Viewing cable 05MUSCAT149
Title: OMAN ONLINE: DOLLARS AND DISTORTIONS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT1492005-01-26 13:14:00 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 000149 
 
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: DOLLARS AND DISTORTIONS 
 
 
¶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: 
 
-- Decoupling the Omani rial from the dollar 
-- Bad press from arrests 
 
End summary. 
 
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Decoupling from the Dollar 
-------------------------- 
 
¶2. Al-Sablah members have repeatedly called upon the government 
to decouple the Omani rial from the U.S. dollar.  Participants 
argue that the rial is negatively impacted by the decreased value 
of the dollar.  One Al-Sablah subscriber wrote, "The value of our 
rial is being dragged down in world security markets because of 
the weak American dollar."  Many participants urged the 
government to peg the rial to the Euro or link it to a basket of 
currencies to protect its buying power.  Another member stated, 
"Although linking the rial to the dollar made sense in the 1980's 
when oil prices were low, it does not make sense now.  The 
government should take the bold step of separating our currency 
from the dollar."  Other participants demanded that the 
government justify any decision to keep the rial pegged to the 
dollar.  One stated, "The falling U.S. dollar will cause an 
economic crisis in Oman.  What will the Minister of National 
Economy do to prevent this?"  Another participant provided an 
explanation of why the rial is pegged to the dollar, "We should 
note that the rial is linked to the dollar because most oil 
exports are sold in dollars.  This is an important point to keep 
in mind." 
 
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Accusations of Abuse 
-------------------- 
 
¶3. The broadcast media ran several reports on the arrest of local 
religious leaders and police raids on their homes.  The Paris- 
based Arab Committee for Human Rights also issued a statement 
describing the incidents.  Al-Sablah members commented, "Why 
would organizations like the Arab Committee for Human Rights care 
about these Omanis when hundreds of our brothers in Palestine and 
Iraq are suffering?" Several participants expressed sadness that 
negative stories about Oman are finding their way into the media. 
"After a long period of being ignored by the international media, 
there is now one bad story about Oman after another.  When it 
comes to Oman, the media only seems interested in stories about 
bans on journalists or human rights abuses."  One participant 
wrote, "It seems the world has only now become aware that there 
are human rights violations in this country.  If high profile 
scholars had been the victims of human rights violations earlier, 
perhaps the world would have seen the problem years ago." 
Another member stated, "The government should act quickly to 
explain the reason for its actions to restore public confidence." 
 
BALTIMORE