Protests in Sohar, Salalah

Protestors camped outside the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar's office in Salalah on Saturday

Salalah - 

Protesters demanding higher wages, more jobs and an end to corruption disrupted traffic in Salalah and Sohar on Saturday.

In Salalah, protesters staged a ‘sitin’ in front of the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar's Office, setting up three tents and covering the gates of the office with banners that had their demands on them.

The protesters gathered outside the governor's office soon after Friday prayers chanting, “We need justice. No increase in prices. No to corruption. Education for all,” with some spending the night there and continuing their ‘sit-in’ on Saturday. “

Hundreds of people have been converging near the governor's office, with some saying that they are willing to spend several nights unless their demands are met,” an eyewitness from Salalah said.

He added that the protests have been peaceful, without any intervention from security personnel. In Sohar, however, an initial gathering of hundreds of protesters at the Globe Roundabout swelled to nearly 2,000 by late afternoon, according to eyewitnesses.

People started gathering at the roundabout in the morning and stopped traffic on the highway, creating kilometrelong jams in both directions. The eyewitness added that some tents have also been put up in and around the area.

The protesters’ main demands included a call to end corruption, more jobs for people in need, an increase in salaries and an end to financial and administrative wasta (influence) in the government and private sector.

Later, a group of protesters turned violent, attacking Sohar police station and pelting stones. “Protesters attacked the police station and were throwing stones at police personnel.

The police had to use tear gas to disperse the violent protesters, who eventually returned to the Globe Roundabout,” said Mubarak al Balushi, a resident of Sohar.
Heavy traffic jams were witnessed around the roundabout.

“We have not been able to move past the roundabout as it is completely blocked. I had to spend two hours just to reach the Sallan area where I live. This is the firsttime I have seen such a thing,” said Sulaiman Mohammed, who was heading home.

Others were more critical of the violence. “I saw youngsters toppling the lampposts at the Globe Roundabout. I can’t believe what I saw. This is not the way people should express their feelings. I just wish they do it peacefully without damaging anything,” said Ali Mohammed, another Sohar resident.

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