chapter
The solitary sultan and the construction of the new Oman
ByJ.E. Peterson
Pages 11

The country is so quiet that virtually no mention of Oman ever seems to reach most of the outside world—apart from glowing articles in travel pages of newspapers. The present sultan, Qaboos bin Said of the Al Said family, has ruled since 1970, benevolently and almost single-handedly. Opposition to the exceedingly paternalistic rule of the region by the present sultan's father began to emerge in the early 1960s. The sultan also sought to involve public participation in the government process, although on a very gradual timescale and with fundamental restrictions. Oman and Yemen display a great number of historical, social and cultural affinities, but Oman's political circumstances are diametrically opposite those of its western neighbour. The aftershocks of the Arab unrest of 2011 hit Oman after the above words were penned. The year 2011 produced no fundamental changes in the Omani political situation but it has made concerns and problems more visible.