Sultan Qaboos Image Credit: Supplied

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Omani leader who turned an isolated Middle Eastern country torn by civil war into a stable oil exporter has passed away at age 79. Three days of official mourning have been declared, with flags flown at half-mast for 40 days.

The Sultan's death happened on Friday and was announced by the official Oman News Agency. His death follows a years-long struggle with an illness widely speculated to have been colon cancer and ends almost half a century of rule over a nation strategically located near key oil shipping lanes at the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.