The Sultanate of Oman

Long known as Muscat-Oman, is located in West Asia. It is situated on the Southeastern Coast of the Arabian peninsula and is spread upto the mouth of the Persian Gulf. It qualifies to be included within the Persian Gulf area by virtue of the Musandam peninsula, which juts northward at the eastern end of the Arab coast of the gulf. This country also shares land borders with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, to the north of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf lies Iraq, it is a short 35 miles stretch from the top of Oman’s Musandam peninsula across the strait of Iran, while sharing maritime borders with Iran and Pakistan. The strait of Hormuz links the sea of Oman with the Arabian Gulf. It is a gateway for all ships coming from the Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea, about more than one fourth of the World’s oil passes through this strait.

This country is the only among the states of the Persian Gulf with a tradition of independence dating back several centuries, the country found itself under Portuguese occupation between 1508 and 1650. In 1650 Arab tribes expelled the Portuguese. Arab rule suffered a setback in 1741 with an Iranian invasion but Irans’ occupation lasted for a very short span of three years.

Muscat-Oman emerged as an independent country under the Al Bu Said dynasty. Under the capable rule of Imam Saud bin Sultan, Oman expanded its dominions to the east African coast placing Zanzibar under its rule. The Capital of the country was also shifted to Zanzibar. After the Sauds’ death, the dominions of Muscat and Zanzibar were separated and each part came under the rule of two different lines of the Al Bu said descendants.

The country of Oman contains four distinct provinces, separated from each other by political boundaries or natural obstacles. In addition to the Musandum peninsula, Oman includes a coastal plain facing the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, the inner Oman located to the west of the Green mountains named Jabal el Akhdar, merge into the sandy desert of Rub- el-Khali and Dhofar stretching along the southern coast of Arabia as far as South Yemen.

The population of Oman is diverse in nature,it includes Arabs and a large number of non-Arab nationalities particularly in the eastern urban centers of Muscat and Matrah, where the majority of the population is Indian and Baluchi with a small powerful Arab group that rule them. Muscat had always inclined eastward and eastern influence remained strong, as attested by the fact that ex-Sultan Said bin Taimur was partly educated in India. The sultan’s education in India was on orthodox methods which was not sufficient to rule the country according to new challenges. So, Oman remained isolated from the rest of the world, the rule of Sultan Said bin Taimur was characterized by backward traditionalism and a good deal of harshness. The country could not boast of any educational system except the basic religious institution, there was no hospital in the country except a clinic maintained by the Dutch Reformed Mission.

The economy was worst and the infrastructure and modern communications and facilities were not seen. The cultivated land was limited and no growth was possible in the absence of modern techniques and mechanisms. There was a great scope for developing agriculture and fisheries, but the old methods were great hurdles in production in considerable quantities.

Inner oman remained a source of trouble for the Sultan of Oman since 1913, for long span the sultanat remained in chaotic circumstances because of rebel tribes in the inner Oman.By the end of 1955, however the forces of Sultan Said Said bin Taimur reestablished the Sultan’s authority. The issue of separation of the inner Oman reached its natural end, after an attempt in 1961, by some Arab countries to secure a United Nations resolution in favour of independence of inner Oman failed to get the necessary majority of votes, inspite of this political success, the entire system of sultanat was medieval and retrograde.

Sultan Said bin Taimur led a secluded and virtually isolated life, oblivious to the changes taking place around him. The situation was so worst that the discovery of oil in 1963 and the huge increase in state revenues could not effect the sultan’s reluctance to engage in the development and modernization of the country. The huge reserves of oil and day by day increasing state income could not change the fate of the country. There were no signs that Oman could look forward and choose development programs for the nation.

These were the circumstances,and failures of the Sultan Said bin Taimur that led on July 24,1970 to a bloodless palace coup carried out by Qabus bin Said, the son of the Sultan. Now Qabus bin Said was proclaimed Sultan in his father’s place.Upon his accession to throne, Qabus,a man of thirty, announced a program of reforms and modernization. He adopted a foreign policy based on the principles of neutrality, good neighborhood and friend of all and enemy of non, as a result of this policy new trend of good relationships with the international community began. The Sultan paid state visits to many foreign capitals and in turn received in his capital many heads of state including those of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen and others.

