Oman’s Sultan Qaboos bin Said has died at the age of 79, the Royal Court announced early on Saturday. He is the longest-serving leader in the Gulf region. July would have marked his fiftieth anniversary of ruling the country.
Official mourning will last three days with flags flown at half-mast for 40 days.
State television broadcast also images of the funeral procession driving down a road lined with palm trees in the capital, Muscat.
Omanis also lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the motorcade carrying the body. The casket, draped in the Omani flag, was then carried into Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in the capital, where prayers were held.
Oman state TV said authorities had opened a letter by Sultan Qaboos bin Said naming his successor. State TV then announced shortly after that Haitham bin Tariq, who was serving as the Minister of National Heritage and Culture, is the country’s ruling sultan.
A 1996 statute says the ruling family will choose a successor within three days of the throne becoming vacant.