Governance under Decentralization: Oman and in the Arab Region

Mosque, Al Hamriya, Muscat, Oman. Photo by Anfal Shamsudeen, Unsplash .









This two-year study of Omani governance under decentralization seeks to better understand the many challenges facing the decentralization process in transitioning states. The study will employ a multi-method approach to explore the challenges to and potential impacts of decentralization. The goal is not only to expand our understanding of decentralization in the Omani context but also to establish sustainable scholarly and policy-relevant networks and dialogues around these issues. As part of this project, we engage policy experts and officials from Oman and elsewhere in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States.  

Our research will be conducted through focus group discussions to better understand the relationship between community practices, gender, and deliberation. We hope these discussions will provide insights into how decentralization may be realized differently across the country. We will also engage with scholars, policy experts, and officials from elsewhere in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States through workshops to put the Omani experience in comparative perspective, while fostering a comprehensive network of decentralization scholars. Finally, we will disseminate results through events in Oman, Sweden, and beyond, in an effort to strengthen policy efforts in Oman and the MENA region.

It is being run by Co-Principal Investigator Marwa Shalaby (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Co-Principal Investigator Ellen Lust (GLD, University of Gothenburg), participating researcher Chagai Weiss (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and participating senior researcher Kristen Kao (GLD, University of Gothenburg).  This project is being funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

OBS! December 2020 – The new Sultan has radically revised the administrative structure of the government and dissolved the administrative body that grants research permits. This has indefinitely delayed fielding in Oman, and the Team is currently working on a Plan B to carry out this project. 



Lust, Ellen; Kao, Kristen; Weiss, Chagai; Shalaby, Marwa; Vollmann, Erik; Bergh, Sylvia I., Karmel, Ezra; Bohn, Miriam; Kherigi, Intissar and Kadirbeyoglu, Zeynep. (2020) The Dynamics of Decentralization in the MENA: Processes, Outcomes, and Obstacles. The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper No. 31, University of Gothenburg, Available At:

Worrall, James. (2020) Power and Process: Decentralisation in Oman. The Program on Governance and Local Development Working Paper No. 32, University of Gothenburg, Available At:





Bergh, Sylvia and Marwa Shalaby 2020. "Power to the People? The Right to Information Law in Morocco."  Carnegie SADA, 30 September. Read Article.





Marwa Shalaby, Ahmed Jazouli, Intissar Kherigi, and Ahmed Al-Mukhaini. "Local Governance in the Arab World: Cases and Experiences," APSN-GLD Webinar, May 26, 2021. Watch here



Marwa Shalaby, "Local Governance in the Arab World: Cases and Experiences," Webinar in collaboration with APSN and GLD, May 26.