Saturday, July 8, 2017

Oman's Economy (and an article from the Economist that will probably be blocked)

I told my Omani husband that thus far, I thought the blockades against poor Qatar have been good for Oman. Our airlines and airports are making money from it. People are investing in Duqm because of it.

And the threat of Saudi and UAE blockading us? It could happen I guess...but I personally doubt it. If they would have done it, they would have done so already.

Oman obviously has closer ties than any of the other Gulf States with Iran (i.e we don't persecute our Shia populations and we try to not blame the Iranian people for their government's support of Hammas---obviously). We also did not fight Yemen with the rest of the GCC.

This article, which I am frankly surprised has not been blocked yet [ https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21724842-muscatcheap-oil-makes-it-hard-buy-dissent-sultanate-oman-taking ] mentions that Donald Trump doesn't like us. But really, so what? I mean the British are here. Shell is pretty British. We also have a lot of American expats who seem to like living here. Less than Kuwait and Qatar yes, but cutting ties with Qatar messes with Kuwait a little, and Kuwait is America's biggest base here in the Middle East. I don't think Donald Trump matters as long as U.K. cares about us, is what I am saying. I also take offence (reference the Economist) that the article says that every shop in Oman by law must put up a photo of the Sultan. That's bogus. Private companies and shops don't have to. Not all do. Omanis like to be patriotic though, especially the over 35-somethings + who are not widely traveled.
Economy-wise though, the Economist article does discuss what is wrong with our economy. Fake government jobs. namely. Over-subsidizing with no income taxes. Yes, oil costs more. Water costs more. Electricity costs more. That's a fact that Omanis should and must shoulder. Let us not sound ridiculous like other Gulf states and blame this on the expats we have imported, and ask them to be taxed for it, but not us, not Omanis. Those imported 3rd world workers do the work we do need to have Omanis doing. Houses do cost a lot to build when you pay normal wages for the work. But you do get better houses when you pay qualified and trained people to build them, thus improved quality and sustainability, for cost. Life will cost more, but the money will stay in the country not be sent away and that my friends, my country-men, my readers, is what builds economy. Screw the 2040 plans that are still totally un-auditable. Yes, tourism will help some areas out, but totally relying on tourism and shipping to save the country for all citizens (I mean, have you been to some nowhere towns in Oman---tourism won't help them) is idiotic. Ask Greece. They have tourism that we'll never have, and still....

And so.

I totally get why Omanis are afraid of doing income tax though (not on expats but on Omanis I am saying, because nothing else solves the problems). There is corruption to the extent that you can't get your garbage picked up in some cases without wasta, so when it comes to fighting mistakes the gov. could make over-taxing you, or not taxing honestly Omani big business owners, and government peeps? Yes. You can say the whole economy is iffy when the Central Bank of the country can make secret decisions, and only needs one person to okay them. That's an iffy economy.

I love Oman. I am sending all my money here even though this country seems to think I don't even deserve a visa beyond tourist or work even though we've been through the courts for the marrying without permission bit, I built and paid for houses here, I have kids, a husband of seven years, and I share the same culture and religion as the majority of the citizens. I know that's a gamble. But this is home, for better or worse. And I refuse to pay over 70, 000 for a bachelor apartment at the Wave;). I can be the Omani-version of "bedoon" I guess. I'm Muslim. Bedoon is more proper anyway;). We're not supposed to love nations or borders so much that we'd do for them, what Allah only asks of us in the hardest of tests. I wouldn't fight Yemen if GCC asked me to, or if Oman did, because that is wrong, for instance, one example.

(BTW, try doing banking in Oman without a valid residency card. It is next to impossible no matter how much money you have in your account, or how long you have had your account).

Anyways, Omanis see me as against them when I suggest income tax, them as the lower middle classes, or working poor, and unemployed or disabled poor, but I'm not. I suggest this out of a love for them. To want to build something sustainable for them, for me, and my kids. I don't want my kids to run away after my former country one day. I want them to love Oman and see a life here, as much as I do, despite the odds.

I make the gamble. Allah kareem.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As I wrote elsewhere: Strangely tendentious article for The Economist, ridden with errors. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos is 76 year old, so the suggestions about his health could have been left out. Also, Said bin Taimur was exiled to England, not Delhi. A population of 4 million? May be true, but only 2.5 million Omani citizen (strange for The Economist to make such errors).
Too bad Oman's support of Hillary Clinton seems to have caught up with them. For now, Oman's strategy seems to remain the same as always: Invest in the country before the oil runs out.

Kind regards,
J

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

L: I agree, there were a lot of errors in it, and it sounded, well mean. Mean for the sake of grabbing attention kind of. But the gist of the actual criticism of the economy is correct.

The strategy for the country has been make plans for investing and developing the private sectors in the country before the oil runs out (you could say for the last 15 years) but plans for making plans, as I said, are un-auditable and never really amount to much, sadly.

Does a dislike of Trump really matter for Oman? And no one Omani I knew here liked Clinton much either... Bill Clinton, and even Obama have had a worse record in the ME than Trump actually, but Trump just says stuff that makes Muslims and minorities offended sometimes so that would be it. I'm sure the man is smart enough to know that;). I don't think we as a country matter much to him. We don't manufacture stuff much, we don't have a booming real- estate sky-scraper business, and our oil can't solve America's problems so;). I found the article offensive that is had some errors about Oman and Qaboos that aren't fair. If you are going to criticize the government do it in a way that isn't just for attention. Do it because the facts matter.