Unprecedented protests have occurred in the Sultanate of Oman, purportedly over the lack of jobs amid a deteriorating economy, leading to a large-scale police response.
Footage has emerged on social media showing protests, which included civilians running away from security forces as they fired tear gas, other videos show locals being arrested by the police.
المقاومة ضد الظلم حق مشروع ولا تستمعوا لاصوات المستفيدين والمنتفعين من النظام،
النظام السلطاني هو من يجيد استخدام العنف وبكراهية وليس على الاحرار الا الدفاع عن انفسهم باي طريقة تناسبهم
المجد للاحرار#صحار_تنتفض #صلالة_تتضامن #الحرية_لمعتقلي_عمان pic.twitter.com/zeMYVG9eOq
— khalfan al-badwawi (@Omanfreedom090) May 24, 2021
Most of the footage appears to be centred on the city of Sohar in the north of the country, posted along with the Arabic hashtag for 'Sohar is rising up'.
— MOHAMMED (@_v1nd) May 24, 2021
One user showed contrasting images from BBC Arabic's coverage of the protests and the absence of it on Oman's own national news.
— غرد يا مغرد❕ (@bin_ali_20) May 24, 2021
The demonstrations were, however, acknowledged by Oman's Labour Ministry in a tweet, which said it was aware of people gathering there to try to "find new job vacancies and to solve the problems of those who were fired."
It is unclear what triggered the protests in Sohar and if they were related to large-scale layoffs in the area, which according to a report by AP is home to a key port, as well as plants producing aluminium and steel.
This is the first major challenge to the leadership of Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq who assumed power last year following the death of his cousin and longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
Earlier this year, the sultan approved a series of reforms which included the appointment of his son Dhi Yazan Bin Haitham as the Sultanate's first-ever crown prince and more freedoms and rights for Omani citizens. Late last year, Sultan Haitham also approved the country's so-called Vision2040 which aims to steer the cash-strapped country towards a post-oil economy.