol/marijuana sessions. I'm Bulushi and it hurts me a lot your false accusations of burning of lulu building was done as you write it in a demeaning way "or Baluchis'" as if all bad things are done by us. Perhaps, you have an insider within the Security Apparatus (i.e. Police if you can't get it in your slow head now) who told you as this 100% credible info isn't available anywhere except here... Oh, I forgot that's why you can't post your real name and where you are working or worked in Oman. I used to think you are full of shit but now I know it! Before writing think hard and ask yourself, "Is what I'm writing gonna lead to my demise?", ungrateful expat bastard!! You are a coward expat bastard at it too that after sucking from our blood, packing your pockets and leaving, you act as if you know everything about Oman and are scared to say who you are, hahaha.... Don't worry and piss in your pants yet as I will not track where you live or where you work with any software to check your IP addresses you use to post or get into you email...
    Let me tell you, you know crap about Oman, about us Omanis and about how should we go about our counrty. Butt off and get a life! I totally agree with Dragon Slayer and all these people liking your fake arrogant opinion as facts says that they also have no lives apparently. Oh, I forgot, to help you, please check your spelling next time... hahahah
    Finally, I hope from Almighty Allah, with the changes taking place now that all of you expats pleeeeeeeeeease leave our country and "Go Back Home! Go Back Home!" and "Stop Sucking Our Blood" as we don't need you anymore as your existence in Oman is a burden and not beneficial to us. As all of you thieving expats in your countries are failures and your countries are more than glad you are not their burden or responsibility so why should it be Oman's?! I will make it my cause to get all of you out by all means necessary!

    Abdullah Al Bulushi

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  38. I am an expatriate I strongly agree to the comments of DavidRJones that effective recruitment and training process is required to train the Omani youth.
    We expatriates come from slums of India and this is the reason we agree to all the low profile jobs on cheap rates which can never be done by the locals at triple rate also.
    In the organisations there is a need to make a parallel system all run by Omanies and then compared it with the counterpart expatriates. As i understand Omanies will do well if given a chance.
    We Indians are not impartial in trainings and we create such environment that Omani should run and we start backfiring him
    These all companies who had advertised soon after the protests should be penalized like BEC, Zubair, Rennaniance who created so many jobs in just ONE or TWO days.. a simple question to them WHERE WERE YOU EARLIER???

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  39. I love the pseudo military training, it's just what is needed!!!

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  40. Bollocks, I just wrote a reply about how Anonymous/Groucho Marxist's suggestions to abolish minimum wages, and generally reduce government interventions are ideological myth that could never work in Oman. He or she needs to be careful about applying theory from undergraduate economics textbooks into practice - even Friedman wasn't as pure free market as he's made out to be (and Alan Smith was certainly not a free market ideologue, contrary to popular belief). To say that any form of tax always harms more people than it helps is simply false, demonstrated by a whole range taxes in even the most free market economies in the world. Careful with basic economics, its a dangerous tool.

    Other comments Grouch Marx makes are very useful, low cost lodging and public transportation. This is a role for the private sector, right? Perhaps the government should encourage the private sector to get involved somehow.

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  41. Great ideas UD - you really have got the situation bang to rights. It does, however, appear that there are many sensitive locals out there who aren't really grasping the logic behind your points. It seems that you shouldn't have mentioned a reduction in the population: in the eyes of super sensitive, keeping the population of the same course is the answer - with few jobs now for the population we may as well have loads more kids who will struggle equally.

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  42. Bravo ! Bravo ! Continue the good job !

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If you wish to post anonymously, please pick a nickname by selecting the Name/URL option, or at least sign off your comment with one! I will delete comments I find objectionable or needlessly inflammatory. Sorry for the word verification.... OMG the spam has gotten BAD these past 12 months... trying to avoid making one log in...