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Oman: New Basic Law Issued Creating a Mechanism for Appointing a Crown Prince

(Feb. 4, 2021) On January 12, 2021, Haitham bin Tariq, the sultan of Oman, issued Royal Decree No. 6/2021 on the Basic Law of the State, which establishes a new mechanism for appointing a crown prince and abrogates Royal Decree No. 96/101 on the Basic Law of the State.

Content of Royal Decree No. 6/2021

Royal Decree No. 6/2021 sets a mechanism for the appointment of a crown prince and outlines his duties. Under the new royal decree, the line of succession to the sultan is established as the sultan’s eldest son, followed by the eldest son of this son, and so on. Furthermore, the decree provides that if the eldest son dies before becoming the crown prince, the power to rule passes directly to his eldest son and not to the deceased’s brothers. (Royal Decree No. 6/2021, art. 5, para. 2.) Under the newly abolished Royal Decree No. 96/101, the power was to be transferred among the male descendants of Sayyid Turki bin Said bin Sultan (the founder of the modern-day Sultanate of Oman). The abolished decree did not mention the position of the crown prince. (Royal Decree No. 96/101, art. 5 (repealed).)

The new royal decree further provides that if the person appointed crown prince dies without children, the position passes to to the eldest of his brothers. If the crown prince has no brothers, the position passes to the eldest child of his eldest brother. If the eldest of his brothers does not have a son, the eldest of his other brothers assumes the position of crown prince. These provisions did not exist in the newly abolished basic law. (Royal Decree No. 6 /2021, art. 5, para 2.)

Finally, the new royal decree on the basic law of Oman has determined three conditions that the crown prince must meet to be eligible to govern the country. It states that whoever assumes power must be a Muslim, sane, and a legitimate son of Omani Muslim parents. (Art. 5, para 4.)

The new royal decree paves the way for Sayyid Dhi Yazan, the eldest son of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, to be Oman’s crown prince. Born on August 21, 1990, Sayyid Dhi Yazan was appointed minister of culture, sports and youth on August 18, 2020. Before becoming a minister, Sayyid Dhi Yazan worked as a diplomat at the Omani Embassy in London.

Reaction to the Decree

Experts on Omani affairs have reportedly stated that the current sultan has decided to appoint a crown prince to assist him in performing some of his tasks and widen the circle of participation in decision-making.

Economic analysts, such as Ubaldo Tripoli, a partner at the Kearney consulting firm, and Scott Cairns, managing director of Creation Business Consultants, have endorsed the passage of Decree No. 6/2011. Both Tripoli and Cairns claim that appointing a crown prince for the first time in the sultanate’s history will improve long-term investor confidence. Tripoli also said that by solidifying the mechanism for transferring power, Oman has increased transparency, thereby creating a more conducive atmosphere for direct foreign investment.