Oman: Sultan Haitham announces job creation programme following protests
Oman's ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, has ordered the government to fast-track plans to create thousands of jobs in the public sector and to subsidise employment in the private sector, in response to several days of protests over unemployment and corruption.
Riot police and armoured vehicles were deployed on Sunday in response to protests by scores of Omanis in the north and south of the country, spreading to various cities on Monday and Tuesday. Numerous arrests were reported in Sohar and Salalah on Sunday and Monday, although some protesters were later released.
Following the initial crackdown on Sunday, with some protesters throwing stones and riot police firing tear gas canisters to break up the crowds in the country's north, protests continued on Monday and Tuesday in several cities including Nizwa, Ibri, Rustaq, Suwayq, al-Khaburah, and Sohar.
In a change of tactics on Tuesday, police stood back and allowed demonstrations to continue, and were filmed handing out bottles of water to Omanis involved in a protest sit-in in Sohar.
State TV began to report on the protests, interviewing people about their struggles to find work in Oman, where unemployment has spiked since the coronavirus pandemic.
'The youth are the nation's wealth, its unfailing resource ... We will make sure we listen to them, sense their needs, interests and aspirations'
- Sultan Haitham bin Tariq
The sultan, who came to power in January 2020, said 32,000 full and part-time jobs would be created in the government sector, making the announcement as he was shown on state TV chairing a meeting on youth employment.