As Sultan, Qaboos implemented a policy of modernization and ended Oman's international isolation.
His reign saw a rise in living standards and development in the country, the abolition of slavery, the end of the Dhofar Rebellion
and the promulgation of Oman's constitution
. Suffering from poor health in later life, Qaboos died in 2020. He had no children, so he entailed the royal court to reach consensus on a successor upon his death. As a precaution he hid a letter which names the successor in case an agreement is not achieved. After his death the royal court decided to view Qaboos's letter and named his intended successor, his cousin Haitham bin Tariq
, as Sultan.
Early life and education
After his military service, Qaboos studied local government subjects in England
and then completed his education with a world tour chaperoned by Leslie Chauncy. Upon his return in 1966, he was placed under virtual house arrest in the Sultan's palace in Salalah by his father. Here he was kept isolated from government affairs, except for occasional briefings by his father's personal advisers. Qaboos studied Islam and the history of his country. His personal relationships were limited to a handpicked group of palace officials who were sons of his father's advisors and a few expatriate friends such as Tim Landon
. Sultan Said said that he would not allow his son to be involved with the developing planning process, and Qaboos began to make known his desire for change—which was quietly supported by his expatriate visitors.
Qaboos acceded to the throne on 23 July 1970 following a successful coup against his father, with the aim of ending the country's isolation and using its oil revenue for modernization and development.
He declared that the country would no longer be known as Muscat and Oman
, but would change its name to "the Sultanate of Oman" in order to better reflect its political unity.
Reign as Sultan
There were few rudiments of a modern state when Qaboos took power in the 1970 Omani coup d'état
Oman was a poorly developed country, severely lacking in infrastructure, healthcare, and education, with only six miles of paved roads and a population dependent on subsistence farming and fishing. Qaboos modernized the country using oil revenues. Schools and hospitals were built, and a modern infrastructure was laid down, with hundreds of kilometres of new roads paved, a telecommunications network established, projects for a port and airport that had begun prior to his reign were completed and a second port was built, and electrification
was achieved. The government also began to search for new water resources and built a desalination plant, and the government encouraged the growth of the private enterprise, especially in development projects. Banks, hotels, insurance companies, and print media began to appear as the country developed economically. The Omani rial
was established as the national currency, replacing the Indian rupee
and Maria Theresa thaler
. Later, additional ports were built, and universities were opened.
In his first year in power, Qaboos also abolished slavery in Oman.
The political system which Qaboos established is that of an absolute monarchy
. The Sultan's birthday, 18 November, is celebrated as Oman's national holiday.
The first day of his reign, 23 July, is celebrated as Renaissance Day.
Oman has no system of checks and balances, and thus no separation of powers
. All power is concentrated in the sultan, who is also chief of staff of the armed forces, Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Central Bank. All legislation since 1970 has been promulgated through royal decrees, including the 1996 Basic Law. The sultan appoints judges, and can grant pardons and commute sentences. The sultan's authority is inviolable and the sultan expects total subordination to his will.
Qaboos' closest advisors were reportedly security and intelligence professionals within the Palace Office
, headed by General Sultan bin Mohammed al Numani.
2011 Omani protests
The protesters demanded salary increases, lower living costs, the creation of more jobs and a reduction in corruption.
Protests in Sohar
, Oman's fifth-largest city, centered on the Globe Roundabout
's responses included the dismissal of a third of the governing cabinet.
Several protest leaders have been detained and released in rolling waves of arrests during the Arab Spring
, and dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the country is high. While disgruntlement amongst the populace is obvious, the extreme dearth of foreign press coverage and lack of general press freedom there leaves it unclear as to whether the protesters want the sultan to leave, or simply want their government to function better. Beyond the recent protests, there is concern about succession in the country, as there is no heir apparent or any clear legislation on who may be the next Sultan.
He did give token concession to protesters yet detained social media activists. In August 2014, The Omani writer and human rights defender Mohammed Alfazari, the founder and editor-in-chief of the e-magazine Mowatin "Citizen", disappeared after going to the police station in the Al-Qurum district of Muscat, only to be pardoned some time later.
Sultan Qaboos meeting the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi
Under Qaboos, Oman fostered closer ties with Iran than other Arab states of the Persian Gulf
, and was careful to appear neutral and maintain a balance between the West and Iran.
