His first Viewpoint published on April 15, 2000
It is really a heresy!
Recently, many phenomena unusual to our community have started to crop up every now and then, shocking me to the extent that I feel compelled to raise an alert on such issues. One of these phenomena is non-adherence of some private companies to some invariables that we have grown up to respect, appreciate and regard as holy.
The anniversary of the Hijra (migration) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and the celebration of the New Hijri Year have driven me to write this Viewpoint. The whole Muslim world, throughout the history, has celebrated this blessed occasion. Though the celebrations may differ from one country to the other, we all agree that the said day should be a holiday for all and an opportunity for prolonged thinking on the lessons derived from this blessed occasion.
The holiday aims to bid farewell to a Hijri year and welcome a new one. To make such a holiday legal for celebrating the new Hijri year, the ministry concerned issues a binding ministerial decision, to which all adhere.
At the beginning of the current new Hijri year, two weeks ago, Sayyid Saif bin Hamad, minister of the Diwan of Royal Court and chairman of the Civil Service Council and Sheikh Amer bin Shuwain Al Hosni, Minister of Social Affairs, Labour and Vocational Training issued ministerial decisions stopping work in all departments on the first day of Muharram.
The general scene of the daily life is supposed to conform to the said decisions, traditions and customs. But I came to notice that several companies, including a few mega ones, do not adhere to either the decision or the significance of the two events that fall on first Muharram. Such companies continue with their operations as usual, as if there is no occasion to be respected or no ministerial decisions to be adhered to.
It is true that the decision of the Minister of Social Affairs, Labour and Vocational Training allows employers and employees to agree on work during the holiday if necessity arises but such an exception is only for those providing necessary services that cannot afford any delay. The decision clearly stipulates "if necessity arises".
Any keen observer of the daily life on first Muharram must have noticed that many companies, not providing urgent and necessary services, have thrown all traditions and ministerial decisions out of the window. It is really a heresy!
Khareef Festival and the global dream (2001)
Every year, tourists from within and outside the country flock to Salalah, thanks to its distinguished Khareef Festival when Salalah beckons the visitors with its green hills, cool showers and cloud-capped mountains.
People enjoy themselves with the bounty of nature, besides the rich cultural and entertainment programmes for children as well as adults. They find peace and pleasure, thanks to the organisers of the festival.
Over the years, Khareef Festival has gained in popularity. Indeed, it has become an important event in the diary of festivals of the people in the Sultanate and our brothers in the AGCC countries. The cultural programmes are selected in a way that appeals to the taste of all people.
Needless to say, the festival has succeeded in attracting tourists from all over the world and Salalah has become the favourite destination for families from the AGCC states. The success of the festival, no doubt, is largely owing to careful planning and concerted efforts. However, in order to achieve still better success, we need to make greater efforts.
Why citizens pay the price? (2002)
Accidents are unforeseen and however careful you are, you may meet with one while driving a vehicle. You are lucky that you emerge from the accident unhurt but your car is not; it sustains damage which needs repairs.
Whether you are at fault or not, there are a number of procedures that you will have to go through, beginning with the inspection of the accident site by the police and the preparation of the accident report, which is followed by insurance procedures. And in the end, your car is in the garage.
Now you find yourself in a vicious circle. The police report would, of course, not be issued in one day; it may take days. And hell is waiting for you in the insurance company, where the procedures move at a snail's pace.
You then wait for the person who caused the accident to come and pay the compensation. Then the expert would inspect the car and prepare his report. The garages submit their quotations so that the insurance company can choose the lowest price.
How can we minimise the number of road accidents? (2003)
The mass media occasionally publish news and pictures of major road accidents that occur in various regions and governorates of the Sultanate. These accidents cause deaths and severe injuries, inflicting unbearable grief on their relatives and friends.
The number of victims of traffic accidents has been increasing steadily — in fact, it has already reached a huge figure. This alarming rate of deaths and injuries calls for serious measures to stop the flow of blood on the streets.
Schools are set to open after the summer break, so it is all the more important to take a fresh look at ways and plans to end the "harvest of souls" of our youths and children by some reckless, irresponsible motorists.
Sparks of crises ignited by the media (2004)
The media has been playing an active and positive role in all societies of the world, especially in times of wars and crises, during which it is, indeed, the first line of defence.
Unfortunately, the media, be it print, visual or audio-visual, is no longer confined to its traditional role of just transmission or dissemination of events and images as they are. It has assumed playing a bigger, dangerous role of triggering off crises that transcend the borders of nations.
Arab unity is important than Arab initiative (2005)
The 17th Arab summit, held last Tuesday and Wednesday in Algeria, calmly ended with a unanimous agreement to reactivate the Arab initiative for peace with Israel, which was adopted in the 2002 Arab summit in Beirut.
