In the demise of Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman has lost a statesman. His becoming the king by staging a coup was then necessary for the development of the nation. Unlike leaders who ascend thrones to become dictators, the Sultan was of a different calibre. He had his plans well charted for the next four decades.
The country saw development of high order. Being a master strategist, he kept all opposition at bay .
From a dry hot desert region that had no aspirations and no idea of development, he gave his people a different way of facing the world. “Don’t give fish to the starving, teach them how to fish” was the maxim he advocated. People adored him. He did not allow corruption to rear its head. He was clear that for the nation to progress, he needed the contribution of expatriates to a large extent. He gave them opportunities to grow and assist in nation-building. He recognised their hard work and carried them along. In the process, he did not ignore Oman’s cultural heritage. He gave a wide range of opportunities for the Omanis to improve their quality of living.
His respect for our former President Shankar Dayal Sharma is widely known. Foregoing protocol, the Sultan once went to the airport to receive and escort him. His democratic functioning in a monarchy is an excellent model for other nations to emulate.
Having stayed in that country for four years as an Indian School administrator, I have been a great admirer of his governance. The Sultan used to visit all districts at regular intervals. His interaction with common people during those visits brought him closer to ground realities.
I was in charge of getting a new school constructed for Indian expatriates in a record time of nine months. This would not have been possible, but for the permissions and licenses that were cleared on priority whenever we approached the government authorities. Further whenever we invited the ministers and higher officials for school functions, they were more than willing to attend and honour our students. Most of them were well educated and handling important portfolios with acclaim. Despite their busy schedules, they gave us Indians a special place of respect in their hearts. I sincerely feel that the vacuum created by the Sultan’s untimely passing away will be difficult to fill.
Lt Col R V S Mani (Retd)