Americans need to understand the Middle East
How much do we really know?

At The Media Line, we value all points of view and aim to mend our differences through fact-based narrative-inclusive journalism Help support our bold and brave team in Afghanistan, Gaza, Israel, Palestinian Territories, the UAE, and beyond.
Help us continue our work and provide access to the news that matters to you.

Thank you and best wishes to you and yours for this Jewish New Year.
 
Felice Friedson
Founder, President
How Has Oman’s Constitution Been Amended?
Oman's Sultan Haitham bin Tariq at al-Alam palace in the capital Muscat, Feb. 21, 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

How Has Oman’s Constitution Been Amended?

The sultan of Oman has announced constitutional changes that will provide for a more seamless succession and for the guarantee of more rights and freedoms for its citizens, including women. The changes, announced by state-run media on Monday, also will increase government transparency, including a committee to monitor and evaluate the performance of senior government officials.

Changes to the country’s basic law are made by the decree of the hereditary sultan.

The changes announced on Monday by Sultan Haitham bin Tariq come exactly one year after Haitham was named as the country’s new ruler following the death of his cousin, Qaboos bin Said, who had ruled the Arab nation for half a century.

Qaboos did not have any children, nor did he have a crown prince in place. His choice of Haitham was placed in a sealed envelope left in the palace in Muscat. The envelope was opened following his death after the royal family was unable to agree on who should be his successor.

According to Oman’s basic law, which serves as the country’s constitution, the sultan should be a member of the royal family. The sultan also is required to be: “Muslim, mature, rational and the legitimate son of Omani Muslim parents.”

Haitham, the father of two sons and two daughters, appears determined to change this succession uncertainty. His decree will allow for the naming of a crown prince, which is common in other Gulf states.

He did not, however, name a crown prince or say what his duties would be in Monday’s announcement.

Qaboos, Haitham’s predecessor, overthrew his father in a British-backed coup in 1970. Once he came to power, he embarked on a program of modernization, which he paid for using the country’s significant oil revenues. He added roads, a telecommunications network and hundreds of miles of electrical infrastructure. He built schools, hospitals and a desalinization plant, and opened universities. He also almost immediately abolished slavery.

Women were given the right to vote and run for a place in the Majlis al-Shura, the Consultative Assembly of Oman – the lower house of the Omani legislature – in 1997.

The country got caught up in the 2011 Arab Spring protests, and demonstrators in Oman staged protests calling for an end to unemployment and corruption, as well as political reform. Qaboos responded by promising more jobs and better benefits, making some amendments to the Basic Law, and ordering new elections to the Consultative Assembly, which was promised greater powers. Qaboos also ordered a crackdown on protests and on critics who used the internet to disseminate their views.

Upon assuming the position of sultan, Haitham, a graduate of Pembroke College of Oxford University, began enacting reforms, including appointing a finance minister and a central bank chairman, as well as a foreign minister. The sultan previously held these positions.

The country has come under serious financial pressure due to low oil prices, brought even lower by the coronavirus crisis. It is also saddled with a large amount of national debt, projected for 2021 to be nearly 89% of its gross domestic product.

Oman has a population of about 4.8 million occupying an area of approximately 119,500 square miles. It borders the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Did you know we’re celebrating our 20th Anniversary as the 1st American News Agency exclusively covering the Middle East?

  • The Middle East landscape is changing rapidly.
  • The roads in the region open to new possibilities.
  • The Media Line continues to pave the way to a far greater understanding of the region’s land, people, policies and governments through our trusted, fact-based news.

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Please make your gift today.
Thank you!

We paved the way to be the Trusted Mid East News you can rely on!

We’re an independent, ad-free, non-profit news agency and rely on friends like you!

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.