Sultan Qaboos, the ruler of Oman, dies at 79

Sultan Qaboos

Sultan Qaboos

By Habib Toumi

Muscat: Sultan Qaboos bin Said, a ruler who embodied Oman as he led its transformation from a sleepy enclave into a modern state, was laid to rest on Saturday.

Qaboos, 79, ruled for almost five decades, having replaced his father as the Sultan of the country on the on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula  in Western Asia in 1970. He was the longest-reigning leader of the modern Arab world.

Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, the culture minister, was appointed the new Sultan, as per the recommendation of Qaboos who had no children and was not married.

The recommendation was endorsed by the Ruling Family Council and Haitham was sworn in shortly after the funerals.

In keeping with the Islamic tradition of prompt burial, the funerals were held in the morning, a few hours after the announcement of the demise of Qaboos.

Sultan Haitham bin Tariq

Sultan Haitham bin Tariq

Haitham bin Tariq was sworn in as the new sultan in a solemn ceremony. In his acceptance speech, he stressed he would follow the line drawn by Sultan Qaboos and would build on his achievements.

He expressed adherence to “our country’s foreign policy of peaceful living among nations and peoples… and not interfering in the internal affairs of others, respecting nations’ sovereignty and international cooperation.”

“Oman will continue its role as an active member of the United Nations that respects its charter and works with member states to achieve international peace and security and spread economic prosperity in all countries,” he said in his first speech.

“We will build our relations with all countries on a great legacy left to us by the late Sultan, based on commitment to friendship and cooperation with everyone and respect for the covenants and agreements that we signed with various countries and organizations.”

From the funeral of Sultan Qaboos

From the funeral of Sultan Qaboos

Haitham bin Tariq was born in 1954 and graduated from Oxford University in 1979 after studying the Foreign Service Program. He held several positions in the foreign ministry, including secretary general and undersecretary for political affairs. He was named minister of heritage and culture in February 2002, a post he kept until he became the country’s Sultan.

A sports enthusiast, he was the head of the Omani football association from 1983 until 1986.

Oman has an area of around 310,000 square kilometers and a population of slightly less than five million.

 

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