The Late Sultan Qaboos of Oman – An Icon and a Visionary
Today Indians living in or those have lived in the past in Oman fondly remember Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the former ruler of Oman, who passed away this day last year.
He was a great visionary leader, one who saw the distant future decades ahead.
Besides transforming a medieval, backward nation into a modern welfare state, he earned a high place of status and honour as a committed harbinger of peace in the Middle East.
Soon after he assumed power in 1970, when many Arab states were involved in conflict with each other, Sultan Qaboos almost single-handedly took the initiative to broker peace between those which were up in arms amongst themselves.
He had foreseen the folly and futility of hostilities and warfare. And, driven by his passionate pursuit of new world order, he made peace with Israel.
He did this against all odds, even risking resentment and isolation from his Arab brethren. There was an almost-mandatory Israeli Boycott observed by the Arab countries those days.
On the other hand, today many Arab majors are treading the same path, which Sultan Qaboos had pioneered over thirty years ago.
If only the rest of the Arab world had followed his example at that stage, so much of loss of life and property, bloodshed and enmity could have been avoided, and the huge resources spent on arms and ammunition could have been utilized for the welfare of the humankind.
As the whole Arab world slowly comes to realize this stark truth now, Sultan Qaboos’ bold and path-breaking policies stand vindicated.
But, alas, he is not around to witness the long-term benefits of his efforts towards non-interference and peaceful coexistence.
The Sultanate of Oman has all along provided an atmosphere of peace, security and comfort – why, even a firm feeling of a second home – to lakhs of expatriates and their families, under the wise and benevolent leadership of Sultan Qaboos, the founder of modern Oman. May the Almighty bless him with eternal peace.
As his successor, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, has pledged to continue the policies of his predecessor, let us all wish him good health, long life and a successful reign.
What made Sultan Qaboos more special?
Besides the rulers of Jordan and Qatar, Sultan Qaboos was the only Arab head of state to have got trained at the Sandhurst Military Academy in Britain.
Moreover, as the head of state and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, he appeared and received the guard of honour in parades and events related to their various wings like the Royal Army and its branches, the Royal Navy of Oman, the Royal Air Force of Oman, the Royal Guard of Oman etc. attired in the respective uniforms. Perhaps he is the only head of state to have held this record.
However, there is a tinge of sadness to the story. The Al Busaid dynasty ruling Oman is the longest-reigning family in the Middle East.
Down the line, Sultan Qaboos, having taken over the reins on July 23, 1970, was already the longest-serving Arab ruler. He was to complete 50 years in throne in July last year. But he departed as just six months were left to celebrate the landmark event.