Key to Oman's future is to get rid of the static public versus private sector debate. Both sectors are crucial. The question is how to promote synergetic partnerships which allow the private sector, in its engagement with the public sector, to remain courageous, strategic and set the direction of change, rather than only de-risking, facilitating, administering, subsidizing and incentivising. Whether we are looking at education, health, transport, culture, renewable energy or the future of Eco-tourism, the problem should not be ‘opening up to the market' but how to structure and shape the market, through public and private investments, in such a way that allows a sector to become more dynamic, innovative and investment driven.
Instead, because investments are driven by the public sector, and the private sector is there to only execute as directed or save the day when things go wrong (bringing into the private sector the ‘bad’ toxic side of the equation, allowing the ‘good’ to be absorbed publicly), this leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy where precisely because we don’t see a real ‘private role’ beyond, it becomes under financed, but also under “imagined”.
When a sector lacks imagination, it dies. It becomes irrelevant, and of course easier to attack. This vicious cycle is happening in Oman's private sector and it is contributing to its demise. Only when the vision becomes one of co-creating a new future, rather than allowing one side to pick up the pieces, while the other continues to make short-term gains, will we get out of the usual (‘everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same’).