In order to allow the Commercial Code to keep up with the development and diversification of commercial activity in Oman, the Law of Electronic Transactions has been introduced. The new law will apply to transactions performed between parties which have either implicitly or explicitly agreed to the performance of their transactions electronically.
The use of guarantees to support debt obligations is reasonably widespread in Oman. A recent amendment to the Law of Commerce, which sets out the legal framework regulating guarantees, allows a guarantor of a personal loan to request the inclusion of a condition in the guarantee to the effect that the bank cannot claim payment under the guarantee until it obtains a judgment against the principal debtor.
With foreign investors increasing their shareholding in Omani companies in recent times, the lack of active involvement on the part of investors holding substantial shareholding in such companies has resulted in such companies facing difficulties in convening quorate meetings and in passing resolutions. The Capital Market Authority recently issued Circular 9/2010, which is intended to resolve this issue.
Sultani Decree 63/2009 has amended several provisions of the Labour Law in relation to the employment of non-Omani nationals. Although the amendments have been in place for a year, it is only recently that the courts, the public prosecutor and the Ministry of Manpower have begun to implement them and, in so doing, to indicate how the amendments will be interpreted and applied.
Oman, despite having a nascent capital markets system, was quick to introduce a corporate governance code for companies listed on the stock market in 2002. Oman was also quick to recognize that a binding code of corporate governance was crucial for modern, efficient and accountable public companies and to safeguard shareholders' interests.
The Capital Market Authority has issued a new set of executive regulations to the Capital Market Authority Law. Although the new regulations contain new provisions - including, for the first time, regulations dealing specifically with credit rating companies - their primary focus appears to be consolidation.
An administrative decision issued by the Capital Markets Authority on disclosure by issuers of securities and insider trading has come into effect. As a result of Oman's move towards a more market-oriented economy and the realization of the importance of good corporate governance, public joint stock companies and mutual funds will now be required to make more elaborate disclosures.
Royal Decree 47/1997, which governs arbitration procedures in Oman, permits arbitration to be conducted in Oman or abroad if the parties expressly agree to this effect. A recent amendment redefines the terms 'Arbitration Board' and 'court', and another addresses jurisdictional aspects.
Amendments have been made to Royal Decree 5/2007, addressing aspects of foreign capital investment, licences for dealing in securities and the powers of the Capital Markets Authority.
Oman has ratified several international treaties related to the protection of IP rights promulgated by Royal Decree 37/2007. These include the Patent Law Treaty 2000 and the Trademark Law Treaty 1994.
Pursuant to recent amendments to the Commercial Companies Law, the founders or shareholders of a public joint stock company may adopt a nominal share price for the company's issued shares at less than OR1 per share. This change aims to increase market liquidity and facilitate greater capital market activity and growth. The amendments also adjust the caps on directors' remuneration.
The government of Oman is taking significant steps to encourage major tourist residential developments in the sultanate. One issue of great interest is whether foreigners will be permitted to acquire properties in these designated areas. It is now theoretically permissible for non-Omanis to acquire freehold interest in real estate in Oman in specific areas designated by the Ministry of Tourism.