Ode To A Legend : His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Bin Taimur, The Ruler Of Oman
By Mahesh Verma
It has been an excruciating five days since the passing away of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimur Al Said, the ruler of Oman. Five long days of emptiness, five long days of an aching void, five long days of welled-up eyes.
This Ode to a Legend should have, or rather, could have been written the day the world woke up to the devastating news that the Legend had gone to sleep for eternity. But then, how does one write an obituary for a person who was so larger than life, for a ruler who transcended the realm of just being a Sultan and was a father to the entire nation, for a Sultan whose vision transformed the lives of an entire Sultanate, for a giant amongst leaders and a Caesar amongst his peers?
Shakespeare probably had in mind giants like His Majesty when writing
“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.”
Compared to the Colossus that His Majesty was, the others pale into insignificance and do seem like “petty men” walking “under his huge legs.”
No, I had never met him and in the almost 35 years that we have been in Oman, had a fleeting glance of him just once as his motorcade sped by. But there was something in His Majesty’s persona that made him so loved and adored. It was probably the way he had modernized Oman in the short span of a few years after he had come onto the throne or the way he silently mediated between nations, or the way he had united Oman and had given everyone staying here the right to practice their own faiths.
When I first landed in Oman in May 1985, the Sultanate was gearing up for the GCC meeting that was going to be held in Oman for the first time at the recently completed Al Bustan Palace Hotel. Subsequently, preparations started for the 15th National Day celebrations in November. and the beautiful city of Muscat was decorated like a blushing, bashful bride. For someone who had come from a city where we had become used to 18 hours of load -shedding ( euphemism for power outage), seeing the entire city bedecked in dazzling lights was enough to make me fall in love with the country. And that love continued to grow as the city became prettier with each passing year, and the country witnessed modernization retaining its ancient history and culture: no high –rise buildings to alter the skyline, no attempt to convert the city into a concrete jungle while retaining the inherent Arabic character with the forts, hills, trees and traditional villages and townships remaining intact.
His Majesty has been rightly extolled for his role as the region’s peacemaker: he maintained close ties with nearly everyone and when the need arose, he attempted to mediate and promote harmony between the rival actors. It was at his behest that in 2013, Oman hosted covert negotiations between Iran and the United States which resulted in the much talked about nuclear agreement of 2015 and would have successfully defused tension in the region had not “he who cannot be named” turned rogue.
In a world divided across countless fault lines, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos had the vision and benevolence to ask future generations to build bridges and not burn them. As far back as 1983, on the eve of Oman’s 13th National Day, he had said that “the youth of the free world have an important role to play in restoring human dignity, in encouraging peace and strengthening understanding between people.” His vision, compassion and dedication to education gave the youth of Oman the opportunity to broaden their knowledge and become global citizens. He had said that “the clear river of knowledge is one from which all should drink, and the channels flowing from it should carry richness, fecundity and growth to every part of Oman’s pure and noble land.” Here was a Caesar, when comes such another? Rest in eternal peace, Your Majesty- you shall be missed by the world!