March 2016 Report

New Royal Decrees

March was a busy month on Qanoon.om as His Majesty issued 10 royal decrees. The subjects of these royal decrees can be summarised as follows:

New Laws and Amendments
Two new laws were issues this month: Land Transportation Law and the Takaful Insurance Law. Also one law was amended: the Automobile Insurance Law.

Ratifications of International Instruments
Oman ratified two treaties this month: the first is the International Convention on the Harmonized System, and the second is the Agreement between the Government of the Sultanate Of Oman and the Government of the United States of America on Science and Technology Cooperation.

Official Appointments
The term of the Omani ambassador to Malaysia  ended and he was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His Majesty also appointed a new judge in the Supreme Court.

Projects
Public benefit status was granted to the third phase of the railway project in Fahood and Duqman oil concession agreement with Hydrocarbon Finder E&P over area no 7 was ratified, and the transfer of the concession rights over area no 15 to Odin Energi and Hydrocarbon Finder E&P was also ratified.

Website progress update

Currently there are 4,056 royal decrees available on Qanoon.om. In December only 13 of these royal decrees were available in full text and Word document format, this number increased to 129 royal decrees in January, to 235 in February, and to 385 in March. This number does not include very recent royal decrees which are available in partial text and PDF.

Open Data and Legislation in Oman

Happy Open Data Day! On this day we are grateful at Qanoon.om for the fact that the laws in Oman are open and available to the public to read, download, and use for any purpose free of charge and without any copyright protection restrictions. Our website would not have been possible if these were not core attributes of legislation documents. The Ministry of Legal Affairs has also made our job easier by making sure that all the latest royal decrees are published on its website as soon as the Official Gazette gets released, so that we do not have to go in person to ask for a physical copy of the Gazette and then manually scan them ourselves. Many of us take these things for granted, but in some countries laws are protected by copyright law, and in many countries in our region the government does not do a good job at publishing the laws online (see Report on Open Data in the Arab World).

The Omani government could gain a lot of benefits if it released more data to the public in an open manner as this can help improve government efficiency, empower citizens, and create business opportunities. Even in the area of law there is a lot that needs to be done. For example, Oman does not have a public database where court decisions can be accessed. This makes it very difficult for us to understand how laws are implemented in practice and the extent to which the judiciary correctly upholds the law.

When it comes to legislation, the government can do more to help make its data more open. First of all, the laws are published as PDF files which makes them extremely difficult to process. You cannot copy and paste text from these files, cannot easily search within these files, and cannot translate them using Google Translate. If the laws are released in a ‘machine-readable’ format, i.e. something like HTML or text, their utility to the public would increase immensely. Similarly, the laws are only available for download individually only and it can take an unreasonable amount of time to download them all. A feature to download such files ‘in bulk’ would be very helpful for power users who need to download all the legislations in one go.

Legislation is not commonly thought of as ‘data’, but it definitely is and having it more ‘open’ is surely something we would love to see.

 

February 2016 Report

New Royal Decrees

His Majesty issued 3 royal decrees this past February. The first was to appoint Dr Moosa Jaffar Hassan as an advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the second was grant public benefit status to the site of Historic Salloot Fort Site in Bahla, and the third was to grant Omani national to new citizens.

Website progress update

Currently there are 4,046 royal decrees available on Qanoon.om. In December only 13 of these royal decrees were available in full text and Word document format, this number increased to 129 royal decrees in January, and to 235 in February. This number does not include very recent royal decrees which are available in partial text and PDF.

January 2016 Update

New royal decrees
His Majesty issued 6 royal decrees this past January. Besides the expected annual budget royal decree, which comes one the first of January every year, and the five-year plan royal decree, which comes one the first of January every five years, no significant royal decrees were issued from a purely legislative point of view. Two royal decrees were issued to grant public benefit status to a park in Nizwa and an area in Duqm to be added to the Duqm Special Economic Zone, a royal decree replaced two members of the State Council, and the last one granted the Omani nationality to new people.

