In 1996, the government published a 5-year plan aimed at balancing the budget in 2000. According to Countryaah data, the project also aimed to reduce oil dependency, and included further privatizations and stimulus for foreign investment.
That same year, the Sultan introduced new rules for appointing his successor. If, within 3 days of his death, the family was unable to agree on his successor, the candidate he had appointed himself should be appointed.
In January 1997, Oman became one of the first Arab countries to establish diplomatic and trade relations with the State of Israel. The month later, however, the approaches slowed as the Arab League questioned the building of new settlements in eastern Jerusalem.
In early 1998, Oman and the other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council discussed the possibility of unlinking their currencies with the dollar, in order to prevent future declines in oil sales revenues. The six Member States of the Council have 45% of the world’s known oil resources, but lose many millions of dollars annually due to the decline in its value against other currencies.
According to thesciencetutor, in May 1999, Oman and the United Arab Emirates signed an agreement defining their common border with Abu Dhabi. Both parties agreed that the exact border between Oman and the other Emirates must ultimately be determined.
After 18 years of standstill, the government began recruiting young people again to Oman’s army in Makram – an area that belonged to Oman until the late 1950s, but which today belongs to Pakistan. Oman had ceased its recruiting practice when it was attacked by Pakistani troops in 1982.
In March 2000, US President Bill Clinton visited the country, and Sultan Quabús took the opportunity to express support for the US declaration that the country intends to lift some of the sanctions on Iran.
The government granted amnesty to illegal immigrant workers in April 2001. The amnesty allowed illegal immigrants who were not charged with crime to leave the country after paying a $ 125 fine to the Department of Labor. According to the government, an improvement in the normal fine of US $ 25 per the day the residence permit has been exceeded.
In July, three Pakistanis were executed after illegally introducing drugs into the country. They were placed on an execution platoon and shot in prison in al-Manouwama – a district in Muscat.
In November 2002, Sultan Qabus decreed an extension of voting rights to all citizens over the age of 21. Until then, the voting rights had been reserved for a select group of local leaders, intellectuals and prominent business people – about a quarter of the $ 1.8 million. citizens who could be eligible to vote.
To reduce unemployment, the government tried to replace the foreign labor with local ones. It also decided that all government employees from 2003 should be from Oman. Official statistics are one quarter of the country’s foreigners.
Through the discovery of new oil sources and the application of modern extraction methods, the country expected to increase its daily oil production by 50,000 barrels. Otherwise, production would have been declining. To improve the economy, the government also sought to utilize other energy reserves such as gas.
In October 2003, the first elections were held in the country. The suffrage age was set at 21 years. The voters elected 83 members to the Consultative Assembly, including 2 women. In March, for the first time in the country’s history (30-year-old sheikh Aisha bin Khalfan bin Jameel al-Sayabiyah), a woman had been appointed minister. She was given responsibility for the Ministry of Crafts.
In May 2005, 31 people were sentenced to between 1 and 20 years in prison, accused of “conspiracy with a view to armed government overthrow”. However, those convicted were pardoned a month later.
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In July, the human rights activist and former member of the Consultative Assembly, Taiba al-Mawali, was sentenced to six months in prison for criticizing the authorities in articles published on the Internet. Another human rights activist, Abdula al-Reyami, was arrested for criticizing the lack of freedom in the Sultanate.