Sunday, September 7, 2008

Change out at Ministry of Manpower, Muscat Municipality

Ah yes, a mini-reshuffle of ministers!
OK, so what’s the scoop?

Minister of Manpower replaced
Out: HE Dr. Juma bin Ali bin Juma
In: HE Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri

The Minister of Manpower has been replaced by up and coming young technocrat Abdullah bin Nasser al Bakri, previously Under-Secretary of Water Resources Affairs at the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, with the old Minister effectively sacked. (The undersecretary must have made a good impression on His Highness Sayyid Shihab bin Tareq al Said, Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan, at a recent water resource exposition in Spain they attended together.)
Despite earlier comments made to this blog, the replacement is probably unrelated to recent student protests (I think that would be more directly placed at the door of the MOE, whose Minister was instructed by His Majesty to sort that out a couple of weeks ago). No, my sources tell me the change is because essentially the old MOM, HE Dr. Juma bin Ali bin Juma, was increasingly preoccupied with his own very successful trucking business, getting a Doctorate, and in addition was not making any friends with the tone of his pronouncements.

Chairman of Muscat Municipality replaced
Out: HE Eng. Abdullah Bin Abbas Bin Ahmed
In: HE Eng. Sultan Bin Hamdoun Bin Saif Al Harthy

The existing chairman of Muscat Municipality, man about town HE Eng. Abdullah Bin Abbas Bin Ahmed, has been gently moved to a position as one of the many Secretary-Generals at the Diwan of the Royal Court, effectively a nice cushy semi-retirement on full pay. Not that he needs the money too much these days after a long period as head of the big spending municipality and local businessman!
[For example, I’m reliably informed that in one of his most recent projects he successfully built a large office building oat a prime location near the Hyatt in Shatti – which thanks to excellent project management skills was built in record time and never experienced any shortages of cement or labour – and ... (post press correction: rented out, not sold to SinoHydro. Thanks Muscati!)] He also has varied other business interests, many of them highly successful, including being Chairman of the board of directors at The Wave, Muscat.

He is replaced by HE Eng. Sultan Bin Hamdoun Bin Saif Al Harthy, who my sources tell me is ex-Oman Military and used to head one of the critical Military Intelligence Sections. This position is a reward for his many years of excellent work in the service of His Majesty and the country. I’m sure being responsible for all of greater Muscat’s civil infrastructure and lots of other mundane tasks is a pretty hard job, (albeit one that is commonly seen to have lots of fringe benefits).

I certainly wish HE Al Harthy success, as meeting the challenge of building on the achievements of HE Abdullah Bin Abbas Bin Ahmed will not be an easy task in such a high profile role.

Royal Decree appoints Abdullah Al Bakri as Minister of Manpower
MUSCAT His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has issued three Royal Decrees as follows:

Royal Decree No.-103/2008 appoints Minister of Manpower.
Article I appoints HE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasir Bin Abdullah Al Bakri as Minister of Manpower.
Article II says the decree comes into force from date of its issue.

Royal Decree No.-104/2008 appoints a secretary-general at the Diwan of the Royal Court.
Article I appoints HE Eng. Abdullah Bin Abbas Bin Ahmed as Secretary-General at the Diwan of the Royal Court with his grade and financial allocations.
Article II says the decree comes into force from the date of its issue.

Royal Decree No.-105/2008 appoints Chairman of Muscat Municipality.
Article I appoints HE Eng. Sultan Bin Hamdoun Bin Saif Al Harthy as Chairman of Muscat Municipality with a grade of undersecretary.
Article II says the decree comes into force from the date of its issue.

Oman News Agency


  1. Kudos to you for fantastic info.

    Oman Waste Water got fed up with Sino Hydro, and they had to award the job to Gulfar at much higher price.

    Due to Muscat beautification Engineer recently only got rank of Cabinet Minister. This change was quite unexpected.

    I wonder what happens to a sacked minister. Will he get salary or job else where. No wonder they make hay while sun shines.

    Funny thing is turnover is maximum at MOM.

  2. Anonymous:

    Dr. Ali bin Ali Al-Jum'aa is not the first or only minister that gets sacked and leaves the Cabinet without an honorary position like Adviser of His Majesty, Adviser of State or Member of State Council (Majlis al-Dawla). They just continue their lives normally, get a quite good pension (if not 100% of their salaries when they were ministers) and focus on their businesses. And life goes on...

  3. I don't know why the ministers were changed, for all I know it could be just routine. And to tell the truth, even if I did know, I wouldn't broadcast it on a blog.

