QUBOOS - The Sultan who shielded Oman from region's turmoil.

Qaboos was born on November 18, 1940, into the centuries old AI-Said dynasty in the southern provincial capital of Salalah, in an in an isolated country on the margins of the modern world.

The young Qaboos was sent abroad for his education to Britain, attending the elite Sandhurst Royal Military Academy from where he graduated in 1962.

He went on to join a British infantry battalion in Germany returning home to bide his time under the close watch of his father, Sultan Said bin Taymur.

MUSCAT : Oman's Sultan Qaboos, who died on Friday, aged 79, transformed the former Arabian Peninsula backwater into a modern state and sough-after mediator while shielding the sultanate from a region in turmoil.

The intensely private sultan - the longest sovereign ruler in modern Arab world - left no apparent heir and the royal family was charged with selecting a successor.

Instead however they opted for the sultan's own choice, his cousin Haitham bin Tariq, who was named in a sealed letter that Qaboos had prepared in case of a deadlock.

Older Omanis recall the capital Muscat had no electricity or running water and the gates of the medieval city were locked at dusk.

Qaboos assumed power as an unknown and spent the his first years cultivating the respect of his countrymen, from the mountainous interior to the coast.

But Qaboos was no ceremonial monarch. He held every top post to,m from commander of the armed forces to finance minister.

Qaboos channelled revenues from fledgling oil exports into infrastructure, taking the country from having just a handful of primary schools and some eight kilometers -six miles] of paved roads to a modern state with well over 1,000 schools and massive highway network.

The world will miss for long, this very rare leader -this gaunt, bronzed sultan who cut such a refined figure in sumptuous robes and colourful turbans. 


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