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Opinion – Challenges for Oman’s New Sultan

11 3 0
24.01.2020

Sultan Qaboos of Oman passed away on Friday, 10 January, ending his 50 year-rule since 1970. He had been the longest-serving ruler in the Arab world. Haitham bin Tariq Al Said was agreed to be appointed as the new Sultan by the Defence Council and the country’s Royal Family. The country faced both difficult and prosperous times under Sultan Qaboos’s rule. His father, who had been considered eccentric after surviving an assassination attempt by Communist rebels, had not effectively responded to the politics of the time, thereby isolating Oman from the rest of the world and generating many internal problems for it. Under this political atmosphere, Sultan Qaboos, who was young, energetic, and supported by the British, removed his father from the throne in 1970 through a bloodless coup and declared himself the new Sultan with promises of modernising the country. He dealt with a civil war and an underdeveloped country during the first years of his reign. By the time of his passing, he had not only consolidated his power but also achieved noteworthy development of his country thanks to oil revenues. Qaboos’s reign is known by state elites as the “Omani Renaissance” and is praised at every possible opportunity.

Recently, however, Sultan Qaboos faced unrest because of the increasing unemployment rate, especially amongst university graduates, compounded by political demands which became more visible with the Arab Spring protests. If there was one thing that Oman has succeeded at most under Sultan Qaboos, it is the delivery of non-interference and impartial, mediating policies in international affairs. With the death of Sultan Qaboos, the challenges of unemployment and human rights, coupled with recent successes in the international arena, will shape the politics of the new Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said. Most probably, he will have to follow and acknowledge the achievements and policies of Sultan Qaboos, while, at the same time, presenting to his nation his own vision and plans for responding to the challenges of both........

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