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Jamshid bin Abdullah, the former sultan of Zanzibar, returns to Oman after more than 50 years of living in exile in the uk. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Kuwait City: After more than 50 years of living in exile in Portsmouth England, Jamshid bin Abdullah, the former sultan of Zanzibar, returns to Oman after the government granted his request to retire in the Sultanate.

Sultan Jamshid has been living in exile after he was deposed from the throne by a popular African revolt in 1964. By inheritance, Sultan Jamshid became the last reigning sultan of Zanzibar.

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“The return of Sultan Jamshid is part of new political era in Oman and is a positive move and a gesture by Sultan Haitham,” Nabeel Nowairah, an independent Gulf Analyst, told Gulf News.

Due to security reason, the 91-year-old former Sultan has been denied permission to retire in Oman multiple times in the past.

“Brining back Sultan Jamshid to live in Oman right after he was ousted in Zanzibar was a sensitive move that could have led to instability in the country,” Nowairah explained.

Sultan Jamshid’s return has not announced by the government.

“It was not announced by the government because technically the return of an Omani to his country is not a big deal, but it was possibly not announced to avoid brining up an embarrassing policies of the previous administration,” Nowairah said.

Like many other political opponents and dependents, Sultan Jamshid moved to the UK. Upon his arrival to Portsmouth, Sultan Jamshid received a payment of £100,000 from the British government, along with a £1,500 monthly allowance, according to an article by the New York Times.

“By allowing them to come back Sultan Haitham is sending the message that Oman is for all Omanis,” Nowairah pointed out.

Historic ties

Although Zanzibar was occupied by Oman around 130 years ago, the relationship between the two is still evident. Zanzibar inhabitants who can prove their Omani ancestry are entitled to Omani citizenship and passports.

There are about 22,000 people who speak Swahili, a Bantu language that is common in Zanzibar, as the majority are descendants that moved to Oman after the fall of the Sultanate of Zanzibar.

Many Omani’s travel to Zanzibar often, as some have family still living on the island, while others want to explore their ancestral history.

Oman Air was one of the first airlines to fly directly to Stone Town, Zanzibar’s capital, as most airlines first stopped in Dar Es Salam, Tanzania’s capital, and then continued to Zanzibar.

The shared history between the two countries, led Oman and Zanzibar to sign an agreement in 2018 that would digitalize documents and manuscripts pertaining to their historical ties, Times of Oman reported.

History of Oman and Zanzibar

The East African islands, Zanzibar, was an oversees territory ruled by Oman from 1698 to 1890 when it became a British protectorate. Around the 1840s, the Sultan of Oman changed the capital from Muscat to Stone Town.

In December 1963, the UK ended the protectorate and Zanzibar became a constitutional monarchy under Sultan Jamshid. Then a month later, in January 1964, the former sultan was overthrown during the Zanzibar revolution, otherwise known as the African revolt, by local African revolutionaries who wanted to establish a republic.

According to the BBC, during the African revolt around 17,00 people were killed, mainly Arabs and South Asians, and thousand were imprisoned.

After the revolt, many Zanzibar-Arabs fled the island but the sultan of Oman at the time, Said bin Taimur, made it difficult for Omani born East Africans to return as he feared outside influence.

Then in April 1964, Zanzibar merged with Tanzania to form the United Republic of Tanzania, while Zanzibar remains a semi-autonomous region.

The African island’s demographics are diverse and is reflective of its history. The island’s 1.3 million population, is made up of Shirazis (a native population that dates back to Persian settlers), Arabs, Swahili and South Asians. Unlike mainland Tanzania, majority of Zanzibar’s population is Muslim.