Give private sector an opportunity to hold festivals

Ali Al Matani – – Festivals are a reflection of what is happening in your surroundings. It showcases the local and international minds, potentials, avenues and skills. It is a window to the world outside. It is a social and economic activity as well as a major tourist event. That is why it should be dealt with as an industry that has a direct impact on everything which happens around us in the Sultanate.
The government is working to provide the private sector with an opportunity to manage services and facilities. It has privatised a number of economic activities and public sector companies. Similarly, it might also think about the festivals on similar lines.
Festivals of Oman have become better and are now known both regionally and internationally. We can see that there is now a desire of the private sector to invest in the entertainment sector. Therefore, the time is ripe for giving it an opportunity to manage and operate Muscat and Salalah festivals at least as an experiment.
There is no doubt the government continues to organise the Muscat and Salalah festivals and has invested a lot of money to make them major festivals of the region. Now these two festivals can be further improved and developed.
It is not the duty of the government to organise festivals particularly when there is focus on privatisation of major services sectors such as electricity, water, health and education. These sectors are directly related to the people. But the private sector was given these responsibilities and facilities. Similarly, it is not the responsibility of the government to organise festivals. Instead, it has more important roles to play.
It is not proper for the government, through the municipalities, to hold festivals. If it continues with it, it would be a clear contradiction to its idea of privatising necessary services. That is why the time has come for the private sector to be given the responsibility of organising these festivals. The government should play the role of a mentor and supervisor.
There are establishments that have prior experience in setting up parks, amusement centres and games. But they cannot go ahead with their ambitions in the area as they have to compete with these festivals which are organised by the government.
Even some of the government organisations see what these companies do as a real competition with the festivals. This is a clear contradiction to the idea of empowering the private sector in sharing responsibilities or organising such events.
If they think like this, they would not be able to play an effective role in building the economy on the foundations of the idea of a free market and give the private sector companies an opportunity.
Of course, we understand the views of some government agencies that organise these activities and bear all the burden on its shoulders. Therefore, they should move in the direction of empowering the private sector to take responsibility and share its experience with it even for a year as an experiment in the area of organising entertainment events.
These events need qualitative transformations, which is not possible without encouragement and providing opportunities and showing confidence in the sector.
Many private companies have been assigned the task of holding parts of some of the festivals, such as organising certain games and other such items in festivals, whereas the entire festivals are organised by the government. But this is the right time to invite private companies to organise the entire festivals and for the government to play the role of an observer or mentor.
We hope the authorities concerned, particularly Muscat and Dhofar municipalities, think about the idea of opening up the festivals to the private sector and limiting itself to a supervisory role.