Oman's ruler, Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik has pardoned more than 200 prison inmates as a goodwill gesture ahead of the country's 51st National Day celebrations.
According to the Oman News Agency (ONA), a statement read "His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, the Supreme Commander, issues his special pardon for 252 prison inmates, 84 of whom are foreigners, on the occasion of the 51st National Day, and in consideration of the families of these inmates."
Plans are underway for public firework displays in the capital, Muscat, tomorrow, and in the Dhofar governorate with a number of development projects also scheduled to be inaugurated.
The head of the Secretariat General of National Celebrations, Sheikh Sebaa bin Hamdan Al-Saadi, also said that a military parade will be held under the patronage of Sultan Haitham. However, this year's celebrations, as with last year, will be relatively subdued due to government cuts in spending and the coronavirus pandemic. The government has, instead, said it will be focusing on revamping the economy and creating much-needed jobs.
"The main focus now is to find jobs for thousands of our graduates and that is the reason why the government is saving money. Though oil prices have rallied a bit this year, it does not mean we should waste money on extravagant celebrations", said Qassim Al-Kharusi, a former Ministry of Finance official.
The National Day commemorates the Sultanate's independence from Portuguese control in 1650, in addition to marking the birth date of the late-ruler Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, who passed away aged 79 at the beginning of last year. His successor and cousin, Haitham, was named as the new ruler in a smooth transition.