to political analysts, Sultan Qaboos’ medical troubles had alarmed the entire country. The Sultan is responsible for bringing much of the changes and wealth in Oman through his policies and extremely tolerant laws with sectarians in the country.
Political analysts said that since 1970, Qaboos seized power and Oman during the time was an isolated state with likelihood of Communism spreading about. Over his 44-year reign, he had changed Oman into a country that used its oil wealth to set a high standard of living with vibrant tourism.
Analysts feared that Qaboos’ possible death in the future will leave no children or designated heirs to continue his work. Sultan Qaboos is the only monarch in the world without a successor, which may leave Oman’s future in the balance. They warn of a possible succession crisis should Qaboos die.
They fear a power vacuum could introduce a struggle among other members of the royal family, the military and various sectarian parties, including the economic elite in the country.
Qaboos, already 73 years old, is undergoing medical examinations in Germany since July 10. Concerns that he may be terminally ill are increasing in likelihood. However, Oman’s government said that he is in good condition despite rumours that he might have a severe case of colon cancer.
Oman’s royal court confirmed that Sultan Qaboos, who had undergone a medical check-up in Germany since July, is in good health condition. The media reported the court’s statement, but they did not specify the medical tests and check-up methods used on the Sultan.
“His majesty the Sultan is in good health and is continuing…during the coming period the specified medical programme, which, with God’s grace, is achieving the reassuring and required results” said the official statement from the royal court. It also added Sultan Qaboos’ greetings to Omanis for the coming Eid on Saturday.
Omanis have been worried that Sultan Qaboos is in grave condition and possibly suffering from cancer. However, the Oman royal court has yet to comment on this angle of the story.
Sultan Qaboos is well-loved and criticised by Omanis as he transformed Oman into a modernised country from its small oil-exporting days. He is also well-known for his mediatory work between Arab and Gulf states.
Chairman of the National Bank of Oman Mohammed Mafoodh al-Ardhi had praised the efforts of the government for meeting the public and private sector demands and ensuring the growth of the government’s short and long-term goals. He also provides the government advice to improve its services.
Al-Ardhi noted that Oman’s ports are the symbol of the country’s increasing wealth. The ports of Salalah, Sohar and Muscat have been remodelled for modern ships and freighters.
Salalah is the world’s most active port for container transport. Sohar is specifically designed to ease goods shipment processes to areas outside of the Oman capital. The Port of Muscat is a tourist destination that also doubles as a supplementary port decongestion resource for possible circumstances.
Al-Ardhi also said that foreign investors are welcoming the Omani investment climate with its sufficient incentives. However, he said that despite the incentives, it will still not be enough to turn the investment system into higher competitiveness. Investors are looking for new locations to keep themselves safe from failing caital markets.
He recommends that several investor laws, including land utilisation, pollution law and banking, be revised. He also prompted the government to provide a single investment service centre to help expand the number of investors inside the country and distribute it to different business centres all at once.
Oman and Iran had sealed a $60 billion gas agreement that would allow Muscat to purchase natural gas from Tehran for 25 years. The two countries are to build gas pipelines in two years. The subsea gas pipeline will guarantee Oman 20 million cubic meters of gas from Iran.
Oman first agreed to purchase natural gas from Iran in 2005, but due to western sanctions regarding Iran’s nuclear activity, Oman was forced to purchase gas from other countries such as Qatar and Pakistan at the US’ prescription.
Omani Oil Minister Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhy and Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanageh had signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year. Oman has closer ties with Iran than any other Arabian country who perceive Iran’s nuclear activities as a national security threat.
Pakistan’s failure to deliver oil and the increasing prices of oil from Qatar had urged Oman to take advantage of the lifted sanctions the UN had granted to Iran after it agreed to scale down its nuclear activities last year. Oman’s increasing energy needs has led it to close a deal with Iran
Meanwhile, Pakistan also eyes Iran to provide for its natural gas needs and Pakistani and Iranian officials are expected to meet next month to discuss proposals for a natural gas deal between the two countries.
The Omani Government plans to make the centuries-famous Jabal Akhdar, or Green Mountain in Omani, a focus of Omani tourism as it allowed several hotel operators to open resorts in the legendary oasis.
One hotel, the 86-room Alila Jabal Akhdar Luxury Hotel, operated by the Alila Group famous in India and in the Asia-Pacific, had opened on May 2014. The design of the property imitated those of traditional Omani houses by using local materials, according to the Alila Jabal Akhdar General Manager Jork Bosselaar.
The hotel operator, along with other luxury hotel operators soon to be in the area, will incorporate elements of local materials and produce. The hotels will get produce from local farmers to have them involved in the greater economy. Bosselaar said the hotel wants to focus on the hospitality by involving local people from the mountain, which will add to the culture and introduce tourists to traditional Omani customs.
Tourists in the region have grown by 12% according to Oman’s Tourism Ministry and they expect the growth to rise by the following year. They estimate the new industry will provide jobs for the 10,000 people in Jabal Akhdar.
