Oman announced Saturday culture minister Haitham bin Tariq Al Said as the new ruler of the Gulf Arab country, ending speculation over the mystery of who would succeed longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
The announcement on Omani state television was read over footage showing thousands gathered in the capital, Muscat, for the funeral of Sultan Qaboos who ruled the country for 50 years and did not have any children. His choice of successor was a closely guarded secret believed to have been known only to the sultan.
“It is a sad day in Oman, but also represents a new beginning with a new leader,” a presenter on the state TV said soberly.
Qaboos, the Middle East’s longest-ruling monarch, came to power when he deposed his father in a 1970 palace coup. He was known internationally for his diplomatic balancing in the Persian Gulf. Under his leadership, Oman often served as a facilitator of talks between adversaries, including I ran and the U.S.
Oman is a close ally of Washington and viewed as a valuable regional player.
Qaboos died at the age of 79 from an illness that was never publicly disclosed or confirmed. For years, he’d sought treatment in Germany where he spent eight months between 2014 and 2015.
Following Islamic tradition, the sultan was buried before nightfall.
His successor is a career diplomat whose role as minister of national heritage and culture helped project Omani influence. Local media in the Gulf reported Sultan Haitham is a cousin of Qaboos.
He previously spent 16 years in various roles with the foreign ministry. He also served as the foreign ministry’s undersecretary for political affairs and its secretary general. He has sometimes also chaired meetings of the Cabinet.
The new sultan was selected in an intricate process that was broadcast on state TV after Qaboos’ burial.
The country’s Defense Council, in the presence of the Royal Family Council, was shown opening a sealed letter in which Sultan Qaboos names his choice for successor. The Defense Council then read the contents of the letter aloud before all those present in the meeting, announcing Haitham bin Tariq Al Said as the dynasty’s heir.
According to Oman’s succession laws, the letter is to be opened if the Royal Family Council cannot agree on a successor within three days. The Al Said family has ruled Oman since the eighteenth century.
Read the full article by Aya Batrawy on AFP, Jan 11, 2020