The Arab peace initiative includes full normalisation of ties with Israel in return for complete withdrawal from occupied Arab lands, including Al Quds, in accordance with international resolutions adopted by the UN, in addition to the solution of the refugees issue as per international Resolution number 194.
Arab world and nuclear technology (2006)
The pressing need for the Arab nation today is, without doubt, the acquisition of nuclear technology. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa's call during the 18th Arab Summit in Khartoum last week for Arabs to join the nuclear club for peaceful purposes reflects the views of the Arab fraternity and confirms the fact that the Arabs are fully aware of the necessity of having nuclear technology. Today, the stance of the Arabs on various issues is all but ignored, and they are forced to tamely carry out whatever is dictated to them.
There are about 280 million Arabs distributed in 22 countries, but their status in the international community does not correspond with this mighty figure. By rights, this figure should have enabled the Arabs to challenge and confront various issues unitedly and thus win the respect of the world; but sadly, the reality is different. The Arabs fail to come out of their shell of denunciations, condemnations and grandstanding.
The Arabs need to take a leaf from the book of North Korea, which is in possession of nuclear technology and has not succumbed to any pressure or threats from big powers. It is to be noted that in the recent past, the US-North Korea nuclear negotiations were carried out on an equal footing with the latter having been given an opportunity to put up its conditions and reject what it found unsuitable.
HM deserves much more than awards and medals (2007)
The prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding, deservedly awarded to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin. Said a few days ago, is indeed another glorious feather in our beloved leader's cap. In fact, His Majesty the Sultan's track record as the Sultanate's leader brims with such international awards and medals. The latest honour represents a new milestone in the international community's recognition of His Majesty's efforts and achievements, a clear evidence of the innovative thinking of a leader and builder of a modern state. As a matter of fact, the prestige of the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding has gone a notch up when it has added His Majesty's name in its records.
The world leaders and intellectuals alike have repeatedly praised His Majesty's distinct way of dealing with regional and international issues and in taking decisions wisely after proper and precise assessment of the situation in question, thus setting a good example to others. This has won the Sultanate a high status in the comity of nations.
The prestigious award to His Majesty the Sultan represents international recognition of his efforts to place the Sultanate on the list of developed countries and foster bonds of friendship among the people of all nations.
A milestone in Arab, Korea collaboration (2008)
The Korean Capital Seoul last week witnessed hosting of an international conference to set up the Korea-Arab Society (KAS) with over 300 high profile government personalities, Korean officials and businessmen as well as Arab government officials and businessmen from 22 Arab countries taking an active part. Han Seungsoo, Korean prime minister and Yu Myunghwan, minister of foreign affairs and trade, led the Korean officials taking part in the event.
From the Arab side, it was attended by Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmed Al Bashir; Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of Djibouti; H.E. Ahmed Ouhi, representative of the Algerian president, representative of King of Morocco and the representative of the president of Mauritania. After a welcome speech by the Korean foreign minister, the conference was addressed by the Korean prime minister, Sudanese president, president of Djibouti, representative of the Algerian president, representative of King of Morocco and the representative of the president of Mauritania.
A message of love and peace (2009)
Newspapers in the Middle East and across the rest of the globe were buzzing — and justifiably so — with the news of the visit of US President Barack Obama to the region last week, radiating dollops of hope and high expectations of a "new beginning" in the relations between the US and the Muslim world.
On the first leg of his tour, President Obama visited Saudi Arabia, where he held talks with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, last Wednesday, and then flew to Egypt where he had discussions with President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak before delivering his much-awaited, landmark speech at the University of Cairo on Thursday.
To put it briefly, the imposing, domed hall of the university reverberated with a message of love and peace, all through the gripping speech, befitting the solemn surrounds of the learning centre and the profound atmospherics of the region.
The largest budget in Sultanate's history (2010)
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said issued on January 1, 2010 a Royal Decree ratifying the 2010 general budget, which is arguably the biggest in the contemporary history of the Sultanate. This is confirmed by the volume of the budget expenditures amounting to R07.180 billion, registering an increase of 11.7 per cent compared to R06.424 billion in the 2009 budget. The revenues of 2010 are expected to reach R06.380 billion, an increase of 13.6 percent over the last year.
Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, minister of national economy and deputy chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, held a press conference the following day of the announcement of the budget, attended by newspersons from the local papers, radio and TV channels as well as from the Arab and foreign media accredited to the Sultanate, wherein he explained in detail the salient features and components of the 2010 budget.
Seamless effort Referring to the Sultanate's economic condition, he affirmed that the country got over the ill-effects of the global financial crisis pretty much seamlessly thanks to several factors, most importantly the rise in oil production during the year 2009. The 2010 budget has made quite a healthy impact on the Muscat Securities Market, the domestic construction sector and the business world as a whole.