Al Bu Saʿid Family and Tribe of Oman

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One of the principal tribes of Oman.

A merchant from the tribe Ahmad ibn Saʿid rallied Omani forces against the invading troops of Nadir Shah in the 1740s and was elected Imam in gratitude. His descendants became the present ruling family of Oman, also known as the Al Bu Saʿid. Ahmad's grandson, Saʿid ibn Sultan, became ruler by assassinating his cousin in about 1807, and an alliance with the British enabled him to defeat threats from neighbors. Saʿid built up his maritime power and expanded his authority over the East African littoral, eventually moving his residence to Zanzibar and sending the first Arab envoy to the United States in 1840. On his death in 1856, his Arabian possessions, chiefly Oman, went to his eldest son, Thuwayni, and another son, Majid, received Zanzibar. The Al Bu Saʿid gradually evolved into separate ruling families and Omani fortunes subsequently declined under the Al Saʿid, as the descendants of Saʿid ibn Sultan are known (other members of the family are still known as Al Bu Saʿid). There were numerous struggles for power in the following decades until the accession of Faysal ibn Turki in 1888. Faysal's reign saw both the loss of the interior of Oman to tribal and religious forces and British domination of affairs in Muscat. He was succeeded on his death in 1913 by his son Taymur, who was forced in 1920 to give autonomy to the Omani interior. Taymur abdicated in 1931 in favor of his son Saʿid and died in 1965. Saʿid was overthrown by his son Qabus (also Qaboos) in 1970 and died in exile in 1972. Saʿid's half-brother Tariq ibn Taymur returned to Oman on Qabus's accession and served as prime minister for about a year.

see also al bu saʿid, qabus ibn saʿid; al bu saʿid, saʿid ibn taymur; oman.


Bhacker, M. Reda. Trade and Empire in Muscat and Zanzibar: The Roots of British Domination. New York; London: Rout-ledge, 1992.

Landen, Robert G. Oman Since 1856: Disruptive Modernization in a Traditional Arab Society. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967.

Peterson, J. E. Oman in the Twentieth Century: Political Foundations of an Emerging State. New York: Barnes and Noble; London: Croom Helm, 1978.

Skeet, Ian. Oman: Politics and Development. New York: St. Martin's Press; London: Macmillan, 1992.

J. E. Peterson