What Oman Thinks About Globalization
What Oman Thinks About Globalization

Oman’s development has followed a different path than other countries in the region. Oil was only discovered in the mid-1960s. Financial constraints and political instability further hampered economic development until the 1980s. Oman transformed itself from a developing country to a developed one, its per capita income rose from $360 in 1970, to $7000 in 1991, to $20,200 in 2008.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said has ruled the country since 1970. His government has focused on economic development. He first addressed infrastructure needs, such as building roads and highways, as well as education. He is now focusing on sustainable development, diversification, industrialization, and privatization. In 2000, Oman joined the WTO and began liberalizing its market. Oman has an FTA with the US (2006) and through the GCC is seeking similar agreements with the EU, China and Japan.

Because the oil supply is decreasing, Oman is trying to reduce the oil sector’s contribution to GDP to nine percent by 2020. To help achieve this goal, Oman is courting foreign investment in the fields of natural gas, information technology, tourism, and higher education.

Perspectives from citizens of the region were used when possible. The media in Oman is highly censored, so newspapers articles were used to supplement when blogs, opinion articles, and Youtube videos, etc. were not available. Government perspectives are also used in this analysis. Those with perspectives critical of the governments are often arrested, so views from expats were included as well.

Trade

Technology and Media
Dr. Samskrati Gulvady of the College of Applied Sciences and the Ministry of Higher Education, Sultanate of Oman writes about his perspective on blogging and the Internet in Oman.

In Oman, it was the accession of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and his dynamic world that ended the country’s medieval isolation and propelled it towards a globally integrated path of development. Under His leadership, Oman has embraced globalization with open arms. With the advent of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) revolution, the pace of integration has further accelerated.

With the increasing importance of citizen-journalism on the Internet, which has burgeoned since blogging started gaining popularity in the early 2000s, the new media is making a beginning in Oman too. Blogging in Oman is taking off, although it is still relatively unknown and not very popular among the general public. However, among the journalists and professionals, globalised class, it is an emergent phenomenon. The Arabic and English blogs in Oman reflect the thoughts and concerns of the citizens, about local, regional or national issues.

Oman overview
The use of internet users in Oman is seeing a steady increase. According to the statistics published in the Oman Internet Usage and Telecommunications Report in ‘Internet World Stats – Usage and population statistics’ the usage has increased from 3.8% in 2000 to more than 11% in 2007].

 

Year Users Population
2000 90,000 2,424,422
2002 180,000 2,398,545
2005 245,000 2,424,422
2007 300,000 3,311,640

…Blogging in Oman is taking off, although it is still relatively unknown and not very popular among the general public. Although a few enthusiastic youngsters are indulging in it quite frequently…

Gulf Countries No. of Blogs
UAE 199
S. Arabia 71
Kuwait 57
Bahrain 40
Oman 30
Qatar 22

Blogging activities in Oman seem to have begun in 2003-04. From then on, there was no looking back for the enthusiastic Oman-based bloggers, who have created a bloggers forum. It was observed that majority of the bloggers were males. Some women bloggers were also seen to be active. The average age group was between 20 to 40 yrs. The bloggers were both Omani citizens as well as expatriate residents, who shared their opinions and views about different issues concerning the people.

Topics like increasing number of accidents, frustrating traffic in the capital, nuisance of telemarketing in Oman vis-à-vis US, incorrect usage of Arabic language/grammar, or wrong translations from English to Arabic or vice-versa reflecting the bloggers concern, etc were prominently seen in the active blogs. It was interesting to note that the bloggers paid attention even to trivial things like cleanliness of restrooms in certain restaurants, and not only serious matters like vehicle accidents, civic sense, or education.

…Since the medium of internet does not oblige the blogger to reveal his/her identity, in some cases it is advantageous for the blogger. Comments can be made freely without the fear of anybody watching over his/her shoulders…

Conclusion
Information technology is seeing a very fast upward trend in Oman and more so among the Omani youth.

Developments in technology and media usage are intertwined, continually evolving and constantly reshaping the way audience use media communication globally.
So what have the people contributed to journalism?

Four things: personality, eyewitness testimony, editorial filtering, and uncounted gigabytes of new knowledge.

Besides introducing valuable new sources of information to readers, the sites also force their proprietors to act like journalists: choosing stories, judging the credibility of sources, writing headlines, taking pictures, developing prose styles, dealing with readers, building audience, weighing libel considerations, and occasionally conducting informed investigations on their own.

