UNCLAS MUSCAT 001218
DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PPD, NEA/P, IIP/G/NEA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: THREATS AGAINST FOREIGNERS; KING FAHD'S
Â¶1. (U) Summary: The Omani Internet message boards "al-Sablah"
and "al-Majarra" are the liveliest and most comprehensive Arabic-
language fora 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, these popular sites
nevertheless offer a worthwhile window into the hot topics and
unvarnished views of the day. This edition of Oman Online
contains the following topics:
-- Concerns about threats to foreigners
-- King Fahd's passing
Threats Against Foreigners in UAE
Â¶2. (U) On July 30, al-Sabla sported nearly 30 pages of postings
that condemned a website that allegedly warned all foreigners
living in the UAE to depart or face being targeted by terrorists.
Comments against the alleged threats, noted the immorality of
killing innocents and the negative impact on tourism.
Rest In Peace
Â¶3. (U) Completely overshadowed by Omantel chats (with most
participants following every change in the stock price of the
recently floated IPO), the death of King Fahd prompted remarkably
few expressions of sorrow. Compared to Omantel threads which
generated 11,000 hits and more than 200 comments, the death of
Fahd led to just two separate postings, with a total of eleven
Â¶4. (U) Remarks about the deceased monarch were respectful and
religious, with respondents praying for his soul's repose, asking
for God's mercy and compassion on Fahd's family and country. One
typical response: "May God grant you to rest in peace...I offer
my personal condolences to the royal family, his sons, and all
Saudis, as well as all Arabs and Muslims." Such commentary
prompted another participant to ask "are you Omani or Saudi?"
leading yet another respondent to comment that in death, "all
Muslims are the same, Saudi or Omani, and there is no
Â¶5. (SBU) Comment: The general response in Oman to Fahd's passing
has been muted. Although the government declared three days of
mourning and Sultan Qaboos himself led the funeral delegation,
many Omanis feel detached from Fahd's death. For example,
restaurants were unexpectedly still selling alcohol. As one
senior Omani official and keen observer of regional politics told
the DCM, "For Omanis, Fahd has been dead for the past five years.
What matters now is how King Abdallah attacks the enormous
challenges facing the kingdom; his success or failure will have
an big impact on Oman. The Saudis need to begin to pass power
vertically rather than horizontally."