Muscat: The Sultanate of Oman will celebrate the 52nd National Day on 18th of November.
Omani people will mark the Renewed Renaissance and its glorious reign under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, who affirmed his constant quest to advance Oman’s modern cultural and economic status and his keenness to make Omani citizens as true partners in their country’s comprehensive development.
His Majesty the Sultan’s vision for the future of this benign land reflected positively on the integration of government departments with private sector establishments and civil society institutions. This has in turn brought about tangible results in different social, economic and political fields.
The attention that His Majesty the Sultan accords to the study of decision-making mechanisms is aimed at serving the country’s supreme interests. The outcome was a set of decisions, the most prominent of which the restructuring of the Council of Ministers on 16 June 2022. The decision was the second one after His Majesty the Sultan assumed the reins of power. It affirmed His Majesty’s resolve to follow up the efforts exerted to improve government performance towards the realisation of Oman Vision 2040.
The establishment of the Supreme Judicial Council, under His Majesty’s own chairmanship, was yet a step forward in founding a system capable of achieving the loftiest standards of justice, impartiality and transparency in line with pillars of Oman Vision 2040. The step also combines all parties of litigation into a single judicial schema.
Governorates’ enhanced role
The Royal Decree on enhancing the role of the governorates constituted a major step in achieving the modern approach to decentralise local administration. It empowers Oman’s 11 governorates, defines their roles in development and defines their economic and social priorities to benefit from the comparative advantage among governorates. Decentralisation also streamlines service procedures for citizens, an objective underscored by His Majesty the Sultan upon his chairmanship of the Council of Ministers on 11 October 2022.
In the meeting, His Majesty the Sultan stressed the importance of coordination among units of the States’ Administrative Apparatus and the governorates, the acceleration of electronic transformation, interconnection among governorates to streamline procedures, facilitate the execution of transactions, develop the quality of government services and address the existing challenges.
A decision was issued to add two new wilayats to Oman’s administrative division—namely by according the status of “wilayat” to both “Al Jabal Al Akhdar” and “Sinaw”, raising the total number of wilayats in Oman to 63. The decision was aimed at attracting investments, developing resources and upgrading services and activities in the two wilayats.
His Majesty the Sultan’s keenness to hold direct meetings with sheikhs and dignitaries of Oman constitutes a strong manifestation of the leader’s keenness to get first-hand knowledge about citizens’ needs, despite the existence of public institutions such as the Council of Oman—a legislative monitoring body—and municipal councils, which undertake developmental and service roles in their respective wilayats.
The Royal-meet-the-people gatherings affirm His Majesty the Sultan’s sincere desire to implement decentralisation and make it the most straightforward administrative application for the future in Oman’s governorates.
The new administrative setup offers governors and governorates direct authority to run their internal affairs, including planning and implementation of missions. This makes governorates’ affairs more closely associated with the districts themselves, their governors and their municipal councils.
Much hope is pinned on polls of municipal councils, due to be held on 25 December for local voters and 17 December 2022 for citizens voting from abroad. The tasks of municipal councils keep pace with the Royal vision of His Majesty the Sultan and the role that the councils are expected to undertake.
Royal Decree No. 38/2022 introduced amendments to some provisions of the Municipal Councils Law, which aims to facilitate their missions in different governorates. This was stated by His Majesty the Sultan who has affirmed that time is ripe for decentralisation of decisions pertaining to local communities. This brought to the limelight the role of governors and the role of municipal councils.
His Majesty the Sultan’s emphasis on interaction between governors, municipal councils, Oman Investment Authority and Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry assumes a special significance. This interaction gains more impetus after the Governorates Development Programme’s allocations were increased to OMR20 million and the addition of new development projects to previous projects endorsed for implementation during the rest of the 10th Five Year Plan (2021-2025) whose worth exceeding OMR650 million in different sectors.
The Royal vision will spur economic growth and contribute to the continuity of services and the completion of infrastructure. It will also boost private sector activities and provide more employment opportunities for citizens. Last January, Oman implemented the “System of Individual Performance and Institutional Proficiency” (Ejada) in 57 government institutions.
The system, which covers about 175,000 government employees, aims at generating a quantum leap in government performance by enhancing the efficiency of human resources and improving the level of government services.
