July 23 is Renaissance Day in Oman. It celebrates the ascension in 1970 of Sultanos Qaboos bin Said al Said who overthrew his father in a bloodless coup.
Father, Said bin Taimur, began his reign in 1932 and was a feudalistic and isolationist ruler. In 1967 oil was discovered in the area and massive infighting developed over its control. This situation made it easy for his son Qaboos to gain power.
When Qaboos bin Said al Said took office, Oman had an infant mortality rate of 75%, malnutrition was widespread, and there were only three schools and six miles of paved road in the entire country.
Upon taking the throne Qaboos embarked on a massive modernization campaign which provided electrification, telecommunications, schools, hospitals and even Catholic and Protestant churches and a Hindu temple.
Oman is an absolute monarchy. There are no checks and balances and Said al Said rules the country by fiat. At 77, Qaboos is the longest-serving Arab leader and fourth longest-serving contemporary monarch in the world, the first being Elizabeth II.
Parts of this post have been summarized from Wikipedia. This image of the flag of Oman is from the Open Clipart Library and is in the public domain.