No.32 Power and Process: Decentralisation in Oman
Decentralisation has been a feature of Omani life since the early 1990s, yet while the Sultanate has been influenced by orthodox thinking around these processes its particular history, culture, circumstances, as well as its strongly centralised state have all meant that it has not simply followed this orthodox thinking. Instead, it has created a system of what this paper terms controlled-hybrid-decentralisation which manifests across four different areas within the state, and for two main purposes: efficiency and legitimacy. Both of which reinforce the power of the central state whilst maximising potential benefits from these processes. In this sense, the Omani experience of decentralisation is hybrid not only in the way it is deployed but it is also a mixture of technocratic and neo-liberal solutions combined with traditional elements of rule. It is ultimately designed to maintain the ruling bargain and uphold the power of the Omani state and dynastic system, thus being more concerned with processes and power than decentralisation itself.