MUSCAT: A media discussion session on the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos was held on Saturday evening as part of the cultural programme of Muscat International Book Fair. The session was attended by American journalist Judith Miller, Russian writer Sergey Plekhanov, who authored A Reformer on the Throne: Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, and Egyptian singer-actor Samir Sabri — three personalities who had got the chance to meet the late leader in different periods of time.
In the session mediated by Musa al Farei, Judith Miller spoke enthusiastically about the late Sultan saying that she met him in 1997 for the first time and the second time was at Hisn Al Shomoukh 15 years later.
Summing up her impressions about the late Sultan, Miller said he was a man who knew exactly what he wanted, a man who knew how to plan for success. Explaining how the late Sultan built the state during the past 50 years, Miller said that he had devoted his life to serving his nation and his people.
“In my first interview with Sultan Qaboos he explained to me his plan to lift up the state. He also spoke about his reasons for setting up a Shura council in Oman and the need for a constitution in the upcoming period in order to maintain the values of tolerance and keep on the path of peace with firm steps.”
Speaking about the status of women in the Sultanate and the high standing they have reached, Miller said: “What is happening now with women assuming senior positions is the realisation of the visions which the late Sultan always talked about.”
Miller touched on the major political events the region has seen during which Oman remained stable in its political decision as the late Sultan wanted it to be.
Sergey Plekhanov said he admired the unique personality of Sultan Qaboos. He added: “I sat with him when he received me at Saih Al Barakat. I asked him many questions regarding my book about him. He talked to me about his childhood and his encounter with his grandfather in Mumbai. I was impressed greatly when he told me about his early passion for music and his rich knowledge in musicology. He told me about the well-known Western musicians and their symphonies. He loved the indigenous music of India, Andalusia and Africa and he knew a lot about the Arabian music.”
“The late Sultan told me about his visions regarding democracy and how he was planning to gradually engage his people in the decision-making process. He used to say that a parliament without a solid foundation is prone to failure. Thus, he laid down the foundations of Shura so that he could realise his objective of engaging the Omani people in decision-making,” Plekhanov said.
The Egyptian actor and singer Samir Sabir met His Majesty Sultan Qaboos during his visit to Egypt in the 1970s. Sabri spoke elaborately about the personality of the late Sultan saying that he was a unique personality, an encyclopedia in several fields. He loved the Arabian music and knew a lot about it. “Following the fire that erupted at the Egyptian Opera House, the late Sultan told me that he was planning to establish an opera house in Oman.”
“I met Sultan Qaboos at an early time of Oman’s Renaissance. He told me about his dreams of quality education. He used to say that he dreamt of schools and universities to be established everywhere in the Sultanate. He dreamt to see the smiles on the faces of all Omanis, smiles stemming from a feeling of peace, stability and decent lives,” Sabri said.
Sabri concluded his speech by saying that he visited Oman a long time after his meeting with the late Sultan and found that the late Sultan’s dreams had come true with smiles on faces, peace, stability, schools and universities all across the Sultanate. — ONA