The state institutions
The Basic Law of the State
The Basic Law
of the State, promulgated on 6th November 1996 and comprising 81
articles lays down a legal framework of reference governing the
functions of the different authorities and sepŽarating their powers. It
also affords safeguards to guarantee the freeŽdom, dignity and rights of
the individual. This historic document sets out Oman's system of
government and the guiding principles behind the state's policies and
also details public rights and duties. It contains specific principles
covering the Head of State, the Council of Ministers and the judiciary.
It is simple yet succinct.
Article One of the Basic Law of the State notes that: "The Sultanate of
Oman is an independent, fully sovereign, Arab, Islamic state. Its
capital is Muscat". Article Two confirms: "The
state's religion is Islam and the Islamic Sharia is the basis of
Governance in the Sultanate is based on justice, consultation and
equality and, according to Article Nine, citizens have the right to take
part in public affairs in accordance with the law.
With no obvious heir to the throne, the issue of succession is addressed
in Article Five: "The system of government is an hereditary sultanate
in which succession passes to a male descendant of Sayyid Turki bin
Said bin Sultan. It is a condition that the male who is chosen to rule
should be an adult Muslim of sound mind and a legitimate son of Omani
The State's organisational framework
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said is Head of State, its highest and
final authority and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Royal
The Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers assists Sultan Qaboos in drawing up and
implementing the general state policy. Specifically, the Council
submits recommendations to the Sultan on economic, political, social,
executive and administrative matters; these include proposing draft laws
and decrees, looking after the welfare and interests of the general
public, in addition to establishing and implementing Policies and goals
for economic, social and administrative development, while ensuring the
best possible use is made of available financial, economic and human
resource, The Council of Ministers has a secretariat-general to assist
it in the performance of its functions.
To avoid any division of loyalties, Article 53 of the Basic Law of the
State declares: "Members of the Council of Ministers may not combine
their ministerial positions with the chairmanship or membership of the
board of directors of any public joint-stock company."
The Defence Council
Sultan Qaboos issued Royal Decree No. 105/96 on 28th December 1996
establishing the Defence Council, of which he is the head. It comprises
eight members chosen on the basis of rank or position and meets by royal
command to consider matters related to the maintenance and defence of
The National Security Council
Royal Decree No. 63/2003 was issued on 23rd September 2003 amending
the name of the National Security Committee to the National Security
Council. The Council considers all questions related to national
security and holds its sessions at the Sultan's direction and under his
chairmanship or that of the Minister of the Royal Office. Its members
include: the Inspector General of Police and Customs, the Head of the
Internal Security Service, the Chief of Staff of the Sultan's Armed
Forces and the Head of the Communications and Co-ordination Department.
The Council may also request the attenŽdance of non-members with a
The Council has a secretary general appointed from the staff of the
The Supreme Judicial
The Supreme Judicial Council draws up general judicial policies,
ensures the independence of the judiciary and monitors its development;
it oversees the work of the courts and the Public Prosecutor's Office
and also facilitates and monitors legal procedures. The Council
considers judicial appointments and
promotions, proposes draft laws on judicial issues and comments on draft
judicial co-operation agreeŽments between the Sultanate and other states.
Higher Committees, Secondary Councils and Public
The administrative apparatus of state comprises a
number of higher committees, specialist secondary councils and public
authorities; each of which is responsible for managing or monitoring a
specific sector, producing a comprehensive overview and liaising with
other relevant bodies, including ministries, with the aim of serving
the public interest and ensuring efficient coordination between
different authorities operating within the same sector. The members of
these committees, councils and authorities include ministers and leading
figures in the relevant areas.
The Higher Committee for Conferences
The higher Committee for Conferences is
responsible for preparing, monitoring and liaising on conferences
attended by the Sultanate, particularly those related to the Arab Gulf
Co-operation Council. It works closely with con-cerned ministries.