..Citizen-contributed content can do as much to enrich traditional journalism: it will complement as well as compete with mainstream offerings.

The societies today are strongly intertwined and connected due to the rapid advancement of information and communication technology. As a result, the globalization phenomenon is affecting the national interests, cultural identity, stability and images of countries. The Omani bloggers need to be aware of this, and should earnestly play their role in nation-building and enhance strong ties between people…

Gulvady, Samskrai. “Blogging – Redefining Global Modern Journalism: An Omani Perspective.” Global Media Journal. Volume 8, Issue 14, Article No. 13. Spring 2009.

Culture
This article describes a television show that is popular in Oman, as well as throughout the Arab world.

He is neither a ‘mufti’ nor a scientist but a youth who has been working hard to create a change in the Muslim world.

When Saudi Ahmad Al Shugairi was in his early 20s, he was like any other young man. He spent most of his time to entertainment and fun.

Al Shugairi who has an MBA from California University, was a smoker and negligent about his Islamic duties. In fact, Al Shugairi represents an image of a young Muslim who was able to change his life for the better.

In the 1990s, all of a sudden, he decided to turn from a careless person who was obsessed with fun, into a person who dedicated his life to religion and now his aims to change lives of other Muslims for the better.

He opened Al Andalusia Café in Jeddah for youth to visit and know more about Islam’s values through the books he provides in the café with a smoking-ban in the corners of the café. After being the host of Khawater show for the past five years, the 37-year-old father of two boys, Ahmad Al Shugairi today is an icon of inspiration for thousands of Arab teenagers.

His TV show Khawater (Thoughts) is regarded as one of the most successful programmes in the Arab world during Ramadan every year.

In Oman too he has a huge fan following. Khawater highlights how Muslims were ages ago and how they are today. It simply compares the new ‘us’ with the old ‘us’. Khawater 6 focuses on three basics: Justice, education and freedom….

…this Ramadan’s episodes highlighted significant and serious problems faced by the Arab world and compared how the situation was in the past. For example, Muslims earlier were creative in supplying water to houses, but on the other hand today there are houses that are not supplied by water.

Al Shugairi also addressed the issue of drainage system in the past and compared it to today’s system. “It is the right of every citizen living in the Islamic world to be given a clear plan in a clear time to address these problems (drainage problems) from its roots,” Al Shugairi said in the episode.

“Muslims should be the best in science, medicine, astronomy and maths. That is how we ruled the world years ago and that is how we will rule it again,” he told the Saudi publication.

He also said, “Religion should be a reason and the fuel for Muslims to excel in worldly matters; not the opposite. Islam does not encourage you to just sit down and pray and dream of the afterlife without trying to perfect your work and family and society.”

Balushi, Rahima. “TV icon blows bugle for social change.” Times of Oman. September 14, 2010.

Environment
The blog of the Oman office of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP, an American law firm, outlines environmental problems in Oman.

The United Nations (UN) Environment Programme has credited Oman with having one of the best records in environmental conservation, pollution control and maintenance of ecological balance. Oman is even stated as having one of the world’s most rigorously “green” governments. Oman’s biodiversity is catered for by varying topographic features, with vast arid deserts in the West, to a belt of grass and woodland in the mountainous region of the South, with the Arabian Sea in the East.

Oman has ratified many international treaties related to environmental protection, including the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the UN Framework Convention on Climatic Change, and the UN Agreement on Prevention of Desertification in Countries Facing Severe Arid Conditions.

Environmental problems currently faced by Oman include:
• • high levels of soil and water salinity in the coastal plains;
• • scarcity of water due to prolonged drought in certain areas;
• • industrial effluents seeping into the water tables and aquifers; and
• • desertification due to high winds driving desert sand into arable lands.

Environmental Law.” Curtis Oman. March 9, 2009.

Health
An article in the Khaleej Times, a United Arab Emirates newspaper, highlights Oman’s progress in the UN Millennium Development Goals.

MUSCAT—Oman is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations for 2015, but a number of areas still pose a challenge, notably the high percentage of underweight children, officials pointed out. ..

“With only five years left for the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDG targets, the sultanate is making steady progress in most of the eight time-bound goals and the various arms of the government are implementing several programmes to accelerate the development progress in areas where more focus is needed,” Laila Gad, Unicef representative in Oman, told a news conference on the eve of the New York conference here on Sunday. But further investments are required in certain areas to achieve all the eight goals, she added.

