Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said on setting the framework for modern development: Viewpoint

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Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said

Our determination to move forward with confidence towards the broader horizons of comprehensive, sustainable development, remains undiminished. While committed to preserving our own values and identity, we are enthusiastic about developing international relations to reinforce the advances we have already made. Further progress, we believe, can best be achieved through hard work and the pursuit of knowledge, which will prepare Oman and its citizens for dealing with the emerging realities of the modern age.

We have always stressed the importance of science and knowledge in keeping pace with new developments, and we seek to invigorate efforts to make valuable additions in this field. Whatever progress is made through hard work, it is still nothing compared to the vast sea of science. Our stress on science emanates from our belief that it is the right springboard for acquiring the knowledge, expertise and skills that enable current and future generations to contribute positively in the service of their homeland and society.

In addition, we have accorded education our full care. To this end, we have built government institutions to manage the different aspects of education and scientific research. We have also opened the door for the private sector, encouraged it and provided it with suitable facilities and funding so that it can actively participate in providing the best education for our sons and daughters, as per international standards. In particular, we support this sector’s moves to establish colleges and universities in different parts of the sultanate in order to provide the widest range of opportunities for higher education within the country.

We also appreciate the efforts being made by different state authorities in this field, and we commend the private sector’s contributions to education and training programmes that help to produce qualified Omani personnel. We call upon those in charge of these universities to make them more accessible to young Omanis who wish to enrol. We also want to encourage them to focus on curriculum, ensuring that they are constantly developing and updating it so that their universities can be assured of their place among the ranks of distinguished institutions. It is also vital to advance the various systems of curriculum planning that link educational outputs to the requirements of the labour market. Hence, one of the priorities at the current stage of development, as well as at the next stage, is to revise educational policies and programmes that need to be developed in order to keep pace with the changes that the country is going through.

In urging young Omanis to make use of education, training and job opportunities, we want everyone to understand that our repeated calls for attention to be given to human resources reflect the importance we attach to this vital issue, one which we regard as the cornerstone of the future and the main stimulus enabling us to reach our goals. Through the implementation of a series of national development plans we have successfully laid the foundations of a modern state and will continue to build on this achievement, improving living standards and implementing programmes that aim to boost economic growth through diversification and the development of human resources.

As Oman continues on this path, we must keep in mind that to achieve the goal of human and social development in all areas of the sultanate it is necessary to establish solid infrastructure on which development plans and programmes will be based. This is particularly true in the fields of education, health, training and employment. Without infrastructure, human and social development would not reach communities throughout the country. Past plans for development have gone a long way, despite the widespread area of Oman and its harsh terrain, and this has transformed life in this country and facilitated the implementation of development programmes. It has helped extend services of all types to citizens wherever they are. The need for infrastructure will never cease to be a necessity as it is an ongoing process required by urban expansion and reaffirmed by people’s need for a better life.

Therefore, infrastructure development always gains attention at all stages of growth, without exception, and is accorded top priority in some of these stages due to special circumstances. What some people have often deemed as too much emphasis on infrastructure, rather than human or social development, is not accurate, as such a view ignores the conditions that prevailed before. This attitude also ignores the tremendous attention that was similarly accorded to education, health, trade, industry, agriculture, finance and the economy at large. The attention given to these areas is aimed at providing a dignified life for the citizen.

This can also be achieved by the creation of longterm employment opportunities and training initiatives for citizens, and promoting production capacity, as well as scientific, cultural and intellectual development. We will closely follow the steps taken in this respect. This matter will also be a focus of attention for the Supreme Council for Planning, which seeks to draft strategies that take into account the priorities of each stage and the balance between various aspects of development as we move towards attaining the overall goal.

The private sector is one of the basic pillars of development, both economically in terms of various industries and socially with regards to human resources development and offering employment opportunities and incentives to take up jobs in the private sector. It is not acceptable that some citizens see the private sector as relying on what the state offers to it and not contributing efficiently in the service of society and social institutions and programmes, or that the private sector seeks only to achieve profit and does not work more seriously in helping its society, environment and country. Such impressions will harm not only the future of the private sector, but also development plans in the country, particularly those concerning the diversification of income sources. Therefore, the private sector is required to work harder to counteract this by taking efficient and practical steps, including increasing its contribution to social development and working more closely with the government and civil society institutions on policies that offer social services.

Such a positive attitude can enhance the confidence of citizens and their appreciation for the private sector’s role. It will encourage Omani youth to work in the sector and instil a spirit of belonging to institutions. This will in turn reflect positively on their performance, commitment to a good work ethic and will contribute to productivity. Therefore, the private sector will be an authentic partner in employment and development plans which will be a strong impetus for the development of the sector’s potential in the fields of local, regional and international competition.

Our youth must remember that work is as much a right as it is a duty. Everyone who has completed their education or training has to take up a useful profession that fulfils their sense of being and through which they can strive to achieve their ambitions, rather than relying on government jobs. The state, with all its civil, security and military institutions, cannot continue to be the main source of employment, as this calls for a capacity that is beyond its reach and a mission that the state cannot sustain forever. Citizens have to understand that the private sector is the real source of employment in the long run. This, in turn, calls for a revision of the salary system in the private sector, particularly in low- and medium-wage jobs.

This has to be considered a national mission that must be accomplished in allegiance to this country. It should also be considered a service to citizens who have placed their confidence, efforts and mental ability in the private sector employment. It is well understood that education is the basis of development. The workforce is prepared through the various stages of education and diverse curricula. Therefore, it has been necessary for the success of development plans and the execution of such programmes to work to secure the quality of output of all types of educational establishments, in accordance with the general policies of the state, in order to help attain the goals that we all aspire to achieve.

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