Sultan Qaboos Ushered in Oman Renaissance
Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died late on Friday, transformed Oman during his 49-year reign from a poverty-stricken country into a prosperous state and an internationally trusted mediator for some of the region’s thorniest issues.
The sultan had been believed to be ill for some time and was in Belgium in December for treatment.
Qaboos, the eighth ruler of the al-Said dynasty that governed Oman since 1744, was born on Nov. 18, 1940 in Dhofar.
In 1958, he headed to England to complete his education, strengthening historic ties between Britain and the Omani royal family. He studied for two years at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst and served six months in the British army in West Germany, returning to England in 1962 to study local government.
Qaboos, 79, became sultan in July 1970.
The British-educated sultan reformed a nation that was home to only three schools.
Under his reign, Oman became known as a welcoming tourist destination and a key Mideast interlocutor, helping the US free captives in Iran and Yemen.
“Sultan Qaboos had such charismatic authority and became so synonymous with Oman as a modern nation-state that it will naturally be difficult for any successor to replicate that, at least at the beginning,” Kristian Coates Ulrichsen of the Texas-based Rice University’s Baker Institute told Reuters.