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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 14:34 GMT
Oman appoints first female minister
The Gulf state of Oman has appointed a woman minister for the first time.

Sheikha Aisha bint Khalfan bin Jameel al-Sayabiyah, aged 30, will be in charge of the National Authority for Industrial Craftsmanship.

She is the first woman to have been appointed as a minister in any of the other five Gulf Co-operation Council states - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Her department is intended to preserve and develop traditional crafts.

It also has responsibility for encouraging Omanis, especially in remote areas, to join an industry in decline among Omani citizens and dominated by workers from the Indian subcontinent.

Women candidates

Over the past few years, Oman has encouraged women to take a more active role in public life, allowing them to run in consultative council elections as well as appointing four undersecretaries and an ambassador.

Sultan Qaboos bin Saed has decreed that women have the right to stand for election to the Shura, or consultative council, which was set up in 1991.

Omani officials say the royal order is meant to develop the experience of popular consultation in Oman and affirm the importance of women's involvement in public affairs.

With far fewer oil reserves than its neighbours, Oman makes a point of saying it is investing in its people.

The government encourages primary education of both boys and girls and has been urging its citizens to work.

Country profile: Oman
03 Mar 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Oman
12 Nov 02 |  Country profiles

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