GLORIOUS PAST, BRILLIANT PRESENT

Oman 2014 | DIPLOMACY | INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said on the development of the Sultanate and the evolving role of the private sector.

HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said
BIOGRAPHY
HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said was born in Salalah in Dhofar in 1940. He is the eighth direct descendent of the royal Al Busaidi line, founded in 1744 by Imam Ahmed bin Said. He entered the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst at the age of 20, and joined a British Infantry battalion on operations in Germany for one year and also held a staff appointment with the British Army. After his military service, HM Sultan Qaboos studied local government subjects in England and, after a world tour, returned home to Salalah where he studied Islam and the history of his country. Upon his accession to the throne on July 23, 1970, he moved to Muscat, where he declared that the country would no longer be known as Muscat and Oman, but would be united as the Sultanate of Oman.

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE COMPASSIONATE, THE MERCIFUL

Praise be to Almighty God, who guided us to the path of righteousness and prayer, and peace be upon His Messenger, who called for the application of Shura as an authentic system of governance, as well as his honorable family and his virtuous companions, day and night.

The experience of Shura in Oman, as we have always stressed, is a successful one. It has been in close harmony with the stages of the Renaissance, and compatible with the values and principles of society, besides being in line with the concept of grooming enlightened individuals, who are well aware of their rights and duties, as well as capable of expressing their opinions and ideas in acceptable language, through sensible logic, and a prudent vision based on a proper assessment of matters. Omanis have, throughout the years, proved that they command a good sense of awareness, culture, insight, and understanding when dealing with various opinions, types of dialogue, and discussions that target the supreme interests of this country and its loyal citizens. We are confident that awareness will increase, and that our culture will grow, and put down strong roots through the roles assigned. The Members of the Council of Oman, through the exchange of views and ideas, stem from a wise tradition that became evident and shall continue to crystallize as we tackle different issues in a deep and elaborate manner of analysis and investigation. We hope that this great edifice, which we have opened in the name of God, will witness a constructive discussion of matters, and a wise tackling of issues. It will also be a discussion through which it becomes clear to anyone who observes this experience, locally and abroad, that Omanis are highly capable of participating with their enlightened opinion and mature thought in decision making that serves their country and promotes it to a prominent place and a noble status. This is no challenge to the people of Oman, a country whose glorious past stands as witness, and whose brilliant present serves as an incentive to look forward to wider horizons of progress and prosperity.

You are aware that Oman was once in great need of development in all fields, and you understand that in order to achieve the goal of human and social development in all areas of the Sultanate, it has been necessary to establish a solid infrastructure on which development plans and programs are based. This is particularly true in the fields of education, health, training, and employment. Without infrastructure, human and social development would not have reached the population in the cities, towns, villages, plains, and mountains, and in the deep valleys and vast deserts. Previous development plans, despite the widespread area of Oman and its harsh geographical terrain, have gone a long way, which has led to the transformation of life in this country and facilitated the implementation of development programs—both social and humanitarian. It has helped to extend services of all types to citizens wherever they are. The need for infrastructure will never cease because it is an ongoing process necessitated by urban expansion and social and economic development, reaffirmed by the people's need for communication and aspirations for a better, happier life. Therefore, infrastructure development always gains attention at all stages of growth and nation building, without exception. Infrastructure gains extreme importance and is accorded top priority at some of these stages due to special circumstances and specific considerations that call for such action. Therefore, what some people often deem as a greater emphasis on infrastructure than human or social development in the past stages of development is not accurate, as such a view ignores the reality—that is, the conditions that prevailed at that time and the priorities made necessary by the situation there and then. That view also ignores the tremendous attention that was similarly accorded to the areas of education, health, commerce, industry, agriculture, finance, and the economy at large. Thus, the attention accorded to these areas aims at the provision of a dignified life for the citizen, who, as we have always affirmed, is both the target of the comprehensive development and its effective tool. We have instructed our government to focus, in its future plans, on social development, particularly its aspects related to the daily lives of citizens. This should be achieved by the creation of renewable employment opportunities and training programs for citizens and promoting production capacity, as well as scientific, cultural, and intellectual development. We will closely follow the steps taken in this field. This matter shall also be the focus of attention of the Supreme Council for Planning, which seeks to draft well-studied development plans that take into account the priorities of each stage, and the balance between various aspects of development toward attaining the overall goal. It is pleasing and rewarding to see that Oman is progressing in balanced steps in this direction, which we regard as being the right one. We pray to the Almighty to bless us with further success for the sake of Oman and its loyal citizens.

