Laws of Associations
The Basic Law of the Sultanate of Oman provides for freedom of opinion within the limits of the law. Citizens have the freedom to form associations on a national basis for legitimate objectives and in a proper manner that does not conflict with the stipulations of the Basic Law. It is forbidden to establish associations whose activities are inimical to social order, or are secret, or are of a military nature.
Oman has no legalized political parties. In order to obtain public participation in government, the Sultan travels annually with his top ministers from place to place within the country. During the tours, the Sultan meets in public meetings (majlis) with citizens and listens to their personal requests and grievances.
Associations and Unions
Oman has a Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which has a modest online presence. Royal Decree 74/2006 legalized trade unions as of July 8, 2006, and authorized the Minister of Manpower to prepare regulations concerning collective bargaining, working conditions, peaceful strikes, and shut downs.
Media and Government Regulations
The 1984 Press and Publication Law enables the government to censor publications if they are politically, culturally, or sexually offensive. The state also owns and controls local radio and television companies. The Ministry of Information operates Oman’s TV and Radio. Private radio or television broadcasting is not allowed but satellite dishes are permitted.
Omani law prohibits individuals or the media from criticizing the Sultan. The Government controls the local radio and television companies and does not allow the establishment of privately owned radio and television companies. Omani media do not air any politically controversial material. However, the availability of satellite dishes has made foreign broadcast information accessible to the public. The Government, through its telecommunications company provides full, uncensored Internet access to citizens and foreign residents.
Since 1997, the Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) is the official Internet Service Provider (ISP) for Oman. The Minister of Transport and Telecommunications is the chairman of the board of Omantel. As the sole ISP for Oman, Omantel effectively controls access to foreign sites and can censor local sites.