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Omani Sultan Celebrates 30 Years of Rule

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

ENROUTE TO JORDAN, Nov. 21, 2000 – Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said knows how to throw a party, and Defense Secretary William S. Cohen had a front-row seat.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
The U.S. Marine Corps' Drum and Bugle Corps (in red coats at left) join a cast of hundreds of Omani military band musicians Nov. 20 in a Muscat polo stadium as part of a performance celebrating Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said's 30-year-reign. (Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore)

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Cohen was in Muscat, Oman for four days as part of a seven- day Mideast trip to discuss bilateral security issues with regional officials. After spending some time in Bahrain, the Cohen delegation flew to Muscat. Using Muscat as a temporary base, Cohen visited Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

On Nov. 20, the night before his party traveled to Jordan for the last leg of the Mideast trip which also includes Egypt and Israel, Cohen sat in Qaboos’ special seating section with other dignitaries to watch an outdoor pageant celebrating the Omani leader’s 30-year rule.

The three-hour extravaganza was held before a packed audience in a huge outdoor polo stadium. The program featured Omani military bands – some mounted on camels – military equipment, parachutists, mock ships, ship mast climbing, light shows, seemingly endless amounts of eye- popping and ear-deafening fireworks, and more.

The red-coated U.S. Marine Corps’ Drum and Bugle Corps was also on hand, but drew scant applause from an audience perhaps unfamiliar with the band’s stirring, but non- traditionally played horn renditions.

One or two Omani hecklers situated in public seating, either disliking the Marines’ music, or the United States’ friendly relationship with Israel, shouted for the Marines to “get out” midway through their program. Yet, the leathernecks played on, concluding their program with the “Marine Hymn,” which was played in a traditional manner.

There was no further comment from the hecklers.

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