Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said passed away on Friday,10 January aged 79.
A three-day period of mourning has been declared in Oman, and the country’s flag will be flown at half-mast for a period of 40 days.
People from all walks of life from across the Sultanate, as well as leaders from the region and from around the world, mourned the death of the ruler known for being the “the Sultan of loyalty, love, and wisdom”.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who came to power in 1970 after taking over from his father in a palace coup, managed to transform the ultra-conservative, isolated backwater sultanate, where infrastructure was limited to less than ten-kilometers of paved roads and three schools, into a modern developed state. Over a period of nearly five decades that he was in power, Sultan Qaboos used the country’s oil wealth to reshape the sultanate from a nation that once banned electricity, radios and even umbrellas into a state known for its liberal views, welcoming tourist locations, and a generally neutral political stance that allowed it to serve as a trusted interlocutor between opposite sides in a fractious region.
A fourteenth-generation descendant of the founder of the House of Al Said, Sultan Qaboos was one of the longest-ruling monarchs in the Middle East. He will be best remembered by people for initiating the ‘Omani Renaissance’,which brought about social, economic, educational and cultural reforms, as well as opened up Oman to the world.
In a region known to relegate women to second-class citizens, Sultan Qaboos took the lead in promoting women to influential positions and ensuring their representation in popularly elected legislative councils.
Besides his domestic achievements, he is best known in the region and beyond for being a behind-the-scenes ‘middle-man’ whose charisma and sanguinity made Oman the ‘go-to’ nation to mediate in difficult situations, including in the nuclear standoff and secret prisoner-swaps between Iran and the US. Oman was also the bridge between diplomatic divides that cropped up in the Arab world and locally in the region.
Born on 18 November 1940, as the only son to Sultan Said bin Taimur and Sheikha Mazoon al-Mashani, Sultan Qaboos did his initial schooling in Oman and later passed out of the prestigious British Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He married a first cousin but the couple soon separated and had no children.
He was believed to have been ailing from poor health for several years, and has not been seen at public function for a long while. He is reported to have traveled to Belgium and Germany in December for medical checkups.
Shortly after the announcement of the demise of Sultan Qaboos, the Omani royal family council met in private and opened the will of Sultan Qaboos, in which he named his successor, Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, who was previously the MInister of Heritage and National Culture.
Shortly after taking his oath before the Council of Oman in the morning, the new Sultan attended and headed funeral prayers at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Muscat. Thousands had gathered at the mosque and outside to pay their respects to their beloved Sultan, whose coffin draped in the Omani flag was later buried at the family cemetery.
Sultan Haitham Bin Said who has served as a special envoy to the late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said on different occasions, held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A 1979 graduate of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme, he served as the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs from 1986 to 1994, and was later appointed as the Secretary General for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1994–2002).
Sultan Haitham is also the Chairman of the committee for the future vision of ‘Oman 2040’. A known sports enthusiast, he was the first head of the Oman Football Association in the early 1980s and is also the honorary president of the Oman Association for the Disabled and the honorary president of the ‘Omani-Japanese Friendship Association’.
Kuwait mourns sad demise of Sultan Qaboos of Oman
His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, sent a message of condolence to his brother, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Sultan of Oman, in which his Highness expressed, in his name and on behalf of the Kuwaiti people, deep sorrow and sincere condolences to His Majesty, the noble family, and the brotherly Omani people on the death of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, may God Almighty have mercy on him.
His Highness indicated that he lost a dear brother and a companion, with whom he had a distinguished personal relationship, and he stressed that the world lost one of its great men with the demise of the Sultan. The Sultanate of Oman and the Gulf family and the Arab and Islamic nations have lost a wise leader who devoted his life to serving his country and people and the issues of the Arab and Islamic nations, said His Highness the Amir.
His Highness the Amir of Kuwait also ordered an official mourning period with flags flown at half-mast and the suspension of all government departments for a period of three days from Saturday in mourning over the death of the late Sultan of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
In announcing the death of the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Anas Al-Saleh said that the Council of Ministers received with deep dismay the news of the demise of late Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taymur Al Busaidi, Sultan of the sisterly Sultanate of Oman.
The Arab and Islamic nations have suffered a great loss with the death of a great leader whose opinion, wisdom and generosity were welcomed by all. The tremendous achievements that Oman witnessed during his reign and which allowed the country to reach the prestigious position it enjoys today are a reflection of the abilities and efforts of the late Sultan of Oman.
His positive role in resolving many of the disputes witnessed in the countries of the region, and bringing together different points of view and family unification together at the Gulf level, were highly appreciated by countries and people involved, as well as by the larger global community.
On this sad occasion, the Cabinet recalled with utmost gratitude and appreciation the role of the sisterly Sultanate of Oman under the leadership of the deceased, and his courageous stance in rejecting the sinful aggression that Kuwait was subjected to at the hands of the now defunct regime in Iraq. Oman stood with full force in support of the Kuwaiti rights, and against the affliction inflicted on Kuwait.
In the name of His Highness the Amir and His Highness the Crown Prince and the Kuwaiti people, the Cabinet extends sincere condolences to the sisterly Sultanate of Oman, the government and the people.