On 10 January, the Middle East (and Oman) lost its longest reigning leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who died at age 79 following a protracted battle with cancer. Immediately following the announcement, Sultan Qaboos’ successor was announced – his cousin Haitham bin Tariq al-Said – putting to rest speculation of a potential succession crisis.

Like the man himself, Sultan Qaboos’ succession process was shrouded in mystery and shrewdness. Lacking an heir, Qaboos refused to name a successor in his lifetime (so as to not risk a coup) and decided that the royal family would elect the next sultan through consultation – and if that failed, Qaboos had written his chosen successor on a sealed envelope. Indeed, the family chose to open the envelope, and fulfilled Qaboos’ request to make Haitham – one of three brothers heavily linked to the succession – the new sultan of Oman. (CONTINUED - 974 WORDS)