History tells us that just 50 years ago; Oman was one of the most conventional societies in the world. There was no television, and radios were banned as the work of the devil. There were no Omani diplomats abroad, and the country was kept in almost complete isolation. The sultanate was one of the most underdeveloped countries on earth. Back then, there were some few kilometres of paved road and the majority of the population was illiterate. The very few primary schools that were available were dedicated for only boys and not one girl in Oman was in school. A traditional wall surrounded Muscat, the capital city, and at dusk, the authorities would close the city’s gates for the whole night. No one was allowed to walk outside at night. During the day, no one was allowed to wear sunglasses and one had to have a licence for the eyeglasses.
Today, Oman is a modern country with highways of thousands of kilometres all with streetlights. It has smooth new airports, satellite TV dishes, many radio stations and a range of public and private universities. Children start studying English and computers in the first grade. Boys and girls alike are expected to finish high school at least. It is a country very well respected around the world.
The question is what went right? His majesty sultan Qaboos having ruled with extraordinary success since 1970 believes in non-interfere with other nations and his understanding of the mentality of the region helped a lot. He works on a basic principle of being a friend to all and an enemy to none. When he came to power in 1970, he left no stone unturned and started a stunning modernization built around education for boys and girls alike. It is particularly striking how the role of women has been transformed. Omani girls have won medals in an entrepreneurship competition across the Arab world. Many have excelled in starting and running small businesses and have contributed much to the development of the country. They celebrate the achievements they have made especially in women’s sectors.
Oman is working hard to diversify and privatize much of its economy, which presents opportunities for growth and leadership. Fundamental to economic growth is the development of its human resources with its long-term development plan of “Omanisation” (indigenization policy) aimed at the development of its human resource.
Peace has been the essence of the Omani policy in terms of strategy and approach since His Majesty Sultan Qaboos came to the throne at the start of the modern Omani Renaissance. Adoption of such a peaceful approach is based on the fact that the national development and establishment of a modern state requires the provision of essential requirements which are topped by a locally, regionally and internationally conducive environment. This has made peace to be on the centre of moderate Omani policies at regional and international levels.
As we celebrated the 49th National Day and as the development march continues in full swing towards wider spheres of progress and prosperity in all fields, we thank His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, who fulfilled the historic promise of making Omanis live in happiness, relishing a brilliant present and a brighter future. He established a modern state where justice, security, equality and bounty prevail. The hearts and minds of Omanis turn to him for having been able to remarkably channel the energy of citizens to transform life in Oman, to the benefit of its own people for the present and the future. Happy national day!