Qaboos bin Said al Said

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Sultan Qaboos of Oman
Omani Qaboos bin Said Al Said (cropped).jpg
The Sultan of Oman in traditional attire
Sultan of Oman
Reign23 July 1970 – present
Predecessor Said bin Taimur
Born (1940-11-18) 18 November 1940 (age 78)
Salalah, Muscat and Oman
Nawwal bint Tariq
(m. 1976;div. 1979)
House House of Al Said
Father Said bin Taimur
Mother Mazoon al-Mashani
Religion Ibadi Islam

Qaboos bin Said Al Said (Arabic : قابوس بن سعيد البوسعيدي, IPA:  [ˈqaːbuːs bɪn ˈsaʕiːd ʔaːl ˈsaʕiːd] ; born 18 November 1940) [1] is the incumbent Sultan of Oman. He rose to power by overthrowing his father, Said bin Taimur, in the 1970 Omani coup d'état. He is a 14th-generation descendant of the founder of the House of Al Said. [2] He is the longest serving leader in the Middle East and Arab world, having held the office since 1970. [3]

Said bin Taimur Sultan of Oman

Said bin Taimur was the 13th Sultan of Muscat and Oman from 10 February 1932 until he was deposed on 23 July 1970 by his son Qaboos.

1970 Omani coup détat 1970 Coup in Oman which led to the bloodless overthrow of the erstwhile ruler by his son.

The 1970 Omani coup d'état was the bloodless overthrow of Sultan Said bin Taimur by his son Qaboos bin Said al Said in Oman on 23 July 1970. Occurring in the midst of the Dhofar Rebellion, the palace coup was executed with the support of the British military and saw Sultan bin Taimur deposed and sent into exile to Great Britain. The coup was a pivotal moment in modern Omani history as Sultan Qaboos swiftly set in motion numerous wide-ranging modernization reforms in the kingdom, transforming Oman from a backwater and underdeveloped state into a country on par with many Western nations in terms of peace and economic development. Today, Sultan Qaboos is the longest serving current ruler in the Middle East.

House of Al Said ruling dynasty of the Sultanate of Oman

The House of Al Said is the ruling royal house of the Sultanate of Oman, and former ruling royal house of the Sultanate of Muscat and Zanzibar and the Sultanate of Zanzibar.


Early life and education

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

Salalah City in Dhofar, Oman

Salalah, is the capital and largest city of the southern Omani governorate of Dhofar. Its population in 2009 was about 197,169.

Sultanah Mazoon bint Ahmad Ali Al-Mashani was the second wife of Sultan Said bin Taimur and the mother of Qaboos bin Said al Said, Sultan of Oman. His first wife, Sultanah Fatima Al-Mashani, was her cousin.

He received his primary and secondary education at Salalah, 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]

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst British Army officer initial training centre

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is one of several military academies of the United Kingdom and is the British Army's initial officer training centre. It is located in the town of Sandhurst, Berkshire, though its ceremonial entrance is in Camberley, southwest of London. The Academy's stated aim is to be "the national centre of excellence for leadership". All British Army officers, including late-entry officers who were previously Warrant Officers, as well as other men and women from overseas, are trained at The Academy. Sandhurst is the British Army equivalent of the Britannia Royal Naval College and the Royal Air Force College Cranwell.

British Army land warfare branch of the British Armed Forces of the United Kingdom

The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.

Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) Infantry regiment of the British Army, 1881-1968

The Cameronians was a rifle regiment of the British Army, the only regiment of rifles amongst the Scottish regiments of infantry. It was formed in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 26th Cameronian Regiment and the 90th Perthshire Light Infantry. In 1968, when reductions were required, the regiment chose to be disbanded rather than amalgamated with another regiment, one of only two infantry regiments in the British Army to do so, with the other being the York and Lancaster Regiment. It can trace its roots to that of the Cameronians, later the 26th of Foot, who were raised in 1689. The 1881 amalgamation coincided with the Cameronian's selection to become the new Scottish Rifles.

