India has lost a key friend in the Gulf region with the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said of Oman. Sultan Qaboos, the longest-serving leader of the modern Arab world, died last week at the age of 79.
Former Indian President Shankar Dayal Sharma taught Sultan Qaboos while he studied in Pune for some time. Sultan Qaboos’s father, an alumnus of Ajmer’s Mayo College, sent his son to study in Pune for some time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the death of Sultan Qaboos and described him as a beacon of peace for the region and the world. “I am deeply saddened to learn about the passing away of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. He was a visionary leader and statesman who transformed Oman into a modern and prosperous nation,” Modi tweeted.
Sultan Qaboos was a true friend of India and provided strong leadership for developing a vibrant strategic partnership between India and Oman, the Prime Minister said. “I will always cherish the warmth and affection I received from him. May his soul rest in peace,” Modi said.
“He had very fond memories from his student days and that is the reason he has been very generous towards the Indian community and India’s requests for help,” an Indian diplomat said. Sultan Qaboos also played a role in the release of Father Tom Uzhunnalil, the Vatican priest who was abducted in Yemen in March 2016 and released in September 2017.
There are about 770,000 Indians in Oman and some of them were living in the country for more than 150-200 years. Thousands of Indians are working as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, teachers, lecturers, nurses, and managers, among other professionals.
Haitham bin Tariq al-Said was sworn in as the new Sultan of Oman after the death of Sultan Qaboos. The new Sultan is the cousin of the late Sultan. The late sultan had himself chosen Haitham Bin Tareq Al Saeed as his successor, as the Sultan had no children.