“While MDG 1, to Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, is not totally relevant to the Omani context, the target underweight prevalence of Children Under-Five is 17.9 per cent in Oman, which is considered high, given the sultanate’s high level of development,” Gad said.

She added that the Omani authorities had last year conducted a study in 2009 to assess the situation, the results of which would suggest solutions and actions that needed to be taken to address the problem.

The Health Ministry, meanwhile, has developed a strategy to tackle infant and child nutrition and drawn up Food Based Dietary Guidelines for both children and adults. In the area of universal primary education, the sultanate has accomplished a high level of enrolment of boys and girls at the primary school level.

“Thus both MDG 2, achieving universal primary education and MDG 3, promoting gender equality and empowering women are on track at a national level as a lot of emphasis is given to quality education and early childhood education through collaboration between the Ministry of Education and Unicef,” Gad said.

However, more needs to be done to address gender gaps in political and economic participation of women in the country, she pointed out.

In the case of reducing child mortality, progress in Oman has been significant — the Under-Five Mortality Rate has dropped from 31 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 12 in 2009, while the immunisation rates stand at 99 per cent over the past five years.

There has also been notable improvement in maternal health.

The proportion of births attended by a skilled attendant is 99 per cent and the antenatal care coverage stands at 100 per cent.

In tackling HIV/AIDS, the authorities have claimed progress with the number of reported cases falling to 116 in 2009 from 145 in 1990.

Oman on track to achieve development goals by 2015.” Khaleej Times. September 21, 2010.

Development
A government website of the Sultanate of Oman highlights Oman’s privatization efforts, which have been initiated to increase the standard of living of the people of Oman, through the creation of new jobs in the private sector.

The Sultanate of Oman has embarked on a development experiment over the few preceding years which shows its ability to establish the cornerstones of economic and social transformation and to put in place the design for a proper framework of a modern state. Since the dawn of renaissance led by HM Sultan Qaboos, the Government of the Sultanate of Oman has played an active role in providing investments for the country’s infrastructure and in the provision of basic services in meeting the requirements of a sustainable development program in all parts of the Sultanate of Oman .

With the development of the economic and social structure of the national economy being completed over a period of more than 30 years of renaissance , the future vision for the national economy – Oman 2020 formed in the light of local and international changes, has determined the features of a new strategic transformation in the path of development. Such transformation envisages that the role of the government in the coming years should be confined to the strategic direction and policy of an economy and the implementation and performance thereof depends on the private sector and such implementation is geared for competition locally and internationally. In the envisaged economy, the Government bears social and environmental responsibilities operating in a stable financial and economic environment. Such a vision depends on the private sector to be the principal driver of the economic development and the provider of employment opportunities. The private sector can, then achieve the objective of sustaining the economic and social development.

In this context, a new law of privatization has been issued by Royal Decree no. 77/2004 dated 14.7.2004 reflecting the privatization experience in the Fifth Five Year Plan, Oman’s association with the WTO and the move towards liberalization of the local and foreign investment climate. It is also worth noting that since the commencement of the renaissance, Oman has adopted the policy of free economy where the practices of the economic activity is to be mainly assumed by the private sector… Expansion of the role of the public sector was mainly in the infrastructure projects like communications, power, transportation, water, education, health and social care. However, that role also involved a partnership with the private sector to establish large production projects including cement factories and a number of smaller companies operating in the services, industrial and financial sectors.

Privatization in the Sultanate of Oman i.e. the transfer of ownership of establishments owned by the public sector to the private sector , was initiated in the year 1988..The government is still acquiring or owning shares of more than 30 companies and establishments. Some of these are being restructured in preparation for privatization in future.

…The Sultanate of Oman is among the first countries in the Arab world and Middle East that adopted an ambitious program for the private sector to participate in the establishment of infrastructure projects , which started by the Manah Power project.

Privatization Strategy in Oman.”

As part of its economic development plan, Oman is also focused on creating jobs for women.

Oman Ministry of Manpower (MoMP) is in process of generating new job opportunities for Omani women in diverse areas of specialisations that would significantly enable them to join the labour market and efficiently contribute to their economic and social welfare, says a senior official of the MoMP. The ministry plans to implement an assortment of vocational training prospects that would result in creation of many occupations for women to partake in diverse regions of the Sultanate in three phases starting from this year through 2012.

