A legacy enshrined in his actions

As a nation mourns a leader lost to the inexorable touch of time, it should understand that on the darkest nights, the stars shine brightest, and reflect in that light upon the wisdom and achievements of a bold young man who became all that any nation could ask of its leader.
It was once written that three or more people need a leader among them, and ironically, at a time when much of the world was involved in the global conflict of the Second World War, a young man was born in Salalah, in the Dhofar Governorate of Oman who would eventually become one of the great statesmen of any nation, region, culture, or time. Qaboos was the only descendant of the 14th generation of the Royal House of Said, born to Sultan Said bin Taimour, and his wife Sheikha Mazoon bint Ahmad al Mashani, on November 18, 1940.
Initially home educated in Salalah itself, by teachers from the city’s one and only Saidiyyah School, brought to the Al Husn Palace to tutor the Royal son, who, at the age of 18 years travelled to the village of Feldsham, near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, UK, where he was tutored for two years by a noted academic, Phillip Roman, and lived with his family. This conservative, middle-class family also introduced their young pupil to classical music, of which his favourite was Handel’s ‘Water Music,’ theatre, and fine dining. He studied the workings of the local, Bury St Edmunds council, the UK’s political structure, its culture and society.
Another key British figure in the young Omani’s life was his chaperon, Major Lesley Chauncey, a former British Consul in Muscat, confidant and personal adviser of the Sultan. It was certainly at Chauncey’s recommendation that the young prince attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst, Berkshire, graduating two years later with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. Interestingly, the Academy’s motto is ‘Serve To Lead,’ contradictory perhaps, but as he was to say later in life, “I learned that with responsibility comes obligation.” Attached to the staff of the Cameronian Scottish Rifles Infantry Regiment, who had seen service in Oman
during earlier years, he served for a year in Germany, before his discharge in 1963.
Chaperoned by Major Chauncey and his wife, the much wiser young man then undertook an extended global tour, with the objective of learning the wider politics of the world, and particularly Asia and the Far East, to balance his knowledge and understanding of the European perspective, and ending in the United States of America. The highlight of his three months ‘Grand Tour,’ however, was a meeting with his grandfather Taimour bin Faisal, in Bombay, India, where the elderly gentleman had chosen to reside following his abdication in 1932. Segey Plekhanov, in ‘A Reformer on the Throne,’ wrote, “The time had come to return to Oman and put into practice the knowledge he had acquired over the last six years.”
Two years after returning home, he had still not seen Muscat! Maybe he saw, in the words of another bold, unorthodox, adventurous man, a soldier who also became more than that, General Douglas MacArthur, who wrote, “A genuine leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make difficult decisions, and the compassion to listen. They may not set out to become leaders, but become so by the equality of their actions, and the integrity of their intent.”
Confidence, courage, compassion, wisdom, respect, inspiration, vision and humility are leadership qualities that any pupil, student or adult could identify in a ‘wish-list,’ exercise, however when the achievements of the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said are finally chronicled, those qualities will be evident in all that he has achieved for his beloved nation.
He had to be courageous to make the bold decision to assume control of the nation. He was still young, and there would have been no certainty of success, but he also had the confidence to go to the people with his message of hope and trust, sincerely delivered on July 23, 1970:
“I promise you to proceed at once with the task of creating a modern government. My first act will be the immediate abolition of all the unnecessary restrictions on your daily lives. My people, I will proceed without delay to transform life into a prosperous one with a bright future. Every one of you must play his part towards this goal. Our country in the past was famous and strong. If we work in unity and cooperation, we will regenerate the glorious past and we will take our rightful place in the world.”
This was not a messaging promising the world. It was one that could be sustained, and it called upon all Omanis to contribute to a shared vision, his and their shared vision. His message inspired ‘his people,’ to believe in the same vision he had for their nation, and he had the wisdom to make his message simple, by making their lives simpler. This was a message of compassion, recognising that their lives had become mired in difficulty, of respect in promising prompt action, and humility in asking for their help. This was a message from the heart, personal, meaningful, and genuine… and it was heard!
A true leader has one thing pretenders do not; their people. There is not one person in this ‘Jewel of the Arabian Gulf,’ rich or poor, young or old, Omani or expatriate, who would not want ‘their’ Sultan Qaboos to lead them. He has become, and been, all they could ever want, and will be the yardstick by which all others are measured for centuries to come.
His legacy enshrined in his qualities, his compassion in his actions, and he, an only son proof of the dictum of quality over quantity. He will not be forgotten.