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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 4 March 2021

Oman happiness survey gets positive feedback from Omanis after oil price fall

Economists say the survey could attract investment in the Gulf state

A man passes an Oman Oil gas station in Muscat. Silvia Razgova/The National
A man passes an Oman Oil gas station in Muscat. Silvia Razgova/The National

A happiness survey launched in Oman has been welcomed by citizens.

Oman’s National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) is conducting the five-day survey via phone, hoping to target 1,500 people at random to gain a measure of the population’s outlook on the country’s economy.

“I welcome this initiative and it is a very positive drive to ask citizens whether they are happy or not. I am sure there will be many concerns from respondents of the survey and the feedback will help the government to put things right,” 23-year-old Salim Al Badi, who just landed his first job a month ago, told The National.

NCSI said the Consumer Confidence Survey (ICS) 2019 launched on Sunday is intended to gauge “the state of the economy.” It did not elaborate on why it was conducting the survey but economists say the aim could be to put the economy back on track after the fall of oil prices.

“I agree it is a positive move by the government after the fall of oil prices and I am sure it will open up new avenues to bring in fresh ideas to diversify the economy,” said Peter Hartford, a Dubai-based economist.

“Inflation in Oman is outpacing the annual salary increment of workers in Oman. The survey may well reveal that salaries must be on par with the inflation rate to help ends meet,” he added.

Oman’s pay increments rise at an annual average of 5 per cent per year but the average inflation in the last two years is at 7 per cent, mainly on education, transport, clothes and electronic items, according to local media reports.

Senior citizens also welcomed the survey, saying people in their “prime years” need a stable economy to make their retirement comfortable.

“The survey will give ordinary citizens a say how to put the economy on the right track, especially retired people like us. Salaries rise by 5 per cent a year but for us pensioners we don’t get any rise,” said Qais Al Raisy, a retired civil servant.

“When they call me, I will suggest the government look at the pensioners’ welfare, too.”

But other economists said the survey would also help the government’s drive to attract foreign investment.

“Foreign investors would react positively once they know the government is keen to boost the welfare of its citizens to voice out their economic concerns,” said Khalifa Al Saidi, a PhD economic researcher at the University of Michigan.

“It will serve as a promotion to international companies when they know Oman is committed to boost the economy by listening to an average person.”

Updated: February 23, 2020 06:15 PM

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