Oman’s Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, who passed away on Friday, leaves behind a profound legacy as a wise and moderate leader and a champion of Arab and Islamic nations.
One of the Middle East's longest serving rulers, he maintained the country's neutrality in regional struggles and contributed greatly to peaceful resolution of disputes between countries in his neighbourhood and the West. He stood for dialogue to solve disputes and for rejecting violence and extremism.
In power since 1970, Sultan Qaboos transformed his country into a modern nation, which had only three schools and about 12km of paved road when he assumed power. Sultan Qaboos quickly moved toward modernising the country, building schools, hospitals and roads. He had a vision for a modern, prosperous, and peaceful Oman, and he willed that vision into reality. One can see the Sultan’s fingerprints everywhere in today’s Oman.
He encouraged Omanis living elsewhere in the Gulf to return to their own country and created an identity for his people of which they would be proud of. He is rightly regarded as the father of modern Oman.
Sultan Qaboos unified his country and maintained its territorial integrity. He dealt firmly with Communist rebels in the sultanate’s Dhofar region and saw that the Arab Spring did not create factions that would lead to political instability.
A great champion of the environment, he kept the beaches pristine and the whole country clean. Oman’s capital Muscat is one of the most beautiful, and among the best kept cities in the world.
A ruler who advocated the policy of maintaining peaceful coexistence and friendly relations with all nations, Sultan Qaboos recently said Oman is a country with zero enemies.
Under his reign, Oman became known as a welcoming tourist destination and a key Mideast interlocutor. Several international communiques issued following the release of hostages or announcing the reaching of agreements routinely credited the help of Oman.
The smooth transition of power following the Sultan's death is testimony to the political maturity of the people of Oman and the visionary foresight of a ruler who had made arrangements for the transfer a hassle-free affair.
Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, the new Sultan of Oman, has promised to uphold Muscat's policy of peaceful coexistence and friendly relations with all nations while further developing Oman.
It is evident that Haitham bin Tariq al-Said was the obvious choice of Sultan Qaboos as his successor. According to the Omani Constitution, the royal family shall, within three days of the throne falling vacant, determine the successor. If the family does not agree on a name, the person chosen by Qaboos in a letter addressed to the royal family, will be the successor.
A family council Saturday chose Haitham after opening the sealed envelope in which Sultan Qaboos had secretly written his recommendation, opting to follow his "wise" guidance.
A widely respected world leader, the greatest diplomatic achievement of Sultan Qaboos was the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers limiting Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Oman had hosted secret talks between Iranian and Western diplomats that led to the breakthrough.
Rightly recognising the loss of an influential global player, world leaders have paid tributes to the departed Omani leader in glowing terms. They called him a pragmatist leader, a good friend, an important figure in the politics of the region, wise ruler, man of dialogue, brother and a friend, pioneer, defender of Arab and Islamic causes and a stable force in the Middle East.
For Qatar, Oman under Sultan Qaboos was a noble friend, a strategic ally and a reliable partner. As a founder of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), the Sultan always strived for Gulf unity. Muscat did not take sides in the Gulf dispute that saw Riyadh and its allies impose a boycott on Qatar, or join a Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in Yemen.
The people of Qatar, led by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, mourned the death of Sultan Qaboos. The news of the Sultan’s demise was received in Qatar with great sorrow and deep sadness. The Amir in a statement called Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur a “great leader characterised by wisdom, moderation, and long-term vision”. The Amir also ordered three days of national mourning.
For me, it is a personal loss, as my mother is from Oman. My father was one of the first diplomats to be assigned to the Qatari embassy in Oman after Sultan Qaboos took power.
An elderly woman who was quoted by his son in a tweet summed up Omanis’ feeling towards the passing away of their dearly loved Sultan. "The first words I heard from my weeping mother after news of the great Sultan Qaboos' death were: The father of orphans, of the poor, of the downtrodden, of all of us, has died," the Twitter user wrote.