Sultan Qaboos gives directives to facilitate procedures on lands for citizens, increase scholarships at home and abroad

Sultan Qaboos discusses with Qatari PM regional developments, bilateral coordination

Information Minister Rashdi sponsors ceremony to hand Media Excel Competition awards

Sultanate at safe ranking on Global Peace Indicator

Sultan Qaboos Bin Said gave an audience to Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al Thani, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar at the Bait Al Barakah.

The Qatari Prime Minister conveyed greetings of Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, to the Omani monarch along with his best wishes of continuous good health and a long life to the Sultan and the Omani people further progress and prosperity under his wise leadership.

On his turn, the Omani leader asked the Qatari guest to convey his greetings along with his best wishes of continuous good health, happiness and a long life to the Emir of Qatar and the Qatari people further progress and prosperity under the wise leadership of the Emir.

During the audience, a number of aspects of existing cooperation between the two countries were discussed in various fields in the interest of the Omani and Qatari brotherly peoples, as well as, means of enhancing fraternal relations and ties between the two countries and their peoples.

The audience was attended by Yousuf Bin Alawi Bin Abdullah, Oman's Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohammad Bin Hamad Al Rumhy, Oman's Oil and Gas Minister, Darwish Bin Isma'eel Al Balushi, Oman's Minister Responsible for Financial Affairs, Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Khatir, Qatari ambassador to Oman and the delegation accompanying the Qatari Prime Minister.

Qatar and Oman have agreed to establish two committees, one for co-operation in economic, energy and investment sectors and another for co-operation in financial affairs, Sheikh Hamad said.

In a statement after chairing a round of official talks between Qatar and Oman, the prime minister said the two committees would hold meetings in the next two months and added that a set of agreements would be signed after the holy month of Ramadan.

He said his visit is aimed at paving the way for a meeting between the leaderships of the two countries.

Commenting on the political issues, the Premier said that there is constant co-ordination between Oman and Qatar. At the directives of the two leaderships, “we are daily co-coordinating between ourselves as far as foreign policies are concerned,” he said.

The Prime Minister described the events taking place in the region as significant and said permanent discussion is needed on how to deal with them.

Sheikh Hamad praised the measures Oman under Sultan Qaboos bin Said has adopted to deal with the recent events and said, “Thanks to Almighty Allah, what has taken place in Oman is an example to follow, since the wisdom of HM Sultan Qaboos and his far-sightedness has turned the negative to positive”.

He said Qatari and Omani officials are considering ways to enhance co-operation between the two countries under the GCC resolutions. The efforts aim to strengthen economic partnership and further develop bilateral relations in all sectors.

The Prime Minister said he had conveyed to Sultan Qaboos bin Said the greetings of HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and HH the Heir Apparent Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and their best wishes to the Omani people for progress and prosperity.

Earlier, he conveyed a message from the Emir to Sultan Qaboos pertaining to bilateral relations and means of promoting and developing them.

Sultan Qaboos reciprocated the Emir’s and the Heir Apparent’s greetings and wished the Qatari people further progress and welfare.

Meanwhile, the government issued an order whereby citizens with an income not more than 300 rials a month will be exempted paying for residential plots granted to them.

The order was issued by HH Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, in line with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said’s keenness to improve the lot of all citizens.

The order also invalidates a rule which bans land transactions through sale, donation or mortgage before completing two years from the date of getting the title deed.

“The Royal directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said for paying maximum attention to all citizens stem from His Majesty’s love and appreciation to the children of this nation,” Fahd said in a statement to Oman News Agency (ONA).

The directive added that the disabled, along with Social Insurance Families, will be exempted from paying fees on entitled land.

Fahd’s orders are:

Decision No. 2/2011, based on the Royal Decree No. 5/80 issuing the Land Law.

Royal Decree No. 5/81, regarding the usufruct of the Sultanate’s land.

Royal Decree No. 81/84, on entitlement of government land.

Royal Decree No. 88/2005, amending some of the provisions for the Governmental Land Entitlement System.

