Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said has been named to succeed Sultan Qaboos as Oman’s new ruler. He has served as minister of national heritage and culture previously.
Haitham bin Tariq was appointed on Saturday after the high military council called on the ruling family council to convene and choose a successor.
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He had served as minister of national heritage and culture and had been appointed in 2013 by Qaboos to chair the main committee responsible for Oman’s development.
He takes power as domestic challenges loom large. A smooth succession was expected, according to media reports.
Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said, one of the Middle East’s longest serving rulers who maintained the country’s neutrality in regional struggles, died on Friday, January 10, and state media said his cousin Haitham bin Tariq Al Said was named his successor.
Oman declared three days of official mourning with flags to be flown at half-mast for 40 days for Sultan Qaboos, 79.
State television broadcast images of the funeral procession driving down a road lined with palm trees. The casket, draped in the Omani flag, was then carried into Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in the capital Muscat, where prayers were being held.
State news agency ONA did not give a cause of death, but Qaboos had been unwell for years and spent a week in Belgium for treatment last month.
Qaboos had no children and had not publicly appointed a successor. A 1996 statute says the ruling family will choose a successor within three days of the throne becoming vacant.
According to the Omani constitution, the royal family shall, within three days of the throne falling vacant, determine the successor.
If the family does not agree on a name, the person chosen by Qaboos in a letter addressed to the royal family will be the successor.
The sultan should be a member of the royal family, as well as “Muslim, mature, rational and the legitimate son of Omani Muslim parents”.
Local experts say that more than 80 men meet the criteria, but one name stands: Asad bin Tariq.
Qaboos transformed the country from a backwater into a modern state while pursuing a moderate but active foreign policy.