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H M Sultan Haitham puts Oman on progressive path

10 Jan 2024 H M Sultan Haitham puts Oman on progressive path By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – The Sultanate of Oman, under the wise stewardship of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, continues to reach significant milestones, shaping a bright future for the country. In 2023, Oman marked several key developments, each playing a pivotal role in the nation’s progress.

In a groundbreaking move, the Majlis A’Shura’s tenth term elections were conducted using the Antakhib electronic app, a first in the Arab world, signalling a leap towards modernising electoral processes. This innovative approach witnessed a robust participation rate of 65.07%, with 90 members elected to the Majlis A’Shura.

A key highlight of the year was the implementation of the Social Protection Law, underscoring Oman’s commitment to inclusive welfare. His Majesty emphasised a comprehensive Social Protection System, ensuring a life of dignity for all citizens.

In his Royal speech at the opening of the first annual sitting of the 8th Term of the Council of Oman, His Majesty the Sultan said, “We envisage that the Social Protection System will be comprehensive, extending its benefits to all segments of society, thereby guaranteeing a dignified life for all.”

Education remains a cornerstone of Oman’s development strategy, with the nation prioritising advanced methodologies and embracing Oman Vision 2040’s focus on a knowledge-based society. Significant steps include reinforcing the education sector and integrating the latest technologies to foster a competitive national human resource base.

The year 2023 witnessed the launch of the School Education Law, elevating the teaching profession and establishing ‘Omani Teacher’s Day’ as an official holiday, reflecting the nation’s respect for educators. Additionally, the cabinet approved advanced vocational and technical education systems, diversifying educational opportunities for students.

In alignment with Oman Vision 2040, the government approved a foreign scholarship programme for 2023-2027, investing in future leaders across innovative fields. The commitment to preserving national identity and culture continues to be a focal point, with His Majesty urging families to nurture children amidst global changes.

The Royal philosophy stems from the fact that educational institutions, research and cultural centres at all levels constitute the foundation of society’s scientific and intellectual advancement, and act as drivers for our technological and industrial progress.

His Majesty the Sultan also accorded attention to preserving the national identity and demonstrating pride in the Omani culture. His Majesty cautioned against the challenges facing society and their unacceptable impacts on the moral and cultural system. In this context, His Majesty stressed the need to confront these challenges and enhancing society’s ability to address them, notably by invigorating the national identity, inculcating authentic values and principles and promoting the role of the family.

In this context, His Majesty the Sultan said, “It is imperative to accord paramount attention to the family, the cornerstone of our society, which acts as a bulwark in safeguarding our progeny from harmful ideologies that are in direct opposition to the tenets of our venerable religion and core values. Such detrimental trends also conflict with our Omani traditions, which are deeply ingrained in our history and national character.”

The overall approach is to continue empowering the education sector, linking educational curricula to the requirements of economic growth and broadening opportunities for youth to help them engage in scientific expertise, and immersing themselves in the broad realms of science and knowledge.

The sultanate’s focus on youth and sports culminated in the initiation of an integrated sports city project and investment in sports development. Concurrently, Oman’s emphasis on employment and skill development was evident through various initiatives, including the enhancement of a foreign scholarship programme.

His Majesty’s attention to cultural heritage and youth empowerment was further demonstrated through the inauguration of the Royal Academy of Management and the approval of a comprehensive sports strategy.

Oman’s urban development strategies, underpinned by sustainable principles, were advanced through the Governorate System and the Municipal Councils Law, fostering local administration and community participation.

The sultanate’s economic landscape saw substantial growth, with notable contributions from the tourism sector and increased foreign direct investments. Strategic projects in renewable energy and clean hydrogen are being actively pursued, aligning with global sustainability goals.

Oman continues to implement economic plans, and financial and investment programmes within the framework of the 10th Five-year plan (2021-2025), guided by the priorities of Oman Vision 2040. The outcomes of these plans have contributed to enhancing GDP growth, raising financial and economic indicators, improving credit ratings, and achieving some financial surpluses that were directed to economic and social priorities.

Oman’s digital economy received a significant boost with His Majesty’s directives to implement and localise AI technologies, further enhancing the national economic fabric.

On His Majesty the Sultan’s order, a fund called Oman Future Fund was launched in May 2023 with a capital of RO2bn. It is aimed at enhancing economic activity and encouraging the private sector to enter into partnerships or finance feasible investment projects in the sectors of economic diversification targeted by Oman Vision 2040.

Meanwhile, the sultanate has made progress in several global indicators, as it ranked 56th globally and fifth in the Arab world in the Industrial Competitive Performance Report for 2023, issued by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. Oman also advanced ten places in the Global Innovation Index for 2023 to obtain the 69th rank globally, out of 132 countries.

Oman continues to strengthen its position globally through a balanced foreign policy, emphasising peace, tolerance and mutual respect. This approach has enabled the nation to play a constructive role in regional and international affairs.

The sultanate’s commitment to social and economic prosperity is reflected in the ongoing implementation of economic plans, financial programmes and investment strategies that align with Oman Vision 2040.

As Oman strides forward, under the visionary leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham, it continues to lay the foundations for a prosperous future, balancing cultural heritage with modern advancements and sustainable development.

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