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University of Puget Sound

Publication Date

Fall 2008

Program Name

Oman: Political Culture and Development


Is there a single, perfect, cure-all policy that a government can enact to achieve sustained development? This is a question international organizations and individual leaders ask themselves every day. There will always be ‘less-developed’ nations, this is a reality of having ‘developed’ nations, but there is no reason that humanity should allow there to be ‘under-developed’ nations, not when we have at hand the tools and knowledge to enact immediate, sweeping changes now. However, because different people, different groups feel that their idea or proposal is of the utmost importance, that change is often never realized. Often, too much value is placed on sweeping economic policy and wide scale market reorganization as opposed to fundamental human centered change. Funds are squandered, failures encountered and hopes lost. There is no magic bullet for development, this much has been clear from the start. The road to development is long and hard, much harder for some, and the influences of domestic policy and international hurdles all combine for a complicated question with an equally convoluted answer. But in every nation there are some preconditions for lasting change and persistent growth that are simple to achieve, require very little cultural change to enact and are embraced the world over as having immediate and effective results.

The importance of educating women and providing basic healthcare for all citizens have long been touted as necessary steps on the road to development; additionally, reducing family size is often a keystone of policy both governments and of non-governmental organizations. However, the changes taking place in Oman have been much more a result of that increased access to education for women and universal healthcare than of the provision of contraceptives. Thus, to observe the development track that the Sultanate of Oman has taken and the remarkable results that have been achieved in only a few generations, it is encouraging when considering the possibilities for development policy outside of Oman. The availability of contraceptives alone would not induce the widespread transformations that are occurring in the Sultanate; rather it is the dramatic change in the social perspective on family size that has led to the success of the birth spacing programs. To consider this in a broader perspective then, one can find many applications to development programs all over the world. The most important of the lessons to be learned from the progress of Oman is that family planning programs alone cannot be successful without the social impetus for change that comes when families realize that their children will all live to survive past the age of five, and parents, especially mothers, come to value education for their children as a result of their own education, and that it is policy like this, as opposed to market focused policy, that creates the sustained progress that Oman is currently experiencing.


Economics | Growth and Development | Maternal and Child Health | Women's Studies


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