The Ministerial Decision No. 15/99 of the Housing Ministry regarding fixing the rates of titles, rents and the governmental land registration fees.

The ministerial decision No. 61/2006 of the Housing Ministry regarding the fixing prices for government land extension and as per public interest.

The following has been decided:

Article One: All citizens whose income is not more than 300 rials per month will be exempted from the value of the residential lands granted to them.

Article Two: Invalidates the paragraph 2 of article No. 2 of the aforesaid Royal Decree No. 88/2005, which bans carrying out any transactions over the land either through sale or donation or mortgage before two years from the date of getting the title deed.

Article Three: The disabled, as it is the case with social insurance families, will be exempted from all the due fees on the entitled governmental lands, as shown in the aforesaid ministerial decision No. 15/99 of the Housing Ministry.

Article Four: The fees for the governmental lands granted to retired persons from the public and private sectors will be reduced by 50 per cent if their income is more than 300 rials per month.

Article Five: The prices for extending the residential/commercial, residential, commercial, industrial and agricultural specified in the ministerial decision issued by the aforesaid Ministerial decision No. 61/2006 of Housing Ministry as per the governmental grant of lands prices.

Article Six: Reduces the fees for the excess areas and deeds that did not complete the period for the agricultural lands by 80% of the prescribed fees in the above mentioned decision.

Article Seven: The Housing Minister shall issue the mechanisms and the procedures that regularize this decision without prejudice to any previous privileges.

Article Eight: This decision comes into force from its date of issue.

“This gesture will improve citizens’ quality of life and enable him to meet the challenges and requirements of modern life,” Fahd’s statement continued. “The efforts will be continuous as everyone is working for opening up new horizons that will provide a better future for the coming generations.”

Citizens have warmly welcomed government’s decision to write off fees for plots of land given to disabled and low-income people in the Sultanate.

The decision exempts citizens with an income of not more than 300 rials a month from paying fees for residential plots of land granted to them. Social insurance families and disabled citizens are also exempted from paying fees on entitled land.

The decision was issued by HH Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, within the framework of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said’s Royal directives to improve the lot of citizens.

Oman Tribune spoke to a cross-section of citizens who hailed the decision and thanked His Majesty the Sultan for all the care he takes for the good of the people.

Maryam Bint Juma Al Foori, said this directive reflects the generosity of His Majesty the Sultan, the love and care he has for his people and his dedicated efforts to provide a decent livelihood for all.

Rahmah Bint Talib Al Battasi, a girl with hearing disability, said via email: “I did not know the order until my friends informed me about it. We are all very happy with the relief provided to the deserving people. We pray to God Almighty to grant His Majesty the Sultan continued good health and longevity.”

Amna Bint Muhana Al-Ghahdami said: “This gives Omanis a chance to get land easily, particularly people with special needs, Social Insurance families and those who don’t earn enough to pay land fees. This will bring about a big change in society and everyone will be able to get their own land.”

Mayan Bint Talib Al Battasi, a girl with hearing disability, in an email message said: “I am among the lucky ones who will benefit by this decision. This section of the Omani people deserves the goodness of His Majesty the Sultan, and we are thankful to him for giving many gifts to the people of Oman.”

Ibrahim Bin Mubarak Al Khussaiby said: “This order will improve the lifestyle of the people as well as help them to reduce their difficulties and challenges. I thank His Majesty the Sultan and his government for all their support in making life easier for the people. I wish him good health and long life.”

Ruqyia Bint Nasser Al-Mani said: “I am very happy with this order as it will help us to get land. His Majesty the Sultan always supported Omani women and men working shoulder to shoulder, and this order coming for both means a lot to me.”

Juma Bin Saif Alshahymi, a person with special needs in the physical category, said: “I want to thank His Majesty the Sultan and his government for this support to the Omani people, especially those with special needs. I am very happy for this order which help me and others to improve their lifestyle.”

Mariam Bint Khalfan Al-Kindi, a housewife, said: “This order will exempt people with low salaries from land fees. It will help me to contribute along with my husband in facilitating our lifestyle.

