Browse the listing below to find government information for Oman, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Oman at its
Oman Country Page.
Constitution: On November 6, 1996, Sultan Qaboos issued a royal decree promulgating the Basic Law which, clarifies the royal succession, provides for a prime minister, bars ministers from holding interests in companies doing business with the government, establishes a bicameral legislature, and guarantees basic civil liberties for Omani citizens.
Branches: Executive--Sultan. Legislative--Majlis Al-Shura (Consultative Council). Judicial--Magistrate courts handle criminal cases; Shari'a (Islamic law) courts oversee family law.
Political parties: None.
Administrative subdivisions: Eight administrative regions--Muscat, Al Batinah, Musandam, A'Dhahirah, A'Dakhliya, A'Shariqiya, Al Wusta, Dhofar Governorate. There are 59 districts (wilayats).
Government of Oman
Sultan Qaboos bin Sa'id rules with the aid of his ministers. His dynasty, the Al Sa'id, was founded about 250 years ago by Imam Ahmed bin Sa'id. The sultan is a direct descendant of the l9th century ruler, Sa'id bin Sultan, who first opened relations with the United States in 1833. The Sultanate has neither political parties nor legislature, although the bicameral representative bodies provide the government with advice.
Oman's judicial system traditionally has been based on the Shari'a--the Koranic laws and the oral teachings of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. Traditionally, Shari'a courts fell under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, Awqaf, and Islamic Affairs. Oman's first criminal code was not enacted until 1974. The current structure of the criminal court system was established in 1984 and consists of a magistrate court in the capital and four additional magistrate courts in Sohar, Sur, Salalah, and Nizwa. In the less-populated areas and among the nomadic bedouin, tribal custom often is the law.
Recent royal decrees have placed the entire court system--magistrates, commercial, shari'a and civil courts--under the control of the Ministry of Justice. An independent Office of the Public Prosecutor also has been created (formerly a part of the Royal Oman Police), and a supreme court is under formation. Regional court complexes are envisioned to house the various courts, including the courts of first instance for criminal cases and Shariah cases (family law and inheritance).
Administratively, the populated regions are divided into 59 districts (wilayats), presided over by governors (walis) responsible for settling local disputes, collecting taxes, and maintaining peace. Most wilayats are small; an exception is the wilayat of Dhofar, which comprises the whole province. The wali of Dhofar is an important government figure, holding cabinet rank, while other walis operate under the guidance of the Ministry of Interior.
In November 1991, Sultan Qaboos established the Majlis al--Shura (Consultative Council), which replaced the 10-year-old State Consultative Council, in an effort to systematize and broaden public participation in government. Representatives were chosen in the following manner: Local caucuses in each of the 59 districts sent forward the names of three nominees, whose credentials were reviewed by a cabinet committee. These names were then forwarded to the Sultan, who made the final selection. The Consultative Council serves as a conduit of information between the people and the government ministries. It is empowered to review drafts of economic and social legislation prepared by service ministries, such as communications and housing, and to provide recommendations. Service ministers also may be summoned before the Majlis to respond to representatives' questions. It has no authority in the areas of foreign affairs, defense, security, and finances.
Although Oman enjoys a high degree of internal stability, regional tensions in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf war and the Iran-Iraq war continue to necessitate large defense expenditures. In 2001, Oman budgeted $2.4 billion for defense--about 33% of its GDP. Oman maintains a small but professional and effective military, supplied mainly with British equipment in addition to items from the United States, France, and other countries. British officers, on loan or on contract to the Sultanate, help staff the armed forces, although a program of "Omanization" has steadily increased the proportion of Omani officers over the past several years.
After North and South Yemen merged in May 1990, Oman settled its border disputes with the new Republic of Yemen on October 1, 1992. The two neighbors have cooperative bilateral relations. Oman's borders with all neighbors are demarcated.