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At a glance: Oman

The big picture

Click for a detailed map (PDF)

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

The Sultanate of Oman continues to enjoy economic, social and political stability. Although Oman remains, in many ways, the most traditional country in the region, it is often more outward looking than it is given credit for. In a new development, His Majesty the Sultan of Oman has decided to open participation in the elections for the Shura (Consultative) Council to ALL Omanis 21 years of age and older. Prior to this, only select individuals were invited to participate in these elections. The first open elections will be held in October 2003.

In August 2002 Oman endorsed the amendment of Article 43 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, increasing the number of Child Rights Committee members from 10 to 18 members. The following October, Oman ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) issued a decree for the formation of sub-national Social Development Committees. The Committees are entrusted with the responsibilities of promoting voluntary social organizations and their activities, enhancing awareness of social issues such as childhood and disability, and finding alternative funding for social programmes. The membership of these Committees comprises the local representatives of the different ministries and municipality under the chairmanship of the Wali (Governor) or his deputy. The formation of these Committees is seen as a step in the direction of developing a national programme for the development of local communities. 

UNICEF priorities

UNICEF Oman contributes to building the capacity of health professionals through information sharing, assists the government in disseminating results of an adolescent study related to health issues and planning relevant interventions. The country office also supports the training of youth leaders and counsellors on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections and assists in the introduction of the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses through training health staff, educators and community support group volunteers (CSGVs).

UNICEF has played a very effective role in finalizing the review and enhancement of the draft Juvenile Law. This was not an activity included in the programme plan of action, but when the Ministry of Legal Affairs referred the draft law to the Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) for review, UNICEF took advantage of the opportunity to ensure, inter alia, that the minimum age for criminal responsibility is raised from nine years to 14 years, that the definition of a juvenile is maintained at 18 years, and that the minimum United Nations (UN) standards for juvenile justice are taken into consideration.

UNICEF has also been engaged in technically supporting a study of the causes of delinquency and the treatment of delinquent juveniles. The study is an individual initiative of a staff member from the Sultan Qaboos University in the city of Muscat, who is also a member of the Omani Child Rights Committee. The organization also ensures an equitable and non-discriminative development environment for Disabled Persons.

Vitamin A supplementation continues to be an integral part of the regular Expanded Programme on Immunization and UNICEF continues to facilitate the provision of free Vitamin A capsules for Oman as part of the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunization. A UNICEF consultant facilitated a two-day meeting for all government and private sector parties concerned with iodized salt production and marketing. The meeting helped in formulating recommendations and follow-up actions to improve quality control and production, marketing and monitoring systems.

In the area of education, UNICEF ensures that Oman follows the agreements and decisions of Dakar Education for All (EFA) Conference and has developed a 13-Year EFA plan to ensure improved learning environments (at home and school) and high learning levels of achievements for students. UNICEF also contributes to national capacity building in the area of educational planning.

The situation with pre-schools remains a concern. Currently, only around eight per cent of children of pre-school age are enrolled. The quality of pre-school institutions is low. The responsibility for supervising these institutions is not well defined. The government does not want to assume any direct financial responsibility for the education of this age group of children until the Basic Education Project is completed in 2018. UNICEF is advocating for the adoption of minimum standards for pre-schools with a clear quality assurance and control role for the government. UNICEF is also concerned about the very limited access to pre-school activities outside the capital area and the lack of access for children whose parents are unable to pay the fees for private sector pre-schools.



Basic Indicators

Under-5 mortality rank


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 1990


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 2012


U5MR by sex 2012, male


U5MR by sex 2012, female


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012


Neonatal mortality rate 2012


Total population (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012


GNI per capita (US$) 2012


Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012


Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*


Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*


Definitions and data sources [popup]

Source: The State of the World's Children

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