Sultan Qabus took power in 1970 by deposing
his own father, Said bin Taimur, who has been in power
for 38 years. Under the new Sultan, Oman underwent a
modernization with foreign support and good economic
growth as a result. However, there has been no
democratization to speak of, although a constitution was
adopted and an advisory assembly was established in the
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Oman. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
The arch-conservative and aspiring sultan Said bin
Taimur had since his entry into power in 1932 had almost
completely isolated Oman from the outside world (see
Older history). Qabus bin Said Al Said, who took over
the palace coup in 1970, was educated in the United
Kingdom and had embraced modern, Western ideas. His coup
is believed to have been supported by the British, as
well as by Omani militaries.
The new sultan initiated a comprehensive
modernization of society, which in many respects was at
the medieval level. While Oman was opened to the outside
world, roads, ports, schools and hospitals were built.
The build-up was almost explosive during the first
years, though not always so well-planned. It was
financed with foreign loans, despite growing oil
revenues, which began to be mined in the country in
At the time of the 1970 power shift, there was
concern in the province of Dhofar, which was only
loosely linked to Oman. Since 1965, a liberation army
supported by the then independent, communist South Yemen
had been active there. The Sultan tried to involve
guerrillas in development projects for Dhofar's poor.
When it refused to participate, the regime reintroduced
the military and in 1975 the insurgency was wounded with
the support of British, Iranian and Jordanian troops.
The following year, the Sultan issued an amnesty for the
In the early 1980s, he set up a consultative council
that would give him guidance on important issues.
However, all the members had to be approved by the
sultan, who continued to govern unequivocally.
The regime struck in 1994 against what was said to be
militant Islamist movements in the country. The security
service arrested several hundred people. Some were
sentenced to death, but the sentence was later converted
In the late 1990s, falling oil prices led to
financial problems. The government was forced to make
cuts in the public sector, which led to protests from
young people who risked unemployment.
During the 1990s, a small step was taken in a
democratic direction, when the sultan replaced the
country's powerless consultative assembly with a new
consultative council, majlis al-shura, whose
members would be appointed by a small group of elected
In 1996, the regent introduced for the first time in
the country's history a kind of written constitution.
There it was stated that Oman would have a "parliament"
with a lower house and an upper house. In 2000, direct
elections were held for majlis al-shura, but only a
tenth of the citizens were allowed to vote. Two women
were elected to the lower house.
Two years later, the sultan introduced the right to
vote for all citizens over 21 years, including women,
but the turnout was no more than 30 percent in the 2003
elections.. In the 2007 election, no woman got a seat in
the lower house, but three women joined the government.
In early 2005, almost 100 people were arrested,
accused of planning to restore the imamate through a
coup d'état (see Older History). Of those arrested, 31
were sentenced to prison, but they were later pardoned.
When Oman was shaken by demonstrations in connection
with the Arab Spring 2011, the development was similar.
The arrest was made, but the activists eventually