Domesticating Local Elites. Sheikhs, Walis and State-Building Under Sultan Qaboos

  • Marc ValeriEmail author
Part of the United Nations University Series on Regionalism book series (UNSR, volume 6)


The political promotion of a new national identity centred on the person of Qaboos has decisively served the ruler’s strategy of legitimisation since the end of the 1970s. Nevertheless, this process of substitution of identities from the “local” to the “national” was not supposed to lead to the extinction of local solidarities (tribes, ethno-linguistic groups etc.). Far from eradicating them, the regime has worked to tame them and neutralise their impact by encapsulating them within the state and making them more and more dependent on a game controlled by the central state.

From this perspective, this chapter focuses on the role of one type of political personnel that is crucial for understanding the political relationship between the centre and the periphery in Oman: the local notables. While the most important sheikhs have been offered economic opportunities and top positions in the state apparatus, the regime also hastened to attract minor notables into the system by “bureaucratizing” them as official intermediaries between individuals and the public administration. As a result, no social recognition remains beside that granted by the state, which has appropriated the symbolic spaces that local authorities controlled before 1970.


State Council State Apparatus Islamic Bank Local Elite Royal Decree 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Arab and Islamic StudiesUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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