So here we are, Saturday March 19th, 2011, and we are seeing the "rent a round about" crowd protesting everywhere.
Carillion Alawi, Al Ansari and Towell's are among the Contractors in town that have been hit with protests. Oman International Bank, PDO, InterCon, Al Bustan Palace, Shangri-la are among other local employers in town that have been hit by staff protesting for increased salaries. The list is long and I see no need to repeat it in full here.
PDO made me smile, a lot of those guys make thousands of rials a month, I doubt many other nationals are going to have much sympathy for them.
As the Dragon over at Muscat Confidential blogged the other day, it is starting to smack of people throwing temper tantrums. No one is saying that the original protests were not well called for, but enough already - action has happened, the people protesting saying they want a RO 500/month minimum salary just simply do not know what they are asking for.
I for one am wondering when the Government are going to call time on all of these protests. On one hand I think the current tactic of waiting out the protesters holds water (the summer is, after all, knocking on our doors). But on the other side of things, people seem to have lost respect for due process (presumably because it was not working for them, or possibly because they feel this way gets results) and will possibly continue to ignore rules and regulations in other areas. It's a touchy subject I guess and one I'm glad I don't have to tackle.
So what is next? Does anyone care to guess what is going to happen? It apparently seems like it's open season here at the moment. Don't like your job? Fancy protesting instead of working? The nearest round about will do, lets go. I wonder when the ROP are going to start policing again, and how people here are going to react to that.
The real concern is of course - what if the blue suits start protesting? you know - those Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and so on - the ones that sweep the streets, wash the cars, deliver those goods to peoples houses, build the roads and buildings, keep the hotels running. We saw thousands of people protesting around the country demanding jobs. Except people don't just want any job, do they? Because if they did, they could be a maid, labourer, hotel cleaner, and so on. As these Omanized jobs filter into the population, the cost of doing business will rise, and so the cost of goods will rise, and those minimum wages will need to rise again - an endless cycle.
It does not get away from the core problem - people need to actually be educated properly, and graded properly in order to effect change. So my biggest question is this: When will we see an independent schools / college / university audit that has some real teeth so that when a teacher fails a student, the grade sticks, instead of being magically made into a pass, as I'm sure we all know happens far too often here. It is unfair to those students here who do actually study hard and earn their grades. There are many areas requiring change, but for me, this one is the single most important.
What do you think?