The accession of the Sultan Qabus to the throne was not a bed of Roses for him because his father’s traditionalist attitudes and policies had caused a new wave of violent discontent after the previous ones of early 50’s, this time discontent was centered on the province of Dhofar. The geography of the area was favouring the guerilla warfare,the rebels assumed control of many strategic points of Dhofar. These guerrillas belonging to different organizations were receiving encouragement and assistance from South Yemen, communist China and Soviet Union.

Sometimes they were facilitated from Aden based Cuban fighters and advisers to help them in their sabotage activities.

Though the advent of Sultan Qabus proved a ray of hope for some rebels and they defected from the ranks of rebels. These were those people, who thought the new Sultan can provide a bright future to the country and in their opinion there was no need for violent resistance, Sultan Qabus welcomed them with open heart and made them the part of main stream, and in some cases offered them the key positions in government.

It was very difficult to carry on the agenda of reforms in the presence of rebellion and chaos. The most difficult was the absence of well equipped and meaningful military force, it was the great test for Sultan to cope the worst challenge posed by the well trained and sound backed rebels guerrilla force. Now the Sultan decided to seek military help from friendly countries specially from powerful shah of Iran, the Shah of Iran responded positively. Jordan also came forward to help Sultan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were also became the close partners of the Sultan to crush the rebels. At last all the rebel areas were cleared and peace was restored in the Sultanat. The sultan assessed the inadequacy of Omans’ military for maintaining order and defending the extensive areas of the Country. So, Sultan Qaboos decided to introduce major reforms to modernize the armed forces. Necssary steps were taken to enhance the quantity and quality of the armed forces, many foreigners were given service on contract or on secondment to strengthen the armed forces. As a result, there remained no hurdle to accomplish the agenda of reformation and progress, within a short span of time the country came out from the darkness of isolation to the brightness of modernization, progress and prosperity.

This journey of bright future is still going on even after the death of Sultan Qabus in 2020 and accession of present Sultan Haitahm bin Tariq, who was proclaimed as his successor, according to the deceased Sultans’ will. Since 11 January 2020 Sultan Haitham bin Tariq is at the throne of Oman. He is not only continuing the policies of his cousin and ex-Sultan but also taking more wise steps to make Oman more modern, powerful, prosperous and peaceful.

The present Sultan is a man of letters, during his early career he served as the first head of Oman’s Football Association, this was because of his great interest and enthusiasm for the sport’s specifically for Football game. He also remained undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by virtue of his keen interest, skills and hard work he was appointed secretary for the Ministry of foreign affairs. He usually represented Oman in diplomatic capacity.

In 2016, he personally welcomed the British Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales and his wife Camilla duchess of Cornwall on their visit to Oman. The Sultan is also the chairman for the future vision vision of “Oman 2040”. He also remained a most powerful and trusted cabinet minister of ex-Sultan, He performed well during his ministry and this made very reliable in the eyes of deceased Sultan Qabus.

Sultan Haitham bin Tariq is well educated, farsighted, experienced and visionary ruler, though the Sultan inherited the positions of prime minister, Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, Minister of Defence, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Central Bank of Oman until 18 August 2020. But strongly believing in devolution of power, He appointed Badar bin Hamad as Foreign minister, Sultan bin Saleem as Finance Minister and Taimur bin Asaad as Chairman of the Central Bank of Oman.

On 12 January 2021, the Sultan Haitham bin Tariq issued a Royal decree appointing his elder son Sayyed Theyazan, as the country’s first Crown Prince. This is a great change in politics of the Sultanate of Oman, knowing the futuristic needs and demands of the Sultanate and to fulfill the desires of his nation, the Sultan made this drastic change in law. This is foolproof arrangement of succession. This was necessary to avoid future succession disputes.

The Sultan is wisely and smoothly proceeding towards the provision of freedom of expression to his people for this purpose he has vanished the law that allowed state to monitor private phone calls, social media or postal correspondence. He has also granted the freedom of religious rites according to recognized customs if does not violate the rule and order or contradict morals. He made soft arrangement for people to participate in politicsl affairs of the state. When for the first time in his rule there erupted a wave of protests against the government over some economic issues including unemployment.

His Majesty very patiently dealt the protesters some arrested protesters were released after a short time. This shows that the Sultan is enhancing the circle of political reforms according to his well thought agenda. The most positive aspect of Sultan’s reformation program is empowerment of women and making a viable mechanism for their participation in different spheres of life. At present all the state organs are working properly in the direction of the accomplishment of all goals defined in the future vision of “Oman 2040”. We hope there is best future waiting for the Sultanate of Oman under their wise and foresighted Sultan Haitham bin Tariq.