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What’s next for Oman following Sultan Qaboos’ death?

Oman's new ruler Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said will work to stamp his own imprint on a nation often synonymous with its longtime leader.

The death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said on Jan. 10, after nearly 50 years of rule over Oman, has removed one of the great "moderates" from the scene just as soaring tensions between the United States and Iran nearly escalated into another Persian Gulf conflict.

In power since he ousted his father in a nearly bloodless palace coup in July 1970, Sultan Qaboos steered Oman through a period of rapid socio-economic modernization even as he kept a tight grip over the levers of political control. The centralization of authority in Qaboos, coupled with his refusal to publicly name a successor, gave rise to persistent speculation over succession as the sultan aged. (He was 79 when he died.) In the event, the transition to the new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, a first cousin of Qaboos, proceeded rapidly and smoothly, just as Omani officials had quietly predicted it would.

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