Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said was the ruler of Oman. The Sultan, as an absolute ruler, chairs a Cabinet of Ministers and occupies the most important chairs in this cabinet himself. He appoints the other ministers as he pleases. Democratic institutions like free elections for the people, a parliament with political or human rights, and other democratic institutions do not exist in Oman. Moreover, the executive, judiciary and legislative branches are embodied in the person of the Sultan. One can accurately describe Qaboos as possessing absolute power in his sultanate. This sultanate is not an insignificant country on the Gulf of Oman; it is the size of Germany and holds a significant share of oil reserves. As the man on the sultanate’s throne, Qaboos brought his people more good than bad in his nearly five-decades-long reign.
Born on November 18 of 1940, Qaboos grew up in the south of Oman. When he was 16, his father decided to send him to a private school in England – this decision later opened the door to the modernization of Oman. Here, the young man, who would later call his country dark and backward at his inaugural speech as Sultan, was deeply connected with the modern West for the first time. He absorbed all the information and knowledge he could take in. He is the eighth descendant of the Al-Bu-Said dynasty founded in 1744 by Imam Ahmed bi Said; and as such is firmly rooted in his cultural and historical responsibility. It was his ancestor who ended the longstanding and bloody civil war, uniting the country of Oman. Qaboos served as a cadet in the Sandhurst Royal Military academy and then the British army; he studied administration and made a three-month trip around the world. During this time, Qaboos became a very cosmopolitan man and soon after ascended the throne of the sultanate in 1970.
In his inaugural address, the then 30-year-old newly ascendant Sultan promised his people that he would lead the economy, culture, and education into a new era. That is exactly what he did. Today, the results of his decades-long work are manifest in a functioning education system, a practice of and devotion to a moderate form of Islam, a well-functioning government under his absolute leadership as well as a thriving economy and citizens blessed with a certain amount of wealth – all the while upholding the traditions of their ancestors without falling into extremism.