    Abdullah Abbas has been heading Muscat Municipality for about 20 years. He has done a lot for Muscat. He's been there through the worst years, when oil was below 10 dollars and never stopped planning and building. Some projects, such as the Southern Expressway, were developed under his leadership back in the early 90's and didn't have the budgets to come to life till this decade. Another similar project is Muscat Wastewater which was initially developed by the municipality under his leadership about 15 years ago as public-private sector initiative but didn't get off the ground till 5 years ago. The award of the project to the Chinese company is the fault of the tender board, not the municipality, and if I am not mistaken the tender board at that time was under the leadership of the incoming chairman of the municipality, Sultan bin Hamdoun. I wouldn't blame him either, but Oman's system which awards projects to the lowest bidder despite obvious warning signs. Sinohydro under bid the next lowest bidder by close to 30 million rials and yet no one raised doubts?

    The building in Shatti Al Qurum has not been sold. It is still owned by HE Abdullah Abbas. And even if he sold it, it can't have been sold to Sino Hydro as foreign companies aren't allowed to own real estate in Oman. Sino Hydro's Oman operations are up to their eyeballs in losses in the Muscat Waste Water project. They have been trying to get out of the project but the government wont let them. The government tried hard to get Galfar to take over the project but they refused any part which was already started by SinoHydro. They finally agreed to take the Mawaleh network after much arm twisting and now the remaining part of the project has been split up into 5 separate contracts.

    Another thing, I think it is the Royal Office which comes up with names and plans for cabinet reshuffles, and advisers such as Sayyid Shihab, are nothing more than ceremonial titles. I seriously doubt HM ever asks them for advise when it comes to choosing ministers.

  4. Muscati, people come to this blog only to read spicy news and to air our views in anonymity, whether true or not.

    Fact remains that it was only recently that Engineer was given a cabinet rank and also appreciated for good work after Gonu.

    However Ministerial decision on 15% cap on rent increase supposed to be and easily could have been implemented by Municipality was given a go by. Finally a decree had to come, which has put a big question mark on validity of Ministerial Decisions. This might have been one reason for the ouster of Engineer from Baladiya. (I am just speculating).

  5. Anon1,
    I agree with Amjad, they don't suffer! Pension is great. And like I said, he's got some good business to focus on.

    As always, thanks for the info. I have tried to correct the post accordingly.

    I think cabinet changes are worthy of public comment, although it's a pity there isn't more and better information available. However, even in the west, a usual excuse is the infamous 'wants to spend more time with his family'. Speculation on the reasons is, of course, just that - speculation.

    I also agree that HE Abdullah Abbas did a lot of good stuff as head of the Municipality, and can smpathise with having to work within the confines of the tenderboard... Thats why I think the new Chairman will not have an easy job. The problem he has is that people take for granted everything that works, and expect it to always work (electricity, roads, water, sewerage, etc). They only notice when things go wrong.

    The rent cap debacle is a good example of that - but while the original decision was the cabinet, its the civil servants who drafted the proclaimation who should take the blame for such a half baked answer on the rent caps as originally released. (But then that's why HM later instructed a proper response to the rent crisis, which was then issued as a decree...).

  6. Wasnt Sultan Bin Hamdoon the undersectretary of the Ministry of Heritage? How come Muscati says he was the chairman of of the tender board.

    BTW Juma Ali Juma was also the chairman of the Tender board. And while he was minister - apparantly lots of complaints went against him to HM, with one of them regarding the hotel building in Azaiba (Shell petrol station) which he ordered without permission it seems.

  7. cuninng linguist: Before being the under-secretary of Ministry of Heritage and Culture, he was the secretary-general of the tender board. :-)

    Not rocket science...

  8. Abdulla bin Abbas for those who do not know him is a successful achiever in the Municipal arena.However many may do not know for what price these projects has seen day light.20 years ago or so,he owned only one or two villas in Muscat.Today he is a millionaire.How on earth Abdulla abbas who is not having any known business can become a millionaire owning multi million rials properties that is looked after by staff employed by the Muscat Municipality.I think any sensible man can understand where all this money has come from.I think he is now on transitional stage only till he will be sent to final retirement so that he can look after real estate as there will be no more municipality officials to do the job for free.

  9. Anonymous- when you work in the government in an undersecretary or minister level you can get rich without any wrong doing. No need to steal or take commissions. HM usually shows his appreciation to these people through large gifts of cash (a couple hundred thousands or even more) and/or grants of land. A minister or undersecretary with a free plot of land in a prime location only needs spend money on designing a building and then he can approach a bank to finance it against the mortgage of the land and the expected income from the building once completed.

    The government knows exactly how much money each government official makes from his salary, grants, bonuses, etc. They can easily know how much money he is borrowing from banks. How much he is earning from investing his income, and so forth.


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