The Higher Committee for Conferences is chaired by the Deputy Prime
Minister for the Council of Ministers.
The Scientific Research Council
Royal Decree No.54/2005, issued on 22nd June
2005, established the Scientific Research Council and defined its
prerogatives. The Council encourages and regulates matters related to
scientific research. It is the prime authority in this field and liases
between the different bodies and institutions involved in the sector.
The Council is responsible for drawing up a comprehensive national plan
for scientific research, initiatives and research plans and supports the
publication of scientific papers.
The Economic Co-ordination Council
The Economic Co-ordination Council was established by Royal Decree No
94/99 on 22nd November 1999 to consider a wide range of economic issues.
It examines and considers all economic issues, including any problems
adversely affecting economic development and prosperity; discussion on
methods of stimulating the national economy are ongoing. The Council
represents the government at joint meetings with the Businessmen's
Council. It has a secretariat-general within the Ministry of National
Economy, which, among other tasks, collates data and statistics.
The Civil Service Council
The Civil Service Council draws up general Civil
Service policies and considers Civil Service related decisions, laws and
procedures designed to boost the employment ratio of the nationals as
opposed to expatriates in the workforce (Omanisation), and to improve
the efficiency of the state's administrative apparatus.
The Supreme Committee for Town Planning
The Supreme Committee for Town Planning was
originally established in 1985 and restructured under Royal Decree
No.31/2005, issued on 21st March 2005. It is responsible for drawing up
general town planning policies within the context of development plans.
It also keeps a close eye on the implementation and development of the
approved planning programmes and sets out principles for valuing land
expropriated by the government for the construction of public utilities.
The committee works to overcome any practical or financial obstacles to
implementation of the approved plans and is chaired by the Minister of
Royal Decree No.24/2006, issued on 28th March 2006, established a
secretarial-general of the Supreme Committee and appointed a
The Higher Education Council
The I5-member Higher Education Council, set up on
27th September 1998 under Royal Decree No. 65/98, is responsible for
drawing up the general policies for higher education and scientific
research in the universities and higher institutes of learning, in line
with the country's employment needs. It regulates student intake at the
universities and higher learning institutes and prepares annual reports
for the Council of Ministers about the state of higher education, making
recommendations when appropriate. The Higher Education Council is headed
by the Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court.
The Accreditation Council
The Accreditation Council was established in June
2001 to complement the functions of the Higher Education Council. It
produces studies and research on criteria for approving higher education
institutions and their programmes.
The Accreditation council was restructured under Royal Decree
No.32/2002, issued on 27 March 2002. It has 10 members and meets once
every four months.
Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) Council
The Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) Council seeks
to maintain and improve the standards of university education and ensure
there is the greatest possible degree of co-ordination between SQU's
course disciplines and the national development plan's need for
graduates. SQU Council, which was established in 1986, is headed by the
Minister of Higher Education.
The Tender Board
The Tender Board is responsible for opening and
studying bids for the award of all government tenders with a value in
excess of RO250,000, with the exception of defence unit contracts and
certain others. others specified under the Tender Law and Regulations.
The Board seeks to guarantee the efficient implementation of government
tenders and the supply of goods and equipment to the highest
specifications while ensuring optimal use of public funds.
In seeking to manage government tenders in a transparent, credible,
fair, objective and professional manner, the Board is empowered to
monitor the implementation of projects until their completion and
committed to supporting national industrial products and policies,
including Omanisation. It is headed by the Minister of Transport and
In 2005, 349 tenders were awarded at an actual total cost of
RO672,726,558. The sectors involved included public utilities and
services, roads and bridges, education and training, electricity and
water, health, and oil and gas. During the first three months of 2006,
some 48 tenders were invited at an estimated cost of RO98,828,610.During
the same period 64 tenders were awarded at a cost of RO184,404,175.
Despite the rise in the number and cost of tenders invited and awarded
in 2005, 2006 has, so far, seen a significant increase, compared with
the previous year's totals.