BEIRUT. — The Persian Gulf nation of Oman named a new leader on Saturday, an Oxford-educated veteran of public service who pledged to continue his predecessor’s quiet diplomacy between global foes.
The new leader, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, succeeds Sultan Qaboos , a towering figure who ruled Oman for nearly 50 years.
He oversaw its development and pioneered a foreign policy based on good relations with a range of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United States and Iran. Qaboos’s death was announced earlier Saturday. He was 79.
The peaceful transition of power in Oman took place amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, which has threatened to ignite a new war in the Middle East.
Sultan Haitham (65) has had a long career in public life, working in the foreign ministry, assisting with programs aimed at diversifying the country’s economy away from oil, and most recently serving as culture minister. He is a cousin of the late sultan.
He comes to power as a number of conflicts swirl in the Middle East and as his government faces growing economic stress at home. In an address on Omani state television, Sultan Haitham vowed to continue his predecessor’s practice of not interfering in the affairs of other countries while working for peace between them.
“We will continue to assist in resolving disputes peacefully,” he said.
Oman, a country of 4.6 million on the south-eastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has long served as an island of neutrality in a region rife with sectarian and political conflicts. – The New York Times.