We break down the best, the biggest, and the boldest of the last ten years.
With 2019 flying by in the blink of an eye, it’s time to bid our goodbyes to the decade that was.
Ten years filled with ups and downs, growth and uncertainties and, above all, reforms and strategies to keep the Sultanate’s solidarity in check while maintaining the upward momentum brought about by the grace of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.
The last ten years have been ones of ultimate growth for our nation and, ones of perseverance in the face of adversity; but – there’s been a lot to celebrate. From news of Oman opening its all-new state-of-the-art airport and designing a streamlined transportation system from the ground up, to implementing a sin tax and removing the subsidy on fuel, the last decade has brought forward more change than ever – some for instant good and, others, with a long-term vision in sight.
Yet one thing has remained constant: His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said promised us a better life here in the Sultanate – and the nation has delivered.
In this, our final cover story, we look at some of the greatest events and occurrences that have affected Oman over the last decade and recall those milestones that have changed the course of our nation and the lives of its people.
First edition of Tour of Oman kicks off
Oman laid witness to the first edition of the Tour of Oman in February. Little did they know that the stage-based annual professional bicycle race would turn out to become one of the nation’s most prestigious sporting titles, spanning a full decade at the time of publishing this article. With professional cyclists flying in from all around the globe to compete, the race has also witnessed some nail-biting finishes – especially in the inaugural race snagged by Swiss racer Fabian Cancellara.
Cyclone Phet lashes Oman
Only three years after Cyclone Gonu made dramatic landfall and changed the lives of those in the Sultanate, Cyclone Phet battered Oman through May and early June of 2010. A Category 4 cyclone, its intensity was lower than Gonu, it still managed to wreak across the eastern coast of the Sultanate.
Oman hosts Asian Beach Games 2010
If the Tour of Oman wasn’t enough, the Sultanate successfully hosted the Asian Beach Games – the largest event of its kind to be hosted in Oman – in 2010, which saw participants from 43 countries take part. The icing on the cake was host Oman snagging 12 medals in total, including five golds, one silver, and six bronze, to come third overall in the event.
Royal Opera House Muscat opened to the public
Marking the first institution of its kind in the Arabian Peninsula, the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) was opened to the public by none other than His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. The opera house, which is situated in Shatti al Qurum was built to reflect Omani architecture and showcase the best in the world of music, theatre, and opera. The structure still stands as one of Oman’s premier destinations with world-renowned artists and musicians visiting its stage every year.
Oman’s ‘The Wave, Muscat’ team wins 2012 Extreme Sailing Series
The sixth edition of the Extreme Sailing Series – and the second edition since the series went international – saw the crew from Oman’s ‘The Wave, Muscat’ winning the top spot. The sailing series, which began in Muscat and ended in Brazil, saw skipper Paul Campbell-James and his crew sailing past the finish line in the final Act with 76.5 points overall.
Al Amerat Cricket Stadium inaugurated
In a bid to improve cricket in the country, Oman Cricket – the official governing body for cricket in Oman – inaugurated the Al Amerat Cricket Stadium.
With the capacity to host international matches, the stadium became the foundation for cricket in the nation, and the Oman national team has moved from strength to strength in recent years.
BP undertakes billion-dollar gas project in Oman
In one of the largest projects of its kind, British Petroleum (BP) was awarded approval to develop a key shale gas project in Oman at a cost of US$16bn. The project laid the foundation for the Khazzan-Makarem gas field that began production in 2017.
ROP launches smartphone app
The Royal Oman Police (ROP) jumped on the tech bandwagon early in 2014 as it went on to launch its smartphone app, which was intended to make access to their services easier. The app is still online and has been tweaked to make access to payments of traffic fines and other services more simplified.
A voyage to remember
British quadriplegic sailor Hilary Lister and Omani Nashwa Al Kindi sailed into the record books aboard their 28-foot Dragonfly trimaran as they navigated an 850-nautical mile journey from Mumbai, India to Oman in just nine days. If that isn’t determination, we don’t know what is. The feat also made Nashwa the first Arab female sailor to complete a trans-oceanic sail.
