Sultan Haitham bin Tariq speaks during a swearing in ceremony as Oman's new leader. Photo: Getty Images.

The transition of power in Oman from the deceased Sultan Qaboos to his cousin and the country’s new ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, has been smooth and quick, but the new sultan will soon find that he has a task in shoring up the country’s economic position.

Above all, the fiscal and debt profile of the country requires careful management. Fiscal discipline was rare for Oman even during the oil price spike of the 2000s. Although oil prices only collapsed in 2014, Oman has been registering a fiscal deficit since 2010, reaching a 20.6 per cent high in 2016. As long as fiscal deficits remain elevated, so will Oman’s need to finance those deficits, predominately by borrowing in the local and international market.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Tuesday, President Trump spoke with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said shortly after a visit to Washington by Oman’s minister of state for foreign affairs. Though a less visible negotiator than Kuwait, Oman has been active in efforts to mediate the crisis in the Gulf Cooperation Council. Can Oman continue to avoid taking sides in this conflict — and will its neutrality allow it to arbitrate effectively?

Oman’s role in the war in Yemen offers insight into its potential for mediating the Qatar crisis. During my recent research in Oman, it was clear that while it has benefited from Qatar’s economic and political isolation, Oman’s ability to fully pursue these opportunities cannot not be considered in isolation of its ongoing efforts to broker peace in Yemen, nor its domestic economic environment.…  Seguir leyendo »

Fort al-Jalali, Muscat, Oman.

Regardless of the geopolitical challenges in a volatile region, Muscat is gaining credibility as a regional peacemaker. This summer, Oman attracted attention for its peaceful image after the U.S. successfully reached its historic interim deal with Iran.  Muscat was one of the first countries in the Middle East to support open talks between the U.S. and Iran.

Since then, Oman continued its momentum and shown its willingness to take the lead in peacemaking in the Middle East.   In August, Oman received its first visit in four and half years from the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid al-Muallem, to discuss key steps in resolving the Syrian crisis.…  Seguir leyendo »

This summer, disgruntled Saudis took their grievances online in droves, complaining of ever-growing inequality, rising poverty, corruption and unemployment. Their Twitter campaign became one of the world’s highest trending topics. It caused great alarm within elite circles in Saudi Arabia and sent ripples throughout the region. The rallying cry that “salaries are not enough” helped to prove that the monarchy’s social contract with its people is now publicly coming unstuck, and on a significant scale.

Many experts believe that the Gulf states have survived the Arab Spring because they are different. After all, they’ve weathered numerous past storms — from the Arab nationalist revolutions of the 1950s and ’60s to Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait to an Al Qaeda terror campaign in 2003.…  Seguir leyendo »

Not so long ago, we joyfully celebrated Oman’s 40th anniversary.

Almost everyone — but especially the young people here in Muscat, the capital, and in small towns — decorated their houses and cars with stickers and fliers in support of the government. As an academic I usually like to watch from the sidelines; this time, I joined in and decorated my black Toyota Camry with the national colors of red, white and green. Together, we rejoiced over what we have achieved since His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said came to power in 1970.

Never would I have thought that just a few months later Oman would find itself part of the “youthquake” now sweeping the Middle East.…  Seguir leyendo »