When news came Saturday that Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Gulf nation’s ruler since 1970, had died, Monitor editors began trading messages. At a time of great regional polarization, the sultan’s decades of quiet mediation deserve notice.
His passing felt like “the closing chapter to a more civil time,” says the Monitor’s Taylor Luck, who wrote in 2017 about Sultan Qaboos’ importance to the region. In Muscat, Oman, yesterday, Taylor notes, “just for a moment, everything stopped and reverted back to [a time] when respect trumped rivalry, and dialogue overcame differences.”
Recognition came from Saudis and Qataris, from Iranians and Americans. “Warring factions of Yemen’s civil war all stopped to pay tribute,” notes Taylor, “speaking to the sultan’s legacy.
“Qaboos was not a model democrat, but he was a model statesman, working for prosperity for his people and peace for his neighbors,” Taylor wrote in an email from Jordan. “Traveling and living in the region the past 12 years, I heard nothing but kind words for Sultan Qaboos from princes, politicians, farmers, and fishermen.”
“The country’s diplomacy focuses on understanding the interests of other countries rather than trying to maximize its own gains,” read the editorial, quoting an official in Oman’s foreign ministry. “It relies on seeing them as ‘though we were as them, to see the world through their eyes.’ ”