Oman was once in great need of development in all fields, and we understand that in order to achieve the goal of human and social development in all areas of the sultanate, it has been 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 initiatives would not have reached the population in cities, towns, villages, plains, mountains, in the deep valleys and vast deserts.
Despite the widespread geographical area of Oman and its harsh terrain, previous development plans have gone a long way and led to the transformation of life in this country. They have facilitated the implementation of development programmes – both social and human. It has helped extend services to all citizens wherever they are. The need for infrastructure will never cease to be a necessity because it is an ongoing process necessitated by urban expansion and social and economic development, which is reaffirmed by the people’s need for communication and aspirations for a better, happier life.
Infrastructure development always gains attention at all stages of growth and nation building, without exception. Infrastructure takes on extreme importance and is accorded top priority in some of these stages due to special circumstances and specific considerations that call for such action. Therefore, what some people often deem as more emphasis on infrastructure than on human or social development in the past stages of development is not accurate. Such a view ignores the truth, the conditions that prevailed at that time and the priorities made necessary by the situation of time and place. That view ignores tremendous attention, which was similarly accorded to the areas of education, health, commerce, industry, agriculture, finance and the economy at large. So the attention accorded to these areas aim at the provision of a dignified life for the citizen who, as we have always affirmed, is both the target of the comprehensive development and its effective tool.
As the necessary basic infrastructure is about to be completed, we have instructed our government to focus, in its future plans, on social development, particularly on aspects related to the daily lives of citizens. This should be achieved by the creation of sustainable employment opportunities and training programmes for the sultanate’s citizens, and by promoting production capacity, as well as scientific, cultural and intellectual development.
We will closely follow the steps taken in this field.
This matter shall also be the focus of attention of the Supreme Council for Planning, which seeks to draft well-studied development plans that take into account the priorities of each stage and the balance between various aspects of development towards attaining the overall goal. It is pleasing and rewarding to see that Oman is progressing with balanced steps and moving in the right direction.
The private sector is one of the key pillars of development, both in the economic concept that represents commerce, industry, agriculture, tourism, finance and the economy in general, as well as the social concept, which denotes human resources development, training, the upgrading of scientific and practical skills, the offering of new employment opportunities and incentives to take up jobs in the private sector. It is not acceptable that some citizens adopt the impression that the private sector relies on what the state offers to it, or that it does not contribute efficiently to the service of society and support its social institutions and programmes, or that the private sector seeks only to achieve profit and does not work seriously in serving its society, environment and country.
Such an impression would not only harm the future of the private sector, but would also have a negative impact that would extend to the development plans of the country, particularly to the diversification of income. Therefore, the private sector is required to work harder to eliminate this impression and to take well-studied and efficient, practical steps, through increasing its contribution to social development. It must work in closer partnership with the government in implementing its policies, hand-in-hand with civil society institutions, which offer social services.
Such a positive attitude is capable of enhancing citizens’ confidence and appreciation of the private sector’s role. It will encourage Omani youth to work in this sector and to continue to keep their jobs and instil a spirit of belonging to private sector institutions. This will in turn reflect positively on the performance of youth, their commitment to the ethics of work and will contribute to productivity. Thus, the private sector will be an authentic partner in employment and development plans that are prepared by government departments. The private sector also benefits. This partnership will be a strong impetus for the development of the private sector’s potential and will help to release its great energy in the fields of local, regional and international competition.
The Omani youth should remember that work, as much as it is a right, is a duty as well. Everyone who has completed their education or training has to take up any useful profession that fulfils their sense of being and through which they can strive to achieve their ambitions, rather than wait to get a government job. 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 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. Hence, they should not hesitate to join private firms and must not desert their jobs therein. This, in turn, calls for a revision of the salary system of the private sector, particularly in low- and medium-paid jobs. This has to be considered a national mission, which must be accomplished in allegiance to this country; it should also be considered a service to citizens who place their confidence, their efforts and their mental ability in serving the private sector.
It is well understood that education is the basis of development. In the various stages of education and through its diverse curricula, national manpower, which is necessary for domestic development and for the implementation of its programmes, is prepared.
Therefore, it has been necessary, for the success of development plans and the execution of its programmes, to work to secure the quality of output from all types of educational establishments in accordance with the general policies of the state so as to help attain the goals that we all aspire to achieve. During the most recent period, various systems of education and curricula were implemented and different training programmes were executed. However, the matter calls for greater attention to be accorded to linking educational achievements to the needs of the labour market. Hence, one of the priorities of the current and next stages of development we are preparing for is to revise educational policy, its plans and its programmes. More attention should be accorded to the requirements imposed by scientific and cultural development towards the evolution of a generation that has awareness, knowledge and abilities for work.
Our domestic policy, as we have always known it, is based on constructive work in serving the public interest and keeping pace with the developments of the age while at the same time maintaining our identity, our principles and our values in which we take pride.
As for our foreign policy, its essence is the call for peace, harmony and close cooperation with all nations. We must commit to the principles of righteousness, justice, fairness and non-interference in the internal affairs of others and the rejection of dispute through peaceful means to help safeguard mankind’s security, stability, prosperity and progress.
Finally, we would like to address a word of appreciation, thanks and great pride to all who work for the sake of Oman, for its growth and for its development.