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]

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Brigadier Sir James Timothy Whittington Landon, KCVO, served in the British and Omani armies and was instrumental in the development of the present Sultanate of Oman. He was one of Britain's wealthiest people.

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.

Muscat and Oman monarchy on the Arab Peninsula between 1820-1970

The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman was a thalassocratic nation that encompassed the present-day Sultanate of Oman and parts of present-day United Arab Emirates and Gwadar, Pakistan. The country is not to be confused with Trucial states, which were sheikhdoms under British protection since 1820. Muscat courts' verdicts were based on Ibadhi Islamic sharia law and appeals were raised to the Sultan of Muscat, who exercised supreme ruling.

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]

Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom) United Kingdom government department responsible for implementing the defence policy

The Ministry of Defence is the British government department responsible for implementing the defence policy set by Her Majesty's Government and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), commonly called the Foreign Office, or British Foreign Office, is a department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide and was created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.

Harold Wilson British politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, was a British Labour politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1976.

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
Coat of arms of Oman.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty
Sultan Qaboos meets with United States Vice President Dick Cheney during Cheney's visit to the Middle East in 2002. VP Cheney Sultan Qaboos Salah Oman 2002.jpg
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 kilometres 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] In his first year in power, Qaboos also abolished slavery in Oman. [11]

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. All power is concentrated in the sultan, who is also chief of staff of the armed forces, Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs and chairman of the Central Bank. All legislation since 1970 has been promulgated through royal decrees, including the 1996 Basic Law. The sultan appoints judges, and can grant pardons and commute sentences. The sultan's authority is inviolable and the sultan expects total subordination to his will. [12]

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, Qais Bin Abdul Munim Al Zawawi.

According to CBS News, 19 June 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. [13]

His closest advisors are reportedly security and intelligence professionals within the Palace Office, headed by General Sultan bin Mohammed al Numani. [14]

Foreign policy

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. [15] As a result, Oman has often acted as an intermediary between the United States and Iran. [16] [17]


Unlike the heads of other Arab states of the Persian Gulf, Qaboos has not publicly named an heir. 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. [18] 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, since it is considered unlikely that the royal family would be able to agree on a successor on its own. [18]

Qaboos has no children; there are other male members of the Omani royal family including several paternal uncles and their families. Using same-generation 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). [19] 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 Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, the Minister of Heritage and National Culture. [18] [20] 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. [18]


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. [21]

Personal life

Qaboos is a Muslim of the Ibadi denomination, which has traditionally ruled Oman. [22] 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 several Hindu temples. [23]

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. [24] Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin was commissioned to compose a work entitled Symphonic Impressions of Oman. [25] The Sultan is particularly enthusiastic about the pipe organ. [26] 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. [27] 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. [28]

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. [29] She remarried in 2005. [30] The marriage produced no heirs, and Qaboos bin Said has written secret documents naming the successor to his realm. [31]

As of 2017, Qaboos has cancer, for which he receives treatment. [32]

Radio amateur

Qaboos bin Said al Said is a radio amateur with the call sign A41AA. [33]


Al Alam Palace Muscat 2.0 km2 (0.77 sq mi) 23°36′52.86″N58°35′43.90″E / 23.6146833°N 58.5955278°E / 23.6146833; 58.5955278

Super yachts

NameLength (m)ShipyardYearDescription
Al Said 155 [34] Lürssen 2007Contains a Helipad, an orchestra and swimming pool. Berthed most of the time in Mutrah port.
Fulk al Salamah 156Mariotti2016Secondary Royal Yacht and support vessel. Berthed most of the time in Mutrah port.
Al Dhaferah [35] 136Lürssen1987Former Fulk al Salamah
Zinat al Bihaar61Oman Royal Yacht Squadron [36] 1988Luxury sailing yacht with world's largest sail built in Oman with imported engine from Siemens.
Al-Noores33.5 [37] K. Damen Netherlands1982Specialized tug boat for the other royal yachts.

