Sultan Qaboos ruled over Oman for nearly five decades and is known as the founder of modern Oman.
Rabat – Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman, the Arab world’s longest-serving ruler, died aged 79 on Friday evening, January 10, announced Oman News Agency (ONA) in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“With great sorrow and deep sadness… the Royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away on Friday,” said a statement from the Royal court, announcing three days of national mourning.
While the statement did not include a cause of death, media outlets have been speculating that Qaboos suffered from cancer. In December 2019, the ruler spent one week in a Belgian clinic for medical treatment.
Qaboos’ cousin, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, swore in as his successor on Saturday morning. Haitham is the former Minister of Culture and Heritage. The Royal Family Council selected him as a successor since Qaboos did not have an heir nor did he name a successor before his death.
The Sultan is the highest decision-maker in Oman. He also holds the position of Prime Minister, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Minister of Defence, Minister of Finance, and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Qaboos became Sultan in 1970, after deposing his father in a bloodless coup with British support. Oman was a British protectorate from 1891 until its independence in 1951.
Qaboos’ rise to power launched a new era in the modern history of Oman, setting the country on a path to development and using its wealth from oil. At the time of the coup, the country had only 10 kilometers of paved roads and three schools.
Qaboos was widely regarded as a popular ruler. He was also known for taking a neutral path in foreign affairs. In 2013, Qaboos facilitated secret talks between the United States and Iran that led to a nuclear deal two years later.
Under the leadership of Qaboos, Oman maintained strong diplomatic relations with Morocco.
In January 2019, Oman announced its full support for Morocco’s territorial integrity at the end of the 5th Moroccan-Omani joint commission in Muscat.
The Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yousef bin Alawi, commended the “wisdom of the Moroccan leadership committed to a peaceful solution to the question of the Moroccan Sahara,” said a press release following the event.
Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, has also commended the relationship between the two countries, saying that Morocco is a credible and serious partner of Oman.
Bourita noted that bilateral trade between the two countries has more than doubled over the last five years, increasing from MAD 207 million to MAD 532 million.
The Moroccan official also mentioned that 181 Omani students were pursuing their studies in Moroccan universities and institutions and that nearly 4,500 Moroccans live in Oman.