Governments in the Gulf states are rushing to find ways to keep their populations happy as unrest continues to spread. Can the likes of Saudi, Oman, and the UAE maintain stability?
February 28, 2011 5:15 by Sam Potter
Attempting to pre-empt any further trouble, Oman is following suit. Yesterday the government promised to create 50,000 new jobs for citizens, and provide an unemployment benefit for everyone registered with the Ministry of Manpower. Meanwhile Sultan Qaboos bin Said dispatched Minister of Diwan of Royal Court Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud Al Busaidi to Sohar to meet with protesters.
It will be interesting to see whether these financial concessions appease a general public who, more than anything it seems, yearn for a greater representation at government level and an end to unfairness and corruption.
Finally, what about the most stable country of all, the UAE? Well, though residents are no doubt warily eyeing Oman, the prospect of trouble here remains very distant. For a start, there are (relatively) not many nationals, and where there are they are often well looked after. That doesn’t mean that there is no risk at all, but leaders here are keen to reassure residents that they have their interests very much at heart. Just last week Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, paid a visit to the Northern Emirates, where he “got a first-hand experience of the nationals’ needs and infrastructure projects currently being implemented,” says WAM. He undertook the tour under the instructions of President Khalifa, who says the needs of citizens are the highest priority of government.
Speaking of which, today it was announced that a new fund will provide the financial resources necessary “to support programmes and policies for encouraging UAE citizens to join the job market and make most of job opportunities available in both the public and private sectors.” As we say, the prospect of unrest is very distant; no doubt this redoubled effort to serve the people can only make it less likely still.
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