Military ranks

Qaboos holds the following ranks: [38]

Foreign honours

He has been awarded (° = Royal Ark): [38]


See also

Related Research Articles

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  1. Al Sa'id, Qaboos (1940–) – Personal history, Biographical highlights, Personal chronology, Influences and contributions, The world's perspective, Legacy Archived 24 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine . 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. 1 2 3 Allen, Calvin H.; Rigsbee, W. Lynn (1 January 2000). 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.
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  11. Suzanne Miers (2003). Slavery in the Twentieth Century: The Evolution of a Global Problem. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 347. ISBN   0-7591-0340-2.
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  13. "The world's enduring dictators: Qaboos bin Said, Oman".
  14. Henderson, Simon (3 April 2017). "The Omani Succession Envelope, Please". Foreign Policy . Retrieved 4 April 2017. His closest advisors are security and intelligence professionals in the so-called Royal Office, headed by Gen. Sultan bin Mohammed al-Numani.
  15. Slackman, Michael (16 May 2009). "Oman Navigates Between Iran and Arab Nations". The New York Times.
  16. Gladstone, Rick (4 September 2013). "Iran's President to Speak at the U.N." NYT. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  17. "A visit from the sultan".
  18. 1 2 3 4 Dokoupil, Martin (24 May 2012). "Succession Question Fuels Uncertainty in Oman". Reuters. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  19. HH Prince Sayyid Tarik bin Taimur al-Said Archived 1 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  20. "The Question of Succession". Muscat Confidential. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
  21. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 September 2018. Retrieved 8 June 2017.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. 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 ]
  23. "Modi in Oman LIVE Updates: PM prays at Shiva temple in Muscat, visits Grand Mosque". 12 February 2018.
  24. Trofimov, Yaroslavth (14 December 2001). "Oman has oil, but it had no orchestra". Wall Street Journal: A6.
  25. Archived 17 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  26. "Carlo Curly & Mathis Music". Archived from the original on 16 December 2008. Retrieved 7 December 2006.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  27. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 February 2015. Retrieved 24 December 2014.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). Times of Oman; "In the Eye of Beauty – An Ode to the Organ" 11 December 2014; retrieved 24 December 2014.
  28. Margaret Makepeace (26 November 2013). "The Singing Sailor – Salim Rashid Suri". Untold Lives Blog. British Library. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  29. Joseph A. Kechichian (17 December 2010). "Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed: A democrat visionary". Weekend Review. Gulf News. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  30. "oman9" . Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  31. Tennent, James (28 November 2015). "Who will take over from Sultan Qaboos, the Arab world's longest serving ruler?".
  32. "The sultanate of Oman is taking a kicking". The Economist . 8 July 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  33. "Famous Ham Radio Operators and their Callsigns".
  34. Top 100. (2010-07-27). Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  35. Access Perpetual Wellbeing in Excess: Sultan Qaboos's extravaganza. (2009-01-01). Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
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  37. Motor Yacht – Al-Noores – K. Damen – Completed Superyachts on Superyacht Times .com. Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  38. 1 2 The Royal Ark, Oman genealogical details, p.9
  39. "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 1441. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  40. HM deserves much more than awards and medals Archived 25 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine . Times of Oman (2007-01-28). Retrieved on 14 July 2011.
  41. "Grand State Banquet". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  42. Italian Presidency Website, S.M. Qaboos bin Said Sultano dell'Oman – decorato di Gran Cordone
  43. "Senarai Penuh Penerima Darjah Kebesaran, Bintang dan Pingat Persekutuan Tahun 1991" (PDF).
  44. 1999 National Orders awards Archived 12 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
Qaboos bin Said al Said
House of Al Said
Born: 18 November 1940
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Said bin Taimur
Sultan of Oman