Viewing cable 05MUSCAT567
Title: OMAN ONLINE: SEEKING JOBS AND DEFENDING ARRESTEES

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT5672005-04-06 13:43:00 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 000567 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI (TROBERTS), NEA/PPD (CWHITTLESEY), NEA/P 
(FFINVER), IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO OEXC OIIP SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: SEEKING JOBS AND DEFENDING ARRESTEES 
 
 
¶1. Summary:  The Omani Internet chat rooms "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: 
 
-- Privatizing the electric company 
-- Arrestees seek legal representation 
 
End summary. 
 
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Privatization Hurts Some 
------------------------ 
 
¶2. An al-Sablah subscriber introduced a discussion on the Omani 
government's decision to privatize electricity.  He wrote, "I am 
sure there are noble goals behind the royal decree that called 
for the privatization of the Ministry of Electricity (MOE). 
However, the results are the opposite."  He continued, "Some say 
privatization will increase job opportunities for Omanis in the 
private sector, allow for greater competition, and reduce the 
administrative and budgetary burden on the government.  However, 
that is not what is happening.  Many Omani employees of the MOE 
are being displaced or fired outright.  They are not being 
absorbed by private electric companies."  Another al-Sablah 
participant speculated, "The government had hoped to move the MOE 
employees into the Ministry of Housing, but this proved 
impractical."  Another subscriber stated, "The government is 
simply trying to reduce its own financial burden by shifting it 
to the backs of the people." 
 
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Detainees Have Rights 
--------------------- 
 
¶3. Al-Sablah members continue to discuss the recent arrests of 
persons suspected of belonging to "an illegal organization." 
Many participants called upon the government to allow the 
families and friends of the detainees to visit them.  One member 
stated, "I heard that the Attorney General refused to allow the 
detainees to meet with their families.  This is unfair."  Another 
subscriber commented, "The detainees are Omanis, and they deserve 
to be treated fairly.  They are entitled to legal representation 
and they must receive treatment that meets human rights 
standards."  Another member wrote, "I understand the families are 
seeking legal representation for the detainees, but they cannot 
afford the outrageous 3000 Omani riyal (ca. USD 7770) retainers 
that lawyers are demanding." 
 
BALTIMORE