Ascension Day in Oman Date in the current year: January 11, 2024

Ascension Day in Oman Ascension Day is one of the two main public holidays in Oman, the other one being National Day. Celebrated annually on January 11, it commemorates the ascension to the throne of the incumbent Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said.

Oman is a sultanate in southwestern Asia. The world’s oldest continuously independent state, it has been ruled by the Al Said dynasty, also known as the House of Busaid, since the mid-18th century. Oman is an absolute monarchy, and the Sultan is the most powerful position in the country because he has control of all legislative, executive and judiciary power, and issues laws by decree.

The incumbent Sultan of Oman is Haitham bin Tariq al Said. He was born on October 15, 1954 to Tariq bin Taimur, the son of the former Sultan of Muscat and Oman Taimur bin Feisal. He has six brothers and two half-sisters from his father’s second marriage. Haitham’s youngest sister was briefly married to his cousin, Sultan Qaboos.

Haitham started his political career upon graduating from Pembroke College of the University of Oxford in 1979. He served as the first president of the Oman Football Association and then went on to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, first as the Undersecretary for Political Affairs and then as the Secretary General. In March 2002, Haitham became Minister of Heritage and Culture, a position he held for 18 years. During his tenure, he often represented Oman abroad, as well as welcomed foreign dignitaries to the country.

Haitham became the Sultan of Oman in 2020, following the death of Sultan Qaboos, who was his cousin. Since Quaboos had no children or male siblings, he left behind a letter naming Haitham bin Tariq as his intended successor. Following his ascension to the throne, Haitham briefly held the positions of Minister of Affairs and Minister of Finance.

Upon becoming the Sultan, Haitham promised to uphold Quaboos’s progressive policies. He amended the Basic Statute of the State to grant the freedom to practice religious rites and freedom of opinion and expression, as well as abolished a surveillance law that allowed the state to monitor social media, postal correspondence, and private phone conversations.

The anniversary of Haitham’s ascension to the throne is celebrated as Ascension Day. It replaced Renaissance Day, a holiday that used to be celebrated on July 23 to commemorate the ascension to the throne of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said in 1970. It was named Renaissance Day because Sultan Qaboos ended the international isolation of Oman and used oil revenues to modernize the country. He abolished slavery, built schools and hospitals, gave the country a modern infrastructure, created a separation of powers through his decrees and the Basic Statute of the State (constitution of Oman), and more.

Sultan Qaboos died on January 10, 2020. Haithan bin Tariq ascended to the throne the day after Qaboos’s death. In December 2022, he issued a decree declaring the anniversary of his ascension a national holiday named Ascension Day. It is observed annually on January 11, while Renaissance Day is not celebrated anymore.

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