Ahmad al Harthy makes history in the UK
Oman’s Ahmad al Harthy made his mark at the British GT Championship after he won the race at the Donnington Park Grand Prix Circuit. The emphatic win also made him the first racer with an Omani license to win the highly prestigious competition.
Nawras rebrands itself
The Ooredoo that we all know and love today, came to be in October of 2014 as Nawras rebranded itself to become part of the global telecom conglomerate that had (at the time) more than 95mn subscribers under its wing internationally.
His Majesty addresses National Day proceedings from Germany
The highlight of the year was a video address to the nation by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said who was, at the time, receiving medical treatment in Germany. In the video, which was released on November 5, 2014, His Majesty expressed his disappointment at missing the National Day celebrations at home in the Sultanate but reassured citizens about his health.
Prince Harry comes to town
Adding to what was already a happening year, Prince Harry – the Duke of Sussex – caused quite the stir when he was in town for three days, including Oman National Day on November 18, during which he made trips to the Nizwa Fort and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.
New runway opened for business
A fitting end to the year saw the northern runway at the Muscat International Airport take off for business, marking the first phase of its completion. The first plane, an Oman Air Airbus A330m, touched down safely on the tarmac, marking a new era for the Sultanate’s aviation industry.
His Majesty returns home
One of our favourite moments of 2015 is of the return home of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said after eight months of medical treatment in Germany. Social media lit up with the happy news and thousands of residents in the capital took to the streets to celebrate. From dancing and singing to impromptu parades and waving of the national flag, Oman breathed a collective sigh of relief in the knowledge that their beloved leader was finally home.
Oman deregulates fuel prices
As a part of reducing government spending, the Sultanate deregulated fuel prices of both petrol and diesel in the country. This brought costs in line with international prices, which are determined on a month-to-month basis. This also helped the nation cut its spending on subsidies.
Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre opens its doors
Elevating Oman’s position as a global business and tourist destination, the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre opened its doors wide to exhibitors across the globe in 2016. While this only included projects within phase one of the development, the iconic convention centre’s structure was only completed later in 2018.
F1 in Oman
That spring witnessed a lot of firsts for Oman. Firstly, F1 legend David Coulthard and Omani racer Ahmed al Harthy introduced Formula One to Oman, as thousands gathered around the Muttrah Corniche to witness the action live; also, airport taxis also began fitting electronic metres for the very first time.
Oman brings back the Gulf Cup
The Sultanate cheered on in pride as the Oman national football team brought back the Gulf Cup after nine years. The hair-raising final between Oman and the UAE witnessed the teams vie through the match and into extra time with a penalty shootout. The national team secured victory after Mohsin Al-Khaldi saw the back of the nets with a fiery heeler that sent Oman into a frenzy.
New Muscat International Airport Terminal opened to public
Bringing an end to the long wait, the new Muscat International Airport (MIA) was opened in March with a state-of-the-art and Omani-themed terminal. The new terminal made MIA the youngest airport in the region and helped raise the overall passenger capacity to 20mn per year. As per the Oman Airports website, the airport handled 14mn passengers and 114,000 flights in 2017. Earlier this year, the airport was also awarded the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East 2019’ award at the 26th edition of the World Travel Awards Middle East Gala Ceremony 2019.
Oman implements sin tax
A new ‘sin’ tax (a form of excise tax) was levied on a selection of products earlier this year. The tax – which affects the prices of alcohol, tobacco, energy drinks and soda, and pork products – is expected to bring the country anywhere between RO100mn and RO120mn in its first year.
Prince William visits the Sultanate
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his accompanying delegation concluded a three-day visit to the Sultanate. Prince William met with His Majesty the Sultan and state officials during his visit, before traveling to different Wilayats across Oman to meet and interact with local residents.