Sultan Qabus of Oman died at the age of 79

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Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman, the Arab world’s longest-serving ruler, has died aged 79.”With great sorrow and deep sadness… the royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who gave up the ghost on Friday,” a court statement said.

Last month he returned home after undergoing medical checks and treatment in Belgium. there have been reports he was affected by cancer. Sultan Qaboos was unmarried and had no heir or designated successor.

Three days of national mourning are declared. The sultan deposed his father during a bloodless coup with British support in 1970. Using its oil wealth, he then set Oman on a path to development.

According to the sultanate’s Basic Statute, the royalty Council – comprising about 50 male members – should choose a replacement sultan within three days of the throne falling vacant.

How Sultan Qaboos weathered the Arab Spring

If the family cannot agree, members of the defense counsel and therefore the chairmen of the Supreme Court, the Consultative Council and therefore the State Council will open a sealed envelope during which Sultan Qaboos secretly recorded his choice and enthrone that person.

The leading contenders reportedly include three brothers who are cousins of the late sultan: Culture Minister Haitham bin Tariq Al Said; Deputy Prime Minister Asaad bin Tariq Al Said; and Shihab bin Tariq Al Said, a former Oman Navy commander who was a royal advisor.

The sultan is that the paramount decision-maker in Oman and also holds the positions of the prime minister, supreme commander of the soldiers, minister of defense, minister of finance and minister of foreign affairs.

Neutral policy
For almost five decades, Sultan Qaboos completely dominated the political lifetime of Oman, which is home to 4.6 million people, of whom about 43% are expatriates.

At the age of 29, he overthrew his father, Said bin Taimur, a reclusive and ultra-conservative ruler who banned a variety of things, including taking note of the radio or wearing sunglasses, and decided who could marry, be educated or leave the country.

Sultan Qaboos immediately declared that he intended to determine a contemporary government and use oil money to develop a rustic where at the time there have been only 10km (six miles) of paved roads and three schools.

In the first few years of his rule, he suppressed with the assistance of British Special Forces an insurgency within the southern province of Dhofar by tribesmen backed by the Marxist People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen.

He pursued a neutral path in foreign affairs and was ready to facilitate secret talks between us and Iran in 2013 that that led to a landmark nuclear deal two years later

Absolute rule
Sultan Qaboos was described as charismatic and visionary, and he was widely considered popular. But he was also an absolute monarch and any dissenting voices were silenced.

A degree of discontent surfaced in 2011 during the so-called Arab Spring. There was no major upheaval in Oman, but thousands of individuals took to the streets across the country to demand better wages, more jobs, an end to corruption.

Security forces initially tolerated the protests, but later used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to disperse them. Two people were killed and dozens of individuals were injured. Hundreds were prosecuted under laws criminalizing “illegal gatherings” and “insulting the sultan”.

The protests did not produce anything within the way of major change. But Sultan Qaboos did remove several long-serving ministers perceived as corrupt, widened the powers of the Consultative Council, and promised to make more public sector jobs.

Since then, the authorities have continued to dam local independent newspapers and magazines critical of the govt, confiscate books, and harass activists, consistent with Human Rights Watch.

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