Muscat: Since the collapse of the Cold War in international relations, soft power has been the focus of growing attention. While economic and military power continues to shape perceptions of the influence or power of a country, soft power has secured great importance in many parts of the world.
The internet and the spread of social media networks have further underscored the need for governments to come up with means to win the hearts of the peoples of other countries. And today national brand has also emerged as an important concept in the international community.
This is a concept developed and presented by Simon Anholt in his contribution to the Journal of Brand Management of July 1998. Its elements are governance, culture/ heritage, people, tourist attraction, among others.
I would like to talk about Oman's soft power and national brand. I would like to begin by saying that I think Oman's soft power is considerable. When we think about Oman, peace is the first thing that comes to mind. Oman is such a peaceful and internally stable country. I think any foreigner who has ever lived in the Sultanate would agree with this assessment.
I believe that this is a great asset of Oman, and has played an important role in attracting foreign direct investment for many Omani projects. And in its foreign relations, Oman has a deep commitment to peace. Oman firmly believes that any dispute between countries could and should be resolved through dialogue. Oman does not take a zero-sum approach. It seeks a mutually advantageous result. As a result, Oman only has friends.
In this regard, Oman can play a special and valuable role in narrowing differences between parties in dispute. Secondly Oman's Renaissance itself is a source of Oman's soft power. Oman has transformed itself in a very impressive manner in the last four decades under the pragmatic and enlightened leadership His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. It has been a truly remarkable transformation.
The UNDP (United Nations Development Program), in its report released in November, 2010, ranked Oman as number one out of 135 countries in the world in terms of human development achievement for the period of 1970-2010. This represents recognition by the entire international community. In sum, Oman is a country of good governance.
Thirdly, I will turn to the characteristics of the Omani people. Oman has been a mercantile country since way back in time. The people have made a living by trading with other peoples. These elements have combined to produce a particular Omani character.
My own observation is that the Omani people are gentle, kind, open, tolerant and humble. I have many personal anecdotes that I can proudly share with my Korean friends about how kind the Omani people are.
Fourthly, Oman has been a crossroads of cultures. As a result, Oman is a multicultural country. The point here is that Oman is a country where people of different ethnic backgrounds live in harmony. Oman is a country open to other peoples irrespective of religion, customs and heritage. I think many parts of the world have a lot to learn from the experience of Oman where people embrace an pluralistic attitude grounded in mutual respect.
Lastly, Oman has a long and proud history, and accordingly retains its sense of tradition. Its name appeared in ancient scripts. The nation built a dynasty ahead of others. The current Al Busaidi dynasty is one of the oldest in the region. It was one of the earliest ship building nations in the world, which made Oman a leading naval power in the Indian Ocean particularly in the first half of the 19th century.
Now let me turn to what is attractive to foreigners, that is, what Oman has to offer. First of all, Oman's land has a diverse landscape. You can enjoy the desert, white sand beaches, high mountains, wadis and Khareef in the Dhofar region, among others. It is a blessed land. And I think Oman's weather is