Memories of July 23rd and the Royal Flight

Memories of July 23, 1970 are etched in the hearts of many Omanis as they received the news of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ accession to the throne.
I can never forget that moment. I was a third grader at Al Saidiyah School in Muttrah. Our school principal, Ramzi Mustafa, asked me to request my now-late father for some decorations to attach on both sides of the Omani flag. My father was a professional tailor, sewing clothes in his spare time besides being a businessman. Pleased with the task, he immediately started making these decorations.
Many vocations practised by Omanis at the time, like tailoring, on a daily basis or part-time were voluntary work during religious and national events.
The “happy news” of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ accession was broadcast by international radio stations such as BBC, the Kuwaiti and Iraqi radios.
Meanwhile, Omani people began circulating news of the imminent Royal Flight landing in Muscat and made preparations to welcome His Majesty at the airport.
On July 27, 1970, a small group – through Muscat Municipality, two Saidi schools in Muscat and Muttrah, clubs and local councils — gathered students, members, citizens and folk bands at Muttrah Police Station. They were instructed to walk to Bait Al Falaj Airport to welcome His Majesty the Sultan.
A number of sports, cultural and social clubs such as Al-Ahli, Oman, Al Nasr, Al Qadisiyah and others were present, wearing scarves on the chests in blue, green and red colours, representing the symbols and emblems of their clubs.
While they walked all the way to the airport, another group provided them with water.
On 27 July 1970 and in the midst of celebrations, the Royal Flight landed in Bait Al Falaj Airport, carrying His Majesty Sultan Qaboos from Dhofar Governorate. At the forefront were members of the Royal Family, armed forces, prominent businessmen, students and a big crowd of citizens from all ages.
Muscat as well as Muttrah were spruced up in red, the colour of the national flag at the time. Most citizens later walked to Muscat to convey their greetings to His Majesty, while folk bands participated in this major event for several days.
Everyone remembers that most of the roads in Muscat and Muttrah were not paved, ending at Bait Al Falaj Airport, with only a few cars.
Driving was on the left side, as is practised today in Britain, India and a number of other countries, which was later changed.
I also remember that people had just started showing interest in education after His Majesty said in the Royal Speech that he “will educate children even under the shade of a tree”.
This prompted many citizens to register their children in public schools. A chance to send their children to the Al Saidiyah School was a dream for parents. Since that moment, education system began to expand in all Omani cities gradually. At the same time, the government began to pay attention to transport system. So, the infrastructure began expanding to roads, schools, hospitals and social services in all Omani cities. Today, the Sultanate has become one of the best countries in the Middle East and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), thanks to the development and planning policies pursued by the government from day one.

Haider Al Lawati
haiderdawood@hotmail.com