Sultan Qaboos
Sultan Qaboos Image Credit: Gulf News

Cairo: Omanis Wednesday ended of a 40-day mourning over the death of Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed who led the country for nearly 50 years.

Qaboos passed away on January 11 aged 79 years, ending an era that transformed Oman in different walks of life and established it as a trusted mediator in regional and global disputes. Following his death, Oman’s national flag flew at half mast for 40 days in a sign of mourning.

On Wednesday, Omani media ran glowing tributes in memory of the late sultan.

“Today will not be the last to remember the one who laid down the foundations for Oman’s modern renaissance and established in the country the state of modern institutions,” Omani newspaper Al Watan said in an editorial titled “Qaboos, Oman will not Forget You”.

The paper credited Qaboos, who took office in 1970, with re-establishing Oman’s prestige and forging its “influential presence” in the world.

Under Qaboos, Oman enjoyed political and economic stability in a region roiled by turmoil.

Qaboos is succeeded by Haitham Bin Tareq Al Saeed, a former culture minister.

The new sultan has pledged to follow Qaboos’ foreign policy of peaceful coexistence and non-interference in other countries’ affairs. The 65-year-old sultan also promised to build on Qaboos’ legacy of further developing Oman and maintaining friendly ties with all countries.

Qaboos was a “clever and wise” mediator in different disputes, according to the Arabic-language newspaper Oman.

“His departure has triggered global grief and tears out of fear for an imbalance in this world aflame with rows and disagreements,” the paper said. “He was the voice of reason and heeded wisdom. He was an influential and effective personality in the global system,” it added.

Upon taking power, Qaboos adopted a foreign policy based on good neighbourliness and cordial ties with different countries – a policy dubbed as “a friend of all and a foe of none”.

Oman helped defuse US-Iran tensions in 2013 and played a key role in reaching a nuclear deal between Tehran and big powers, including the US, two years later.

Oman also maintained balanced relations with regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran. In 1994, Israel’s then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman, the first trip by such a senior Israeli official to an Arab country with no diplomatic links with Tel Aviv. In 2018, Qaboos met Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu in Muscat.

Oman, meanwhile, brokered the release of several Western hostages in neighbouring Yemen and was reportedly a venue for behind-the-scenes talks between Saudis and Yemen’s Iran-allied Al Houthi rebels to end a years-long war.

Based on its self-styled “positive neutrality”, Oman did not take sides in a Saudi-led military campaign against Al Houthis.

The Sultanate also steered clear of an ongoing dispute that erupted in 2017 between Qatar and a Saudi-led Arab quartet.