The Government Digital Transformation Programme is an executive arm of a digital economy and a basic enabler in achieving the priorities of Oman Vision 2040. It contributes to the establishment of a flexible and innovative government apparatus based on principles of governance and providing high-quality performance and smart government services.
Indicators for measuring the performance of the programme include raising the percentage of automation of government services from 34 percent in 2020 to 80 percent by 2050, with the expected investment volume for implementing the programme set at OMR 170 million, which will be invested in improving procedures, re-engineering government services, improving digital infrastructure, and empowering national competencies in the field of digital transformation.
The Sultanate of Oman has attached a great importance to protecting the environment and preserving its various natural resources. His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik endorsed the year 2050 as a date for achieving zero carbon emissions. A national plan prepared for this objective includes the establishment of Oman Sustainability Centre, based on the outputs of the Carbon Management Laboratory.
This serves as a major step that aims at diminishing the impacts of climate change, striking a balance between sustainable development and effects of climate change, establishing a knowledge-based economy, benefiting from clean technology to achieve sustainable development and developing a diversified mix of energy sources.
His Majesty the Sultan issued directives to expedite the development of an early warning system and implement the best urban planning methodologies to limit the impacts of climatic conditions, disasters and related epidemics. This affirms the attention accorded by His Majesty the Sultan to the human being—Omani citizens and expatriates alike.
Royal Decree No. 54/ 2022 establishes the National Natural Park Reserve in Musandam Governorate. The park is aimed at achieving sustainable development by preserving natural resources, sustaining biodiversity and protecting wildlife and geological diversity. The park is the first one of its kind in Musandam Governorate and the 22nd in Oman.
His Majesty the Sultan is following up efforts made by the government to care for young people and highlight their contributions. On the occasion of the Omani Youth Day, HH Sayyid Theyazin stressed that “youth are among the most important pillars of Oman Vision 2040, which seeks to achieve sustainability and prosperity for the present generation of Omanis and the future generations.”
Addressing the citizens of Oman, His Majesty the Sultan affirmed the need to adhere to the principles and values of society and to be proud of their identity, “the core component of our personality”. He added that the national identity constitutes one of the pillars of the history of this benign land, given the impacts of technology and information revolution on the world, including the spread of negative thoughts and alien customs.
His Majesty the Sultan stressed that openness to the world must be “in a balanced, clear-cut manner. We have to interact with technology positively, lest we might lose our originality or forget our identity”, His Majesty explained.
He added that “The upbringing of children does not take place through social networks. Raising children is an essential part of the origin of Omani society. The success of the community lies in the fact that our children get imbued with our customs and traditions and adhere to the family and society.” In this context, His Majesty the Sultan commended the effective role of Omani media in preserving and documenting Omani culture.
His Majesty the Sultan also underscored the role of education and vocational training sector in supplying the labour market with skilled national human resources. His Majesty advised that an integrated executive plan for the development of this sector be prepared in cooperation with some international institutions. He also called for aligning technical education and general education tracks so that the outputs from general education (technical specialisation) would benefit from the Education and Vocational Training Programmes.
The innovation system in Oman functions through the integration of a number of entities, most notably the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion, the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, and the Central Bank of Oman. The system works towards converting acquired knowledge into innovative applications that can be turned into commercial projects and registered as property rights—and thereby be entitled to receivepartial funding that enable them to embark on entrepreneurial ventures.
Oman has exerted efforts to cut down the period of intellectual property registration and change its registration mechanism to allow beneficiaries to register global intellectual property from Oman. These efforts coincide with national programmes that contributed to transforming graduation projects into start-ups.
Oman’s efforts have become a model in developing ways to finance nascent companies of all sizes and needs. This is accomplished through various programmes, including direct financing, business accelerators programmes and business incubator programmes that gave rise to business incubators in various governorates, besides merging a number of institutions to form the Industrial Innovation Academy. The academy will transform knowledge into innovative project.
As a result of these efforts, Oman occupied 10th place globally in the education segment of the Global Innovation Index 2022. The ranking advanced Oman by 34 places over last year. Oman also ranked 19th in the Business Policies Index.