World leaders travelled Sunday to Oman to meet the country’s new sultan, named just a day earlier after the death of the nation’s longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles were among those who arrived in Muscat to meet Oman’s new ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said.
Other leaders included Kuwait’s ruling emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, as well as Qatar’s ruling emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and the president of Yemen’s internationally recognized government, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, also visited.
Sultan Haitham was Oman’s culture minister before being named as the successor to Sultan Qaboos, the Middle East’s longest-ruling monarch whose death was announced Saturday. He died on Friday at the age of 79 after years of an undisclosed illness.
Qaboos managed to maintain Oman’s neutrality, not taking sides in the Gulf dispute with Qatar, and helped to mediate secret U.S.-Iran talks in 2013 that led to an international nuclear pact two years later, which Washington then quit in 2018.
U.S. President Donald Trump called Qaboos a true partner to the United States, working with nine different American presidents.
“His unprecedented efforts to engage in dialogue and achieve peace in the region showed us the importance of listening to all viewpoints,” Trump said in a statement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada recognizes his “steadfast role as a mediator in the region,” including his efforts on the Iran nuclear deal.
Sultan Haitham, 66, has pledged to follow Sultan Qaboos’ example of promoting peace and dialogue in the Mideast. Oman has served as an interlocutor between Iran and the U.S., which are facing a level of unprecedented tensions. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif travelled to Muscat on Sunday as well to meet Sultan Haitham.
Oman sits on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula.