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About the Protests

About the Protests

I’ve gotten a lot of people asking about the protests that have been happening throughout the Arab world. To put it bluntly – it will never happen here. As long as the Sultan is in charge there will be no mass protests or regime changes. People here genuinely love the Sultan. And they should.

Before the Sultan wrested control of Oman from his father in 1970, the country was not in good way. The Sultan’s father, Said bin Taimur, strictly outlawed any symbol of western culture. Smoking, wearing closed-toed shoes, playing music, and numerous other innocuous actions were punishable by jail time and even death. Since Qaboos bin Said has been in charge, the people have seen the outlook for their country take a complete 180. Without the Sultan, the modern, stable, and prosperous Oman of today would not exist.

That being said, there have been two protests. On February 19th, about 300 or so people gathered outside the Ministry of Labor to request a higher minimum wage. Among there cardboard signs were numerous pictures of the Sultan and messages showing support for him. There was no anger or violence. The police gave out cold drinks and snacks.

The protests that have been happening are relatively close by – Yemen is our nextdoor neighbor and Bahrain is just up the Gulf – but they are still far away. Sitting at my house in Muscat is about as chaotic as sitting in an apartment in Chicago – actually it’s probably safer. We’ve gotten a few students who were evacuated from Egypt, and the SIT Jordan program is coming here for their excursion instead of Egypt, but other than that there’s nothing. The protests are a topic of conversation here, that’s about it.

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