Zanzibar’s former sultan arrives in Oman for retirement

Jamshid bin Abdullah was deposed in 1964 and has lived in exile in the UK for more than 50 years

Jamshid bin Abdullah, the former sultan of the East African island of Zanzibar, was expected to arrive in Muscat from the United Kingdom on Monday after his request to retire in Oman was granted by the government.

The 91-year-old former sultan, who was deposed from his throne in 1964 by a popular African revolt, had been living in exile in the southern city of Portsmouth in the UK for more than 50 years. He inherited the throne from his father Abdullah bin Khalifa on July 1963.

“We are expecting him to arrive in Muscat in the evening flight. His request to retire in Oman has been granted by the government due to his old age. He always wanted to spend his last days in the country of his ancestors and now he is happy he can do that,” a family member in Muscat, who did not want to be identified, said.

The government of Oman did not make public the former Zanzibar ruler's retirement in the country. "It is a private matter and we do not wish to announce it,” a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The former sultan has been denied permission to retire in Oman many times in the past for security reasons. Tens of thousands of his former subjects live in the country after being granted citizenship in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Abdullah is distantly related to the present sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tarek, with whom he shares the same lineage of royalty.

People from Zanzibar consider Oman to be their ancestral home as island was ruled by Oman from 1698 to 1890, when their ancestors emigrated there. In 1890, the UK forced Zanzibar to become a British protectorate and the island separated from Oman to become an independent state ruled by a local sultan.

The former sultan joins his sister, brother and seven children, who have been living in Oman since the 1980s. He is not allowed to return to Zanzibar.

“We are delighted that Sultan Jamshid will be with us in the country in his last days. We are also grateful for the government of Oman to grant him his wish to retire here, which I think is based on humanitarian reasons,” said Yusuf Al-Shibly, 74, an Omani who was born in Zanzibar and now lives in Muscat.

In a radio broadcast a few days after he ascended to the throne in 1970, the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman  called all “Zanzibaris with Omani ancestry to come back home to help build the nation”.

It was the start of an exodus of thousands leaving the East African island that lasted until the early 1990s.