Ammar Bin Saleh Al-Tai, a person with special needs, said: “I thank His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, may God protect him. This decision will improve the social situation of many Omani people as well as reduce their daily expenses.

Mahmoud Bin Said Al Mashaki said: “I thank His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said for his support. I think only a few citizens will benefit from this decision. We hope that the decision includes all citizens or at least those whose salaries are less than 500 rials, because the people who will benefit from this decision are a few workers in companies or private institutions, and not those people in the government sector.”

On the other hand, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has issued Royal Directives to absorb more male and female graduate students by increasing the number of domestic and foreign scholarships at universities and colleges and raising the increments to students in technical colleges and rehabilitation training centers.

This was stated by HH Sayyid Fahd Bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, in a statement to ONA.

Fahd said, in the light of the directives, the respective departments will provide 7,000 male and female students with domestic scholarships and 1,500 male and female students with international scholarships.

The departments will also admit additional number of students at the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) as per the intake capacity of the university while 2,000 male and female students will be admitted to the Colleges of Technology.

In addition to this, more students will be absorbed at the rehabilitation training centers, he said.

This keenness and interest shown by His Majesty to his sons, the Omani youth, will give them an opportunity to pursue their education and push the education process in the country, especially in the private universities and colleges, Fahd said.

This will help them to develop and meet their aspirations, he added.

The higher education minister and the manpower minister, along with a number of private university heads, will hold a press conference to highlight the details of this issue. They will also highlight the ongoing efforts and benefits from the current directives and provide them future opportunities.

In Muscat, Al-Watan, sister publication of Oman Tribune, bagged five prizes in the Media Excel Competition awards which were given away.

Said Bin Ahmed Al Nabhani won the first place for the best investigative story ‘Trouble in real estate sector,’ while Khalfan Al Zaidi won a prize for the column ‘Don’t shake.’

He also won the second place in the dialogue category for ‘Majid Al Khalili’, on the professor of Political science in Florida International University.

Salem Al Rahbi won the second place for his column ‘Omani drama... dialogue refused silence.’ Ahmed Bin Salim Batmira won the third prize for his column ‘Man of true peace.’ Jameela Al Jawahori won the third prize for the interview ‘His dreams on Mount Everest.’

HE Hamed Bin Mohammed Al Rashdi, Information Minister, presided over the award distribution ceremony organized by the Information Ministry.

HE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Shuwain Al Hosni, Undersecretary at the Information Ministry, said there were a total of 533 entries compared to 196 in the last session.

He said the number of winners stood at 196, of which 31 were withheld for their failure to comply with norms of the contest.

He said that the winner of the first place would get 500 rials, a certificate and medal; the second place winner will be granted 400 rials and certificate while the winner of the third place will be granted 300 rials. The chief guest distributed awards to winners and honored eight media works that adopted the style of continuity, in addition to honoring a number of employees who retired from the Information Ministry in 2010-11.

Meanwhile, the Sultanate came fourth on the Arab level in Global Peace Indicator 2011, which was published by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace on its website.

The index placed the Sultanate, which came 41st on the global level, on the list of the countries that enjoy high degree of peace. Iceland topped the list, followed by New Zealand and Japan.

The index revealed that the world has become less peaceful for the third successive year due to the increase in the number of terrorist attacks in 29 countries and violent demonstrations in 33 countries around the world.

The Global Peace Index, which covers 152 countries, pointed out that violence has cost the world about $8.12 trillion in 2010. If the world was more peaceful, it would have saved 25 per cent in 2010, the world economy could have gained additional $2 trillion, it added.

The Institute for Economics and Peace is an international research institution specialized in peace, economy and business researches.

The Global Peace Index depend on a number of criteria, including political stability, crime rate in society, human rights, violence level among members of society, internal conflicts, relations with neighboring countries, terrorist attacks, participation in peace keeping, military abilities, political participation, corruption level, free media, healthcare and education opportunities.