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Qaboos bin Said al Said

Qaboos bin Said Al Said
السلطان قابوس.jpg
Sultan of Oman
Reign 23 July 1970 – present
Predecessor Said bin Taimur
Born (1940-11-18) 18 November 1940 (age 77)
Salalah, Oman
Spouse Sayyida Nawwal bint Tariq
House Al Said
Father Said bin Taimur
Mother Mazoon al-Mashani
Religion Ibadi Islam

Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said (Arabic: قابوس بن سعيد آل سعيد‎, IPA: [ˈqaːbuːs bɪn ˈsaʕiːd ʔaːl ˈsaʕiːd]; born 18 November 1940)[1] is the Sultan of Oman. He rose to power after overthrowing his father, Said bin Taimur, in a palace coup in 1970. He is the 14th-generation descendant of the founder of the Al Bu Sa'id dynasty.[2] He is the longest serving Arab leader, having held the office since 1970.[3]

Early life and education

Qaboos was born in Salalah in Dhofar on 18 November 1940. He is the only son of Sultan Said bin Taimur and Sheikha Mazoon al-Mashani.

He received his primary and secondary education at Salalah and Pune, India where he was the student of Shankar Dayal Sharma, the former President of India and was sent to a private educational establishment in England at age 16.[4] At 20, he entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. After graduating from Sandhurst in September 1962, he joined the British Army and was posted to the 1st Battalion The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), serving with them in Germany for one year. He also held a staff appointment with the British Army.[5]

After his military service, Qaboos studied local government subjects in England and then completed his education with a world tour chaperoned by Leslie Chauncy. Upon his return in 1966, he was placed under virtual house arrest in the Sultan's palace in Salalah by his father. Here he was kept isolated from government affairs, except for occasional briefings by his father's personal advisers. Qaboos studied Islam and the history of his country. His personal relationships were limited to a handpicked group of palace officials who were sons of his father's advisors and a few expatriate friends such as Tim Landon. Sultan Said said that he would not allow his son to be involved with the developing planning process, and Qaboos began to make known his desire for change — which was quietly supported by his expatriate visitors.[5]

Political career

Rise to power

Qaboos acceded to the throne on 23 July 1970 following a successful coup against his father, with the aim of ending the country's isolation and using its oil revenue for modernization and development.[6] He declared that the country would no longer be known as Muscat and Oman, but would change its name to "the Sultanate of Oman" in order to better reflect its political unity.

The coup was supported by the British, having been 'planned in London by MI6 and by civil servants at the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office' and sanctioned by the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.[7]

The first pressing problem that Qaboos bin Said faced as Sultan was an armed communist insurgency from South Yemen, the Dhofar Rebellion (1962–1976). The sultanate eventually defeated the incursion with help from the Shah of Iran, Jordanian troops sent from his friend King Hussein of Jordan, British Special Forces and the Royal Air Force.

Reign as Sultan

Styles of
The Sultan of Oman
National emblem of Oman.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sire
Sultan Qaboos meets with United States Vice President Dick Cheney during Cheney's visit to the Middle East in 2002.

There were few rudiments of a modern state when Qaboos took power in the 1970 Omani coup d'état.[5] Oman was a poorly developed country, severely lacking in infrastructure, healthcare, and education, with only six kilometers of paved roads and a population dependent on subsistence farming and fishing. Qaboos modernized the country using oil revenues. Schools and hospitals were built, and a modern infrastructure was laid down, with hundreds of miles of new roads paved, a telecommunications network established, projects for a port and airport that had begun prior to his reign were completed and a second port was built, and electrification was achieved. The government also began to search for new water resources and built a desalination plant, and the government encouraged the growth of private enterprise, especially in development projects. Banks, hotels, insurance companies, and print media began to appear as the country developed economically. The Omani rial was established as the national currency, replacing the Indian rupee and Maria Theresa thaler. Later, additional ports were built, and universities were opened.[8][9][10] Oman was transformed from an economic backwater to a modern country with a well-developed infrastructure.[11] In his first year in power, Qaboos also abolished slavery in Oman.[12]

The political system which Qaboos established is that of an absolute monarchy. The Sultan's birthday, 18 November, is celebrated as Oman's national holiday. The first day of his reign, 23 July, is celebrated as Renaissance Day.

