Russian documentary hails
Oman as ‘Multifaceted Democracy’
By Ali Ahmed al Riyami

Author
of The Reformer
on the
Throne
— a
biography
on HM —
concludes
documentary
on Oman

1
The coverpage of the Arabic
translation of the book

2
Oman’s historical, Islamically based process of Ash’shura style
of governance is predominantly based on, as the word implies,
Counselling. “You have the biggest Parliament in the world,
when His Majesty the Sultan embarks on his annual ‘Meet
the People’ tour”, says Sergey Plekhanov

HOT on the heels of his biographical book, entitled The Reformer on the Throne, based on His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and his enlightened vision that has propelled Oman from feudalism, at the beginning of his reign in 1970, to present-day role-model status, the book’s author Sergey N Plekhanov, has since returned to the Sultanate to take charge of the filming and production of a documentary on Oman, entitled Multifaceted Democracy. The book was first published in Russian in 2003 with subsequent published translations in Arabic, English and Urdu
Together with a film crew of eight people, over the past year, Sergey has been detailing Oman’s historical, Islamically based process of Ash’shura style of governance that is predominantly based on, as the word implies, Counselling. In effect this means that no decision that has a direct effect on the country’s citizens is taken without comprehensively thorough consultation.
The Observer recently caught up with the dynamic veteran author, writer and journalist, who, although officially resides in Moscow, over the past decade has spent considerable time in Oman and intrigued by the country’s momentously progressive development. He gave an incisive insight into the just completed documentary, noting that it highlights the different faces of democracy and shows that in today’s modern world, democracy has several faces — perspectives, i.e. there is no one singular form of democracy and individual countries have their own indigenous style of democratic governance.
Hence, he continued, there is not only Western-style fashion of democracy. Here in Oman, for instance, the country has a very ancient style of democracy, in the Ash’shura pattern of consultative governance. He elaborated by pointing out the principle of Ash’shura is very old and emanates directly from the Islamic religion. The documentary shows the insignia of Ash’shura, consisting of words from the Holy Quran relating to Ash’shura. And in highlighting this Arab-Omani style of government, Sergey said he had several consultations with the Chairman of the Majlis Ash’shura, the Minister of the Interior, Minister of Tourism and the Minister of Commerce and Industry, as well as with prominent Omanis in public and private circles.
Sergey said, his idea was to show the different viewpoints of democracy, which is not only political, but covers a multitude of lifestyles, including the need for mental and physical freedom. He added that he chose Oman because it is a good reflection of this. The documentary shows the openness of Omani people towards other people. This is very much exemplified in the country’s tourism drive, which, as the documentary shows, reflects the friendly, open character of Omanis and their culture, said Sergey.
The author pointed out that the documentary has been made primarily for the viewers of Russian and fellow neighbouring Commonwealth countries, and that Omani-style democracy would prove very interesting to these audiences. “You have the biggest Parliament in the world, when His Majesty the Sultan embarks on his annual ‘Meet the People’ tour”, said Sergey. Further to this, the author said he wanted to show those aspects of Omani-style democracy that he had alluded to in his book. The documentary is a way of facilitating this requiring him and his crew to travel to Nizwa, Sur, Qalhat and to Al Rimal Al Sharqiyah (formerly known as the Wahiba Sands), where he was able to visit Bedouin camps.
Commenting on his decade-old relationship with Oman, Sergey said, he thinks it is one of the countries of the world which has managed to achieve great success in many aspects of life, in economic and cultural terms. Above all this, noted Sergey, Omanis have been able to maintain their culture, heritage and traditions even in the face of ‘globalisation’, which is a very significant achievement. He said, the documentary would also reflect this important point where rapid development has not meant loss of identity.
In conclusion, Sergey said, there is nothing Omanis need to be advised about with regards to democracy, as they already have it. His future plans include wilting a comprehensive novel on the history of the Middle East and that he will hopefully be back in Oman for other projects. Further details about the author and his work can be accessed on www.plekhanov.org