In the 1st phase of the project, which commences from the middle of this year, the ministry will implement vocational training for creation of job opportunities for women in several areas including sales specialists, food processing, sales and marketing of car mart and, the skill of furniture upholstery. The 2nd phase of the project commencing by 2011 will encompass many programmes in the skill of professional designing and decorations, tailoring of ready made garments and an extensive project related to the agricultural segment. The 3rd phase, which will be implemented by 2012, will extensively create job prospects for women in the expertise of gold and silver designing .

The produce will be marketed within and beyond the boundaries of the Sultanate into the global market, which would also play a role in boosting the economy and the tourism potential of the nation. The implementation of the projects is one of the results of the Women’s Symposium that was held on the orders of His Majesty the Sultan as part of the Royal Camp last year…

Oman encourages the establishment of social associations and institutions and the important role they play in the community. Omani women are active through 51 women’s associations, which are closely involved in women and family issues and operate a range of education and training programmes and provide support services that help improve the economic and educational conditions of Omani women and their families.

Karim, Maha.”Oman – Generating new job opportunities for women.” January 31, 2010.

Women
Rafiah Al Talei,an Omani writer and programme director of the Gulf Forum for Citizenship, writes about women’s participation in the government.

In order to compensate for losses sustained by women in the October 2007 Omani parliamentary elections when two seats previously allocated to women were lost and women failed to win a single seat in the Omani Consultative Council (OCC), Sultan Qaboos bin Said appointed 14 women academicians, former ministry undersecretaries and former members of the OCC to the State Council, an advisory government organ. Although this marks the largest female presence in the State Council since its inception, this appointment is not enough.

In the past five years, four women were appointed at the ministerial level in Oman – three to oversee higher education, tourism and social development, and one as head of the General Handicrafts Commission. In other prominent political positions, an Omani woman is undersecretary of the Ministry of Education, and two women serve as ambassadors for Oman in the Netherlands and the United States. Women in Oman occupy five percent of leadership positions and represent 18 percent of the labour force.

Omani women in politics are often committed, first and foremost, to the government that appointed them, and their role is generally restricted to providing opinions and advice while implementing policies set by the government. However, small but significant changes in the past year may be indirectly attributed to the presence of women in politically influential positions.

In an important development last year, Omani women were granted equal rights to men, free government land, and equal testimony weight in court, according to the new Evidence Law. A new law to combat human trafficking, affecting women disproportionately, was also enacted.

Hopefully, changes such as these recent developments in the political sphere are only the first step.

Women in Oman are eager to participate more in public life. Unfortunately, they feel they have little control in the current political climate because most leadership positions are appointed at the political discretion of the Sultan and are subject to opaque standards in most cases.

There are no organised lobbying efforts but many women believe the government should appoint more women to government positions, as well as to the Consultative Council, proportionally to the gender ratio in the national census or the labour force. The number of elected positions could also be increased, allowing women the opportunity to run for public positions.

With increasing awareness of women’s issues, and louder domestic and international voices demanding greater gender equality, women’s rights in Oman can no longer be ignored.

Al Talei, Rafiah and Samar Fatany. “Perspectives: Gulf Arab women breaking the glass ceiling in politics.” Common Ground News. March 31, 2009.

Energy
The government commissioned a report on renewable energy resources in Oman. The conclusions are noted here.

The study finds significant potential sources of renewable energy in the Sultanate of Oman. The findings for each type of renewable energy are as follows:

Solar Energy:The level of solar energy density in Oman is among the highest in the world.There is significant scope for developing solar energy resources throughout Oman and solar energy has the potential to provide sufficient electricity to meet all of Oman’s domestic electricity requirements and provide some electricity for export. High solar energy density is available in all regions of Oman: areas of highest density are dessert areas. Areas of lowest density are coastal areas in the southern part of Oman;

Wind Energy: The study has identified significant wind energy potential in coastal areas in the southern part of Oman and in the mountains north of Salalah. Wind speeds in these areas are comparable to recorded wind speeds at inland sites in Europe where large numbers of wind turbines are installed and operational. Wind speeds are observed to be highest in summer months which coincide with peak periods of electricity demand in Oman;

Biogas: Material from waste water and agricultural waste is available in northern parts of Oman. In the south, biogas material is available from waste water, agricultural waste and animal dung. However, a large amount of waste material is presently used as fertiliser. Animal waste is spread over large areas making collection of sufficient quantities of animal waste difficult and expensive. For these reasons the study finds only limited potential for biogas electricity production;

Geothermal Energy: The study reviewed borehole temperature data and found temperatures to be below that required to allow the direct use of water for steam plants. On the basis of the data reviewed, the study finds the potential for utilising geothermal energy for electricity production to be limited;

Wave Energy: Is available along the Arabian Sea coast but the energy density is relatively low compared to other locations world wide. The potential use of wave energy is considered marginal compared to solar and wind energy resources.

