Protests are happening at the Majlis A Shura opposite the airport right now. Avoid if possible.
Muscat Daily, and by Dhofari Gucci of protests in both Salalah and Sohar. There has also been reports of protests in Sur, but I've not come across anything supporting this yet.
Yesterday, the ROP used tear gas to disperse the crowds at the Globe roundabout in Sohar (next to LuLu supermarket).
The purpose of this post is to help communicate information to people concerned about what is going on. Essentially the key facts so far are these:
- HM Sultan Qaboos has announced this evening : That the Majlis A Shura will have greater powers, The State Audit Institution will have it's role increased, 50,000 job opportunities are to be created by Government, and a monthly amount of RO 150 for registered job seekers with the Ministry of Manpower, the Public Prosecutor is to now be fully independent (Currently the PP reports to the head of the ROP), members from the Majlis will be appointed to State Audit to investigate how they can improve. Some members from the publicly elected Shura in the next session (election) will be selected to become Government ministers.
- Reports ranging from 1-4 people have died from "gunshot" wounds in Sohar.
- ROP (Royal Oman Police) have deployed tear gas and limited use of rubber bullets to try and disperse the crowds.
- The rubber bullets were deployed after protesters set fire to a gas truck near the ROP station.
- Protesters surrounded the ROP station in Sohar today to demand release of protesters arrested yesterday.
- New reports suggest the ROP station in Sohar and the Wali's house in Sohar have been burned down.
- Protesters are not calling for a regime change, just political reform, an increase in the minimum wage and more assistance with living costs.
- There have been reports of protests starting in Azaiba here in Muscat - but this has not been confirmed yet.
- There are reports of looting from the Lulu supermarket in Sohar.
- There is a small peaceful gathering outside the Majlis A Shura here in Muscat demanding that force not be used against the protesters in Sohar.
- Calls for protests here in Muscat and in Nizwa have been made for tomorrow, multiple locations mentioned in Muscat: The airport, Wizarat, Mawehlah.
- Expatriate staff working at the university are currently safe in their accommodation.
- 3 cars were burned in the attack against the Ministry of Manpower building in Sohar.
I'll update this with relevant news when I can, please feel free to share anything relevant in the comments section.
February 28th, 2011 Update:
- Reuters now reporting 6 people dead from protests in Sohar
- Protests continue in Sohar, with planned protests at the Sohar Port.
- Sohar's largest Private employer of Omani's was looted and burned - Lulu
- It has been identified that there are a core group of people who are causing the damage, most people are peacefully protesting
- Large numbers of people continue to arrive from the North (Shinas and, dare I say it, the UAE?)
- It has been suggested that there are Emiratie's involved in the protests
- The main highway in Sohar has been closed and there are traffic jams on the side streets and beach road in Sohar
- The British Embassy issued a notice, posted below.