A proposal to establish a youth parliament was recently put forward during an open debate about the aspirations of youth held at the Majlis Al Shura. The meeting on Tuesday was attended by the National Youth Council (NYC), representatives of the youth campaign ‘Hillu Nughayyir’ (It’s nice to change) and the Youth Committee of the Majlis Al Shura. Zaid bin Abdullah Al Salmani, the head of ‘Hillu Nughayyir,’ told the Times of Oman (TOO) that they have called for a separate parliament “to connect the voice of youth to the government and to give youth the right to legislation in their fields of interest, to implement their aspirations and have oversight on [government] organisations who work for youth.
The ‘Hillu Nughayyir’ campaign, established as part of the office of the Governorate of Muscat in March 2015, is a social youth campaign with more than 200 members, which aims, as Al Salmani explained, to “change wrong behaviour within society and encourage good behaviour, by organising activities, such as workshops, forums and awareness campaigns.” “In this way, there will be a place for them to truly participate in society,” he stated. “As a start, each governorate will be represented by one or two members, while later on every wilayat (region) can be represented in the parliament, so that the voices of youth from every part of the Sultanate will reach the government.” He added that the number of members in the proposed parliament will depend on what the government proposes. How members will be selected, is something that also needs further study. “It would be an advantage to the Sultanate of Oman if this parliament is being established, a true advantage for supporting the youth, empowering the youth and letting them lead the nation.
”While a government-appointed entity pursuing youth interests already exists in the form of the NYC, it has limited responsibilities and is not fully independent, Mohammed Al Busaidi, head of the Youth Committee at the Majlis Al Shura explained. “If a youth parliament is approved in the future, maybe it will replace the NYC. This time, they [the youth] want something more advanced,” he said.
Dr. Hamad bin Hamood Al Ghafiri, head of the NYC, told TOO that he had welcomed the idea. “The presence of a youth parliament is a positive idea,” he said. He said the proposal was put forward earlier during discussions organised by the NYC. However, he said that currently, youth are well represented. “More than half of the members of the Majlis Al Shura are young. The Majlis Al Shura has a Youth and Human Resources Committee and within the NYC, there is a member representing the Majlis Al Shura,” he said. He added that the NYC works as a connection between youth and the relevant organisations as defined by the Royal Decree that established it. He added that it is not an executive body. “What we need is an organisation, which unites all youth efforts, more than the current representation of youth in the parliament,” he said.
Al Busaidi added that the Shura Council had welcomed this idea “as a point of discussion,” which it will use to make recommendations to the government. “The youth feel that they have to be involved directly in decision making and have a parliament for youth. We, as Majlis Al Shura, at this time cannot say it is not good or good, but how it can be developed and put into practice, we’ll have to look into,” he said.