Thursday, October 25

The sultanate of Oman, a revolution in trompe-l'oeil

It does no harm just this once, I will speak about a new french book, named "Le sultanat d'Oman, une révolution en trompe-l'oeil". I wish I could have read this book at the beginning of my expatriation, it would have help me to better understand the country where I've lived for almost a year now.

In this book, the author (a french researcher, Marc Valeri) describes the history of the country (including the war of the Dhofar, 1965-1975), with a great freedom of speech, and then explains how the Sultan Qaboos since 1970 has succeeded in unifying the country by putting in place a welfare state (thanks to the petrol incomes) and by creating an Omani identity. It explains also very well the different categories of population that composed Oman, their relations, and the possible tension between them... At the end, the author gives us his view of the young Omanis mentality, and the futur issues the sultanate will have to face after Sultan Qaboos era.

This is a very exhaustive book, full of details about the Omani society. I give you below a few things that struck my mind :

  • The life expectancy was 40 years old in 1940, and is now 74,5
  • Their is a guaranteed minimum wage for the Omani : 140 OMR
  • in dec. 2006, 52,6% of the Omani working population was in the public sector
  • 38,9% of the Omani are less than 15 years old, 53,7% less than 20 years old, and only 3% over 60 years old.
  • Officially, 35% of the marriage are between cousins. But if you take into account larger blood relations, it can be 55%.
  • 6,3% of Omani live with several wifes (16% in the Dhofar).
  • 80% of the Omani think that censoring the local or foreign television programs is good.
  • For those who wonder who will succeed the sultan, it has been reported that the Sultan has declared having identified 2 possible successors, and has put their names in sealed envelopes hidden in two different regions of Oman. Note also that the Sultan has been married in 1976, but he has divorced in 1980.
  • some rare cases of excision have been reported in rural area of the country.


  1. What does he say about young Omanis mentality ?

  2. It appears that some youg Omani boys think that omani girls are too shy and awkward, and so are uninteresting. They prefer the girls of other arabic countries like in Kuweit, because they are more confident and interesting. Then there is an interview of a young Omani living in Muscat. The young boy says he has 2 solution after school : choose an wife and accept a well-paid but "uninteresting" job, and get bored until the rest of his life. OR going living in another country but he doesn't know what he will gain.

  3. For sure he will gain lot of money for the dowry : in Qatar they offer from 3 to 10 times as salary and many run away there .
    Definitely a skilled researcher, not sure how much his views are based on studies he did coming to Oman and not sure he is appreciated here : if you browse Google you'll find an article in pdf in which he gives a political analisis not really sugar coated .

  4. The guy in the book describes also a lot of successes that the sultan has achieved. So I think the book is fair.

  5. I think yes :


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