Qaboos the Leader: Thirty-One Years of Dedication [Archives:2001/48/Reportage]
Yaser M. Al-Mayasi
The air is filled with joy and people are rejoicing. The butterfly shaped lights decorate the streets and highways. The capital of Oman, Muscat, is a clean and beautiful city. What attracts my attention is the sprawling urban growth, clear evidence of a construction boom and rapidly improving standards of living. Since coming to power, Sultan Qaboos has initiated and completed a massive overhaul of the country’s infrastructure, such as building hospitals and schools. The year 2001 not only marks the advent of a new millennium, but also celebrates thirty-one years of progress and development under the guidance of his Majesty Sultanate Qaboos bin Saeed. Oman looks forward with confidence on entering this new century. The country’s population is not only proud of its endeavors and achievements under the guidance of His Majesty, but they are also very optimistic about the future of Oman under his inspired leadership. Many world leaders and statesmen have since highly praised the qualities of His Majesty, his dedication to his country and to his people, his commitment and unswerving determination to achieve progress and development, his role on the world stage, and his work for peace and human rights.
On November 18, the Sultanate of Oman celebrated the 31th anniversary of the beginning of his reign, as an announcement of a new era of progress and prosperity, with the ability to cope with modern technology in all its aspects. The Omani history shows us the greatness and the originality of this country and its people. The Omani renaissance has been progressing by leaps and bounds. The Sultanate of Oman has achieved its wonders by itself, relying only on its will. As soon as you put a foot on this land, a sense of change haunts your mind. Every aspect of this qualitative change in the Sultanate has been carefully considered under the wise leadership of the Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed. The first sentence pronounced by the Sultan was, ” The people of this country must cooperate for the sake of change and construction.” This short sentence was not just mere words, but has been crystallized into concrete actions in the fields of economics, culture and environment for example.
The Sultanate of Oman enjoys a stable political, economic and social system. The excellent relations fostered with neighboring countries have enabled Oman to play an active role in promoting regional political and economic cooperation. On the economic level, the Omani individual income has drastically risen and has become one of the highest incomes in the region. One of the major features of the five-year plan of 2001/2005 is the priority to achieve and develop human resources along with encouraging the private sector in order to develop the Omani national economy towards heavy industries. As a result, the Sultanate has been seeking to protect local and foreign investment processes. The natural liquefied gas projects represent the main steps to find diverse sources of income. In addition, projects in water services and electricity have also reached remote places in the country.
Modern education is the main pillar of the achievements made in the Sultanate. Human development is given priority, considering that man is an important factor in the process of construction and development. Therefore, the government has done its best to provide him with adequate education. The Sultanate of Oman has indeed the basic pedagogical and educational means of learning. The number of male and female students at schools has reached 800,000. At the same time, the teachers total 25,000 and adult illiteracy has been eradicated.
Another aspect of development is based on agricultural products, which constitute 35 percent of the overall exports. The agricultural and fishing resources represent 35 percent of national products, while both agricultural and animal resources have reached 40 percent of the overall non-oil exports.
For a country that only thirty years ago hardly had any good health care, the achievements of Oman in the development of its health services are outstanding. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) hailed the Sultanate’s excellent health achievements and placed the country 8th with regard to providing the best comprehensive healthcare at an international level. According to a worldwide analysis of 191 countries, Oman also won the first position at a world level in health system efficiency and good utilization of financial resources and health services. On the sanitary level, the entire Sultanate has been given the essential services. Furthermore, the Sultanate established a social security network, which provides the necessary requirements and essentials. The social development programs have taken great care of the workforce, ameliorating its capacity and means of stability.
Media and its Progress in the Sultanate
With respect to media, the Information Minister H. E. Hamed Mohammed Al-Rashdi, briefly talked about the progress of the media by outlining that the development of media can be attributed to His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed. The information revolution is mainly the result of Oman’s renaissance, which strengthens the national identity and the people’s ambitions for a better future. The Omani News Agency (ONA) is considered to be the main media source in the country for television, radio and newspapers. The ONA has become a valuable link in the mass media both at home and abroad. At home, it is the distributing channel for all official press releases concerning foreign affairs, economic development, as well as for social and cultural activities. The agency follows international news through its correspondents in Arab and foreign capitals who provide pictures from Arab and foreign countries. There are also Arabic and English newspapers constituting a major form of support to the Omani media.
The Sultanate has taken essential initiatives in environmental preservation as a response to the peculiarities and needs of the nation. The Ministry realized that the physical development could endanger the quality of the environment if the process disregarded the sustainable use of natural resources or flouted rules for environmental safety. Therefore, it has in the past year redoubled its efforts for the creation of a suitable climate for public and private privatization. “As a result of great concern for the protection of the environment and our achievements in this respect, Oman has gained a respectable position among nations concerned with environmental protection. Yet, we still have to exert more efforts and consider the special conditions relevant to this issue, when we come to plan and implement development projects. We must proceed in developing contacts with the regional and international organizations concerned. It is a duty which must be undertaken by each citizen to guarantee the protection of our natural effects and protect the beautiful and distinguished nature which God Almighty granted to our beloved Oman,” His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed said.
Stability and Development
The country has become the land of prosperity and stability in a troubled world. Today after thirty-one years of outstanding achievements, His Majesty, Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed is still seeking to change his country in a drive to keep up with the economic demands of the 21st century and the new aspirations of his people. In this regard, another fundamental transformation in Oman’s fortunes is taking place with the private sector, which is replacing the public sector as the vehicle for progress and prosperity.