Viewing cable 05MUSCAT113
Title: OMAN ONLINE: AMENDING LAWS REGULATING FOREIGN WORKERS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT1132005-01-18 12:24:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS MUSCAT 000113 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARP (TROBERTS), NEA/PPD (CWHITTLESEY), NEA/P 
(FFINVER), IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: AMENDING LAWS REGULATING FOREIGN WORKERS 
AND FORCED ENTRY INTO PRIVATE HOMES 
 
 
¶1. Summary:  The Omani Internet chat room "Sablat al-Arab" -- or 
simply "Al-Sablah" -- is the liveliest and most comprehensive 
Arabic-language forum for political and social discourse in the 
country, touching on issues and personalities rarely addressed in 
the conventional media.  While not totally free, nor wholly 
reflective of Omani public opinion, Al-Sablah nevertheless offers 
a worthwhile window into the hot topics and unvarnished views of 
the day.  This edition of Oman Online contains the following 
topics: 
 
--- America demands that Gulf States amend laws relating to 
foreign workers 
--- Storming houses and arresting citizens 
 
End summary. 
 
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U.S. Criticism Spurs Public Outcry 
---------------------------------- 
 
¶2. Al-Sablah members reacted strongly to recent comments 
attributed to Catherine Novelli, Assistant U.S. Trade 
Representative for Europe & the Mediterranean, stating, "Oman and 
the UAE need to improve their laws concerning the expatriates 
residing within their borders, if they desire to continue with 
the Free Trade Agreements (FTA)."  Several al-Sablah participants 
wondered, "Why is she only focusing on the expatriates?  There 
are a lot of Omanis who suffer from the employment practices of 
private companies in Oman who exclude Omanis to hire cheaper 
expatriate labor.  Where is the outcry on behalf of Omanis, there 
are no laws protecting the Omani labor force either?  How can she 
make these accusations of Oman when the U.S. is no better at 
protecting foreign workers in its territories and has more human 
rights cases than Oman.  I am growing weary of this never ending 
American hypocrisy."  Others members commented, "Why do Americans 
continually interfere in the internal affairs of other countries? 
Our labor issues are of no concern to America.  Don't they see 
that Oman is doing the best it can to accommodate international 
employment law?"  Another participant wrote, "For Ms. Novelli to 
describe the expatriate employment law in Oman as `the worst 
internationally' is unfair and completely untrue!  However, we 
deserve this criticism because we have opened the door for the 
U.S. to meddle in our internal matters, by our willingness to 
cooperate with them." 
 
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Hauling in Imams 
---------------- 
 
¶3. Another topic discussed in al-Sablah recently refers to recent 
reports of police raids on the private homes of religious 
conservatives.  One Sablah member commented, "God help this 
country!  How can our society have dissolved so far as to allow 
these types of heinous acts to be perpetrated against our 
sheiks?"  Many participants speculated on the reasons for the 
raids suggesting, "The recent events are because the Omani 
special security forces that have discovered evidence of a 
terrorist cells in one of the interior regions."  Another member 
in opposition to this claim stated, "These actions have no basis 
in fact!  They found no contraband, no arms, no drugs, they found 
nothing!  The security forces just wanted to scare our bearded 
religious leaders."  A large number of participants opined, 
"These disgraceful acts only took place because of the Americans, 
and the pressure they are exerting over other countries, in their 
`war on terrorism'." 
 
BALTIMORE