The ruling Al-Busaid dynasty descends from Sayyid Mubarak al-Saidi al-Azdy, of the Banu Hiba, a clan belonging to the Hiwani tribe of Yemen. His great great-grandson, Sayyid Ahmad bin Said, was elected as Imam in 1744, after the extinction of the Ya'rubi dynasty. His son, Sayyid Said bin Ahmad, seized temporal power in 1775. Elected as Imam on his father's death in 1783, Said was himself excluded from temporal power by his own sons in 1786. He died in 1811 (or 1803), the last elected Imam of Oman. The dynasty reached its zenith during the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan (r. 1806-1856), when Oman became the centre of a vast sea-borne empire along the coasts and islands of eastern Africa and the Persian Gulf. Sayyid Said established close relations with Britain and opened diplomatic relations with the US and France, built a great trading empire and established naval supremacy over the Persians in the Gulf. For much of his reign, he supervised his domains from Zanzibar. His death resulted in an inevitable family squabble over the succession. During a period of five years territory and trade were lost as both parties competed for power. Eventually, Lord Canning, the British Viceroy of India, negotiated a compromise splitting the domains between Said's sons. Sayyid Thuwaini was recognised as Sultan of Muscat and Oman and Sayyid Majid as Sultan of Zanzibar and its dependencies. Unfortunately for Oman, Zanzibar was the centre of the East African trade and the economic and financial powerhouse of the whole empire. A Zanzibari subsidy, to take account of the disparity in income, had been a feature of the Canning Award, but this soon became the chief source of revenue for the Omani rulers. The state gradually sank into a sleepy backwater for a period of 120 years. The rulers closed themselves off from the outside world, introduced few reforms, modernised nothing and frowned on any form of economic development. Very slow and painfully improvements emerged when government revenues began to increase after the discovery of oil. However, the reigning Sultan Said bin Taimur had inherited an empty Treasury at his accession and was forced to go cap in hand to the British, an experience he was keen to avoid for the rest of his life. He developed a parsimonious outlook which played into the hands of the discontented, particularly in the large desert province of Dhofar. Seizing on a perceived opportunity, the Egyptian dictator Nasser financed a full-scale rebellion. A full-scale secret war continued for twenty-five years, eventually defeated by an army commanded by seconded officers from Britain, Iran, Jordan and Pakistan. In 1970, Sayyid Qaboos, the Sandhurst educated thirty-year old son of Sultan Said bin Taimur, engineered a quiet Palace revolution and seized power from his father. He began an immediate and massive modernisation programme. Roads, hospitals, schools, hotels, airports, public housing, shipbuilding, fisheries, pearling, all areas of public and econmic life suddenly sprouted into bloom. Oman achieved full independence with the termination of the British Protectorate in 1971, becoming a member of the Arab League and United Nations, later that same year. Today, the sleepy backwater is a model state, with perhaps the most highly educated and progressive people in the whole of the Middle East.
STYLES & TITLES:
The Sovereign: Sultan Sayyid (personal name) bin (father's name), Sultan of Oman and Dependencies, together with the style of His Majesty.
The male descendants of Sultan Faisal bin Turki, in the male line: Sayyid (personal name) bin (father's name) Al-Sa’id, with the style of His Highness.
The male descendants of previous Sultans, in the male line: Sayyid (personal name) bin (father's name) Al-Sa’id.
More distant male relatives, not descended from previous Sultans: Sayyid (personal name) bin (father's name) Al-Sa’id.
The female descendants of Sultan Faisal bin Turki, in the male line: Sayyid (personal name) bint (father's name) Al-Sa’id, with the style of Her Highness.
The female descendants of previous Sultans, in the male line: Sayyid (personal name) bint (father's name) Al-Sa’id.
More distant male relatives, not descended from previous Sultans: Sayyid (personal name) bint (father's name) Al-Busaidi.
More distant female relatives, not descended from previous Sultans: Sayyida (personal name) bint (father's name) Al-Busaidiyah.
RULES OF SUCCESSION:
The eldest male child of the reigning Sultan succeeds on his death. In the absence of a male heir, the reigning Sultan may nominate a brother or other male relative from amongst the male descendants of Sultan Said bin Sultan.
ORDERS AND DECORATIONS:
Please see link below.
