Qaboos bin Said al-Said, the Sultan of Oman, passed away Friday evening, according to the Oman News Agency.
“This morning, an obituary will issue the following text: O reassured, reassured soul. Return to your Lord satisfied, satisfying and enter me into my servants and bring me to my country, to my mother,” read the Oman News Agency’s Twitter post early Saturday morning, confirming the 79-year-old sultan’s death.
Qaboos, who assumed his position following the ousting of his father Said bin Taimur through a bloodless coup in July 1970, is known as the longest-serving leader within the Arab world and Middle East and established Oman as Iran’s strongest ally in the Gulf.
However, the ruler sired no children nor publicly announced a successor to immediately assume the throne.
According to Reuters, a 1996 statute calls for the ruling family to select a new successor for the vacant throne within three days. Should they fail to do so, a council comprised of military, supreme court chiefs and assembly representatives have the right to appoint the individual whose name is sealed in a letter written by the sultan.
The sultan had been sick for the past several years and received treatment in Germany during a period of eight months between 2014 and 2015. In a December 2019 release, the Washington Institute for Near-East Policy described the leader as a 79-year-old “with diabetes and a history of colon cancer.”
Qaboos was taken to Belgium last month for what was described as “medical checks,” reported the Washington Post and became the subject of rumors due to public uncertainty of his health until the Diwan Court issued a statement in late December.
“The Royal Diwan Court wishes to inform the people that the Sultan Qaboos bin Said … is following the prescribed medical treatment and that he is in a stable condition, thanks to God,” the statement read, reported the outlet. “The sultan thanks his people all around the world for them sharing their good wishes and prayers for him.”
Despite his health, Qaboos spoke with Saudi Vice Minister of Defence Prince Khalid bin Salman late last year amid the Yemen War and organized peace talks which led to the release of 200 Houthi prisoners in November 2019.