Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the longest-ruling monarch of the Middle East has died this morning. Qaboos seized to power in 1970 and ruled for almost five decades.
Several prominent world leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi have offered condolences to Oman.
PM Narendra Modi has offered his condolences to the people of Oman following the death of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. “I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said,” said PM Modi. “He was a visionary leader and statesman who transformed Oman into a modern and prosperous nation. He was a beacon of peace for our region and the world.”
“Sultan Qaboos was a true friend of India and provided strong leadership for developing a vibrant strategic partnership between India and Oman,” added the Prime Minister. “I will always cherish the warmth and affection I received from him. May his soul rest in peace.”
I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said. He was a visionary leader and statesman who transformed Oman into a modern and prosperous nation. He was a beacon of peace for our region and the world. pic.twitter.com/7QnGhM5lNA
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 11, 2020
Sultan Qaboos- the longest-ruling Arab monarch, had been ill for some time and was believed to have been suffering from colon cancer. He had spent a week in Belgium undergoing medical treatment in early December. Sultan Qaboos, 79, ruled Oman since overthrowing his father in a bloodless coup in 1970. Since assuming power, Qaboos transformed Oman from an isolated backwater, with little or no infrastructure, into a modern state.
Under the reign of Qaboos, Oman became to be known as a welcoming tourist destination and a key Middle-East interlocutor. Qaboos is also known for helping the US free captives in Iran and Yemen and even hosting Israeli officials.
“We do not have any conflicts and we do not put fuel on the fire when our opinion does not agree with someone,” Sultan Qaboos told a Kuwaiti newspaper in a rare interview in 2008, as reported in The Times of India.
Sultan had organised a secret meeting between Iranians and American diplomats.
It has also been learnt that when Americans or dual nationals with Western ties are detained in Iran, communiqués that later announce their freedom credit the help of Oman.
Sultan Qaboos would be remembered for his vital contribution in ensuring peace in the Gulf region, Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays marked that the death leaves a political vacuum not just in his country but also in the region. “He is a very big loss in the region. Oman played an outsized role in the region, particularly in the Gulf and the wider Middle East,” Bays said, pointing out that Qaboos played a crucial role in secret negotiations leading to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Even though Oman does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Muscat in October 2018 and met Qaboos there in a dramatic sign of warming ties between the Jewish state and the Sunni Arab world.
Under Sultan Qaboos’s leadership, Oman also mediated and oversaw talks between the warring sides of Yemen’s ongoing war. In November 2019, Saudi Arabia and Houthi rebels held indirect, behind-the-scenes talks in a bid to end the devastating five-year war in Yemen. When fellow GCC nations broke ties with Qatar in 2017, sparking a diplomatic crisis, Oman opted out and avoided the fray instead of following suit with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt – who imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Qatar.
The extraordinary bond between India and Sultan could be imagined as Sultan Qaboos’s grandfather once ruled Oman from India. Qaboos as a student, was taught by Shankar Dayal Sharma, who went on to become the President of India. Sultan Qaboos’s father, an alumnus of Ajmer’s Mayo College, sent his son to study in Pune, where he was former President Shankar Dayal Sharma’s student. He completed a part of his early education from a private institution in Pune. Sultan also shared a special connect with PM Narendra Modi.
While Indo-Oman ties date back to centuries, Qaboos from the Omani side was the chief architect of Delhi-Muscat partnership in the modern age.
Sultan Qaboos was a bearer of the lamp of peace, he would always be remembered for his commitment in maintaining peace and progress in the region.