Sultan Qaboos bin Said Qaboos ushered in such profound winds of change that Oman underwent a remarkable transformation into a burgeoning, modern, stable, and inclusive state. He literally elevated the nation from a state of dire poverty, nearly devoid of contemporary infrastructure and amenities, to a Middle Eastern country that proudly balances tradition and modernity. Oman now boasts high-speed internet, world-class sports and cultural centers, and an extensive network of education and healthcare facilities.
His successor, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, demonstrates a strong commitment to fostering economic growth and seeks to expand the wealth generated by the discovery of oil in the early 1960s. Let’s now delve into the lives of the individuals shaping the Sultanate of Oman and their opulent lifestyles-
Palaces and real estate-
Al Alam Palace, or the Flag Palace, is one of the six residences of the Sultan. Though simpler than other royal residences, the castle is culturally significant with a facade of gold and blue. The Flag Palace was rebuilt as a royal residence in 1972 and features an imposing white edifice with highly polished marble surfaces.
The palace grounds include a guest villa with a pool, spa, and walled manicured gardens.The entire palace is guarded by the Mirani and Jalali Forts, built in the 16th century by the Portuguese. The palace hosted monarchs like the Queen of England, King Charles and Duchess of Cornwell, and the Queen of the Netherlands in the past.
Internationally, Oman’s elite owns at least nine properties in London and the south of England with a combined value of approximately $100 million. One such is the Haselour House, a 14-acre estate in Staffordshire. The seven-bedroom property with Derbyshire flagstone floor boasts a fireplace in the main bedroom dating back to 1785 and a dining room fireplace made of rare Colombian marble. The Wonham Manor, worth $35 million, was purchased in 1980. The property has an 800-metre lake and deer fields. Sultan Qaboos spent three days a year at Wonham Manor and spent nearly £750,000 on renovating the property’s lake and pathways.
Meet the Omani royals-
Haitham bin Tarik, the current 68-year-old ruler of Oman is described as an outward-looking and Western-oriented politician. The billionaire attended Pembroke College, University of Oxford, and graduated from the Foreign Service Programme (FSP) in 1979. The Muscat-born Prime Minister of Oman served for many years in Qaboos’s cabinet as the Minister of Heritage and Culture.
Akin to the Saudi Crown Prince’s vision 2030 for his nation, Haitham is chairman of the committee for the future vision of “Oman 2040”. Compared to their Saudi counterparts, the Oman royals are considered incredibly modest and low-lying, bordering close to being called ‘normal.’ The Sultan is married to Ahad bint Abdullah, now considered the face of woman empowerment in the Sultanate.
The first lady delivered her first public speech on Omani Women’s Day on October 17, 2020, paving a new path for the fairer sex in the Gulf country. In her speech, the elegant royal highlighted how her husband is continuing the work of the late Sultan Qaboos in promoting women to prominent government roles. The impressive First Lady of Oman is a picture of elegance with a degree in sociology. She supported the women of her country by attending the graduation ceremony of hundreds of women police officers in Nizwa, south of Muscat.
His eldest son, Theyazin bin Haitham, is the crown prince of Oman and is known as the nation’s first crown prince. Oxford-educated Theyazin served as the Sultanate’s Minister of Culture, Sports, and Youth and is married to Meyyan bint Shihab Al Said. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman extended his best wishes to the couple. Like his father, the Sultan of Oman, the 33-year-old attended Oxford University and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.
A modest yet thriving Oman wealth fund-
Launched as recently as 2020 to boost the nation’s economy, the Oman Investment Authority’s total assets reached 17.9 billion Omani riyals ($46.6 billion) in 2022. Sixty percent of assets are under the National Development Portfolio, consisting of 160 companies, while the Future Generations Fund focuses on international investments, with 40 percent of OIA’s assets under its umbrella.
OIA has investments in a number of countries globally, including North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and Africa. Worth a modest $5.2 billion, the investment fund may not be the most impressive in the Middle East, but it is also not the oldest. Comparatively, Saudi Arabia’s PIF, created in 1971, is worth a whopping $776 billion.
Extravagant megayachts that put palaces to shame-
Can a yacht have it all? The extravagant 509-footer Al Said, belonging to the ruling family of Oman, does. The $600 million megayacht, which is the 7th largest in the world, was commissioned by Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The owner’s suite alone is a lesson in regality with a sprawling 538-square-foot sleeping area and a separate 431-square-foot dressing room. The suite includes an office, a saloon, and an en suite bath with a hot tub. Al Said’s six decks are enormous and easily accommodate 70 guests in 26 cabins.
The ship has fully equipped medical rooms, a dental care room, numerous meeting spaces, and a private cinema. The interiors are done up in exquisite Omani details throughout the décor, many executed by Omani craftsmen.
The majestic Fulk Al Salamah Yacht ranks number 2 behind the Lurrsen Azzam megayacht. It is also called Ship of Peace and has been part of the Oman Royal Yacht Squadron since 2016. It’s a glorious Mariotti ship with an imposing 522 ft length that’s longer than Al Said and the impressive 512-foot Dilbar yacht belonging to Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.
Dubbed the ‘Royal Support Vessel,’ This $500 million yacht features a helipad, a beauty salon, a beach club, and conference facilities and is an excellent superyacht in her own right.
Their impressive fleet rules the skies –
Royal Flight of Oman includes seven government planes for royal use. State-of-the-art private jets like three Boeing 747s and two Airbus A320S have been associated with the Omani royal flight. The fleet also includes Gulfstream G550, Lockheed Martin C-130 Super Hercules, and helicopters like the Eurocopter EC225 Super Puma II worth $27 million, and Eurocopter AS550 Fennec.
The royal family enjoys a private VIP air transport capability embedded within the Sultan of Oman’s Royal Household. It comprises its own staff housing and welfare complex, a club, and an international school. The script painted on the fleet’s fuselage is in Arabic, and the aircraft are named after places in the Sultanate.
The remarkable Royal Cavalry Oman-
Their vast stable of Arabian horses includes no less than 1000. It was founded in 1974 by Sultan Qaboos, who had an innate love for the mammal. They keep alive the Omani culture of breeding traditional horses and equestrian activities. The Royal Cavalry has headquarters in Al-Adiyat, Seeb. but also an international presence with branches set up in Safinat, Qadihat, Shumookh stables, France, and the UK. Oman’s royal cavalry enthralled Queen Elizabeth II at her spectacular platinum jubilee at the open-air arena near Windsor Castle.
They are ultra-generous gifters-
Royals are known to lead private lives, and their transactions rarely leave the art-clad palace walls. But on a rare occasion, it was learned that Sultan Qaboos bin Said commissioned a gem-studded precious miniature model of the British royal family’s coronation coach for Queen Elizabeth II in 2012 to mark her diamond jubilee. The gift that took over a year to make featured lapis lazuli and precious stones. The 25kg gold model continues to be a part of the sovereign’s private collection.