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Consumer protection and electronic commerce in the Sultanate of Oman

Rakesh Belwal (Faculty of Business, Sohar University, Sohar, Oman and UQ Business School, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Rahima Al Shibli (Business Studies Unit, Higher College of Technology, Muscat, Oman)
Shweta Belwal (Faculty of Business, Sohar University, Sohar, Oman)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 7 May 2020

Issue publication date: 3 March 2021

Abstract

Purpose

Within a larger mandate of reviewing the key global trends concerning consumer protection in the electronic commerce (e-commerce) literature, this study aims to study the legal framework concerning e-commerce and consumer protection in the Sultanate of Oman and to analyse the current regulations concerning e-commerce and consumer protection.

Design/methodology/approach

This study followed the normative legal research approach and resorted to the desk research process to facilitate content analysis of literature containing consumer protection legislation and regulatory provisions in Oman in particular and the rest of the world in general.

Findings

The study reveals that consumer protection initiatives in Oman are well entrenched for offline transactions, but are relatively new and limited for e-commerce. In spite of the promulgation of consumer protection laws, electronic transaction law and cybercrime law, consumer protection measures for e-commerce in Oman do not address a large number of the global concerns necessary to build consumer confidence and trust in the online environment.

Research limitations/implications

There is a dearth of information concerning Oman on this topic in the extant literature. The research also witnessed the lack of empirical data on the issue of consumer protection and e-commerce in Oman that offer a detailed database of consumer complaints and associated outcomes.

Practical implications

The mechanism of consumer protection in electronic transactions is not robust in many countries. Because of the lack of comprehensive and robust legislation, consumers remain vulnerable in the online contractual purchase process. Moving beyond the fragmented legislation, many countries are currently mulling an all-comprehensive e-commerce law, implications of this paper will help the policymakers in identifying the focus areas.

Social implications

Consumer protection is a burning global issue in this era of consumerism. It is important to build consumer trust, transparency and integrity of transactions to reduce the risk and uncertainties of purchase.

Originality/value

Consumer protection studies conducted in the context of Oman, hitherto, deal more with data protection and dispute resolution mechanisms, and less with legal provisions, regulations and consumer confidence. The study shares newer insights based on a systematic review of legal and business databases. It is the first study of its kind in the context of Oman and the Middle East in general.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors appreciate the support of Dr Moosa Al Azri, Judge, the Muscat Court of Appeal, for vetting this paper from the legal perspective.

Citation

Belwal, R., Al Shibli, R. and Belwal, S. (2021), "Consumer protection and electronic commerce in the Sultanate of Oman", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 38-60. https://doi.org/10.1108/JICES-09-2019-0110

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited