Oman issues new guidelines on use of national symbols

Muscat - 

The Diwan of Royal Court, in a ministerial decision, has laid down new rules regarding use of the national flag, emblem and anthem. The rules prohibit anyone from wearing the flag and also handling it without a proper flagpole.

The decision (No. 29/2013) issued on May 30 by H E Khalid bin Hilal bin Saud al Busaidi, Minister of Diwan of Royal Court, adds to Royal Decree 53/2004 specifying the law for the flag, emblem and anthem.

Article four of the new decision mandates caution when raising the national flag during any celebration. The flag should fit the dimensions and specifications specified in the law and should be raised in a manner in which its sanctity is maintained. Article four further states that the flag cannot be worn and can only be handled with a proper flagpole.

According to article two of the decision, the flag shall be raised temporarily during national occasions and during visits of state officials in the streets and other areas suggested by the respective organisational committees with the approval of the Minister.

Care should also be taken when the flag is placed along with other flags, whether by security agencies or private sector entities, in ensuring that the flagpole with the national flag is higher by at least half a metre.

For raising a flag on buildings of ministries and other government authorities; military and security institutions; establishments related to the state; buildings of Omani embassies; consulates and trade representation offices; airports, castles and fortresses; seaports and foreign ships and vessels as they enter Omani ports and Omani naval vessels, staff shall be designated to do the job after the concerned bodies are notified.

Manufacturers and importers of the national flag and emblem should stick to specifications stated in the law and the import of any item bearing the flag or the emblem will not be permitted unless approved by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI).

Last month, MoCI had issued a public notice against the illegal use of the national flag and national insignia. The ministry pointed to the illegal use of some aspects of the national emblem (khanjar and two swords) and the Royal Emblem (crown, khanjar and two swords), as well as the Omani khanjar and map of Oman on various commercial products without prior authorisation. ‘It is gross violation of Article 12 of the Royal Decree 53/2004,’ it stated.

According to the Decree, it is prohibited to use the emblem or logo as a trademark or for commercial advertisement or publicity. Likewise, the logo shall not be put on locally made or imported jewellery, products or other goods without prior permission from MoCI, the notice stated.

‘Hence, the ministry calls upon all commercial establishments, to refrain from doing so otherwise the ministry will take all necessary legal actions against the violators and confiscate the goods,’ it said.

Jail term, fine

Those who purposely disrespects the national flag or emblem by taking it down, destroying it or committing another act expressing hatred or disrespect are liable for a jail term of no less than three months and no more than three years. Violators of the law can attract a fine of no less than RO200 and no more than RO1,000.

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