Sultan Qaboos bin Said died recently at the age of 79. The enigmatic Sultan skillfully led Oman since he overthrew his father, with Britain’s help, in 1970. Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Qaboos’s 66-year old cousin and Minister of Culture, was swiftly named the new Sultan on Saturday. Haitham’s name was in a sealed, secret envelope that Qaboos left behind naming his successor.
Stability in an unstable region
Qaboos, and Oman, have been pillars of stability in a normally fraught region. After defeating an insurgency in the Dhofar region of Oman — which borders Yemen in the south — early in his reign, Qaboos led a remarkable modernization program within Oman. With barely any paved roads when he took power, he implemented infrastructure and education programs that have led to a more vibrant nation today. In stark contrast to its Gulf neighbors in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain, Oman has also done a remarkable job of maintaining its cultural heritage — you won’t see any glitzy skyscrapers dotting the Muscat skyline. [Read more]