Bin Taimur Al-Said, Said (Oman)

Reference work entry


Said bin Taimur Al-Said was Sultan of Oman (hereditary absolute monarch) from 1932–70. A reclusive and repressive ruler, his autocratic policies prompted popular unrest and armed revolt. In 1970 he was overthrown by his son Qaboos bin Said, the present Sultan, in a bloodless coup.

Early Life

Said bin Taimur succeeded his father, Taimur bin Faisal, in 1932. Said inherited a country virtually bankrupt and internally divided. The historical split between Oman’s coastal areas, ruled by the Sultan, and the rest of the territory, had been recognised in the 1920 Treaty of As Sib (brokered by the British) under which Said’s father conceded limited sovereignty to the tribes of the interior. The treaty was a de facto partition agreement, although the ruling Al-Said dynasty did not relinquish their claim to all of Oman.

Career Peak

In the early 1950s Said sought to extend his writ into the oil rich interior, which offered the means to alleviate the debt problems of his regime and reinforce his rule. However, the acquiescence of the interior tribal sheikhs was necessary for oil exploration. This was not forthcoming, and a rebellion broke out in 1954 under a new Imam (nominal head of the interior) who led a movement for independence. Britain intervened on the Sultan’s behalf and by 1959 Said had fully re-established his authority.

Despite the potential of Oman’s oil revenues, Said failed to modernize his country. While maintaining his military connection with the British, he opposed any social change, including popular educational. In 1958 he withdrew from Muscat to the coastal city of Salalah, the administrative capital of the Dhofar region in the southwest, where he remained except for periodic private visits to the United Kingdom.

Resistance to Said’s conservative regime continued to simmer after the unrest of the 1950s. In 1964 another serious rebellion broke out, this time in Dhofar. The revolt, fuelled by the neighbouring Marxist state of Yemen, was to continue until 1975. On 23 July 1970 Said’s Western-educated and more progressive son, Qaboos bin Said, took power in a palace coup with the tacit endorsement of the British. Said was forced to abdicate and withdrew to London, England, where he died in 1972.

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