Assess and triage (resilience phase)

Oman has suffered 165 deaths per million inhabitants, ranking it the 36th hardest hit country out of 150 countries recorded in the world as of 27 July.2

Continued monitoring:3,4

  • Though Oman is gradually reopening, its businesses are still subject to strict checks and controls as a result of the pandemic.
  • Cargo terminals in airports still run temperature checks on employees in isolated areas before the start of the working day and have rearranged offices to facilitate social distancing.
  • Masks and gloves are still the norm even in offices, as is regular sanitization of commercial vehicles and facilities.
  • Gyms and similar facilities are operating at 50% capacity with distanced equipment and regular disinfection of equipment and changing facilities.

Stabilize and emerge (recovery phase)

Unlocking the lockdown:5

  • Oman has lifted its lockdown as the country gradually eases its coronavirus restrictions.
  • Dhofar province however has been excluded from the decision and will remain under lockdown until further notice.

Travel and tourism:6

  • Tourism activity in the Sultanate will resume in conjunction with measures taken to ease restrictions on many economic activities
  • Omran Group, the executive government arm for the development of the tourism sector in the Sultanate, has launched a new version of its tourism campaign in Oman, aimed at stimulating local tourism by encouraging citizens and residents to reside in hotel assets and resorts of the group
  • The government has approved the opening of air traffic for international flights starting from October 1, 2020, “provided that the flights are scheduled according to the health data for specific destinations”

Back to school:7

  • Schools in Oman could reopen to as low as just 16 students per classroom, according to plans devised by the Ministry of Education.
  • Once schools reopen, lessons will be taught to students in a blended format, which will combine online learning with physical teaching in the classroom. With the aim being to achieve a physical distance of 1.5 metres between students, all core academic subjects will be taught in the classroom, while other subjects can be taught remotely.

Adapt and rethink (new reality)

“Omanuna” refresh:8, 2

  • The government is releasing a new version of its official eGovernment services portal.
  • The new version is intended to be more user-friendly, giving easy access to government services online, as well as open access to government data for APIs and government-sponsored mobile apps.
  • Oman is currently in 50th global position in e-government in the UN index

National space programme:9

  • As part of its efforts to diversify its economy and promote research and innovation in the country, Oman plans to set up a national space programme, which will be complemented by space research and technology initiatives.
  • The plan includes setting up the national space programme, supporting programmes for developing uses and applications of space science and technology, establishing infrastructure for the development and manufacturing of space systems and satellites, and transferring and adopting advanced technology in the information technology industry.

Prolonged digitization of government services – drivers’ license renewal:10

  • As a result of the pandemic, many services previously offered only in specific service centres have moved online and many are set to stay that way now that citizens have become accustomed to ‘self-service’ as their default format.
  • In July, Royal Oman Police (ROP) announced that citizens and expatriates will be able to renew their expired driver’s license online on the ROP website and smartphone application.
  • In doing so, drivers will provide the result of eye examination electronically via their mobile phone’s camera.
  • All is not completely digital, however: the renewed driver’s license can be collected from the nearest ROP services centre in various governorates.

Government restructure:11,12

  • Much like the UAE (covered in a previous edition of this newsletter), Oman has taken advantage of the pandemic as an opportunity to restructure its government.
  • In August, royal decrees were issued leading to significant changes to the cabinet.
  • There will be a much smaller number of ministers and ministries. The former heritage and culture ministry has been separated into a new culture, sports, and youth ministry and a newly combined heritage and tourism ministry.
  • For the first time in Oman’s history, an economist has been appointed to run the Ministry of Economy, and academics or other specialists from the private sector have been appointed in their field such as the Undersecretary for Information Technology, the Minister of Transport or the Minster of Housing and Urban Planning.