The Sultan of Oman, closeted gay ruler in the Middle East, has died

They called him the Bachelor Sultan, and we all know what that means.

That head wrap is gorgeous, I hope they bury him in it.

He overthrew his own father to become Sultan in 1970.

He was always impeccably dressed (and shaved). That head wrap alone is a sign of gayness and I think he probably had lots of them.

Surprised no one has mentioned the cocksucking lips at R1.

He was instrumental in the founding of Amouage, the perfume company.

Ok, boys, you’ve had your fun but he was clearly straight.

[quote]He was instrumental in the founding of Amouage, the perfume company.

When you spend so much to cover the stank, might as well own the company.

After he took over all the country’s geese turned gay.

After he took over all the country’s geese turned gay.

What’s all this talk about the Sultan of [italic]Onan[/italic]?

5 most gay friendly Arab countries

Being openly gay in the Arab world is certainly not an easy feat! If it doesn’t land you a jail sentence(!) or the capital punishment(!!), the huge stigma attached to it will likely compromise your job prospects, alienate your family, or worse, make you the target of some pretty nasty homophobic violent crimes.

The point of this article is to show that despite being a very difficult place in the world for the LGBTQ community, there is a glimmer of hope for a better future. We are by no means saying these are gay havens in any way!

To be clear, being gay is illegal and difficult here full stop! What we are however saying is that despite the negative press we hear about gay rights in the Arab world, there does exist a local LGBTQ community in each of these countries fighting for recognition, acceptance and the basic freedoms we take for granted. Our aim is to help celebrate and support them in any way we can!

Despite almost non-existent gay rights in the Arab world, there does exist a local LGBTQ community fighting for recognition and acceptance

We have travelled extensively around the Middle East as a gay couple and overall had a positive experience. For example, we climbed the world’s tallest building in Dubai, got lost in the rich culture of Jerusalem, wondered around the souks of Tunis, visited stunning mosques in Abu Dhabi and even found a few gay clubs in Beirut.

Of course we were always cautious to avoid any public displays of affection and only booked a double bed in hotels we were certain are gay friendly. In short, for our safety, we had to go back in the closet.

In this article, we’ve set out the 5 most gay friendly Arab countries based on our first hand experience and research. This only relates to the 22 Arab countries around the Middle East and North Africa, which are also member states of the Arab League, therefore this does not take into account Israel, Turkey and Iran.

We’ve put together our list of the most gay friendly Arab countries in descending order, starting from the least gay friendly to the most.

5 most gay friendly Arab countries

Gay Guide Oman

Im Sultanat Oman ist Homosexualit�t nach dem Paragraphen 33 des Strafgesetzbuches illegal und kann mit einer Gef�ngnisstrafe von bis zu drei Jahren bestraft werden. Berichten zufolge werden nur F�lle vor das Gericht getragen, wenn „Erregung �ffentlichen �rgernisses“ vorliegt. Der Einsatz f�r die Rechte von LGBT ist ebenfalls illegal � entsprechende Organisationen agieren daher im Untergrund oder �ber social media. Eine Schwulenszene existiert ebenfalls im Untergrund. Angeblich dr�ckt der Staat beide Augen zu, solange die homosexuellen Begegnungen absolut diskret bleiben � anders als in Nachbarstaaten des Oman, in denen auch die offensive Verfolgung Homosexueller auf der Tagesordnung steht. Die englischsprachige Zeitung �The Week� ver�ffentlichte 2013 einen Artikel, in dem sie darauf aufmerksam machte. Daf�r wurde sie �ffentlich verwarnt und musste eine Entschuldigung und Richtigsstellung drucken � es hie�, der Artikel habe Homosexualit�t �beworben�.

