Sultan Qaboos, the longest-reigning leader of the modern Arab world, has died at the age of 79, the royal court said on Saturday. “With great sorrow and deep sadness […] the royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away on Friday,” the court said in a statement.
His cousin Haitham bin Tariq, Oman’s culture minister, was named as Qaboos’ successor, the government said on Saturday. “Haitham bin Tariq was sworn in as the new sultan of the country […] after a meeting of the family which decided to appoint the one who was chosen by the sultan,” the Oman government said in a tweet. Discussions over the late ruler’s successor were held as he had left no apparent heir. He was unmarried and had no children or brothers.
Qaboos, who ruled Oman since 1970 when he deposed his father in a palace coup, had been ill for some time and had been believed to be suffering from colon cancer.
According to the Omani constitution, the royal family shall, within three days of the throne falling vacant, determine the successor. Had the royal family failed to agree on a name, the person chosen by Qaboos in a letter addressed to the royal family would be the successor.
The sultan should be a member of the royal family, as well as “Muslim, mature, rational and the legitimate son of Omani Muslim parents”. Haitham, 65, was being named as a potential successor along with Shihab bin Tariq, 63, who was a close adviser to the sultan and Asad bin Tariq, 65. Asad had been appointed deputy prime minister for international relations and cooperation affairs in 2017.
A three-day period of official mourning for the public and private sectors has been declared, and flags are to be flown at half mast for 40 days, state media said. Qaboos had been unwell for years and had spent a week in Belgium undergoing medical treatment in early December.Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said promised on Saturday to maintain the Gulf Arab state’s foreign policy which he said was built on peaceful coexistence and maintaining friendly ties with all nations. In a speech broadcast on state television, he also called for efforts to develop the relatively small oil producer, continuing the path of his predecessor Sultan Qaboos.
Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi on Saturday expressed his heart-felt condolences on the demise of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman. The President in a message said “Our heart-felt condolences to our friends in Oman on the demise of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.” Services of late Sultan Qaboos to the Omani nation and for the world peace would always be remembered, the President posted further. “A true brother, he ensured Oman-Pakistan friendship. May Allah grant him the highest place in Jannah, Ameen!” he added. Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a tweet, offered his condolences on the death of Qaboos and termed the ruler as a “visionary” who “transformed Oman into a vibrant, modern state”.“Oman has lost a beloved leader and Pakistan a close, trusted friend. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” the premier said. PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif also extended his condolences to the people of Oman and said that Qaboos’ services for the development and progress of his country will be remembered.