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The authorities took a relaxed attitude, though, which may have been the spur to larger protests. Early in February, a number main oman daily om teachers staged a protest against higher pension contributions and for larger allowances for water, electricity and housing, as well as for the introduction of performance-related pay and more main oman daily om promotions.

The protest soon spread, organized through text messaging in particular, leading to the closure of large numbers of schools across the country. This led, on February 8, to the first of a series of so-called Green Marches.

This compares with Facebook penetration rates of 26 percent in Bahrain, While these early protests were important, they were in no way unprecedented in Oman.

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For example, in main oman daily om Augustaround qualified teachers had protested in front of the Ministry of Education in Ruwi, demanding jobs and complaining that Arabic-speaking expatriates were being hired before Omanis. The ministry, though, insisted that the Omani candidates were not "up to the mark as reflected in their entrance test results.

On February 18, the second Green March, organized online, took place in the middle of Muscat, again protesting outside key ministries but attracting fewer than demonstrators.

In conversations about this phenomenon in AugustOmanis, including both old friends and main oman daily om acquaintances, expressed universal acclaim for the sultan's handling of the protests and took care to stress that those who had turned violent had gone too far.

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main oman daily om A common theme in these conversations was that corrupt merchants and senior ministers had clearly pulled the wool over the sultan's eyes and were taking advantage of him for their own personal aims.

The fact that the protests escalated and became more violent from the end of February, though, indicated that there were some who were clearly dissatisfied with the government, although the sheer diversity and volume of grievances being expressed could at times seem overwhelming.

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On February 23, after the submission of the petition to the sultan, it seemed as if the situation would begin to calm down; after all, the grievances had now been aired.

But at this point, the protests started to spread from Muscat. On February 25, they reached Dhofar in the south, with a group of young protesters staging a sit-in in front of the governor's office and issuing an appeal to Qaboos entitled the "call to good.

They were to become more serious than main oman daily om up to this point.

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By the evening of Saturday, February 26, violence had marred a demonstration calling for employment in the city, and there had been threatening scenes as a crowd approaching strong blockaded vehicles and shoppers at the town's Lu Lu hypermarket.

The following day, things quickly escalated out of control with the blocking of trucks trying to enter the port main oman daily om the looting and arson of the Lu Lu supermarket and neighbouring shops.

It seemed that the protesters were settling in for the long haul, based on the examples of Tahrir Square and the Pearl Roundabout in Manama. The protesters on February 27 also targeted the governor's office and a police station, setting fire to them and to a number of cars.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators gathered at main oman daily om Globe Roundabout, which protesters had named "Reform Square," leading to the death of at least one person.

There is a simmering resentment in Sohar, in particular, but also in Muscat and elsewhere about the role that Indians and Pakistanis play in the Omani economy.

Main oman daily om the average Omani, the perception is that, as one informant put it, "The Indians are everywhere; they control everything.

The rising cost of food and other essentials main oman daily om become divorced from globalization, oil prices and the wider economic climate and is increasingly associated with the idea of Indian profiteering, which, it is believed, the government has done nothing to control.

It shares with Bahrain the highest jobless rate among the six Gulf Cooperation Council states, approximately 15 percent.

The specific issue here is also partly related main oman daily om issues of education and training: In addition, the growing belief among employers that Omani workers are not committed to their jobs and are too protected by the government main oman daily om that attempts to fill positions with Omanis rather than expatriate workers, through so-called Omanization schemes, are often less than successful.

Initially demanding an end to violence in Sohar, this gathering would later generate some of the more politically advanced demands. The sit-in in Muscat would soon be mirrored by another large gathering in Sur and a number of other smaller towns around the country.


In all of these sit-ins, it was notable that the protesters had taken to aping the imagery of the square from Egypt but had cloaked it, not in terms of freedom or liberation, but of islah reform. It appeared that things had got out of hand in Sohar, while protests elsewhere remained calm and were only lightly main oman daily om.