Study on Renewable Energy Resources, Oman.” Final Report. Authority for Electricity Regulation, Oman. May 2008.

Human Rights
This press release from The Arab Network for Human Rights Information calls for the release of an Omani journalist who was critical of the government.

Today International and Arab human rights and civil society institutions signatory to this statement have urged Sultan ‘Qaboos’ of Oman, to use his constitutional powers to halt the prosecution of journalist and Internet activist ‘Ali al-Zweidi’, who is now awaiting the court’s verdict to be issued on April 21, 2009 on charges that carry a maximum sentence of four years in prison, although his actions were limited to exercise his rights to freedom of expression and information.

The facts in the case of al- Zweidi go back to last August, 2008, when al-Zwaidi allowed an article in English criticizing Omantel company to be posted on an internet forum he was moderating “Sablat Oman – http://www.omania2.net“, and he was held for questioning and then released right after the investigation.

In February 2009, he was held for questionning again for publishing a paper/document leaking plans by the Council of Ministers for a television programme called “Hadha al-Sabah”, which revealed that the programme which the Omani citizens think is broadcast live, was recorded.

Al-Zwaidi, who is also a distinguished board member of the Omani Writers’ Society, is facing a possible one-year prison sentenced for permitting the posting of an article criticizing the head of the telecommunications company Omantel, though he did not write, but only allowed to publish” in contravention of the Omani communications law, while the second case; publication of documents in relation to the television programme “Hadha al-Sabah”, is punishable with a sentence of up to three years in prison.

The signatories to this appeal affirmed that “Continuing the prosecution of al-Zweidi is distorting the image of the Omani government, and rendering it to be included among those countries in the region that repress freedom of expression. Halting this trial will restore things to normal and assert the tolerance and generousity of the Omani government for those journalists who strive for the benefit of society, regardless of the severity/harshness of the articles they wrote or published.”

At a court hearing on 17 March, al-Zweidi was surprised to learn that he was also charged with leaking a secret document about plans by the Council of Ministers for a television program called “Hadha al-Sabah”. The court ruling is due to be issued on 21 April, not only in the case of al-Zweidi, but also the decision to either add the Sultanate of Oman in the list of Countries hostile to freedom of expression, or to remain in the list of countries that ensure the enjoyment by citizens of this important value.

Oman : Human Rights Institutions and Arab Civil Society call on Sultan of Oman Qaboos to halt the prosecution of Ali al-Zwaidi.” The Arab Network for Human Rights Information. April 18, 2009.

Eventually Al-Zwaidi was released. Here are some quotes by him:

“I have mixed feelings,” Ali told Gulf News later but pledged that he would continue Blogging albeit with some more restraint.

“The judge in his judgement did say about freedom of expression but also added that it must come with responsibility and authenticity,” Ali said, adding that henceforth he would be more guarded.

At the same time, he added, he would not hesitate to criticise.

Ali said that the trial period was tough and yesterday morning before the verdict, his blood pressure went up considerably. “I am relived now and have already posted an entry on Sablat,” he revealed.

He said that he was unlikely to appeal his conviction. On his acquittal, he said he was happy that the judge exonerated him. On possibility of Omantel or Dr Al Woahibi appealing against his acquittal in the first charge, he said that he doesn’t see that happening. “Dr Al Wohaibi is no longer the Omantel CEO and I think the matter has ended here,” he reckons.

He, however, wondered about the true identity of the Blogger Booz Allen, who posted the entry accusing and criticising the Omantel CEO. “I have feeling it was some insider and close to him and with excellent IT knowledge,” he believes. The authorities’ efforts to trace his IP address led them to Berlin as the Blogger had cleverly masked his IP.

“When the post was first blocked by me I was reminded of my belief in freedom of expression by the other Bloggers and I ran it,” he says about the post that put him in prison for 11 days and had to endure the trial period.

Omani Blogger Trial – Released.” The Fark Night. April 25, 2009.

Education
An anonymous expat working for the government of Oman writes about higher education in Oman. A subsequent blog post about higher education was removed because it became too controversial.

