A day after the passing away of Oman’s long-time ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, his cousin and Culture Minister Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, above, was sworn in as the new sultan on Saturday.
In his speech soon after ascending the throne, Sultan Haitham said he would follow the policies of the late sultan based on peaceful coexistence, non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, respect for their sovereignty and international cooperation.
Earlier in the day, the late sultan was laid to rest in the cemetery of the ruling Al Said family in Muscat after funeral prayers attended
by Sultan Haitham, other dignitaries and Omani officials.
Qaboos died at 79 on Friday evening after ruling the country for 50 years. Since he had no children and he did not nominate a successor, the Defence Council followed the constitutional norms.
As per its request, the Royal Family Council met, opened a sealed envelope containing the name of the successor proposed by Qaboos and declared 65-year-old Haitham as Oman’s new sultan.
The Sultanate’s Diwan of Royal Court announced a three-day national mourning for the the departed leader regarded as the architect of modern Oman and peace icon of the Middle East. Flags will be flown at half-mast for 40 days.
Qaboos had been undergoing treatment for cancer since 2014. Early last month, he went to Belgium for treatment.
Qaboos, who seized power from his father in a bloodless coup in 1970, led Oman’s Renaissance by initiating reforms in various spheres of life.
He pulled the country from poverty and laid down a roadmap for development. His global vision and forward-looking policies coupled with the country’s oil wealth put Oman on the fast track of growth within a short span of time.
Expatriates came in droves and changed the face of the Sultanate over the years by building roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, gardens and other facilities.
Thanks to the late sultan’s progressive views, wisdom and tolerance, Oman soon became one of the preferred destinations in the Middle East for expatriates and tourists.
While leading the country on to the path of development,Qaboos laid stress on education, health, environment, gender equality and self-reliance.
He promoted women to top positions in the government and made them representatives in legislative councils called ‘majlis’.
As the people’s king, Sultan Qaboos used to undertake Meet-the-People’s Tour to Oman’s cities, towns and villages to interact with them and listen to their problems.
The Sultan’s skills in building diplomatic bridges were evident when he tried to mediate between the US and Iran in the early years of this decade.
Earlier this month, the Sultan sent Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi to Tehran to meet his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in an attempt to ease tensions between Iran and the US.