Special Feature

Third Anniversary of Oman’s Constitution: 3 Key Provisions Introduced by Sultan Haitham

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the ascension of Sultan Haitham to the throne, and also marks the third anniversary of the promulgation of the Basic Statute of the State, i.e. the constitution of Oman. The very first Omani constitution was promulgated by the late Sultan Qaboos in 1996, which was amended only once in 2011. Sultan Haitham issued a new constitution exactly one year after his ascension to the throne, which largely retained the structure and content of the previous constitution, but with some key changes. As today marks the third anniversary of this constitution, this post will highlight three of its most important new provisions.

Revamp of the Succession System

One of the most unique aspects of the previous Omani constitution was the reliance on the “secret will system”, which said that the successor to the throne would be selected by the Royal Family Council within three days of the passing of the current Sultan, and if they fail to reach an agreement, a secret will left by the former Sultan selecting a new Sultan will be opened to identify who the successor is. This unique succession system created uncertainty about the future regarding the leadership of the country, and Sultan Haitham decided to move away from this approach by instead using a classic hereditary succession system that has a succession line going through the male descendants of the Sultan determining who the crown prince is.

Recognition of Privacy as a Fundamental Right

While the previous Omani constitution recognised many fundamental rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and many more, the right to private life was not recognised as a fundamental right in the old constitution. The new constitution promulgated by Sultan Haitham recognises in article 36 that “Private life is inviolable, protected, and must not be violated.” It is also worth noting that one year after the promulgation of this new constitution, we saw the promulgation of the Personal Data Protection Law, which was the first comprehensive privacy law enacted in Oman.

Recognition of a State Duty to Protect IP

While Oman has had intellectual property laws for many years, the new constitution promulgated by Sultan Haitham imposes a unique and specific obligation on the state to protect intellectual property in article 38. This new provision is not common in constitutions, but demonstrates Oman’s commitment to supporting creativity and recognising the potential that intellectual property industries have in contributing to the Omani economy.

These are merely a few of the key provisions of the Basic Statute of the State promulgated by His Majesty Sultan Haitham in 2021. I highly advise you to read the full text of this extremely fundamental legal instrument. You can read the constitution in full in English free of charge on the link below. You can also view our Intel document on the Basic Statute of the State on this link.