Leader of Omani Sultanate: Sultan Qaboos AlSa’id reigns over a country strategically situated in the Gulf region. Oman has a stake in the crude oil market due to the Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Gulf of Oman to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea, producing over 970,000 barrels of crude oil per day according to Oman’s Oil and Gas Ministry. Historically, Oman is significant as one of the only countries with a large population of Ibadi Muslims and as the most authoritative state in the Ibadi movement—one that is recognized as one of the oldest schools of Islamic thought.
Beacon of Islam: Sultan Qaboos has helped build or restore thousands of mosques at his personal expense, the grandest being the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, which can accommodate up to 20,000 worshippers. The Sultan is a discreet but strong supporter of moderate Islam and has created a unique Islamic culture in Oman that has carefully combined the best of traditional Islam with the benefits of the modern world. Sultan Qaboos has promoted culturally-specific Islamic dress, art, architecture and education, and is a keen advocate of environmentalism. Qaboos has also supported the non-Muslim population through the construction of Catholic and Protestant churches in the country as well as Hindu temples.
Personal Leadership: The Sultan has raised the Omani standard of living by building up Oman’s school system, health care, infrastructure, and economy. He cites political participation as one of his major long-term goals. Within the last two decades, he has introduced political reforms; including a bicameral representative body, a basic law, universal suffrage, and a supreme court. Moreover, despite Oman’s relative lack of oil and gas compared to other Gulf States, the Sultan has invested his country’s wealth so that all citizens are guaranteed free education up to the doctoral level (should they qualify); free healthcare, free land, soft loans for building homes, jobs and social security for the disabled, orphans and widows.
Quiet Diplomatic Efforts: Sultan Qaboos has long been globally recognized for his leadership in the Persian Gulf region. Recently Oman has been playing a quiet but significant mediating role in two key issues. October 2018 saw the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu make an unannounced trip to Oman, just a week after Palestinian PresidentMahmoud Abbaspaid a three-day visit. This June saw Oman become the first Gulf state to announce the opening of an embassy in Ramallah, Palestine. Oman is also a key mediator between the US and Iran.