NEW YORK: The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held a special session to pay tribute to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said bin Taimour, may Almighty Allah rest his soul in peace.
Speaking on the occasion, UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad Pandi, said: “We will remember the late Sultan Qaboos as a peacemaker and committed to the values of establishing this organisation,” calling on the attendees to stand for a minute of silence in memory of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos will be remembered for his fundamental role in the modernisation and industrialisation of Oman, including the foresight to recognise that education has the potential to lift the whole society. As he was a progressive leader on climate action, a promoter of religious tolerance and a peacemaker, Muhammad-Bande expressed hope that the member states will honour His Majesty Sultan Qaboos by emulating his efforts, which reflect the founding ideals of the United Nations.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres said: “Today, we remember and pay homage to the many roads he built — the road of dialogue, the road of understanding, the road of peace.”
Guterres noted that the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos led Oman to join the United Nations, the League of Arab States and the Gulf Cooperation Council. With leadership and commitment, he worked to shape Oman as an active, responsible member of the international family, and under his watch, Oman remained largely immune from the tensions of the region.
Indeed, the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos was well regarded for spreading messages of peace, understanding and coexistence far beyond his country’s borders, Guterres said, noting that Oman has consistently played a critical role in ensuring communication among disputing parties.
Within his beloved country, his vision for Oman saw levels of education for women and men rise exponentially – with a manifold increase in schools, hospitals and roads.
Extending his best wishes to His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, who has taken over the leadership of Oman, Guterres said he has every hope that Oman’s contributions to regional and international diplomacy will continue. He expressed the United Nations steadfast support for Oman’s continued efforts to promote peace and stability in the region. He also wished His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik success in pioneering Oman and promoting international diplomacy in the region based on the legacy of HM Sultan Qaboos, affirming the continued support of the UN to Oman to promote peace and stability in the region.
Kokou Kpayedo (Togo), speaking for the African States, hailed HM Sultan Qaboos as an emblematic figure on the global stage, and a visionary deeply committed to advancing his country and the well-being of his people. Noting that Oman ranked highest in the Middle East in the 2019 Human Development Report, he said HM Sultan Qaboos understood that friendship and cooperation are the highway to success. Having made Oman a bridge between the Arab, Western and African worlds, Sultan Qaboos forged the links between Oman and most African countries, organising conferences with Horn of Africa countries, and building hospitals and schools around the continent.
An artisan of peace, a role in which he staked success on neutrality, the late Sultan was a globally renowned mediator, having received the Jawaharlal Nehru Award for International Understanding in 2004.
Noor Qamar Sulaiman (Brunei), speaking for the Asia-Pacific Group, noted that the late Sultan’s reign spanned almost five decades, making him the longest-serving Arab leader. In that time, he led his country with wisdom and vision, guiding Oman through difficult challenges and laying the foundations for modernisation, developing its infrastructure, education and health care systems, as well as its institutional frameworks.
A lifelong devotion brought about remarkable social and economic progress that transformed Oman into one of the most stable and prosperous countries in the Middle East, while preserving its rich national heritage and culture, she said.
Yashar Aliyev (Azerbaijan), speaking on behalf of the Eastern European states, said His Majesty Sultan Qaboos paved the way for Oman’s well-being and development. A great leader and genuine statesmen, his lifelong contributions to international affairs and support for dialogue processes in the Middle East were critical to building trust in times of turmoil, he said, recalling the late Sultan’s description of Oman’s foreign policy as “defined with clarity, a hand building from within, and a hand offered in goodness, giving, continued participation in the world’s events and development”.
Christine R Bailey (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the region has lost a leader and the father of the Omani renaissance. When he ascended to the throne in 1970, Oman was isolated, had six miles of paved roads, three public schools and minimal medical care. Since then, life expectancy climbed to 77 years from 50 years, literacy is at 96 per cent and Oman’s achievements include highways, public utilities, high-speed Internet and world-class sports and cultural centres. An advocate for gender equality, he leaves behind an enduring legacy in foreign policy, based on moderation and dialogue.
Martin Bille Hermann (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Western European and other states, elaborated on the late Sultan’s approach to building bridges with external partners, which shaped a foreign policy focused on fostering peace and stability. Promoting the voice of reason throughout the Middle East, HM Sultan Qaboos’ passing away is a loss to the region and beyond.
Cherith Norman-Chalet (United States) recalled that when the late Sultan ascended to the throne in 1970, Oman, the region and the world were in much different places. His reign spanned nine United States presidents, multiple regional crises and global changes no one could have imagined. Throughout, the hallmarks of his reign were wisdom and vision – virtues he relied upon to steer Oman towards stability and prosperity.
“Sultan Qaboos was the embodiment of a modern statesman, demonstrating unflagging commitment to dialogue and to promoting peaceful engagement across the troubled region in which Oman and its neighbours exist,” she said.
Hassan Abu Obaida (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Arab states, reflected on the many achievements of the late Sultan, including his role in Oman’s renaissance. A symbol of friendship and wisdom, he was a principled man whose loss will be felt across and beyond the region. He strengthened governance and the Arab identity with a view to undoing various conflicts.
The permanent representative of the Sultanate to the UN, Mohammad bin Awad al Hassan thanked the delegates for their condolences, saying that HM Sultan Qaboos was the father of his Oman’s renaissance, who spent 50 years working tirelessly. “He loved his people, and his people returned the love,” he said, adding that his legacy will live on forever.