Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said of Oman, the Arab world's longest-serving monarch, has passed away aged 79. He ruled Oman for nearly 50 years and was credited with developing and modernising the Gulf country using its oil wealth. Three days of national mourning have been declared in the country of around 4.6 million people, with 43 percent expatriates. A court statement, on the Sultan's demise, read, "With great sorrow and deep sadness... the royal court mourns His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who passed away on Friday." According to reports, Sultan Qaboos came home last month after receiving medical checkup and treatment in Belgium for cancer. He was divorced, never remarried and had no heir or designated successor.
The sultanate’s Basic Statue says that the Royal Family Council, which has 50 members, needs to choose a new sultan within three days. In Oman, the sultan is the main decision-maker and also holds other key positions of prime minister, supreme commander of the armed forces, minister of defence, minister of finance and minister of foreign affairs.
The leading contenders for the throne were three cousins of the late sultan, including Culture Minister Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister Asaad bin Tariq Al Said and, former Oman Navy commander and royal advisor, Shihab bin Tariq Al Said.
As per the latest reports, Haitham bin Tariq has been announced as the new sultan of Oman. The announcement was made on Saturday morning by Oman’s Defence Council, after Sultan Qaboos’ funeral. Haitham bin Tariq Al Said has served in various government roles, including undersecretary of the ministry of foreign affairs and the secretary general for the ministry of foreign affairs, as well as minister of heritage and culture. He has also frequently chaired cabinet meetings and is well-respected in Oman.