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Sultan Qaboos returns to Oman after lengthy absence

The Omani ruler spent eight months in Germany receiving medical treatment sparking rumours about the state of his health
Sultan Qaboos walks unaided after returning to Oman from Germany (YouTube screengrab)

The ruler of Oman returned home on Monday after eight months of receiving medical treatment in Germany, according to a statement from the royal court.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said, 74, has ruled Oman since 1970 when he overthrew his father in a palace coup.

Qaboos returned after "having completed medical treatment in Germany, whose results were crowned as a total success," the television announced.

During his stay in Germany there have been rumours that his condition was life threatening. The Omani royal court has released no details about the nature of his illness over the past eight months.

State television footage showed Qaboos walking unaided from an aircraft.

In his last public address, Qaboos appeared on television in November to tell his nation that he would miss the 44th anniversary of his inauguration and national day, saying his treatment was giving "good results".

A diplomatic source in Muscat had said the sultan was suffering from colon cancer.

When he took the reins of power, Oman was an isolated country living on the margins of the modern world with little or no infrastructure.

Qaboos has since transformed his Gulf sultanate -- which sits atop proven gas reserves of 660 million cubic metres (23.3 billion cubic feet) -- into a modern state.

In October 2011, Qaboos, who has no children or brothers, amended the process of choosing his successor.

The sultan, whose closest relatives are cousins, appointed five top officials to a council that would be involved in confirming the new sultan in case of any royal family dispute.

Twitter users in Oman expressed delight at the Sultan returning home.

Dissent is not tolerated in Oman, however, and activists who have called for democratic reform have been jailed, including a recent case involving Said Jadad – a blogger who sent a letter to US President Barack Obama calling on him to “support the principle of democracy” in Oman.