We just updated our annual royal decree open data dataset to include royal decrees that His Majesty issued in the year 2021, and we thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to examine the legal developments in the country through the numbers. This post looks at how the number of royal decrees issued last year compares to previous years, and provides a breakdown of the categories of royal decrees issued in 2021.
A royal decree is a legislative instrument issued by His Majesty the Sultan. Royal decrees are used to carry out a variety of functions such as promulgating laws, establishing and abolishing government entities, ratifying international agreements, appointing senior government officials, and many other functions.
The royal decree open data dataset published by Open Data Oman includes the titles of royal decrees published, the date on which these royal decrees, and the issue of the Official Gazette in which they were issued.
According to our records, His Majesty issued 79 royal decrees in the year 2021. This is slightly higher than the average number of royal decrees issued over the past ten years, which is 70.9.
Royal Decrees Yearly Overview
The data shows that the number of royal decrees issued in 2021 was almost 40% less than the number of royal decrees issued the year before. The year 2020 remains one of the busiest years in terms of royal decrees due to the major government restructuring that took place that year and which required a massive number of royal decrees to execute.
Decrees of 2021
The 79 royal decrees that were issued in 2021 can be generally grouped into the following seven categories:
(1) Royal decrees for treaty ratification: 22 royal decrees were issued last year to ratify or approve the accession of a treaty or an international agreement, making this category the biggest in the year 2021. Treaties ratified by Oman last year were diverse and covered everything from the protection of sea labourers to the regulation of outer space activities. Oman also ratified a significant number of bilateral treaties on visa exemption with countries such as Greece, Albania, Nepal, Syria, Georgia, Peru, and Sri Lanka. For those interested in learning more about treaties, make sure to view our international agreements dataset.
(2) Royal decrees relating to government restructuring: Even though the government had a massive restructuring in 2020, it continued to make additional changes in 2021 by issuing 15 royal decrees restructuring the government. These royal decrees involved abolishing the National Field Research Centre for Environmental Conservation, amending the Organisational Structure of the Diwan of Royal Court, and promulgating the System of the Oman Investment Authority among other developmets.
(3) Royal decrees appointing government officials: Certain government appointments are made by royal decree. Last year, 12 royal decrees related to the appointment of a new member to Majlis Al-Dawla, ambssadors, Supreme Court judges, and other senior government posts including a Secretary General for the Ministry of Defence.
(4) Royal decrees promulgating or amending laws: The highlight of the year 2021 was, without a doubt, the promulgation of a new Basic Statute of the State. However, the ten royal decrees in this category also included a new Law of Majlis Oman as well as amendments to a number of laws such as the Civil Status Law and the Foreigners Residency Law.
(5) Royal decrees approving oil concession agreements: Concession agreements for the exploitation of natural resources are required to be approved by royal decree. Six royal decrees were issued under this category last year. The most significant agreement to be approved was that of Block 6 between the government and Energy Development Oman, the new holding company of PDO.
(6) Royal decrees relating to the grant or reinstatement of nationality: Omani nationality is granted and reinstated by royal decree, and this year we saw six royal decrees in this area. (Such royal decrees usually grant Omani nationality to a long list of new citizens, not just one individual).
(7) Miscellaneous royal decrees: In addition to these main categories, we had eight other royal decrees covering a variety of topics such as the budget, the grant of telecom licences, the establishment of sanctuaries, and others.