Back to the shura elections the country held today, my Omani friends expressed amazement at how much campaigning was going on leading up to them. This seems to have stemmed from a desire of various Omani centers of power to increase turn-out, a desire found especially within the tribes which form the backbone of Omani social organization and can use the channels to the ruler. This campaigning has been followed by high turnout, especially among women. While intellectuals and pro-democracy activists may resent the council's insignificant role in formulating national policy, I suspect to the Omani people it represents an important channel for procuring services and what in the United States would be called pork barrel projects, all made possible by the country's oil wealth.
(Crossposted to American Footprints)