As Simon Kerr points out in the Financial Times, the Arab peninsula nation of Oman is part of the democratic surge in the Arab world. After two months of demonstrations the Sultan is conceding legislative powers for the Majlis al-Shura (an elected body which is currently consultative in nature), independence for the national prosecutor’s office, and an expansion of powers for the national audit office. So laws to be made by an elected body, depoliticisation of public prosecutions, and greater accountability of the state. This follows strenuous attempts by Sultan Qaboos to repress demonstrations. The struggle and the promised results are to celebrated, though continuing civic action will be necessary to ensure the reforms are implemented.
There is also a economic aspect I’m less inclined to celebrate, strikes over wages, and economic concession by Qaboos which to my mind buy off opposition rather than improve the economic prospects of the population. That includes expanded public sector employment and a raised minimum wage. Opposing minimum wages will seem to many like being mean to the poor, however, it is the poor who suffer from lack of jobs because of minimum wage legislation. Anyway, people of many views on these economic issues, can unite in applauding the promised democratic changes, and the opportunity to keep debating the economic issues in a political system more accountable to law and public opinion.