An article in the BBC three days ago indicated that Qatar's Emir and Prime Minister are putting together a succession plan that is to become public. To read the article click here. Do you realize what this means? A GCC ruler is actually planning to step down and peacefully hand the reins to someone younger. A GCC RULER! AN EMIR!
GCC Rulers have a history of super-glue-ing themselves to their thrones for decades and decades until they die. Unfortunately, in this day and age I'm not entirely sure this strategy is feasible anymore. (hint: Arab Spring)
What does this mean for Oman? If Qatar takes the first step and shows that it's not taboo to talk about an ordered succession plan, then maybe there's hope for Oman because we do not have a succession plan. The tale of two boxes containing a name (one at each end of the country) can't even convince a 5-year-old. Oman's succession strategy is not convincing. There is no obvious person being groomed to take over. And as pointed out in this Muscat Daily piece on Tuesday, Omani officials are basically unknown to the people.
For the past 43 years we have been loyal to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Him alone. We are not familiar with members of the Royal Family. We have never heard them speak. They do not mingle with locals (in Dhofar at least!) and it's worrying because the next Sultan supposedly has to be a member of the royal family of full Omani blood (that narrows it down because many of them have married foreigners).
If Omanis were to vote on this, they'd all just wish His Majesty will live forever and ever because whenever the moment comes that he is no longer here, it will be chaos.
The visit of His Excellency Yousuf bin Alawi Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs to Salalah on Friday was worrying (in my opinion). Change is in the air but I'll save his visit for my next post.