Oman boosts student benefits, shuffles cabinet

Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos announced on Saturday that he was boosting social benefits for students, the state-run Oman News Agency reported.

Sultan Qaboos ordered the monthly allowance for students in universities and vocational schools be raised by between 25 and 90 Omani rials ($65 to $234) to "achieve further development and... provide a decent living for his people," the agency said.

He also ordered the creation of a consumer protection bureau, and was looking into opening cooperatives, according to the report.

Sultan Qaboos also reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday, changing six ministers.

The state news agency ONA said Qaboos issued a decree naming Mohammed bin Nasser al-Khasibi as commerce and industry minister, Hamoud bin Faisal al-Bousaidi as civil service minister and Madiha bint Ahmed bin Nasser as education minister.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Harthy, the outging civil service minister, was appointed to head the environment ministry in the Gulf Arab state, while Maqboul bin Ali bin Sultan will be the new transport minister, the agency said.

The decree also named Mohsen bin Mohammed al-Sheikh as tourism minister and said the reshuffle was carried out in the "public's interest", without elaborating.

Earlier this month, Oman raised minimum wages for an estimated 150,000 private sector employees to $520 from $364 a month.

Before the raise, minimum salaries in the non-OPEC oil producer were 140 riyals ($364).

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