Thursday, October 16, 2008

His Majesty points out how crap Omani Journalists are

Spooky. Who would have thought?

HM issued an instruction earlier this week that all Omani new reporters and journalists are to be given extensive training to get them up to commonly accepted international standards. It’ll be interesting to see how that works, with the pervasive and restrictive self-censorship that occurs in the local rags apparently caused more at the editorial level than by the chaps in the engine room.

So, its HM mandated training for the boys and girls of Oman’s glorious 4th Estate. (I suspect the Pulitzer Prize is pretty safe in US hands for a while yet!) The program will be run by the Ministry of Information, an oxymoron if ever there was one for a Ministerial title.

I wonder if Essa will sign up too?

The only slightly ominous part is the little bit in the story that "The Ministry of Information began to enumerate and classify local press personnel towards the development of a database of their qualifications, current experience." [that's their sentence structure BTW, not mine. Perhaps some English grammar training as well...].

And they will all be interviewed by the MOI too. Hmmm. I bet that will be fun. No wonder (according to the Ministry of Information) "The journalists and media persons valued the Royal gesture." I'm surprised they didn't say "greeted with delight..."

Royal orders to conduct training for Omani journalists, media personnel

MUSCAT — His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has issued orders to conduct training courses and programmes for all Omani journalists and media personnel. Hamad bin Mohammed al Rashdi, Minister of Information, said that the Royal directives are aimed to upgrade the skills of Omani journalists and media personnel to a professional level that reflects the development witnessed by the world media and the progress achieved by the Sultanate in various spheres. During his visit to the Oman Establishment for Press, Publication and Advertising (OEPPA) yesterday, the minister stressed that the training programmes will be available to all Omani journalists and media personnel in government and private establishments.

The courses will be conducted in stages starting locally and culminating at leading Arab and international journalism and media organisations. Al Rashdi added that the programmes will also cover technical staff whose work is directly related to the press. The Ministry of Information began to enumerate and classify local press personnel towards the development of a database of their qualifications, current experience. Accordingly, training requirements will be decided in tandem with the duties and responsibilities of the journalists/media personnel, he said. The journalists and media persons valued the Royal gesture which, they said, comes within the context of His Majesty’s keenness on promoting the capabilities of Omanis in all nation-building fields.

They noted that the Royal gesture is a strong evidence of the important role the Omani media play in promoting the Omani society"s culture towards further higher grades of progress. In its preparatory stage, the ministry has started registering all Omani journalists from the media for further training in their respective fields of specialisation in the very near future. In its preparatory stage, entrants will attend interviews supervised by the ministry. The courses will be conducted by prominent journalists and academicians in this respective field from within the country and abroad. Qualifying entrants will further train at prestigious media institutions overseas.


  1. does this mean we will start to see traces of investigative journalism or actual thoughtful analysis? Doubtful. The system has successfully put the fear of God in everyone (writers and readers) and even worse self-censorship is too common.

  2. Someone has been taking your colourful complaints to heart, it seems.

    -Omani in US

  3. 1. 'Media' = pretty inclusive word; so do you figure this directive is aimed at bloggers also; Will Bloggers receive training?
    2. Ref: Print media. I heard from a contributor of newspaper articles that all newspapers / magazines printed in the Sultanate are prohibited from printing maps (which could, BTW, be VERY helpful in explaining many matters to the readers) to illustrate the articles. An example of what might be helpful = when water problems in Muscat area are mentioned in Times, then newspaper could show on a clear map what areas are affected. Get the idea?
    So: Is it true that print media in Oman are prohibited by law/decree from printing maps???
    Or: Could it be that: All maps to be printed must be 'fact checked' by an agency of the Oman Government and that would take days/years to accomplish; so print media simply avoid the issue: too time consuming.

  4. Maps need approval by the National Survey Authority (military) when published in Oman. Maps published outside Oman, or Google Earth type mash-ups available in Oman through the internet of course are not within their control. The A-Z Street Atlas of Muscat which was published by an Omani based organization took years for approval to be given – while (on the face of it) the Explorer Guides seem able to publish in Dubai and distribute Oman maps in Oman very easily as they have several books with maps and several reprints of those books.

  5. Kay
    Doubtful is right. It will take decades to get to any proper investigative journalism here.

    Perhaps. But unlikely I suspect.

    Maps have always been highly controlled since the civil wars in the 50s. Modern technology of GPS, satelites and the fantastic google earth have changed the reality, but the laws and attitudes are yet to catch up. Of late, the biggest issue was always the position of the international boundaries with Yemen, RSA and UAE, as these were then officially not agreed. But that too is now sorted.

    Thanks for the info

    On blogs
    Generally, I think we’re lucky English blogs are still very much off the radar screen, with internet penetration so low and most Omanis preferring Arabic, no one in power yet really gives a toss within reason.

  6. ohh they all need major training and speach classes forgotten the right term for it ;-) but it will take a while ;-) butat least its a step in the right direction.

  7. I would love the job of correcting English spelling and grammar in the papers and all bloody notices, shop signs etc. It drives me nuts!!! I am a would be journalist, would love to get my hands on some of the so-called ones around here!!!

  8. Forget investigative journalism. People have been facing water shortage in various parts of Muscat , which is not being reported properly, and the price increase by water tanker is justified by Times of Oman by quoting from religious texts and diverting attention to wastage of water by some people.

  9. Brilliant blog. As a Brit expat in Muscat for past 8 years I see bad driving (particularly from young Omani's) everyday. The reality is they get away with it. If father had Wasta (not sure how you spell that, but you all know what I mean) theye get away with it. Wealthy families do not help by buying thier darling son of 18 a Mustang or Porche to gain driving experience. Teenage Quad bikers dodging in and out of traffic showing off just adds to the stupidity.


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