Saturday, May 24, 2008

Government stepping up anti-corruption?

I missed this story (see below) last week on a ‘reliable Government source’ reportedly saying the Government is going to do more about corruption. Apparently.

What I was curious about is when have the media in Oman ever ‘tackled such issues’? I almost spilt my coffee in mirth. And why was this not an official announcement?

Speaking of corruption, a little bird told me a story about the land being used to build those big new apartments and shops next the motorway in Shatti, just near to the Intercon (they’re the ones with the Blue tinted windows). Apparently a Senior Government official in the Diwan took photos of the area, and then requested that HM give him the land as clearly nothing was being done with it. HM acquiesced, being a generous guy, and hey presto, the man was suddenly the owner of some pretty prime real estate in downtown Shatti. Of course, the reason the land was vacant was in case it was needed to expand the motorway sometime in the far future. Knowing that that little factoid might come to light, once title to the land was obtained the official almost immediately sold it to the developers, in exchange for a promise of future payment once the development was sold. In that way, the land could not be taken back. Smooth.

Apparently it’s common practice for Ministers and other senior Government officials to approach HM with photos of ‘unused land’ and a request that it be given to them. Of course, it helps if you know which pieces of land are subject to plans already, and which ones aren’t.

Now, where’s my camera…????
Government to take corruption head-on
By Mohammed Al Balushi
Monday, May 12, 2008 16:47 Oman Time
MUSCAT : The government will strengthen its efforts to further check corruption, which has become an international phenomenon, and which of late, has started giving tough times to the governments world over, said a reliable official source here yesterday.

Governments worldwide are devising their own plans and mechanisms to confront this social evil.

The Sultanate, like other countries, was subject to this phenomenon, the source said, adding that all institutions in the Sultanate, at all levels, would strengthen their mechanisms to monitor and confront this evil practice. Each and every official would be made accountable where corruption and such other malpractices are concerned according to the prevailing laws.

In the past, the government had focused on setting up infrastructure projects and had worked towards ensuring essential services to the citizens on a priority basis.

This naturally necessitated in shifting to the second stage, further strengthening the state institutions, said the source, adding that in the current phase, along with continuing to establish infrastructure projects, the government would also confront corruption as part of the nation’s domestic agenda.

Making the public aware of such issues was one of the fruits of the blessed Renaissance era, the source added.

It also hailed the role of the media in tackling such issues, and other issues of concern to the citizens and the residents.

Officials misusing their positions for personal benefits was unacceptable and each official should discharge his/her duties in the interest of the nation and safeguard public interest, the source added.

Finally, in another classic of shameless self promotion by Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, editor-in-chief of Times of Oman, this gem from the always insightful Times Of Oman
Editor-in-chief of ‘Times’ off to attend launch of Arab-Korean Organisation
Times News Service
Saturday, May 24, 2008 1:03:34 AM Oman Time
MUSCAT — Essa bin Mohammed Al Zedjali, editor-in-chief of Times of Oman, left for Seoul yesterday to attend the launch of the Arab-Korean Organisation, scheduled for Monday. The visit is taking place on the invitation of the Korean government.

The launch is scheduled as part of an international conference to be held in the South Korean capital for this purpose.

The organisation, an initiative of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is aimed at creating future partnership with the Middle East region, which is currently seeing unprecedented development and prosperity.

The organisation is expected to help strengthen further the understanding between the peoples of Korea and the Arab countries.

So, the Editor in chief of the Times is off to Seoul on a jolly hosted by the Koreans(and presumeably paid for as well). Does anyone care? Will we be seeing quid pro quo articles in praise of the Koreans in the Times? Let's see!


  1. Yes, sometimes highly connected people approach HM with requests to be given ownership of public lands and he approves their requests. Another example is the Oman LNG building which used to be an empty land on the edge of the Intercont parking lot and all of a sudden a guy showed up with a title deed for it and went to Oman LNG with a proposal to build an building for them on a long term lease.

    With regards to this long building in Shatti, the land actually used to belong jointly to two well known people, one of whom is probably the most powerful guy in the government and the other used to be just about as powerful back in the 80's. They had a permit to take that land and build a hotel on it. One of the partners found god and decided he want nothing to do with a hotel that sells liquor, so he sold his shares in the land to the other. Then the other guy found God too and he didn't know what to do with it. He shopped it around to banks for a year or two asking for investment ideas. Finally he sold the land to a well known businessman who hatched the idea of the present project and eventually sold it to the guy who developed and still owns it now.

  2. Muscati,

    Thanks for the update as always. Interesting. I wish I could get a patch of free land in Shatti!

    So who were the original guys... Al Sultan and Al Wahaibi?


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