Dr James Worrall features on The Program on Governance and Local Development podcast to discuss his report on decentralisation processes in Oman
The podcast is part of the project ‘Governance Under Decentralisation: Oman & In The Arab Region’ which seeks to understand the challenges facing the decentralisation process in transitioning states.
Dr Worrall is interviewed on the podcast where he discusses his latest research into Oman’s controlled-hybrid-decentralisation process, his findings are compiled in the GLD Working Paper No. 32 – Power and Process: Decentralisation in Oman.
The podcast begins with Dr Worrall explaining the politics of Oman and how it differs from other places. He says that ‘Oman has an incredibly complicated history and you need to place it in context of the history in order to really understand why the country had become so centralised’. Dr Worrall summarises the turbulent political history of Oman, covering a chronological timeline of key events and the impacts these events had upon the country. He explains that the country became centralised in the 1970s from a ‘direct technocratic need to deliver complex development but also as a political discourse, having experienced so much strife over the course of the 20th century’.
Dr Worrall then discusses the decentralisation of the country starting in the 1990s and continuing into the present day. He explains what decentralisation actually means when using Oman as a case study, before going on to discuss why the country began to decentralise and slowly shift away from being a ‘strong, personalised, centralised state’. Oman has maintained control of its decentralisation process and to some extent they have made their own model, which Dr Worrall labels as a ‘controlled-hybrid-decentralisation process’ so termed for its unique mixture of neo-liberal and technocratic solutions, acting in combination with traditional ruling elements.
The podcast then delves into further detail on the differences in decentralisation between the various governorates within Oman, assessing how the processes have been different for certain geographical areas. Dr Worrall also expresses his opinion about how other countries can learn from Oman and its hybrid approach to decentralisation.
The episode concludes with a critical reflection upon the current state of Oman and what Dr Worrall anticipates will happen in the future as the Sultanate faces the challenges of low oil prices, generational change, economic diversification and the Covid-19 crisis.