GLOSSARY: Aqid: Colonel (SOLF), Group Captain (ROAF), Captain (RON). bin: 'son of'. bint: 'daughter of'. Dabit Murasha: Officer Cadet (SOLF, SOAF and SON). Imam: title of the elected religious and temporal ruler of Oman until 1811. Liwa: Major-General (SOLF), Air Vice-Marshal (ROAF), Rear-Admiral (RON). Midal: medal.
Mulazim Awal: Lieutenant (SOLF), Flying Officer (ROAF), Sub-Lieutenant (RON). Mulazim Awal: 2nd Lieutenant (SOLF), Pilot Officer (ROAF), Acting Sub-Lieutenant (RON). Muqaddam: Lieutenant-Colonel (SOLF), Wing Commander (ROAF), Commander (RON). Qiladat: collar, necklace.
Ra'is: Captain (SOLF), Flight Lieutenant (ROAF), Lieutenant (RON). Ra'id: Major (SOLF), Squadron Leader (ROAF), Lieutenant-Commander (RON). Sayyid: the title borne by male members of the ruling house. Sayyida: the title borne by female members of the ruling house. Sultan: ruler, king. The title of the ruler of Oman since the reign of Sayyid Said bin Sultan. Wisam: Order of chivalry or decoration of honour. Zayeem: Brigadier (SOLF), Air Commodore (ROAF), Commodore (RON).
M. Reda Bhacker. “Family Strife and Foreign Intervention: Causes in the Separation of Zanzibar from Oman: A Reappraisal”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 54, No. 2 (1991), pp. 269-280.
Arthur A. Baer. “Flight to Zanzibar”, read before The Chicago Literary Club on May 10th, 1958.
Burke’s Royal Families of the World, Volume II: Africa & The Middle East. Burke’s Peerage Ltd., London 1980.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Saleh Al Farsi. Busaidyn rulers of Zanzibar. Third edition. Ministry of National Heritage and Culture, Oman, 1982.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Saleh Al Farsi. Seyyid Said bin Sultan: Joint Ruler of Oman and Zanzibar (1804-1856). Lancers Books, New Delhi, 1986.
John Gray. History of Zanzibar from the Middle Ages to 1856. Oxford University Press, London, 1962.
Genealogical tables [compiled 1907-08] of the principal descendants of Ahmad-bin-Sa’id, Al Bu Sa’id, founder of the ruling families of Oman and Zanzibar. IOR/L/PS/20/C91/5/3, Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
Captain A.B. Kemball. “Statistical and Miscellaneous Information connected with the Possessions, Revenues, Families, etc. of His Highness the Imam of Muskat; of the Ruler of Bahrein; and of the Chiefs of the Maritime Arab States of the Persian Gulf”, 1st July 1854. Selections from the Records of the Bombay Government. No. XXIV – New Series, Bombay, 1856.
Colonel S.B. Miles. The Countries and Tribes of the Persian Gulf. Volume II. Harrison and Sons, London, 1919.
Philip Pullicino. ‘Aulad al-Imam’: A List of Members of the Royal family of Zanzibar. Government Printer, Zanzibar, 1954.
Major E.C. Ross. Oman, Map of and Reports on by Major. Political & Secret Department, Calcutta, no date. IOR/L/PS/20/C57, Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
Lieutenant-Colonel E.C. Ross. Report on the Administration of the Persian Gulf Residency and Muscat Political Agency for the year 1880-81. No CLXXI, Foreign Department Press, Calcutta, 1881. IOR/V/23/40, No 181, Oriental & India Office Collection, British Library, St Pancras, London.
Lieutenant-Colonel E.C. Ross. Report on the Administration of the Persian Gulf Residency and Muscat Political Agency for the year 1883-84. No CLXXII, Foreign Department Press, Calcutta, 1884.
Alan de Lacy Rush (ed). The Ruling Families of Arabia. 12 vols. Archive Editions, Slough, Berks, England, 1991.
Rudolph Sa’id-Ruete. Sa’id bin Sultan (1791-1856), Ruler of Oman and Zanzibar. His Place in the History of Arabia and East Africa. London, 1929.
E. van Donzel (ed.). An Arabian Princess Between Two Worlds. Memoirs, Letters Home, Sequels to the Memoirs Syrian Customs and Usages by Sayida Salme/Emily Ruete. Arab History and Civilization, Studies and Texts. Volume 3. E.J. Brill, Leiden, the Netherlands, 1993.
Major A.R. Tinson. Orders, Decorations and Medals of the Sultanate of Oman. Spink and Son Limited, London, 1977.Who’s Who in the Arab World, Publitec Publications, London, 1966-1999).