Oman’s cultured autocrat

Michael Binyon fears popular sultan’s successor faces tough challenges.

The World Today
Published 10 February 2020 Updated 2 November 2020 2 minute READ

Michael Binyon

Former Diplomatic Editor, The Times

From the outside it blends in modestly with the white buildings lining Muscat’s main avenues. Inside it is a breath-taking burst of elegance: delicate inlay, fine sandalwood and mother-ofpearl, concealed lighting, arches and columns that bring the eye down to the displays of stage sets and costumes used in earlier celebrated performances.

Muscat’s opera house is not only one of the finest in the Middle East, it is also a legacy of the late Sultan’s passion for classical music and his determination to turn the capital of Oman from the ragbag of impoverished buildings he inherited from his miserly, misanthropic father into a clean, wellordered capital boasting culture and taste.

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