Tuesday marked the fourth day of protests in the northern port city of Sohar in Oman. According to witnesses, about 200 to 300 people were on the road demanding jobs and political reforms when the army began shooting in the air. “Many people ran,” said one protester who asked not to be mentioned by name. “The man who was shot came to calm down the army.”
The shots fired caused the crowd to begin to disperse, but they soon reformed at a traffic circle near the port, and the troops pulled back.
On Monday the demonstrators successfully blocked the entrance to Sohar port, disrupting the export of the country’s life blood, oil. On average Oman sends 160,000 barrels a day out of the country.
Protests also spread to the capital city of Muscat on Monday. The demonstrations are a rare event in what is usually considered a ‘sleepy sultanate.’ Sultan Qaboos bin Said has ruled the country for over 40 years, and is surprised by the fervor he is witnessing in what is otherwise a stable society.
The sultan is acting to calm the tensions in his country, which erupted on the general wave of protests which are sweeping through the Middle East. On Sunday the sultan offered to create 50,000 jobs and offered unemployment benefits to workers out of jobs of 239 pounds/month. He has also said that he will investigate ways to give more power to the quasi-parliamentary advisory council.