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Ra'id Al-Jamali
Lives in Muscat, Oman
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Ra'id Al-Jamali

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الصلاحيات الاستثنائية للهيئة العامة احماية المستهلك كانت مرحلية لسد "الفجوة في عدم وجود قانون منع الاحتكار"
من خطاب السنيدي أمام مجلس الشورى في 10 مارس 2013 (ابتداءا من 34 دقيقة و36 ثانية):
".. ونود التنويه هنا إلى أن الهيئة تلعب في بعض الأحيان دورا مختلفا عن مثيالاتها في أنحاء العالم من حيث التدخل المستمر في تحديد أسعار بعض السلع والخدمات، وذلك في محاولة منها لسد الفراغ الذي أحدثته عدم اكتمال التشريعات التي تعنى بمنع الاحتكار، وهو أمر غير جائز في سوق حر يتميز بالانفتاح وعدم التدخل قي آليات العرض والطلب، ولكن كما أسلفنا هذه الفجوة في عدم وجود قانون منع الاحتكار جعل الهيئة تذهب إلى ذلك"
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Ra'id Al-Jamali

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Bourgeoisie wants a middle class in Oman?

Interesting comments from Italy's foreign minister Bonino who has been "several times to Oman as a tourist":
the country's peculiarity lies in the existence of "a cultured haute bourgeoisie" of which 'visionary' sultan Qaboos.. is an expression.

It continues:
The sultan - who loves music.. - wants to create a 'middle class' supported by the development of small and medium-sized companies.

There it is. Oman is different because of its "cultured haute bourgeoisie" opera-loving "visionary" Sultan who wants to create a middle class through SMEs.

Interestingly this is the first time I've seen these SME policies so explicitly framed in class-based terms. On the mark. Expansion of the bourgeoisie, both petite (functionaries) and haute (business owners), is basically the government's response after February 2011. A defused middle class.

And whereas corporate do-good translated into blue & white-collar nationalisation a decade back, today the oligarchy is busy aligning with the latest national goal of sharing the pie. In fact, as immigrant labour stock nearly tripled since 2005, blue-collar citizens now have marginal collective bargaining power.
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Edward Said, 30 years ago:
For in a sense the modern Arabic writer has had not only to defend against colonialism, but also to compensate for the absence of a functioning civil society, while minimising the overwhelming power of the sacred, traditional language common to religious authority and the modern writer.

The result has been a block of fiction (some of it very impressive) that is immediately and explicitly connected to such things as the question of Palestine, the conflict with the West, and the attempts to rebuild the Arab world in fact as well as in theory. As can be readily imagined, the strengths and weaknesses of this fiction have been there more or less constantly since its inception early this century. Descriptive realism established the narratability of events and characters; all sorts of urgent connections were regularly drawn between characters and plots, on the one hand, and political crises, on the other; fiction came to think of itself as a consolidation of ‘national’ life, rather than as an alternative to it.
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Reprint: my 07-Nov-2011 FP/MEC article, on pages 54-56
Entire booklet is available (PDF) at http://pomeps.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/POMEPS_BriefBooklet7_Elections_Web.pdf
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Turkey, Saudi Arabia & Egypt, 200 years ago

Madawi Al-Rasheed on the Turkish-Saudi media war over Egypt:

"Such attacks echo similar ones that flourished more than a hundred years ago when Wahhabi expansion in Arabia and constant harassment of pilgrimages prompted the Ottoman sultan to reassert his authority over the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Ironically, in 1818 he relied on the Egyptian army under the leadership of Ibrahim Pasha to rid him of this menace and deliver the Saudi rulers and their religious aides to Istanbul where they were executed. While this is history, the memory seems to linger in the minds of religiously-inclined Saudis when they denounce Turkey's version of Islam for its laxity."

Further south-east, Wahhabi expansion in the 19th century was a recurring threat to Oman's territory. Incursions reached as far as Jaalan and Sur in the east, with British India at one point despatching an expeditionary force in aid of the Omani Imam/Sultan.
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A sense of Saudi (in)security, 1978

'A sense of just how vulnerable the Saudis are, and to how many different parties, emerges from a look at the books that have collected in the outer office of Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. The list includes two volumes ... on the dangers of Palestinian radicals; The Crash of '79, by Paul Erdman, which sketches out fictionally the dangers of Iran to Saudi Arabia; two on the threat posed by Russia; one on the Israeli menace; and several copies of Arabia Without Sultans by Fred Halliday, which is a survey of the radical liberation fronts of the area, and their opposition to the oil sheikhs.'
- Joseph Kraft, 'Letter from Riyadh', The New Yorker, 26 June 1978.

In 1978:
Iran was 'Imperial' but not 'Islamic'.
The siege of Mecca had not occurred. The ideology of Islamo-radicalism was yet to materialise as an internal threat.
A coup d'etat had just installed the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan into power. Mujahideen would soon become a byword for Muslim freedom fighters (but not terrorists). Soviet Union would invade the following year.
Terrorism was a term exclusively for Palestinian armed factions, invariably with left-of-centre politics.
There existed 2 Yemens, one of which was Marxist supported by the Soviets.
Sadat was busy making peace with Israel, strategically relocating into America's orbit. Two years later he would be assassinated by islamist soldiers.
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Oman-US FTA
Instructive how quasi-official Oman Observer handled the US Embassy press release on the Free Trade Agreement. For a benchmark I'm using Times of Oman (below), which earnestly revealed its source. Highlights:

1. Change the original headline from a theme of mutual benefit to Advantage Oman.

2. Insert token statement of friendship:
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between Oman and the United States in January 2009, has boosted bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, by strengthening the bond of economic ties between the two countries.

3. Mentions of plain vanilla "Oman" are insufficient. Change a few to "The Sultanate".

4. Most importantly, remove the following inconvenient fact:
The FTA allows US investors to wholly own their companies without requiring a local sponsor, although many choose to partner with Omani companies to leverage local expertise and to facilitate business.

See for yourself :
http://omanobserver.om/node/170241/

(oh yeah.. just noted the press release article dateline. Belated happy 4th of July)
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Recent mentions: article by Gulf News
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Recent mentions: article by +Sunil Vaidya
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