Website progress update
The majority of the royal decrees on Qanoon.om are available only as scanned PDF files, we realise that this is not very useful if you do not know the title or number of the royal decree you are looking for or if you are trying to do a general research about a specific person or topic. It is our number one priority at the moment to solve this problem by converting our PDFs to a text format that allows content search, that can be read directly on our website, and that can be downloaded in PDF as well as Word document format.

Currently there are 4,043 royal decrees available on Qanoon.om (i.e. every single royal decree issued from 1974 onwards). In December only 13 of these royal decrees were available in full text and Word document format, this number increased to 129 royal decrees in January. This number does not include very recent royal decrees which are available in partial text and PDF.

We have been testing our workflow for converting PDF royal decrees into text format and uploading them in a systematic and efficient manner, and our pace will only become faster and faster in upcoming months.

We cannot wait to make our whole collection searchable in text format and we are certain that this will transform the way you access law in Oman.

Royal Decrees of 2015 – The Year in Review

His Majesty issues royal decrees for a variety of purposes. Some royal decrees pass new laws, some establish new government entities and embassies, some appoint new senior government officials, while others ratify international agreements that Oman decides to join. As 2015 comes to a close, we take a look at the most important royal decrees issued this year.

His Majesty issued 51 royal decrees in 2015. This is the smallest number of royal decrees issued in a single year since 1973 in which only 46 royal decrees were issued. The graph below shows how 2015 compares with the previous 10 years.

The low number of royal decrees could be seen as part of the natural decline for the need to issue new royal decrees as the Omani legal system becomes mature and the government structuring becomes stable. It could also be attributed to the fact that His Majesty spent a big portion of the year abroad for medical reasons and the fact that Oman is going through an economic downturn. These two reasons should not be take too seriously because some royal decrees were issued while His Majesty was abroad for medical reasons and not all royal decrees involve financial matters or affect the budget.

Laws
The most important function of royal decrees is to pass new laws or amend existing ones. The most talked about law of 2015 was definitely the law regulating the responsibility of government employees and members of elected and appointed councils. The scope of the liability expanded for government employees, but what is more significant is that this liability now extends to members of elected and appointed councils as well as employees of government owned companies. Other significant legal developments include the amendment of the law of the classification of government documents and the regulation of protected spaces, the passing of the new law regulating the pharmaceutical profession, and the adoption of the GCC law on anti-dumping.

Treaties
Royal decrees are needed to ratify international agreements that Oman signs with other countries. Such agreements become legally binding and part of the domestic law upon their ratification. In 2015 Oman ratified 9 international agreements. The most important of these is probably the agreement between Oman and Iran on the delimitation of the maritime boundaries between the two countries. Even though the current practice of the Official Gazette is to publish treaties ratified by royal decrees, this one appears to be confidential and has not been published. Other significant ratifications include the ratification of the GCC electric grid interconnection agreement, which aims to support electricity demands across the region and create a framework for trading electricity between the countries, the avoidance of double taxation agreements with Portugal and Switzerland, and the ratification of the Arab Agreement for Combating Cybercrime and the Arab Agreement for Combating Organised Trans-Border Crimes.

Government Administration
Creation of new government entities, merging them and abolishing any of them can only be done by royal decree. Only one new government entity was created in 2015: Oman’s Centre for Governance and Sustainability, a spin-off from the Capital Market Authority that aims at promoting the proper governance of public companies. Two government entities were also restructured this year by reconfiguring their internal departments, namely, the Ministry of Information and Muscat Municipality.

Official Appointments
Senior government officials are appointed by His Majesty through royal decrees. Even though there was no change in the membership of the council of ministers this year, there were still some important appointments such as the appointment of new members of the Tender Board, the appointment of an undersecretary to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the appointment of new CEOs for the Public Authority for Mining and the Oman Medical Specialty Board, and last and definitely not least, the appointment of the members of the State Council – the upper house of the Council of Oman.