“ More attention should be accorded to the requirements imposed by scientific and cultural development toward the evolution of a generation armed with awareness, knowledge, and the abilities required for worthwhile work. "

The private sector is one of the basic pillars of development, both in the economic concept, which represents commerce, industry, agriculture, tourism, and finance, and the economy in general, as well as the social concept, which denotes human resources development, training, the upgrading of scientific and practical skills, and the offering of new employment opportunities and incentives in the private sector. Some citizens have the misconception that the private sector relies on what the state offers to it, and that it does not contribute efficiently to the service of society and support of its social institutions and programs, or that the private sector seeks only to achieve profit, or does not try to work more seriously in serving its society, environment, and its country. Such an impression could harm not only the future of the private sector, but would also have a negative impact that would extend to the development plans of the country, particularly to the diversification of income. Therefore, the private sector is required to work harder to eliminate this impression, to take well-studied and efficient practical steps, through increasing its contribution to social development, and to work in closer partnership with the government in implementing its policies, hand-in-hand with civil society institutions, which offer social and humanitarian services. Such a positive attitude is capable of enhancing the confidence of citizens and their appreciation of the private sector's role. It will encourage the Omani youth to work in this sector, and to keep their jobs, while instilling a spirit of belonging to the sector's institutions. This will in turn reflect positively on the performance of youth, their commitment to the ethics of work, and will contribute to productivity. Therefore, the private sector will be an authentic partner in employment and development plans prepared by government departments, and from which the private sector itself benefits. These plans will provide a strong impetus for the development of the private sector's potential, and release its great energy in the fields of local, regional, and international competition. Everyone who has completed their education or training has to take up a useful profession that fulfills their sense of being, and through which they can strive to achieve their ambitions, rather than expect a government job. The state, with all its civil, security, and military institutions, cannot continue to be the main source of employment, as this calls for a capacity beyond its reach and a mission that the state cannot sustain forever. Citizens have to understand that the private sector is the real source of employment in the long run. Hence, they should not hesitate to join it, and must not desert their jobs therein. This, in turn, calls for a revision of the salary system of the private sector, particularly in low- and medium-paid jobs. This has to be considered a national mission that must be accomplished in allegiance to this country; it should also be considered a service to citizens who place their confidence, their efforts, and their mental ability in serving the sector.

It is well understood that education is the basis of development. This is true at the various stages of education and through its diverse curricula and national manpower, which is necessary for domestic development and for the implementation of programs. Therefore, it has been necessary, for the success of development plans and the execution of programs, to work toward securing the quality of output of all types of educational establishments in accordance with the general policies of the state, to help attain the goals that we all aspire to achieve. During the past few years, various systems of education and curricula have been implemented and different training programs executed. And yet, the matter calls for greater attention to be accorded to linking educational output to the requirements of the labor market. Hence, one of the priorities of the current stages of development, and of the next stage, is to prepare educational policies, plans, and programs for revision. They need to be developed to keep pace with the changes that the country is undergoing. More attention should be accorded to the requirements imposed by scientific and cultural development toward the evolution of a generation armed with awareness, knowledge, and the abilities required for worthwhile work. The establishment of the Education Council seeks to promote this sector. Therefore, all departments in charge of education at all levels have to cooperate with the Council in total dedication and perseverance. We would also like to call upon the Council of Oman to present its opinion in this respect to the Education Council, and we are confident that joint efforts will lead to the desired results.

Our domestic policy is based on constructive work in serving the public interest, and keeping pace with the developments of the age, while at the same time maintaining our identity, our principles, and our values, in which we take pride. As for our foreign policy, its essence is the call for peace, harmony, and close co-operation with all nations, as well as commitment to the principles of righteousness, justice, fairness, and non-interference in the internal affairs of others, and the resolution of disputes through peaceful means to help safeguard for all mankind its security, stability, prosperity, and progress.