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Oman after Qaboos

Oman after Qaboos

Sunday, 12 January, 2020 - 07:15
Salman Al-Dossary
Salman Al-Dossary is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The hardest challenge monarchies face is having their fate linked to a single man for several. On the one hand, this ruler consolidates the foundations of the state and ensures its stability and security. On the other, it is hard for a country to act independently from this figure. Several countries end up shaken to the core when such rulers pass away, leaving ministries and institutions at a loss after they were so reliant on his guidance.

Attention had therefore, been drawn to Oman in recent months due to its Sultan’s health setbacks before his passing on Friday. Some had speculated that the sultanate would be headed towards an uncertain path in the post-Qaboos era.

Skeptics often focus on unlikely possibilities, overlooking glaring facts. The Omanis, however, snuffed out the speculation and proved that the legacy of their late sultan was not limited to state-building or preserving its stability in a tumultuous region. Rather, he had drawn up a detailed roadmap for maintaining this stability.

Even with the sultan gone, the sultanate will preserve its calm, standing and strength regardless of who comes to power.

Sultan Qaboos suffered from poor health for years. Even though he received treatment abroad, no one in the Sultanate felt that the country was passing through a constitutional vacuum in his absence. This was made even more significant given that the sultan did not have successor. The secret to this feat is the strength of the state institutions that proved their ability to preserve stability in the absence of the sultan.

It is in my opinion that that was an extremely difficult stage in Oman, but no one felt it, neither inside the country nor abroad. Oman accomplished a rare feat of smoothly functioning without a hitch in the sudden absence of a ruler who had governed its institutions for nearly half a century.

Perhaps the most difficult feat was the transition of power from Sultan Qaboos to his successor Haitham bin Tariq. Oman overcame this difficult phase with flying colors and in only a mere matter of hours. Not only did the new sultan assume power, but he also earned the unanimous approval of the ruling family, another rarity. This would have been impossible had Oman not boasted the foundations of a real state.

I once asked Oman’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah about the concern in the region over the post-Qaboos phase in Oman. He assured me that his country was not worried about this. He explained that everyone in Oman has faith in what the sultan built and that he had also ensured that the future would be built on the same standards. Vacuum in power has almost never happened and throughout its 260 years, the ruling family never quarreled over a successor.

Today, despite their sadness over the passing of their leader, the Omanis are entitled to be proud of their political system, which had never plunged in vacuum and which had consolidated a state of institutions that was founded and built by Qaboos bin Said.

When you have such a stable foundation, you guarantee that the state will withstand shocks and crises.

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