Sultan Qaboos, world’s longest-serving ruler, died aged 79 on Friday January 10. The Following day Oman declared three days of national mourning and set the country’s flag flown at half-staff for forty days.
National leaders and media around the world largely reacted to the news with expressions of grief, condolences, and eulogies to the sultan who was famous as a great diplomatic ruler who modernized his country.
On Saturday thousands of people lined up on the roads from Bait Al Barakha to Grand Mosque in Bausher to say goodbye on Sultan Qaboos’ journey to the final resting place. State television broadcast images of the funeral procession driving Sultan Qaboos down the street in the capital Muscat amid tight security as Omanis thronged the palm tree-lined road, some reaching out their hands, and others taking pictures.
On Sunday al-Alam Palace hold a condolence ceremony attended by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Prince of Wales, emirs of Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, the king of Bahrain , the Tunisian president, the foreign minister of Iran, and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy among the other dignitaries .
Omanis took to social media to mourn the death of “the father of the nation’ remembering his regular tours out of the palace to speak to citizens, often driving his four-wheel in the convoys. Oman Daily Observer gave the most emotionally invested coverage on the events by writing that the leader who “relaunched the country on the path to unprecedented development and progress’’ will ‘’always live in our hearts”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply saddened” by the death of Qaboos. “He was an exceptionally wise and respected leader who will be missed enormously,” he said, – “I had the pleasure of meeting His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and was struck by his commitment to peace and understanding between nations and between faiths. Johnson noted that Qaboos left behind “a profound legacy, not only in Oman but across the region too”.
Washington post paid tribute to the sultan for managing to maintain neutrality in a turbulent region, not taking sides in the Gulf dispute with Qatar, helping the U.S. free captives in Iran and Yemen, and especially emphasizing his hosting and mediating U.S.-Iran talks in 2013 and 2015. Al Jazeera called Sultan Qaboos’ death a “loss for the region mentioning his “critical’ role in negotiations. France 24 said that Qaboos was a ruler who “shielded Oman from from region’s turmoil” and “transformed the former Arabian Peninsula backwater into a modern state”.
Sultan Qaboos had been ailing for years and was in Belgium in December for treatment. However, the state media did not disclose the cause of death.
Oman experienced a smooth and peaceful transition according to Qabool’s will that the late sultan left in a sealed envelope. Oman military council stated on national television that the family had followed Qaboos’ written recommendation believing in “his wisdom and vision”. The new king Haitham bin Tariq, sworn on January 11, vowed to continue the course adopted by Sultan Qaboos “contributing and calling for peaceful and amicable solutions for all disputes.”