17 January 2011,
MUSCAT — Some 200 Omanis protested on Monday against high prices and corruption, a rare phenomenon in the Arab Gulf monarchy that seems to have been touched off by the revolt in Tunisia.
“Rising prices have destroyed the dreams of ordinary citizens,” read one banner carried by the crowd gathered outside the housing ministry, where police manned a security cordon but did not intervene.
The protesters, who appeared after they received emails and messages on their mobile telephones calling for the demonstration, chanted slogans against corruption and the high cost of living.
“No to corruption. No to corruption,” shouted the protesters who called for “higher wages” and “fixed prices” for basic food items, the cost of which have swelled since the global financial downturn.
The demonstration came after a popular revolt in Tunisia, sparked by the self-immolation of 26-year-old Tunisian graduate Mohammed Bouazizi in protest at police preventing him from selling fruit and vegetables to make a living.
The case of Bouazizi, who later died of his wounds, unleashed a wave of protests in Tunisia that eventually toppled the 23-year presidency of Zine El-Abidine Bin Ali.
Demonstrations are rare in the Sultanate of Oman, as in most other Gulf oil monarchies, where street protests are strictly prohibited and where trade unions and political parties are banned.