Welcome to Decree

When we started in 2015, we did not anticipate that it will transform the way Omani society accesses the law and engages with it. This tool that we created to fulfil our own immediate need for a resource to locate Omani legislation somehow became the most important legal resource that judges, lawyers, and government officials use on a daily basis to uphold the rule of law, defend the rights of people, and give vital legal advice. Qanoon has become one of the most critical resources for teaching law in Oman and SQU’s College of Law links to it from its homepage, journalists in Oman use it for investigative reporting to produce evidence-based pieces that could not have been made possible without it, and United Nations bodies cite it in their official reports as the authority when evaluating Oman’s compliance with its obligations under international law. We also know that Qanoon is vital to some of the most vulnerable groups in society and that visually impaired Omanis used it to know their rights because Qanoon, unlike official resources, is compatible with screen reading technologies. It is no exaggeration to say that Qanoon has actually democratised Omani law and made access to Omani legislation in its original language the easiest and most convenient body of legislation to access in the entire Arab world.

Even though the work on Qanoon is not finished and we continue to push new features and categories of content to the website, we have not been unaware of the desperate need for an English equivalent of Qanoon to make Omani law accessible to non-Arabic speakers. While various government entities in Oman occasionally publish translations of the law relevant to their mandates, these translations are scarce and difficult to access. International commercial legal databases also rarely consider Oman to be a market worth producing content for, and the few translations produced by those that do are of questionable quality. With expats in Oman making up more than 30% of the total population, this lack of English translation of the law deprives a substantial amount of people living in this country from learning about their legal rights and obligations, and creates impediments for foreign investors attempting to conduct their due diligence when evaluating the viability of investing here.

That’s why we are launching today the public beta version of Decree, a website that we hope will transform the accessibility of Omani law to English speakers.

Unlike Qanoon, which is a project for merely obtaining existing content and making it accessible, Decree—by providing original translations of Omani law—is a much more challenging project as it involves creating new content that does not exist, and then organising this content and making it accessible to the public. We had to figure out where to start, how many laws to translate to create a useful resource, and the processes required to make sure that our translations are of a standard high enough for lawyers to reasonably rely on them.

What we are launching today is a title index of all primary Omani legislation (royal decrees and laws) along with the full-text catalogue of over 400 legal instruments, which we believe is the biggest up-to-date structured collection of translated Omani law available anywhere. This full-text catalogue includes more than 75 standalone laws with all their amendments consolidated, many of which were never available in the English language before.

How to use Decree

There are three main ways for using Decree. First of all, if you are merely looking for royal decrees and laws promulgated over the past few weeks, the easiest way for doing this is by visiting our homepage which displays royal decrees in reverse chronological order. Our objective is to provisionally update the website with new content immediately as royal decrees are announced in Oman New Agency, and then upload the translations of unpublished attachments after the Official Gazette is issued the Sunday following the promulgation of the royal decree.

The second way for using Decree is by using our search engine to look for specific royal decrees and laws. If the translation exists, you should be able to view it directly with a link to a fully consolidated version if any amendments have been introduced to the law. If the translation does not exist, you should still be able to locate the title of the royal decree or law, and that should provide you with a link to view the original text in Arabic and generate an automatically translated version through Google Translate service.

Qanoon also provides a third way for using Decree, as a link to the English text will appear on Qanoon directly for any royal decree that has been translated on Decree.

The way ahead

What we are launching today is merely the first edition of Decree, and we plan on uploading new translations on a weekly basis from here on. Our goal for the year 2022 is to have every single standalone Omani law translated into English by December along with the full translation of every single new royal decree and law that comes out this year. Our project roadmap covers translating secondary level legislation (i.e. ministerial decisions and regulations) at future stages.

The public beta version of Decree will require free registration until the end of 2022.

We are very excited for everyone to try out Decree. You can view the latest royal decrees here, read about the team behind the website here, and review our translation methodology here. If you would like to get updates about new royal decrees, make sure that you follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. Finally, feel free to share your comments and suggestions using our contact form.