A progressive leader, Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al Said ruled for 5 decades bringing to his country an era of modernization, economic reforms, increased spending on health, education and welfare. Slavery, a key factor in the country’s trade and development was outlawed in 1970. During his successful reign, Oman became a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council or the GCC alongside the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the State of Kuwait and the State of Qatar. Voting rights were also expanded giving women the right to vote in 1997 and stand for election to the Consultative Assembly of Oman. In 2002 voting rights were extended to all citizens over the age of 21. In 2004 the first female minister Sheikha Aisha Bin Khalfan Bin Jameel Al Sayabiyah was appointment to the post of National Authority for Industrial Craftmanship.
Sultan Qaboos died on the 10th of January 2020 and his cousin Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik Al Said succeeded as his acknowledged heir. Born in 1954, Sultan Haitham was educated in England and had previously held the post of Minister of Culture. Oman plays a key role as mediator in the region, a position Sultan Haitham is keen to uphold. Sultan Haitham has also spent just under 20 years as Under-Secretary of State and Secretary General. In this capacity, Haitham has enjoyed popularity amongst European diplomats who view him as level- headed and wise. Haitham is a sports enthusiast and has served as the first head of the Oman Football Association in early 1980s.
As minister of Culture, Haitham has successfully combined modernism and tradition in his country. He also welcomed the current King Charles of the United Kingdom, then the Prince of Wales and the Queen Consort Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall in 2016 on a visit to Oman. Haitham also serves as chairman of the committee for the future vision of “Oman 2040” and is honorary president of the Oman Association for the Disabled.
As the Sultan of Oman, Haitham is a traditional Islamic head of state leading the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the government. The Sultan is supported by a cabinets of ministers, secretaries of state and advisors. He also holds the post of Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense and Finance. Oman is however hailed as a country firmly on the path to becoming an Islamic democracy, a path the current Sultan is keen to pursue while combining Islamic rule with a modern outlook.
His Majesty is a firm believer in growth at a steady pace and welcomes tourism whole heartily and plans to build on his predecessor’s legacy by introducing further improvements in education and training to reduce youth unemployment. The Sultan is married with four children, two sons and two daughters.