This past Sunday employees of one of Oman’s major companies took to the streets outside the headquarters of Oman Air in Muscat, not far from the Gulf state’s international airport in Oman’s capital city. This latest protest comes on the heels of several days of demonstrations in Oman demanding political reforms. Oman, together with Bahrain, the small island state in the Persian Gulf, have been the locales for the largest and most enduring outbursts of unrest in the Gulf states which is part of the general unrest transpiring in the Arab world since January 25th’s explosion in Tunisia and then in Egypt.
No Disruption in Flights
According to several witnesses about 100 employees at Oman Air joined together in the late morning hours to call for better working conditions. The national air carrier’s chief officer for corporate affairs, Philippe Georgiou stated that no flights were disrupted by the demonstration and that the airline is ready and willing to discuss issues with the protesters. Mr. Georgiou told the Associated Press that the demonstrators represented several corporate departments and they have a wide range of demands, one of which being higher compensation.
Mr. Georgiou said of the timing of the protest that, “The general environment is of people expressing their views … in the region.”
Watchful Eye on Oman
The other Gulf nations, especially Saudi Arabia, are keeping a wary watch on the unrest in their fellow regional states, especially Oman. Oman, along with Iran, shares the responsibility of controlling the crucial waterway through which 40% of the world’s oil tanker traffic passes, the Strait of Hormuz.
Oman Air services 41 destinations, mostly in the Middle East and India, with a few routes to Europe and Southeast Asia as well.
Protesters have come out to demonstrate throughout Oman, staging sit-ins and similar events, to call on the government to reform the economy and hold investigations into who is responsible for attacks on protesters. In response to the unrest, on Saturday Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman, fired three key government officials in what was the second installment of government shakeups in the same number of weeks.