So with Gaddafi dead and gone, there is now a new longest-standing dictator in the Middle East. Step forward Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said who has been in charge of Oman since he seized power from his father, Said bin Taimur, in July 1970. There have been some protests in Oman this year and, like most Gulf leaders, Qaboos has promised some reforms to placate them, including offering some powers to the Majlis Al Shura, the nearest thing the country has to a parliament but which is currently a toothless advisory body. Elections for the Majlis in October saw a turnout of 76 per cent – far higher than normal in the Gulf, where at least they don’t bother with the sham of 99.9 per cent turnouts. But what powers the newly elected chamber might get have yet to be spelt out.
To put his staying power into perspective, Richard Nixon was US president when Qaboos took power and there have been seven others since then. The UK has had eight prime ministers, France has had six presidents and Germany has had six chancellors.
I’ve added Egypt’s Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of SCAF, to the list, given the junta’s extremely slow progress towards handing power on to a civilian government. The elections in Tunisia at least show that country is on the right track.
Below is the full rundown of leaders and their staying power. If you assume that five years is a typical term limit on a politician and that they are allowed one re-election, then 12 of these guys are now well past their sell-by date.
- Qaboos al Said – Oman – 41.3 years
- Sultan Al-Qasimi III – Sharjah – 39.9 years
- Hamad Al Sharqi – Fujeirah – 36.8 years
- Ali Abdullah Saleh – Yemen – 33.3 years
- Humaid Al Nuaimi – Ajman – 30.1 years
- Omar Bashir – Sudan – 22.4 years
- Hamad Al Thani – Qatar – 16.4 years
- King Abdullah II – Jordan – 12.8 years
- King Hamad Al Khalifa – Bahrain – 12.7 years
- Abdelaziz Bouteflika – Algeria – 12.6 years
- King Mohammed VI – Morocco – 12.3 years
- Bashar Assad – Syria – 11.3 years
- Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahyan – Abu Dhabi – 6.11 years
- Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – Iran – 6.3 years
- King Abdullah al Saud – Saudi Arabia – 6.2 years
- Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum – Dubai – 5.9 years
- Sheikh Sabah Al-Sabah – Kuwait – 5.9 years
- Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz – Mauritania – 3.2 years
- Sheikh Saud Al Mualla – Umm al Quwain – 2.9 years
- Sheikh Saud al Qasimi – Ras al Khaimah - 1 years
- Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi – Egypt – 8 months