Another Hotel, The Sahab, had earned great revenues as room occupancy and demand had increased by 20%. Many other projects are being built by luxury hotel operators, including one hotel with $50 million invested in its construction and implementation.
Oman’s Muscat Airpot has put into commission its new Air Traffic Control Centre. According to Omani media, the centre makes use of state-of-the-art technology to guide aircraft above Muscat and Salalah in support of progressing expansion and modernisation of the respective airports and cities.
Oman Minister of Transport and Communications Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Salem al-Futaisi inaugurated the Transitional Air Traffic Control Centre and said it is a great accomplishment for the civil aviation sector and for the entire country. He said the new addition will support safety in the aviation sector and it would help optimise the use of the Muscat and Salalah airspace.
The ATC has 56-inch monitors with multiple views on a single screen. Spanish contractor Indra had developed the new traffic management system for the country. The contractor is to soon announce the formal operation of the new system in development. According to al-Futaisi, the company will continue to be with the Omani Aviation staff until the entire airports become operational.
He also added that the Omani Civil Aviation staff had also contributed to the designing of the workflow and traffic management systems. The system will be migrated to a new ATC tower in the second phase together with the new runway.
Oman is focusing on developing its dilapidating railways and ports to become globally-competitive and further help increase the country’s income. Omani ports can be linked with other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and will help integrate the transport system between these countries as an integrated system.
Transport and Communications Minister Doctor Ahmed Mohammed Salim al-Futaisi said that the focus of Oman’s train network will make the transport industry a crucial resource for Oman. Becoming the gateway for the GCC in terms of transporting goods and services, Oman’s profits could increase with better activity in the service industry.
Oman Air may also contribute to the services industry as it opens in the new Omani regional airport at Duqm. The airlines had promised four weekly flights.
Meanwhile, Savannah Resources Plc has acquired interests in the Block 5 and 6 of Oman’s copper projects. The mutli-commodity exploration and development company uses the acquisitions as part of its growth strategy for its own company, and Oman’s enrichment as well.
Copper mining may be the best next industry for Oman as copper supply in the world is increasingly disrupted by mining troubles, decreased investor interest and high costs for major copper-producing countries.
According to an Abu Dhabi network, the Los Angeles-based reef developer Reef Worlds, had announced its interest to start building underwater tourism in Oman to further cultivate its underwater habitat sites. In line with Oman’s increasing push for its tourism industry, the rehabilitation of its underwater habitats is a welcome support.
The underwater tourism design company is considering to create a new and revolutionary tourist spot for Oman, which would guarantee a $3 billion tourism market in underwater habitats and tourism.
Reef Worlds designers expressed the intention of building an ancient Lost City replica underwater, which would help Oman become a focus for dive and snorkel tourism. It would also help Oman’s waters become lively and teeming with life.
Reef Worlds had also said that it wants to create more underwater tourism habitats in Dubai, the Philippines and other parts of the Middle East and Asia to boost the health of the underwater environment and help regional tourism provide more for the economies of the countries.
Dave Taylor, the Development Director of Reef Worlds, said their brand’s focus is to create and sustain a new habitat while providing tourists and people the ability to appreciate what the water world has to offer, besides from beaches and natural snorkelling resorts.
Business Insider had placed Oman Air as one of the top ten airlines for flying Economy Class at 9th Place. This places the airline company together with the industry giants in aviation. Oman Air excels greatly in passenger experience.
Salim Al Kindy, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, welcomed Business Insider’s acknowledgement of Oman Air’s quality. He said “we are proud and delighted that Business Insider has recognised the outstanding quality offered by Oman Air and has listed us as one of the ten best airlines in the world.
Oman Air’s economy class blazed through the criteria of quality of passenger experience, punctuality and the actual performance of its logistics system.
Passenger experience is based upon the covering seat comfort, in-flight entertainment, cabin safety, service efficiency, meal quality and cleanliness.
Oman Air’s economy class provides good spaces between seats, wifi and mobile phone connectivity, and live satellite television with large personal entertainment screens in front of each passenger.
However, the top ten area does not cover whether Oman Air’s airplane technical capabilities surpass other industry giants. The placement of Oman in Business Insider’s top ten tells no indication on how the airline treats passenger baggage and other belongings.
The Royal Navy of Oman had met with the BAE Systems Naval Ships for the reception of the Al Khareef Project in the United Kingdom. Oman is to receive the Al Rasikh, a new warship, along with others. The vessel will be the last vessel of the Al Khareef Project and the Sultanate. Top officers from the Royal Navy of Oman and executives from the Sultanates and the Project attended the ceremony, held in Portsmouth City, United Kingdom.
The attendees had toured the innards of the warship and a guide had detailed the modern systems the vessel boasted. The tour guide had also gone in-depth on the ship’s adaptability when it comes to different marine conditions.
The RNO will use the vessel in coast patrols, relief, and search and rescue.
Representatives had signed the documents that would receive the warship and said that the ships will help bolster the maritime capabilities of Oman’s Armed Forces. It will also enable the Royal Navy of Oman to fulfil its obligation to protect the sea and security of the coasts of the country.