Sultan Qaboos returns to Oman

Sultan Qaboos returns to Oman
Oman's rarely-seen ruler has returned to the country after undergoing medical treatment in Germany for the past eight months.
3 min read
23 March, 2015
Oman's ruler enjoys huge popularity in the country [Getty]

Local media has confirmed that Sultan Qaboos, Oman's 74-year-old monarch, has returned to Muscat after eight months away from the country.

Oman News Agency have said the news was true and posted a video showing the sultan's return.

In the video, Qaboos is dressed in a grey suit and hat. The Omani ruler is rarely seen in anything other than national dress or military uniform.

Ahmad al-Jarallah, editor of Kuwait newspaper Assiyasah on Friday first sparked the rumour of Qaboos' return in a tweet, sparking a wave of responses on Omani social media - some sceptical, some hopeful.

Although an absolute monarch, Qaboos appears to be hugely popular among his subjects.

He has overseen a massive development programme for the country since he took charge in 1970, using the country's oil wealth to bring it up to speed with its Gulf neighbours and transforming the fortunes of its population.

An unofficial Oman news group sent out two tweets claiming  that the country’s state TV was about to announce the return of the sultan with a picture showing an empty chair, microphone, Omani flags, and TV monitors bearing Qaboos' portait.

Translation: "Engulfed with God's care and prosperity, His Majesty the Sultan, may God protect him, arrives in the homeland coming from the Federal Republic of Germany."

A second tweet claimed that Qaboos had returned to Oman and it was accompanied by a picture of the sultan at an airport, although this was later proven to be an old image of the monarch.

Qaboos is the Arab world's longest serving ruler, and has been in Germany since July for "medical tests".

     Sources said he was undergoing medical treatment for colon cancer or leukemia.

Sources said he was undergoing medical treatment for colon cancer or leukemia.

Little was known about his health or whereabouts until Qaboos made a speech on camera to mark Oman's national day in November 2014.

Qaboos had not previously been out of Oman for national day since he took over power from his father in a coup in 1970.

The frail looking monarch, dressed again in a grey suit and hat, said in the video that he would miss annual celebrations for his birthday.

"National day has come at the time when I am outside my beloved country for reasons you know about. The results have been positive. I have to follow up a medical programme during the upcoming period," he assured Omanis.

There have been few other reports about the sultan, other than in official announcements that suggested he was carrying out official duties.

In January, US secretary of state, John Kerry, visited the sultan in Germany and expressed his gratitude for Qaboos' "strong friendship".

Qaboos is seen as a key US ally in the region, but also continues to have close relations with Iran.

Questions remain over who will inherit the throne when the veteran leader dies, as he has no heirs and has not designated a successor.

Details of his private life are closely guarded, leading to a surge of rumours when official or unofficial statements are made about the ruler's health.