On January 9, 2007, Omantel launched the Easy Learning Service to provide hundreds of electronic training courses in accounting, sales, marketing, and customer services.10 In February 2007 Omantel began offering sixty free hours of Internet access to new subscribers, describing the initiative as part of a larger plan to spread digital culture.11 The monarchy has also begun opening Oman’s telecommunications sector to private investors and competitors.In 2005, the government sold a 30 percent stake in Omantel to local investors.Although the government is generally protective of human rights, it has been criticized by international groups for restricting free speech and assembly.1 In early 2005, thirty-one Omanis were imprisoned for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government; all were granted royal pardons later that year.2 In July 2005, two Omani human rights activists were arrested for criticizing the government: Taiba al-Mawali was jailed for six months and Abdullah Al-Riyami, who accused the police of torturing prisoners, was detained incommunicado for a week.3 Oman’s communications infrastructure is well developed.4 Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel), the country’s sole Internet service provider (ISP), is owned by the government.
PDF Version Note: a newer version of this profile is available at Country Profiles: Oman.
Oman is a monarchy, with Sultan Qaboos bin Said exercising absolute power and the bicameral Majlis Oman (Council of Oman) acting in a mostly advisory position.
The move came shortly after the country’s second mobile-phone operator started operations, offering for the first time a choice to local consumers.
The government has also announced plans to offer licenses for fixed-line telecom services in competition with Omantel.12 On November 6, 1996, Sultan Qaboos bin Said issued the Basic Law of the State (“The White Book”), considered to be Oman’s first constitution.
Any abuse and misuse of the Internet Services through e-mail or news or by any other means shall result in the termination of the subscription and may result in the proceedings of Criminal or Civil lawsuits against the Customer.”20 To use the Internet, individuals, companies, and institutions are asked to sign an agreement not to publish anything that destabilizes the state; insults or criticizes the head of state or the royal family; questions trust in the justice of the government; creates hatred toward the government or any ethnicity or religion; promotes religious extremism, pornography, or violence; promotes any religious or political system that contradicts the state's system; or insults other states.