Sultan of Oman Qaboos bin Said al-Said dies after 50 years in power, leaving key Gulf mediator between US & Iran without heir

Oman’s monarch, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, has passed away at the age of 79 after a lengthy battle with illness, according to Omani state media.

Qaboos has ruled the Gulf Arab state since 1970, when he led the bloodless overthrow of Sultan Said bin Taimur – his father – with backing from Britain, formerly a colonial power in Oman. 

Throughout his tenure on the throne, he played a role mediating dialogue between the United States and Iran.

Before he took the throne, Oman had fewer than 10 kilometers of paved road, one hospital and no secondary schools. By 1980, ten years into Qaboos’ rule, the country had some 12,000 kilometers of asphalt roadways, 363 schools and 28 hospitals, according to anthropologist Mandana Limbert.

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The ruler struggled with a bout of health problems and was flown to Belgium last month for treatment for colon cancer, after which he was said to be in “stable condition.” Omani authorities offered few additional details about his status after he returned home.

Qaboos had no children and never appointed a successor publicly, leaving some question about the line of succession. A statute passed in 1996, however, tasks the royal family with appointing the next sultan within three days after the throne becomes vacant.

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