Prince Harry starts visit to Oman

Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Prince Harry begins a visit to Oman today which has been overshadowed by the ill-health of its ruling sultan.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said has pulled out of hosting Harry’s three-day trip to the capital Muscat due to an unspecified health condition.

In light of the Gulf state ruler’s illness, the prince’s engagements have yet to be finalised but he is still likely to visit some national monuments.

The 73-year-old head of state has been treated in Germany for a number of months for an unspecified illness which some reports claim is bowel cancer.

The prince’s visit follows a number of trips to the country by members of the Royal Family in recent years, with the Queen touring in 2010 and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall last year.

It reflects the close personal relationship between the two monarchies that stretches back many decades.

The seriousness of the sultan’s condition is not known but the annual national parade, which marks his coming to power in 1970, was due to be staged today and has been cancelled.

Oman has been transformed since the sultan seized power in a bloodless coup against his father, Said Bin Taimur, 44 years ago.

Despite his lack of a democratic government, the ruler’s policies have proved popular and he has used the wealth generated by the country’s oil reserves to develop its infrastructure and other services.

At Muscat international airport today, Harry will be greeted by the sultan’s first cousin Sayyid Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, the Omani patron of the Omani-British Friendship Association.

Over the coming days the prince is expected to visit the British Embassy in Muscat, where he will meet staff and learn about their work, tour the historic Nizwa Fort and view local arts and crafts at a souk, and see the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque.

Harry will travel to Abu Dhabi on Thursday to take part in the Sentebale Polo Cup – an event, now in its fifth year, which raises funds and awareness for the work of his charity which helps to provide healthcare and education to vulnerable children in the African nation Lesotho.

Published: Tuesday 18th November 2014 by The News Editor

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