How Oman is turning to Twitter to help govern

 at the Conversation: “…Following the Arab Spring, citizens of the Persian Gulf state of Oman became aware of Twitter’s potential and decided to adopt it as a platform for addressing social problems, rather than instigating revolutions. For example, unemployment for young people even with degrees is a problem in Oman, as it is in other nations in Europe, and young Omanis took to Twitter to discuss their predicament, gathering around the hashtag that is the Arabic translation of “we need a job”. This tweet was read by Oman’s Sultan, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, who then announced the creation of 25,000 jobs for younger adults.

Oman is one of the most absolutist states in the world, with political power resting almost entirely within the Sultan’s hands. Yet this gave citizens a feeling that was not possible before: that their concerns are matters of importance to the government. Twitter becomes a two-way communication channel for working towards social change, not just a one-way broadcast for promoting celebrities or for delivering government pronouncements.

Now, the civil service in Oman is adopting Twitter as part of its provision of public services. A similar approach has been taken elsewhere, for example the small Spanish town of Jun, where the mayor has put every municipal department on Twitter, encouraging citizens to contact them using that public forum. But in this case the approach has been scaled up to an entire country.

Digital government in Oman

We examined how Twitter was being used in Oman and to what effect. Our research revealed that Omani citizens found Twitter to be “empowering”, as it allows them to identify matters of concern and seek rapid responses and resolutions – something that was a rarity in the past….(More)”