January 11, 2020 - The Sultan of Oman, Qaboos bin Said al-Said, passed away early on Saturday, Oman state TV and the state news agency Twitter account said.
Last month he returned home after undergoing medical checks and treatment in Belgium. There were reports he was suffering from cancer.
Sultan Qaboos was unmarried and had no heir or designated successor.
According to the sultanate's Basic Statute, the Royal Family Council - comprising about 50 male members - should choose a new sultan within three days of the throne falling vacant.
If the family cannot agree, members of the defense council and the chairmen of the Supreme Court, the Consultative Council and the State Council will open a sealed envelope in which Qaboos secretly recorded his choice and enthrone that person.
The leading contenders reportedly include three brothers who are cousins of Qaboos: Culture Minister Haitham bin Tariq Al Said; Deputy Prime Minister Asaad bin Tariq Al Said; and Shihab bin Tariq Al Said, a former Oman Navy commander who advises the sultan.
The sultan is the paramount decision-maker in Oman and also holds the positions of prime minister, supreme commander of the armed forces, minister of defense, minister of finance and minister of foreign affairs.
For almost five decades, Sultan Qaboos completely dominated the political life of Oman, which is home to 4.6 million people, of whom about 43% are expatriates.