Oman has no system of checks and balances, and thus no separation of powers.[13] All power is concentrated in the sultan,[13] who is also chief of staff of the armed forces, Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Central Bank.[13] All legislation since 1970 has been promulgated through royal decrees, including the 1996 Basic Law.[13] The sultan appoints judges, and can grant pardons and commute sentences.[13] The sultan's authority is inviolable and the sultan expects total subordination to his will.[13]

In September 1995, he was involved in a car accident in Salalah just outside his palace, which claimed the life of one of his most prominent and influential ministers and his right-hand man, Qais Bin Abdul Munim Al Zawawi.

According to CBS News, June 19, 2011,

Several protest leaders have been detained and released in rolling waves of arrests during the Arab Spring, and dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the country is high. While disgruntlement amongst the populace is obvious, the extreme dearth of foreign press coverage and lack of general press freedom there leaves it unclear as to whether the protesters want the sultan to leave, or simply want their government to function better. Beyond the recent protests, there is concern about succession in the country, as there is no heir apparent or any clear legislation on who may be the next Sultan.[14]

His closest advisors are reportedly security and intelligence professionals within the Palace Office, headed by General Sultan bin Mohammed al Numani.[15]

Foreign policy

Qaboos officially keeps Oman neutral, having contacts and normal relations with Iran while being an ally of western states like the United Kingdom and the United States.

Oman has more normal relations with Iran than Arab States of the Persian Gulf, and is careful to appear neutral and maintain a balance between the West and Iran.[16] As a result, Oman has often acted as an intermediary between the United States and Iran.[17][18]


Unlike the heads of other Arab States of the Persian Gulf, Qaboos has not publicly named an heir. This has become a particular relevant problem, after the sultan has spent eight months in Germany for medical treatment of an alleged cancer. Although Sultan Qaboos returned to Oman on 23 March 2015 and state officials as well as the Sultan himself have repeatedly tried to assure the population over his health, uncertainty still remains and the question of his succession is giving way to all sorts of speculations.[19] Article 6 of the constitution says the royal family should choose a new sultan within three days of the position falling vacant. If the royal family council fails to agree, a letter containing a name penned by Sultan Qaboos should be opened in the presence of a defence council of military and security officials, supreme court chiefs, and heads of the two quasi-parliamentary advisory assemblies.[20] Analysts see the rules as an elaborate means of sultan Qaboos securing his choice for successor without causing controversy by making it public during his lifetime.[20]

Qaboos has no children; there are other male members of the Omani royal family including several paternal uncles and their families. Using primogeniture, the successor to Qaboos would appear to be the children of his late uncle, Sayyid Tariq bin Taimur Al Said, Oman's first prime minister before the sultan took over the position himself (and his former father-in-law).[21] Oman watchers believe the top contenders to succeed Qaboos are three of Tariq's sons: Assad bin Tariq Al Said, the personal representative of the Sultan; Shihab bin Tariq, a retired naval commander; and Haytham bin Tariq, the Minister of Heritage and National Culture.[20][22] First Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmud al-Said, a distant cousin of the Sultan, and Taimur bin Assad, the son of Assad bin Tariq, are also mentioned as potential candidates.[20] The problem is that none of the above seem to have the necessary capacities to rule Oman, since Sultan Qaboos, differently from the other Persian Gulf countries, has relied more on the business elite than on family members, who have been excluded from key positions, to secure his power over the country. His successor will have to strive to secure the same legitimacy that the current Sultan has managed to gain. Moreover, the question raises whether also the next successor will keep the same absolute power in his hands or whether he will decide to separate State powers, given that although Oman has been largely untouched by the 2011 Arab Spring, unrest has kept on sweeping through the country throughout 2012 and 2013.[19]


He has financed the construction or maintenance of a number of mosques, notably the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, as well as the holy places of other religions.

Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation

Through a donation to UNESCO in the early 1990s, he funded the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation, to afford recognition to outstanding contributions in the management or preservation of the environment. The prize has been awarded every two years since 1991[23]

Personal life

Qaboos is a Muslim of the Ibadi denomination, which has traditionally ruled Oman.[24] Although Oman is predominantly Muslim, Qaboos has granted freedom of religion in the country since his reign and has financed the construction of four Catholic and Protestant churches in the country as well as Hindu temples.[25]

Qaboos bin Said is an avid fan and promoter of classical music. His 120-member orchestra has a high reputation in the Middle East. The orchestra consists entirely of young Omanis who, since 1986, audition as children and grow up as members of the symphonic ensemble. They play locally and travel abroad with the sultan.[26] Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin was commissioned to compose a work entitled Symphonic Impressions of Oman.[27] The Sultan is particularly enthusiastic about the pipe organ.[28] The Royal Opera House Muscat features the largest mobile pipe organ in the world, which has three specially made organ stops, named the "Royal Solo" in his honour.[29] He was also a patron of local folk musician Salim Rashid Suri, making him a cultural consultant, in which role Suri wrote songs praising the Sultan and his family.[30]

On 22 March 1976, Qaboos bin Said married his first cousin, Kamila, née Sayyida Nawwal bint Tariq Al Said (born 1951), daughter of Sayyid Tariq bin Taimur Al Said and his second wife, Sayyida Shawana bint Nasir Al Said. The marriage ended in divorce in 1979.[31] She remarried in 2005.[32] The marriage produced no heirs, and Qaboos bin Said has written documents naming the successor to his title.[33]

As of 2017, Qaboos has cancer, for which he receives treatment.[34]

Radio amateur

Qaboos bin Said al Said is a radio amateur with the call sign A41AA.[35]


Name City Area Coordinates Features
Al Alam Palace Muscat 2.0 km2 (0.77 sq mi) 23°36′52.86″N 58°35′43.90″E / 23.6146833°N 58.5955278°E / 23.6146833; 58.5955278

Super yachts

The Oman Royal Yacht Squadron has recently received two new 'super yachts':

Name Length (m) Shipyard Year Description
Al Said 155[36] Lürssen 2007 Contains a Helipad, an orchestra and swimming pool. Berthed most of the time in Mutrah port.
Fulk al Salamah Mariotti 2016 Secondary Royal Yacht and support vessel. Berthed most of the time in Mutrah port.
Al Dhaferah[37] 136 Lürssen 1987 Former Fulk al Salamah
Zinat al Bihaar 61 Oman Royal Yacht Squadron[38] 1988 Luxury sailing yacht with world's largest sail built in Oman with imported engine from Siemens.
Al-Noores 33.5[39] K. Damen Netherlands 1982 Specialized tug boat for the other royal yachts.

Military ranks

Qaboos holds the following ranks:[40]

Foreign honours

He has been awarded (° = Royal Ark):[40]