Education in Oman is perhaps the biggest issue facing the country, what with half the population under 18, and expanding the economy away from hydrocarbons while replacing expats with locals of utmost importance to the medium and long term sustainability of this country. And even with the crappy standards we have now, I want to state for the record that I’m talking about the HE system in aggregate: there are many excellent graduates of local colleges, but they are excellent despite the system, not because of it. It’s their own upbringing, intrinsic intelligence, hard work and personality type that rescued them.

I don’t pretend its easy to fix this situation, but lets at least start by having some fact-based open discussions (itself a rarity in the region)…

Who are those officially responsible for the clearly sub-standard state of our Higher Education? Why the Board of the Oman Accreditation Council!…

I must point out that these men and women are very well respected and honorable people, and the OAC seems to have all its procedures, policies, guidelines and external reviewers in order. It all looks great.

But clearly, this isn’t working. Without compliance to all these good intentions, it’s a waste of time. Perhaps worse than being a sham, it conceals the underlying malaise. When it seems common knowledge that in many cases lecturers write the very papers they grade for their students, tell them the answers to examination questions, or that students are passed through fraudulent means, by definition there is something fundamentally wrong with what these people claim to be doing. It’s results that count, not procedures and good intentions….

The Ministry of Higher Education has been trying for the last 4 or 5 years to establish a “Muscat University”. At the begining they tried to create this university by merging 4 local colleges: Modern College, Mazoon College, Oman Medical College and Caledonian College. The carrot that was shown to these colleges was RO 17 million in grant money, ++. Though all of them have very poor standards, and a diverse shareholding, they were encouraged to come together to get that 17 million.

However, Galfar wanted the largest share of the dosh as they have 2 of the colleges (Oman Medical College and Caledonian). The others then realised that if 65% went to Galfar and also management control, they would be left with peanuts and the discussion collapsed, and with it Plan A for Muscat University.

But wait. 17 million rials you say?

Now, two groups have come togther to see if they can establish a “Muscat University” from scratch and grab that soft money: Bahwan and The Oman Chamber of Commerce (oh, there are rumours that mega-influential Zawawi Trading or Omzest would also plunge in too). Apparently the Chamber of Commerce is conducting a feasibility study right now. But I’m told the Director of General of the Chamber of Commerce wanted to bring in a partner university that could deliver nice pre-cooked but, most importantly, piss easy courses which Omanis could actually do despite a poor high school education, and therefore make sure of big pass rates, so the coalition have spurned the advances of higher quality university partners.

Once again, we will get another third class tertiary institution which will be no different from most of the existing ones. After all, business is business. And the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce is a good businessman.

Why bother producing decent graduates AND having to fail people (uncomfortable, after all, and in the short term v. bad for business), plus deal with having to pay more for high quality staff and courses, at the expense of profits, when the Government will force businesses to hire anyone you give a useless degree to anyway? (and give you the 17 million either way).

And what student would want to suffer by paying to work hard with the risk of failing?

Makes sense. After all, the big businessmen can afford to send their kids to proper Universities overseas; and the big boys and girls in the Ministries get their kids scholarships paid for by the Government. Perhaps the members of the OAC should be made to send their own children to the Universities and Colleges they are accountable for?

Review of Oman Higher Education. Plus, an update on Muscat University.” Muscat Confidential. January 28, 2010.

Excerpts of a paper on Oman’s higher education system given in March 2009 in South Carolina at the 53rd Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society.

While Oman is an oil-dependent economy, oil production is on the decline and reserves could be largely depleted within the next 10-15 years. Anticipating that an alternative economy will require an educated citizenry, the government has invested heavily in expanding its higher education system, largely by aggressively promoting and subsidizing private higher education as a way to reduce the enrollment pressure on public institutions and alleviate the associated fiscal pressures on government. However Omani colleges already produce more college graduates annually than there are jobs available in the country, an oversupply projected to worsen as college participation rates increase.

The expectation is that graduates will find work outside Oman. Yet there is widespread concern that the quality of private higher education is low and graduates may not be competitive for jobs abroad. Grounded in Kingdon’s (2003) multiple streams model of the policy formulation process, this study investigated the extent college educators and government leaders share an understanding of the problems now facing private higher education in Oman and agree on appropriate strategy for addressing these problems. Findings are based on a mixed-methods study of 252 college instructors and 56 government officials and private sector employers.

Chapman, David, Thuwayba Al Barwani and Hana Ameen. “Private higher education in Oman: The dilemma of quality.” 53rd Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society. March 22, 2009.

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