September 30, 2010, 9:55 am - May 19, 2019, 4:47 am


he Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Washington, District of Columbia (Map)

On September 30th, the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center held its first conference on Oman in partnership with the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University (GWU).  Entitled “Oman 2010: 40 Years – Building the Future,” it focused on Oman’s remarkable progress during the reign of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.  This was done through speeches and panel discussions involving Omani and American scholars, government officials, and businesspeople. Audio of each part of the conference is posted here.  Both the Conference and dinner following it were held at Elliott School premises in Washington, DC.
SQCC Executive Director Ambassador Elizabeth McKune and Middle East Policy Forum Director Ambassador Edward Gnehm opened the Conference, with formal welcoming remarks by Elliott School Dean, Dr. Michael Brown, and GWU President Dr. Steven Knapp.  Oman’s Minister of Higher Education, HE Dr. Rawiyah bint Saud al Busaidiyah, and US Undersecretary (U/S) for Political Affairs, Ambassador William Burns delivered keynote addresses.  Omani Ambassador to the US and SQCC’s Board Chair, HE Hunaina Al-Mughairy introduced Dr. Rawiya.  The cabinet minister spoke of Oman’s tremendous progress in education since 1970, and U/S Burns highlighted how Oman modernized while maintaining traditions. 
Frank Sesno, internationally recognized journalist and Director of GWU’s School of Media and Public Affairs, moderated the first
panel on political development.  The three featured panelists were Dr. Harith Ghassany, an independent Omani scholar on leave from Sultan Qaboos University (SQU); Dr. Samira Moosa, a member of the State Council of Oman as well as Head of the Department of Early Childhood Education and Associate Professor of Education at SQU.; and Dr. Gregory Gause, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Vermont.  They spoke about Oman’s historical political reach, the development of its bicameral parliament, and Oman’s pragmatic foreign policy.
Dr. Michael Moore, GWU Professor of Economics and International Affairs served as moderator for the second panel on economic development.  The three featured speakers were Dr. Herman Franssen, President of International Energy Associates, Inc.; Dr. Hatem Al Shanfari, Professor at SQU’s Department of Economics; and Dr. Amer Al-Rawas, CEO of Oman Telecommunications Company.  They discussed the role of oil in the development of Oman’s modern economy, macroeconomic elements of that economy, and Sultan Qaboos’ concurrent push for diversification in the economy.
During the lunch break, Dr. Peter Smith, Professor of Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona, delivered a presentation on Oman’s falaj water distribution system.  He elaborated on the sustainability of the system from ancient times through today.
The third and final panel of the conference covered the position of women in Oman.  Appropriately, this panel was made up entirely of strong and talented Omani women, including its moderator, Dr. Asya Al Lamki, Oman’s  Cultural Attaché.  Dr. Samira Moosa, returned to participate on this panel, joined by Dr. Najma Al Zidjaly, SQU Assistant Professor of Linguistics, and HE Dr. Thuwayba bint Ahmed al Barwani, SQU Dean of the College of Education and Associate Professor of Curriculum & Instruction.  The panelists covered women’s progress during the last 4 decades, focusing on job and educational opportunities and the Sultan’s policies contributing to equal rights and opportunities for women in Oman.
Attendees at the Conference dinner included many luminaries and VIPs, such as Her Majesty Queen Noor, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Congressman Mike Honda and the President of Occidental Petroleum, Edward (Sandy) Lowe.  His Excellency Sayyid Badr bin Hamad Albusaidi, Secretary General of the Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs, delivered the keynote address for the event, focusing on Sultan Qaboos’ values and vision from which Oman has benefitted so greatly.