See also


  1. ^ Al Sa'id, Qaboos (1940–) – Personal history, Biographical highlights, Personal chronology, Influences and contributions, The world's perspective, Legacy. Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  2. ^ "Qaboos bin Said". Webster's Concise Encyclopedia. 1. New York: Gramercy Books. 1998. p. 520. 
  3. ^ "Can Oman's Stability Outlive Sultan Qaboos?". Middle East Institute. Retrieved 1 March 2017. 
  4. ^ Tribute to His Majesty Archived 18 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b c Allen, Calvin H.; Rigsbee, W. Lynn (2000-01-01). Oman Under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution, 1970–1996. Psychology Press. pp. 28–29, 34. ISBN 9780714650012. 
  6. ^ PROFILE-Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said Archived 6 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine.. (2011-03-25). Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  7. ^ Cobain, Ian (2016). The History Thieves. London: Portobello Books. p. 87. ISBN 9781846275838. 
  8. ^ []
  9. ^ Oman: the Modernization of the Sultanate, Calvin H. Allen, Jr
  10. ^ Oman: The Bradt Travel Guide, Diana Darke
  11. ^ []
  12. ^ Suzanne Miers (2003). Slavery in the Twentieth Century: The Evolution of a Global Problem. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 347. ISBN 0-7591-0340-2. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f "Country Report: Oman". Archived from the original on 28 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "The world's enduring dictators: Qaboos bin Said, Oman". 
  15. ^ Henderson, Simon (April 3, 2017). "The Omani Succession Envelope, Please". Foreign Policy. Retrieved April 4, 2017. His closest advisors are security and intelligence professionals in the so-called Royal Office, headed by Gen. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Numani. 
  16. ^ Slackman, Michael (16 May 2009). "Oman Navigates Between Iran and Arab Nations". The New York Times. 
  17. ^ Gladstone, Rick (September 4, 2013). "Iran's President to Speak at the U.N." NYT. Retrieved August 31, 2016. 
  18. ^ Iran: A visit from the sultan
  19. ^ a b "Sultan Qaboos Is Back, but Uncertainty Remains – Fanack Chronicle". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  20. ^ a b c d Dokoupil, Martin (24 May 2012). "Succession Question Fuels Uncertainty in Oman". Reuters. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  21. ^ HH Prince Sayyid Tarik bin Taimur al-Said Archived 1 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  22. ^ "The Question of Succession". Muscat Confidential. Retrieved 2 August 2012. 
  23. ^ .[]
  24. ^ Though Ibadhis are the majority in Oman, with Sunnis a minority, exact percentages are unavailable; 75% for the Ibadhis is often cited, while the Sunnis, followed by a small amount of local Shiites and foreign Hindus, Christians, and others make up the remaining 25%.[citation needed]
  25. ^ []
  26. ^ Trofimov, Yaroslavth (14 December 2001). "Oman has oil, but it had no orchestra". Wall Street Journal: A6. 
  27. ^ [1] Archived 17 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ "Carlo Curly & Mathis Music". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2006. 
  29. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2014. . Times of Oman; "In the Eye of Beauty – An Ode to the Organ" 11th December 2014; retrieved 24th December 2014.
  30. ^ Margaret Makepeace (November 26, 2013). "The Singing Sailor – Salim Rashid Suri". Untold Lives Blog. British Library. Retrieved November 30, 2014. 
  31. ^ Joseph A. Kechichian (December 17, 2010). "Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed: A democrat visionary". Weekend Review. Gulf News. Retrieved 4 October 2012. 
  32. ^ "oman9". Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  33. ^ []
  34. ^ "The sultanate of Oman is taking a kicking". The Economist. 8 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017. 
  35. ^ Dx-qsl
  36. ^ Top 100. (2010-07-27). Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  37. ^ Access Perpetual Wellbeing in Excess: Sultan Qaboos's extravaganza. (2009-01-01). Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  38. ^ Sailing Yacht – Zinat al Bihaar – Oman Royal Yacht Squadron – Completed Superyachts on Superyacht Times .com. Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  39. ^ Motor Yacht – Al-Noores – K. Damen – Completed Superyachts on Superyacht Times .com. Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  40. ^ a b c The Royal Ark, Oman genealogical details, p.9
  41. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1441. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  42. ^ HM deserves much more than awards and medals. Times of Oman (2007-01-28). Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  43. ^ "Grand State Banquet". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016. 
  44. ^ Italian Presidency Website, S.M. Qaboos bin Said Sultano dell'Oman – decorato di Gran Cordone
  45. ^ "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1991" (PDF). 
  46. ^ 1999 National Orders awards Archived 12 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.

External links

Qaboos bin Said al Said
House of Al Said
Born: 18 November 1940
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Said Bin Taimur
Sultan of Oman