The Voice of Oman: Hasan al Lawati on why we should lay waste to ‘wasta’

20 Jul 2017
POSTED BY Alvin Thomas

Would you take advantage of your friendship with a government official to jump the queue and get your papers completed in a shorter time?

Apparently, 45 per cent of Twitter users in Oman have openly admitted to doing so, a poll released by the State Audit reveals.

It’s difficult to clarify the public’s attitude towards this form of corruption, since only 4,739 people took part in the poll, but the results were quite depressing.

However, this poll must serve as a reality check for Oman. Instead of being pessimistic about the results, I see it as a warning sign; a call for change.

Our nation must start seeing “wasta”(influence) as a taboo, not a privilege. Playing this card should be frowned upon and condemned by those in high places all the way down to the man in the street.

While corruption is a hot topic in many countries, it’s one that is embraced by many Omanis, and the poll just proves how much work is needed to be done to overcome what I like to call “the wasta syndrome”.

A friend once told me that corruption starts in school cafeterias, and as long as we, the common people, don’t take a stand against such behaviour, especially with our kids, we are facing a major obstacle in our country’s road to prosperity.

I dream of the day when merit will be the only criteria needed to employ someone, and I am confident that with the right plan, that day will come soon.

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