One woman to represent all women in Oman Shura Council

Friday 23/10/2015
Election of well-qualified candidates reflects good degree of responsibility

MUSCAT – The number of Omani voters with activated electoral cards stood at 611,906. They chose from 590 candidates who were vying for 85 seats in the Majlis Al Shura, according to the Ministry of Interior.

The Organising Committee of the Shura election reported a huge turnout nationwide. Sixty-four per cent of voters were under the age of 45.

Only one woman was elected to the council in the nationwide vote on Sunday. All Omanis over the age of 21 were allowed to participate in.

Nemah bint Jamiel bin Farhan Al Busaidiya was re-elected to represent Muscat’s Seeb district for another four years.

She was also the only woman elected to the previous council. She will represent Seeb along with a male council member Hilal bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sarmi.

Districts with more than 30,000 residents have two representatives, while those with less have one.

The election saw 590 candidates, including 20 women, compete for the council’s 85 seats.

In 2011, there were 1,133 candidates, including 77 women, taking part in the election.

Aisha Kharusi, a women’s rights advocate based in Muscat, said the low female representation on the new council was “disappointing”. The new council members would hopefully be “progressive in their decision-making”, she added.

Omani social commentator Younis Al Harrasi said that a number of young and well-educated candidates were elected.

“Generally, the election of many new young and well-qualified faces and re-election of good performing previous members, reflects a good degree of responsibility and awareness among many voters as well as their aspirations for a more effective role to be played by the council,” he said.

Similar to its Gulf Cooperation Council partners, Oman faces the challenges of lower government revenues after the fall in oil prices and large numbers of job-seeking youth. The last shura council attempted to make Omanisation and job creation a priority.

The council was founded in 1991 as an advisory body for Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said. Following Arab Spring-inspired unrest in 2011, Sultan Qaboos granted the council powers to revise and propose laws and call government ministers for questioning, along with electing its own chairman.