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Omani Sultan Qaboos, Who Ruled Oman For Half A Century, Dies at 79

By: Colin Dwyer
January 11, 2020

For the first time in roughly half a century, Oman is under new direction.

The longest-serving monarch of the Arab world, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, died Friday at the age of 79, ceding the country to his cousin and former culture minister Haitham bin Tariq al-Said. The latter was sworn in as sultan Saturday, assuming the reins of state in a ceremony attended by high-ranking military and government officials.

“The trust in us is great and the responsibilities are great,” the new sultan told those assembled for the occasion, according to the state-run Oman News Agency. He focused on maintaining Oman’s long-standing role as a neutral party for peace in the troubled region.

“We will follow the same line as the late sultan,” he said, according to a translation from The Associated Press, “and the principles that he asserted for the foreign policy of our country, of peaceful coexistence among nations and people, and good neighborly behavior of non-interference in the affairs of others.”

The speech ushered in a new and unfamiliar era for the country, which had been governed by just one man since Qaboos overthrew his father in a bloodless palace coup in 1970. Qaboos, who had been educated in the U.K., oversaw something of a revolution in Oman during his reign, guiding the Gulf state in its development from an isolated loner to active member in the Arab League, the United Nations and eventually the World Trade Organization, as well.