Wednesday, January 6, 2010

more worries for a Royal dynasty

        The world's tallest building is unleashed upon the Middle East in a blaze of fireworks in Dubai.  What would the view be like from that 124th floor ?

       As radio king John Laws ,
spotted yesterday lunching at Aria Restaurant deep in conversation with yet another 2GB boss (which may confirm rumours of his imminent return to radio) would probably say .."sand..lot's of f**cking sand!"

But largely unnoticed with the celebrations was an interview in a recent Dubai magazine aimed at the top end of the market with glossy avderts for the latest Rolls , Bentley or Aston Martin for the more sporty type.

  The sister of His Highness Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman worries yet again that the Sultan has produced no issue and from whence will come his successor ?. She has form here-and intimated before various aspects of her brother's life mainly aimed at his on-going bachelorhood status with nary a potential Sultana on the horizon.
   tSS did work in Oman for 3 months, around the same time as the noted gumshoe-or "the world's most famous private eye" as the Sydney Morning Herald recently called him, Frank Monte.

      Our paths didn't cross with tSS having secured employement via Britain which required signing the Official Secrets Act which also fortunately precludes us from disclosing the lowly position we held, unlike Monte who provided security for Omani Royal Family members and hunted out terrorist bases forming there(as detailed in his book The Spying Game).
     The Royal lineage of Qaboos dates back a few hundred years and Oman has been one of the most stable Middle East countries-rarely talked about-before and after  G.Bush Jnr & T.Blair hatched a plot to make the  friendly and generous Arab nations distrust us westerners forever.
      Qaboos only has around 3 million subjects and the capital city-Muscat is mysteriously beautiful and one of the most ancient cities on earth with traces of settlement dating back 5000 years. The people are few but friendly and His Highness has plenty of oil-wells which he has used to transform life for his people.
        In 1970 Qaboos,educated in Britain  at Sandhurst was locked up in the Royal palace upon his return by his father Sultan Said III bin Taimur. He was a suspicious old soul who sniffed a family coup in the air. He was right. The only visitor the young successor was allowed was Brigadier Timothy Landon, (right) a close friend from  Sandhurst and together they informed the old Sultan his reign was over, whereupon he pulled a pistol and accidently shot himself in the foot.
Whisked off in a waiting RAF plane to London, the old Sultan was ensconced at the Dorchester Hotel in a grand suite where he died in 1972-some claim while watching Coronation Street.
      With Landon's help (known in Oman as the "White Sultan") Qaboos transformed Oman into a pleasurable cross between modern living whilst preserving it's ancient customs. Landon was richly rewarded during his lifetime and became the go-between for the Sultanate and just about anyone who wanted to do business there.
   Ever loyal to Qaboos , he died at 65 in 2007 at his grand country estate in England and left a fortune estimated at nearly £80M  ($A140M), aided somewhat by what was claimed was a £IM gift from His Highness on each of his birthdays. At Farnborough airport he maintained his own Boeing jet and crew to visit Oman when summonsed.

Lawrence of Arabia could have been his role model-in more ways than one.

   Sultan Qaboos is hugely respected in the Middle East and much loved by his people-but as his sister says "what becomes of Oman when he passes ?". He is only 69 so there is still time to find a young bride, Perhaps that's what the succession of American male models who fly in for brief visits, advise him on.

From one palace to another for Sultan Said III bin Taimur-the Muscat Royal Family home and the Dorchester Hotel