As we celebrate this Renaissance Day, Oman Magazine’s contributor Muntasir Shaaban Al Farsy, talks us through His Majesty’s incredible history, both past and present.
What is Renaissance Day in Oman?
July 23 marks the Renaissance Day in Oman. This public holiday commemorates the anniversary of the day Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said ascended the throne in 1970 and set a goal to end Oman’s isolation.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’ recorded promise was none-other than:
“I promise you to proceed forthwith in the process of creating a modern government. My first act will be the immediate abolition of all the unnecessary restrictions on your lives and activities” – His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
Supported by the late teacher Mrs. Eloise with her husband Dr. Donald Bosch of the early pioneers since 1955, people began to talk about a new Oman, full of opportunity and prosperity. There was a new sense of encouraged patriotism, great love and determination for the newborn country and its young father.
To attract the help of educated Omanis, His Majesty invited the Omani expatriates to return home, those living in East Africa, Gulf countries, Europe and elsewhere. One of the first and important acts of his was to release all but a few prisoners from the notorious Jalali prison in Muscat. His Majesty is what only can be described as a true humanitarian and visionary leader.
Little is known of our Sultan’s childhood, but his father left no stone unturned to educate his only son and heir to the throne. Teachers from the only existing school of Al Saidiya were brought to Al Husn Palace to tutor the young prince. (Ironically, the year of his birth marked the launch of the Al Saidiya School founded in the Muscat region, where some of his uncles duly attended). His Majesty Sultan Qaboos was then sent abroad for further studies and resided in England.
In 1958, the visionary Prince set sail for Great Britain and was tutored privately by Phillip Roman who hosted him in his village home of Felsham, just ten miles East of Suffolk. This conservative family treated their guest with kindness and introduced him to a different world. It was during this period that the present Sultan explored his love of classical music.
Qaboos’ close chaperone was a military man, known as Major Leslie Chauncey, whose association with Oman was deep-rooted. His retirement as the British Consul led to a higher post as Sultan’s Personal Adviser in 1958. Qaboos went on to graduate from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst after two years as an cadet officer in 1960. Qaboos also joined one of the oldest regiments of the First Battalion of the Cameronians and served in Germany for a year.
Following his discharge as a second lieutenant, Qaboos’ father charged the Chauncey’s to accompany his young son on a three-month world tour, to develop his international understanding of the world and cultures. With distinction awarded for his service to the British Army, Qaboos ultimately returned home in 1964 and educated himself, in depth, on the lengthy history of Oman and his religion.
Qaboos honestly reflected during a 1995 interview that:
“My Father’s insistence on my thoroughly studying my religion and the history and culture of my country were a profound help in forming my consciousness of my responsibilities toward my people and to humanity at large. Also the benefit to counterbalance of a Western education and life as a soldier”.
The second step for HM Sultan Qaboos, after taking reins of the country, was to end the long period of isolation and restore connections with the Gulf nations, and by joining the League of Arab States and the United Nations. The building of schools, hospitals and infrastructure speaks for itself and the peace and harmony across the Sultanate is ever-apparent. Oman is considered one of the most peaceful places in the world as is home to a multitude of people, living in perfect harmony.
Qaboos’ fondness for military and classical music has been translated into art, with the opening of the Royal Opera House Muscat, where the Sultanate’s Symphony Orchestra and Military Bands perform for Oman and its people.
With such a celebration as Renaissance Day, we take this opportunity to wish His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said great health and prosperity. May he forever bless us with his leadership and vision.
Written by Muntasir Shaaban Al Farsy
References: Oman Reborn by Linda P. Funsch | Wikipedia Source.