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. Qaboos, 78, has no children and has not, at this time, named an heir.
His successor will have to secure the same legitimacy that the current Sultan enjoys. Additionally, the next successor will have to decide whether to keep the same absolute power or separate State powers.
This image was cropped from a photograph of the Sultan’s visit with John Kerry on May 21, 2013. I was taken by an employee of the State Department an is in the Public Domain.