Just The Facts: “Father of Modern Oman,” Sultan Qaboos, Dies at 79

Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the leader of Oman for 50 years, died on Jan. 10 at the age of 79 due to an undisclosed illness, possibly related to the colon cancer for which he had been treated for in 2015. As the longest-serving Arab ruler, he elevated the once isolated and unstable Oman to a country of modernity with an influence on the global scene. Qaboos seized power from his father with the help of the Unit-ed Kingdom as a part of the swift and bloodless 1970 Omani coup d’état. He immediately proposed modernization reforms and loos-ned previously tight restrictions from his father s regime. Qaboos’s reforms pushed improvement to infrastructure, education and health, and the development of natural resources such as gas. Under his rule, the Omani economy grew by 1,370 percent in the 1970s and has grown at a more moderate double-digit rate per decade since then.The sultan’s death was reported by state media in an announcement accompanied by a declaration of a three-day period of mourning. His family announced Qaboos replacement to be his cousin, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said. Bin Tariq is the former Minister of Heritage and Culture of Oman and the leader of the Oman Vision 2040 committee, the country’s social and economic development plan. In his first message to the public, bin Tariq promised to uphold his cousin’s peaceful approach to foreign policy, which has opened relationships with countries such as the United States and Iran. This exchange of power marks the end of the peaceful and well-received reign of Sultan Qaboos, and the start of the rule of Haitham bin Tariq, who must guide Oman through a time of great instability in the Middle East.