Oman: Analysis from Foreign Policy
Before Sultan Qaboos, at age 29, staged a nonviolent coup against his father, Oman was a forgotten land of mountains and deserts with only a couple of schools, no public health system, few paved roads, and an ancient sea trade in frankincense. It wasn't that it was backward. Oman just had never come forward, and it was too isolated to even be aware of it.This analysis is plausible, but you have to wonder how informed it is. Oman is not "fat with oil." It has some oil. And, just so we're clear, Oman is country and Dubai is not. Comparisons should between Oman and the UAE, the country, which is fat with oil because of the oil in Abu Dhabi, not Dubai.
Today, Oman is a vibrant society, a place that values education and technology, a country that is fat on oil, a monarchy with a constitution called the "White Book" that offers a range of protections to its citizens, including equal rights for women and fairly progressive press laws, as long as the sultan is not discussed or disrespected.
Many of the young college graduates in Sohar complain that the port city's growing base of foreign companies won't hire them. They may not be going hungry, but in Sohar, young Omanis need only to look into neighboring Dubai to see what they don't have. While their parents reach back proudly to see how far they've come, these young people look ahead and are disgruntled.
"The people are not against His Majesty," said Sultan Al Bustani, an oil-company executive in Muscat who was at Monday night's demonstration. "He did a lot for the country. But we need change in the government. We don't have a say."
This was not Muscat's first demonstration in recent weeks. On Feb. 18, about 350 protesters marched peacefully in front of the government ministries, rallying against corruption and demanding to know how their country's oil proceeds have been spent. Protesters carried signs that read, "No to high prices, no to corruption" and "Where is democracy?"