King Charles in Oman: A look back at the UK monarch’s 2016 visit to the Sultanate

Days before the coronation, Omanis reflect on the then Prince of Wales's last official visit to their country

King Charles III taking a tour of The National Museum in Oman with its secretary general Jamal Hassan Al Moosawi. Photo: The National Museum
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On a warm November day in 2016, King Charles III, then Prince of Wales, arrived for his second official visit to Oman in a decade and his fifth overall.

He and his wife, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, travelled to the Sultanate for a three-day visit. It was the first leg of a tour of the Middle East that would also take them to the UAE and Bahrain, with more than 50 engagements planned.

The tour was to promote partnerships in areas including women in leadership and wildlife conservation.

During their visit to Oman, King Charles and Queen Consort Camilla were guests of the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who had a strong relationship with the British monarchy.

The royal couple began their trip with a visit to the National Museum in Oman. There, they were greeted with a demonstration of Omani folk dancing, which King Charles took part in, wielding a ceremonial sword.

He then toured the museum, where he watched demonstrations of traditional handicrafts and heard classical music performed by Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra.

“The National Museum retains its memory of King Charles's visit as it marked a special moment for us and emphasised the deep bilateral relations enjoyed by the Sultanate of Oman and the UK,” said Jamal Al Moosawi, secretary general of the National Museum.

“We pray that the grace of the Almighty blesses the king with wisdom, compassion, and courage, and to serve as guardian of traditional values.”

The monarch also met a group of young leaders from Oman at Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton Hotel in Muscat.

Members of the British Council, Anglo-Omani Society, UK Alumni, Connecting Cultures, Outward Bound Oman, John Smith Fellows, the Prince’s Trust and other organisations met the royal visitor.

“It was a great honour for us to meet him, but also a great opportunity for him to learn about some of the fantastic work being done here in Oman by organisations,” said Said Al Shanfari, chief executive of the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre.

“He was very interested in the Connecting Cultures programme we spoke about, which promotes intercultural dialogue.”

“The coronation represents a new chapter in the reign of the monarch, and it's a time to reflect on the significance of the monarchy and its role in British society,” Mr Al Shanfari said.

During his visit, King Charles met three men from Outward Bound Oman, who, in 2015, repeated the first recorded crossing of Rub Al Khali, or the Empty Quarter, by Sheikh Saleh bin Kalut Al Kathiri and Englishman Bertram Thomas in 1930.

Mohammed Al Zadjali, Amor Al Wahaibi and Mark Evans met the royal twice during his visit. King Charles was the UK patron of their trek, while Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, now Sultan of Oman, supported the journey locally.

“King Charles wanted to meet and congratulate us on the achievement, which was very nice of him,” said Mr Al Zadjali.

“We were in North Carolina just three days before we knew he wanted to meet us. We booked to come back straight away. I was very excited as it was my first meeting with him.”

The adventurers prepared a gallery of photos to show King Charles as they described their experience.

“We wanted to present him with a gift, something unique to Oman. So, after careful thought, we gave him Bedouin socks that people in the eastern part of Oman use to wear while walking in the sand, which he was very happy to receive.”

King Charles also wrote the foreword for the book that was written by Mark Evans, executive director of Outward Bound Oman, about their crossing.

Queen Consort Camilla was busy with a separate engagements in Oman.

She visited the Let’s Read bookshop, Oman’s first charity bookshop, founded to promote reading among children.

She met Omani children and listened to them as they read stories in Arabic in the library.

As part of her engagements, she also visited Dar Al Hanan, a home run by the Oman Cancer Association to provide accommodation, food, and transport for children with cancer and their families, and presided over a business exhibition for Omani women at the British ambassador’s residence.

Previous visits to Oman by King Charles included a tour in 1986, with then wife Diana, Princess of Wales, followed by visits in 1992, 1999 and 2003.

He also travelled to Oman to pay his condolences on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II following the death of Sultan Qaboos in 2020.

Updated: May 03, 2023, 8:14 AM