While the 2011 Arab uprisings have deposed two leaders in the Middle East a and North Africa and left other nations battling violent insurrections, the impact in Oman has been much less dramatic.
For the traditionally conservative sultanate, the fact that any protests took place at all was a major shock for the ruling elite. The demonstrations in January, February and March were the first direct challenge to the successful 40-year rule of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said.
The sultan is hugely popular and as such, he has weathered the storm around him well, moving quickly to stem the protests by announcing significant reforms. Whether they will prove sufficient remains unknown.
"The protests were largely about economic issues rather than political," says a diplomatic source in Muscat. "No one was calling for regime change and you can draw this distinction between Oman and the rest of the region, but they were definitely inspired [by North Africa].
Protesters took to the streets in early 2011 to demand higher wages, improved employment opportunities and an end to state corruption. Demonstrators staged a sit-in outside the Majlis al-Shura to demand that the representative body be given legislative powers.
Much of the unrest was focused in Sohar, the centre of …