The longest serving ruler in the Middle East, Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman died on Friday aged 79. He assumed power in 1970. His cousin Haitham bin Tariq al Said is his successor. Qaboos left behind a sealed envelope with the name of his successor – only to be opened after his death.
Avoiding the region’s endemic turbulence and the Arab Spring upsets, Sultan Qaboos is credited with using oil revenues to vastly improve living standards in Oman. His hand as quiet mediator of international disputes contributed substantially to bringing about the talks that led to the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. The sultan openly conducted relations with Israel and welcomed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Muscat last year.