Thursday, 18 November 2010

70th Birthday of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos of Oman

Sultan Qaboos ibn Said Al Said (Arabic: قابوس بن سعيد آل سعيد‎;) was born on 18th November 1940. He ascended to the throne of Oman on 23rd July 1970 deposing his father, Sultan Sa‘id ibn Taymur.

Since 1962 the Dhofar Rebellion, a Marxist rebel group supported by the neighbouring South Yemeni’s Marxist regime threatened the country. Since his father seemed unable to fight back the Marxist terror, Sultan Qaboos had to act. He introduced major social reforms to deprive the rebellion of popular support and modernised the state's administration. The rebellion ended in 1975 with the intervention of Iranian Imperial ground forces – the last time a Monarch gave assistance to another Monarch in need - and major offensives by the expanded Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces.

Sultan Qaboos is the only son of Sultan Said ibn Taimur and Princess Mazoon al-Mashani. He is one of the 8th generation of the Al Bu Sa‘idi dynasty. He received his primary and secondary education in Salalah and at Pune, in India, and was sent to a boarding school in the UK in 1956. At 20 he entered the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. After graduating from Sandhurst, he joined a British Infantry regiment, The Cameronians, and served in the 1st Battalion in Germany for one year. He also held a staff appointment with the British Army.

After his military service, Sultan Qaboos studied local government subjects in Britain and, after a world tour, returned home to Salalah where he studied Islam and the history of his country. Sultan Qaboos ibn Sa‘id is a religious liberal Muslim of the Ibadi school of jurisprudence, which has traditionally dominated Oman.

His Majesty’s rule has made Oman one of the best administered countries – not only in the Middle East. In November 2010, The United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) listed Oman as the most-improved nation in last 40 years from among 135 countries worldwide. On the Index of Economic Freedom, Oman is ranked third freest among the seventeen countries in the Middle East/North Africa region; its economy overall is ranked forty-second freest in the world, reflecting a score higher than the regional average

Despite Oman’s economic liberalization, the Sultanate remains dependent on the oil revenues that account for 75 percent of the country’s export earnings and 40 percent of its gross domestic product. But oil production is declining and is bearing on the country’s economy, which His Majesty tries to counter by diversifying Oman's economy. In recent years Oman became a popular tourist destination.

The future of the Monarchy

Sultan Qaboos ibn Sa‘id has no children and has three sisters. There are however other male members of the Omani Royal Family including several paternal uncles and their families. Using primogeniture the successor to Sultan Qaboos would appear to be one of the children of his late uncle, His Royal Highness Prince Tariq ibn Taimur Al-Said, the former, first and only Prime Minister in Oman's history.

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