11 January 2020


Special Report


  • Swift instalment of new Sultan following Qaboos’ death will ensure stability during coming year, but country will face significant challenges in longer term
  • New Sultan will seek to maintain Oman’s neutrality on regional affairs and domestic policy continuity, although he will face increased domestic and foreign policy challenges over time
  • Civil society groups will gradually demand greater human rights and political freedoms, although they will delay doing so for next few months to avoid being seen as capitalising on Qaboos’ death



Sultan Qaboos, who ruled Oman since 1970, died overnight on 10-11 January following a long illness. Within hours, the Royal Family had announced that they had selected former Culture Minister Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, Qaboos’ 65-year old cousin, to assume the throne, in keeping with the country’s constitution. The Government, meanwhile, declared three days of mourning. Haitham bin Tariq has since also given his first speech to the nation as Sultan, promising to continue Qaboos’ foreign policy of “co-existence” and non-interference in other states’ internal politics, and to continue domestic economic development efforts.

Qaboos, during his five decades in power, undertook major infrastructure development, maintained stability, limited tensions between Oman’s Ibadi majority and its large Sunni minority, and between rival tribes, and was domestically popular. He also maintained good relations with Washington and Tehran, and regularly mediated between the two. However, although Oman saw significant

Oman: Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said died overnight on 10 – 11 January 2020

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