These were the main highlights of 2015, but there are other royal decrees that were issued on numerous other subjects such as issuing the budget, appropriating property, approving concessions and much more. You can browse all the royal decrees that were issued in 2015 in Arabic on the main section of Qanoon.om.

إضافة اختصار للموقع على الشاشة الرئيسية للأندرويد

يمكنكم الوصول إلى موقع Qanoon.om من خلال اختصار على الشاشة الرئيسية للأندرويد لتمكينكم من البحث بسرعة عن المراسيم السلطانية دون الحاجة إلى كتابة عنوان الموقع كل مرة. يمكن إنشاء الاختصار بتتبع الخطوات الآتية:

الخطوة ١
افتح تطبيق Internet لتصفح الإنترنت وزر موقع http://www.qanoon.om .

الخطوة ٢
بعد تحميل الصفحة بكاملها، اسحب الصفحة للأعلى لإظهار الشريط ثم اضغط على زر “الخيارات“.

الخطوة ٣
اختر “إضافة الاختصار على الشاشة الرئيسية”.

android_step2

يمكنك الآن العودة إلى الشاشة الرئيسية لإيجاد الإختصار إلى الموقع كما هو مبين في الصورة.

Final Step

إضافة اختصار للموقع على الشاشة الرئيسية للآيفون

يمكنكم الوصول إلى موقع Qanoon.om من خلال اختصار على الشاشة الرئيسية للآيفون لتمكينكم من البحث بسرعة عن المراسيم السلطانية دون الحاجة إلى كتابة عنوان الموقع كل مرة. يمكن إنشاء الاختصار بتتبع الخطوات الآتية:

الخطوة ١
افتح تطبيق Safari لتصفح الإنترنت وزر موقع http://www.qanoon.om . يمكن عمل الاختصار فقط من خلال المتصفح سفاري ويتعذر عمل ذلك من خلال أي تطبيق آخر لتصفح الانترنت.

الخطوة ٢
بعد تحميل الصفحة بكاملها، اضغط على زر “المشاركة“.

الخطوة ٢

الخطوة ٣
اختر “إضافة إلى الصفحة الرئيسية”.

الخطوة ٣

الخطوة ٤
اختر “إضافة“.

الخطوة ٤

سوف ينتقل الهاتف إلى الشاشة الرئيسية لإضافة اختصار إلى الموقع كما هو مبين في الصورة.

الخطوة ٥

Adding a home screen shortcut to Qanoon.om on your iPhone

To have quick access to Qanoon.om on your iPhone you can create an app-like home screen shortcut on your iPhone so that you do not have to type the URL or go through your bookmarks to find the royal decrees you need. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do this:

STEP 1
Launch Safari on your iPhone and go to http://www.qanoon.om/ . You must use Safari if you want to create home screen shortcuts on the iPhone, because other browsers, such as Chrome, cannot do this.

STEP 2
After the page fully loads, touch on the “Share” button on bottom of the screen.

Step 1

STEP 3
Select Add to Home Screen.

Step 2

STEP 4
Select Add.
Step 3

This should take you back to your home screen with Qanoon.om logo on an app-like shortcut, enjoy!

Step 5

Qanoon.om Launched!

We are pleased to announce the launch of Qanoon.om! The objective of our new website is to create an online resource for accessing all Omani legislation easily and quickly.

Qanoon.om makes available for download all royal decrees issued from the year 1974 onwards in PDF format. Users of the website can browse royal decrees through our annual archives or by searching for a royal decree by name or by number.

We are currently working on creating the text version of all these royal decrees in order to allow the users of the website find royal decrees they are looking for by searching for words mentioned in the body of the text. Some of the royal decrees issued in the year 2015 are already available in full or partial text and we will gradually add the full text for more years as we go.

We plan on publishing ministerial decisions on the website after we finish converting royal decrees from PDF format to text.

If you have any questions or suggestions on how to improve Qanoon.om feel free to share your comments below or tweet us at @Qanoon.om.