Friday, July 10, 2009

Oman: "The lucky country" - Middle Eastern Version

I know.

Sometimes I'm thought of as being too 'negative' here at Muscat Confidential.

It's sometimes said(*) that we discuss things that are better not talked about in public, especially in the context of so-called Omani 'Society' and 'culture'.

That the Undercover Dragon is all criticism and 'bad news', rather than being uplifting, supportive, and celebratory of all the many multitudes of great and good things evident here in our Sultanate by the gulf and the Indian Ocean.


Why is that?

Well, for one, the mainstream press in Oman already seem to cover pretty comprehensively the "sunshine, rainbows and pretty white unicorns that crap butterflies" slant on our life and times.

Artists rendition: The average Oman media story.

I'm trying for more of a niche outside that. One thyat is less paternalistic in what Omanis can handle being talked about.

Second, there are a few stories that 'broke' here, and I like to think that there are some opinions, stories and facts available at Muscat Confidential that you won't read anywhere else, and yet are either public domain or should be. (eg Blue City, the Government's performance).

Yes, I'm often guilty of giving some relatively innocuous stories the 'tabloid treatment' in the name of entertainment. Mea Culpa. (I do wish Rupert Murdock would by 'The Tribune' and get us better served in that department too.). And no, I don't mind being occasionally offensive/one-eyed/agent provocateur, which is sometimes a disadvantage.

Lastly I am philosophically wedded to the idea that transparency, debate, and criticism is good for us. It's not about blame. It's about being better. Learning. Finding out who is right through discussion and (preferably) facts and data. Making decisions based on agreed aims, and measuring the effectiveness of what we achieve compared to those aims.

I refuse to think anyone wants an Oman filled with North Korean proles just doing what someone tells them.

BUT, for the record.

Oman is an awesome place to live. That's why I live here.

Oman has proved to be 'the exception that proves the rule' with respect to Government.

Benign Dictatorship is widely acknowledged to be the best system of Government yet devised. But the instability and side effects generally mean it's unattainable. No one has yet figured out how to end up like Oman (with a brilliant and dedicated leader in His Majesty), or perhaps Singapore, and avoid ending up instead with leaders like North Korea or Zimbabwe (or the many other examples I'm sure you can come up with).

The Omani people are the most polite, friendly, optimistic, honest, nicest people in the entire GCC and wider region. The population is blessed with a significant % of hard working, talented people (especially the women). The country is awash with potential: sea, beaches, mountains, oil and gas, minerals, fisheries, farm land, islands, trade routes, a culture of tolerance, and low levels of corruption. You have been fantastically blessed with HM and his able assistants such as HE Mr. Macki. We just need everyone else to strive to reach those benchmarks.

I love Oman.


* I attend the odd dinner party. I confess it's always interesting when the topic of 'Who IS Muscat Confidential?' comes up, as it occasionally does... I usually suggest someone else, obviously.


  1. Yes, if the press did their job you'd be redundant.

    With all that luvvie praise I was waiting for a punchline like...the Omani people are the sweetest, nicest, bestest Oman!!!

    As long as old Uncle Essa in the Times is still scribbling you will have plenty of work!

  2. Dragon- Sounds to me like you need a BIG HUG. You have a unique talent for expressing yourself and exposing things the rest of us should be thinking about. Keep up the good work.

  3. If people accuse you of being negative, it's because everything you say, whether intentional and systematic, or otherwise, encourages and nurtures a culture of moaning complainers, rather than a culture of doers, facilitators and actors.

    I am not one of those people. I only have the time to think you're full of shit (and tell you about it).

  4. Who are you and what have you done with UD ? 2 spelling errors and a load of sentimental drivel. Time to hit the beach for a good cry and then pull yourself together. We all buy the warm and fuzzy Omani stuff but enough of the bucket inducing back slapping. Looking forward to your return!

  5. DA, Abd

    That's OK mate, glad you made the time to share. I think everyone is entitled to their opinion, even spoilt tossers!

    Fair point. Though the spelling errors are often a frequent occurance...

  6. Nice article indeed UD. But "..Benign Dictatorship is widely acknowledged to be the best system of Government yet devised.."?!?! Is it really? Think you're trying to be a little bit (far) too fast here. The best system of government depends very much on the actual situation in/of a country. Benign Dictatorship might be the best solution for a certain country/people in a certain period. But try to install such type of government for example in on of the 'old', stable democracies (ok, better forget about the US for the moment..). You don't really believe that would work well, do you? Once people know what freedom and democracy really is and understand the responsibilities that come with it, any form of dictatorship will fail.

  7. Interesting comments Objective...
    We westerns have been brain washed to believe that "democraty" is the ONLY viable system.
    Having lived in a European socialist/communist country, then in a ultra-liberal N-american country and Finaly in a "begnin dictatorship" as UD calls it, that system is by fare the best I have ever seen...
    Our western "democraties" are very vicious because there give us the illusion that we are "free" while it is an undercovered totalitarian system, so I prefered this Omani system where people follow one highly respected leader instead of a bunch of corrupted elected puppets politician serving some unknown higher masters...
    Thank you UD for this blog, a wealth of information, a sincere love for this country and his people, this blog should be a mandatory read for all goverment officials!


  8. Mr Macki is an able assistant? As I understand it, the only person he was assisting was himself. Surely he is the sort of target that UD would be targeting?


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