Oman's first lady in debut speech for National Women’s Day

Ahad bint Abdullah bin Hamad Al Busaidiyah makes her first public appearance since Sultan Haitham became ruler

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Ahad bint Abdullah bin Hamad Al Busaidiyah made her debut appearance as Oman's first lady as the sultanate marked National Women's Day with a series of honours.

Ahad bint Abdullah bin Hamad Al Busaidiyah, wife of Sultan Haitham, hosted a royal palace ceremony on Saturday to honour the work of 50 prominent Omani women for their role in society and the economy.

"Over the past 50 years [Omani] women have had unlimited access to education, training and work. This enabled them to efficiently participate in the national building process while being armed with knowledge, laws and systems of sound governance that guaranteed their rights and secured their status," Sayyida Al Busaidiyah said.

"Omani women took their deserved place in public and private sectors and their historic influence has earned them accolades at home and abroad through [works] of global women’s affairs organisations.”

FILE PHOTO: Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said gives a speech after being sworn in before the royal family council in Muscat, Oman January 11, 2020.  REUTERS/Sultan Al Hasani/File Photo
Sultan Haitham gives a speech after being sworn in before the royal family council in Muscat, Oman January 11, 2020. Reuters, file

She highlighted how her husband is continuing the work of the late Sultan Qaboos in placing women in prominent government roles.

One of those women was honoured at the event on Saturday, with the Order of Royal Commendation, second class, given to Dr Fatima bint Mohammed Al Ajmi, undersecretary at the Health Ministry for Administrative, Financial and Planning Affairs.

Sayyida Al Busaidiyah also honoured the frontline medical workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We would like to note our great gratitude to our sisters working in the health sector for their noble stance and their earnest efforts [that] constitute a shield of safety for our homeland and people,” she said.

Several Omani women noted how Seyyda Ahad is keen to promote women in various fields of the economy and in the social engagements.

"It was very pleasing to see her taking the effort to honour women who excel themselves in the service of the country. This will encourage more Omani women to come forward knowing their hard work will be appreciated and honoured," a retired government official who did not want to be identified, tod The National.

Sultan Haitham succeeded his cousin, Sultan Qaboos, in January.

A graduate from the University of Oxford, he previously held several prominent government posts.

Since taking office, he has maintained the course of his predecessor and pushed to modernise and grow the country as part of Oman Vision 2040.

But he also shook up Cabinet with new appointments and passed difficult measures to cut budgets and spending as low oil prices and the pandemic hit the nation's finances.