As a result, Oman often acted as an intermediary between the United States and Iran.
Qaboos helped mediate secret US-Iran talks in 2013 that led two years later to the international nuclear pact
, from which the United States withdrew in 2018.
Qaboos financed the construction or maintenance of a number of mosques, notably the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
, as well as the holy places of other religions.
Sultan Qaboos was a Muslim of the Ibadi
denomination, which has traditionally ruled Oman. Although Oman is predominantly Muslim, Qaboos granted freedom of religion in the country and financed the construction of four Catholic and Protestant churches in the country as well as several Hindu temples.
Qaboos bin Said was an avid fan and promoter of classical music
. His 120-member orchestra has a high reputation in the Middle East. The orchestra consists entirely of young Omanis who, since 1986, audition as children and grow up as members of the symphonic ensemble
. They play locally and traveled abroad with the sultan.Argentine
composer Lalo Schifrin
was commissioned to compose a work entitled Symphonic Impressions of Oman
The Sultan was particularly enthusiastic about the pipe organ
The Royal Opera House Muscat
features the second largest mobile pipe organ in the world, which has three specially made organ stops
, named the "Royal Solo" in his honour.
He was also a patron of local folk musician Salim Rashid Suri
, making him a cultural consultant, in which role Suri wrote songs praising the Sultan and his family.
On 22 March 1976, Qaboos bin Said married his first cousin, Kamila née
Sayyida Nawwal bint Tariq Al Said (born 1951), daughter of SayyidTariq bin Taimur Al Said
and his second wife, Sayyida Shawana bint Nasir Al Said. The marriage ended in divorce in 1979.
The marriage produced no children, and Qaboos bin Said wrote secret documents naming the successor to his realm.
Illness and death
From 2014, Qaboos suffered from colon cancer
, for which he received treatment.
On 14 December 2019, he was reported to be terminal with a short time to live after his stay for medical treatment in UZ Leuven
and returned home because he wanted to die in his own country.
He died on 10 January 2020 at the age of 79. The following day, the government declared three days of national mourning
and said the country's flag would be flown at half-staff for a period of 40 days.
Unlike the heads of other Arab states of the Persian Gulf
, Qaboos did not publicly name an heir
. Article 6 of the constitution
says the royal family should choose a new sultan within three days of the position falling vacant. If the royal family council fails to agree, a letter containing a name penned by Sultan Qaboos should be opened in the presence of a defence council of military and security officials, supreme court chiefs, and heads of the two quasi-parliamentary advisory assemblies.
Analysts saw the rules as an elaborate means of Sultan Qaboos securing his choice for successor without causing controversy by making it public during his lifetime, since it was considered unlikely that the royal family would be able to agree on a successor on its own.
Qaboos had no children nor siblings; there are other male members of the Omani royal family including paternal uncles and their families. Using same-generation primogeniture
, the successor to Qaboos would appear to be the children of his late uncle, Sayyid Tariq bin Taimur Al Said
, Oman's first prime minister before the sultan took over the position himself (and his former father-in-law). Oman watchers believed the top contenders to succeed Qaboos were three of Tariq's sons: Assad bin Tariq Al Said
, Deputy Prime Minister
for International Relations and Cooperation
and the Sultan's special representative; Shihab bin Tariq, a retired Royal Navy of Oman
commander; and Haitham bin Tariq Al Said
, the Minister of Heritage and National Culture.
On 11 January 2020, Oman state TV said authorities had opened the letter by Sultan Qaboos bin Said naming his successor, announcing shortly that Haitham bin Tariq is the country's ruling sultan.
Haitham bin Tariq has two sons and two daughters.
Awards and decorations
- Grand Master of the Order of Al-Said
- Grand Master of the Order of Oman
- Grand Master of the Order of the Renaissance of Oman
- Grand Master of the Order of Merit of Sultan Qaboos
- Grand Master of the Order of N'Oman
- Grand Master of the Order of Merit
- Grand Master of the Order of Sultan Qaboos
- Grand Master of the Sultan Qaboos Order for Culture, Science and Art
- Grand Master of the Order of Appreciation
- Grand Master of the Order of Achievement
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Qaboos bin SaidHouse of Al SaidBorn: 18 November 1940 Died: 10 January 2020
Last edited on 3 April 2021, at 23:28
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