In the comity of nations, the Sultanate of Oman stands tall, based on a solid foundation laid down by the great and wise leader, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who, after taking over the reigns, set out many visionary and long term targets tailored with a roadmap for his people, which they have used to build this nation. As yet another New Year dawns upon us, the country rejoices in its good fortune for being led by a visionary leader.
The year 2013 has ended on a high note. On December 30, His Majesty issued Royal Orders to set up the main committee to draft Oman Vision 2040. With an eye on the future, this main committee "will develop, crystallize and very carefully and accurately draft the vision document, while ensuring community-wide agreement and involvement."
This significant move, thanks to the judicious leadership of His Majesty, will be a "basic reference and manual for planning during the next two decades. Oman Vision 2040, while being comprehensive as far as the current social and economic status is concerned, will also address the future challenges in an objective manner."
The year 2013 saw many major positive developments, reminding the citizens that they owe much to the able guidance of His Majesty for ushering unparalleled progress and prosperity for every citizen.
These decisions have touched and benefited people across the Sultanate.
In the early part of the year, His Majesty issued a Royal Order allocating OMR15 million to improve service and tourist sites in the Governorate of Dhofar.
In January, His Majesty issued Royal Orders for the establishment of Al Falah Hospital in South Al Sharqiyah and Al Najat Hospital in the Governorate of North Al Batinah. Through Royal Decrees, he established the College of National Defence and the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance.
His Majesty's Royal meet-the-people-tour in the year 2013 covered the entire region from Bait Al Barakah to the Wilayat of Bahla in the Governorate of the Dakhiliyah. His Majesty met people to identify their needs and requirements.
During the same time, on the directives of His Majesty, a symposium on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMSE) was held. As a fillip to small and medium Omani entrepreneurs, His Majesty issued a Royal Decree, establishing the Al Rafd Fund. In a noteworthy move, His Majesty approved a number of projects worth approximately OMR214 million for the governorates of Dakhiliyah and Al Wusta. The projects were approved after His Majesty's meet-the-people-tour based on the needs of the citizens in the region.
His Majesty also announced the establishment of Al Ajyal College for Traditional Industries in the Wilayat of Bahla.
In a significant move, His Majesty pardoned those convicted for slander, demonstration and cyber crimes. Media across the world lauded the Royal Pardon of His Majesty and analysts said that the "pardon is an evidence of the nobleness of His Majesty the Sultan and reflects his initiatives that have created an atmosphere of optimism in the society."
In an effort to enhance its already existing excellent international relations, His Majesty issued a Royal Decree establishing embassies for the Sultanate of Oman in Sri Lanka, Kenya, the Philippines, and the Republic of Cyprus.
Like every year, this year too His Majesty gave an audience to royals, dignitaries and leaders from across the world including His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, Gen. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Prince Charles of the United Kingdom, President Dr Ikililou Dhoinine of the Union of the Comoros, US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Michel Temer, Vice-President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Prof. Norbert Lammert, President of the German Bundestag, Lt-Gen. Sir Jerry Mateparae, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of New Zealand, Gen. Sir David Richards, British Chief of the Defence Staff, Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General, Alan Duncan, the British Minister of State for International Development, Dr Mohammed Yousef Al Magariaf, Chairman of the Libyan National Congress, to Dr Ahmed Al Tayyib, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Al Sharif, Gen. Lloyed J. Austin, Commander of the US Central Command among many others.
His Majesty also embarked on a three-day visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran during which he held talks with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani to enhance the existing cooperation between the two countries in all fields that serve the interests of the two friendly peoples.
This year, to keep up with the rest of the world on economic matters, especially banking, commercial transactions, and imports and exports, His Majesty issued a directive to make the new weekend holidays on Friday and Saturday for public and private sectors beginning May 1.
In this context, a statement issued by the Council of Ministers also said, "In light of the care afforded by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to reduce the gap between the benefits given to employees in the government sector and those in the private sector, and to strengthen family and social ties because of their positive effect on the psychological stability of all employees in the state, His Majesty has issued a directive to standardise religious and national holidays in accordance with the periods identified in Royal Decrees related to this issue."
Within the framework of His Majesty's concern for the social and living conditions of the citizens of Oman, His Majesty also issued a directive to increase the capital offered through easy housing-loan programmes to OMR100 million, starting from this year and continuing for the next two years.
In the month of May, His Majesty visited Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) at Saih Al Malih. During the visit, His Majesty was briefed on important projects being implemented by the company in concession areas that are expected to contribute towards increasing the Sultanate's future production of oil and gas and boosting its reserves. Presiding over a meeting of the Council of Ministers in May, His Majesty expressed appreciation for the efforts being exerted by the government and all the state's sectors in implementing the vital plans and programmes that serve all the citizens and help them lead a decent life.
His Majesty also issued generous directives to all sectors of the state to continue their efforts in achieving further prosperity for Oman and its proud people.
Retierating His Majesty's keenness to provide citizens with a secure and dignified life to ensure that they play their role in the comprehensive development march honestly and sincerely, the year also saw His Majesty ordering standardisation of civil sector staff salaries.
Presiding over the Council of Ministers' meeting in November, His Majesty stressed the importance of creating good investment environment and ensuring ideal utilisation of the natural resources to reach the prospective economic growth.
During the meeting, His Majesty pointed out that it is important for the youth to seize the opportunities provided to them by the state, and acquire the necessary skills and expertise that will enable them in pushing forward the wheel of development and help reach the goals Reinforcing His Majesty's wise vision, respect and care for the youth at all levels, His Majesty declared October 26 as 'Omani Youth Day'.
His Majesty issued a Royal Decree ratifying the Sultanate's joining the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC).
Along with these major orders and decisions, many other significant achievements were part of Oman's journey in the year 2013.
Under the comprehensive care and guidance of His Majesty, Oman and its people have been able to play an effective role in sustaining development and enjoy all-inclusive welfare programmes.