Lage: Southeastern Arabian peninsula Landeskürzel: OMN Internationale Landesvorwahl: 968 (no area codes) Sprache: Arabic (official) along with English, Farsi & Urdu Währung: 1 Rial Omani (RO) = 1,000 Baizas Bevölkerung: 2,567,000 Hauptstadt: Muscat Religionen: 86% Muslim Klima: Oman has a dry subtropical climate. The coastal areas are hot and humid from April to September while during summer the interior is hot and dry with temperatures as high as 54 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit).

Gay Guide Oman

So long, Southsea: last sultan of Zanzibar quits UK after 56 years in exile

Deposed royal who fled to UK after 1964 revolution finally reunited with family in Oman

After more than half a century of living in Southsea, Portsmouth, with its unpredictable British weather, shingle beaches and Victorian pier, relocation to the Gulf state of Oman might take some adjustment.

But for Jamshid bin Abdullah al-Said the 91-year-old last sultan of Zanzibar, it was the next best thing to going home.

The man who ruled the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago until he was deposed in a bloody revolt in January 1964 finally arrived in Muscat last week. Multiple earlier requests from the sultan to be allowed to live in the Gulf state had been rejected by the government on security grounds.

But now his request to retire in Oman was granted due to his age, a family member in Muscat told the Abu Dhabi-basedNational. “He always wanted to spend his last days in the country of his ancestors and now he is happy he can do that.” A government official declined to comment.

Abdullah al-Said is distantly related to the present sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, with whom he shares the same lineage of royalty.

The ex-sultan’s long and unlikely journey from the palm-fringed islands of Zanzibar via the crazy golf courses and amusement parks of Southsea to Muscat came after his short-lived reign ended in revolution.

He became sultan of Zanzibar after the death of his father in July 1963. In December that year, the islands – 22 miles off the coast of Tanzania – were granted independence from Britain. Just one month later the sultan was deposed in an insurrection, and a republic was proclaimed.

He fled Zanzibar on the royal yacht as his palace was seized by rebels. After being refused permission to settle in Oman, he flew to Britain with an entourage of 61 relatives, friends and household staff.

Two weeks later, the New York Times reported that the sultan’s impecunious state obliged him to move “from his pillared London hotel in the shadow of Buckingham palace to a modest hotel in Bayswater on the unfashionable side of Hyde Park”.

In May 1964, the British government made a payment of £100,000 to the former sultan, the paper reported.

The sum allowed him to settle in a semi-detached house on a quiet street in Southsea, Hampshire, where the contrast with Zanzibar’s white powder beaches and crystal waters must have been striking and perhaps a little painful.

Over the 56 years he lived in the UK seaside resort, the sultan drew little attention. Ned Donovan, a writer who has followed the sultan’s story, said: “I couldn’t find anyone locally who knew he was there. He never spoke to the press, he just went very low key.”

These days, the 1.3 million mainly Muslim population of Zanzibar, now a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, is ruled by President Ali Mohamed Shein.

Human rights organisations have criticised the state’s criminalisation of gay men, who face up to 25 years in prison. A recently opened museum dedicated to Queen singer Freddie Mercury, who died from an Aids-related illness in 1991, glosses over the star’s sexuality.

Mercury, whose real name was Farrokh Bulsara, was born in Stone Town, the historic quarter of Zanzibar’s capital, but his family moved to the UK in the aftermath of the 1964 revolution.

In the years that followed, thousands of Zanzibar citizens relocated to Oman – including the former sultan’s seven children and two of his siblings. Abdullah, although banned from ever returning to Zanzibar, is at least now reunited with his immediate family.

So long, Southsea: last sultan of Zanzibar quits UK after 56 years in exile

The selection process

Our list of the most gay friendly Arab countries in the world is based on our first-hand experience as well as cross-referencing the countries against the latest Spartacus Gay Travel Index. We also looked at other factors, in particular, whether homosexuality is legal, or if proactive steps are being taken to legalise it. In addition, we were impressed by countries in the Arab world that have allowed any LGBTQ events to take place publicly.

The selection process

Oman (Oman) cruising map with gay areas and spots where to practice cruising and to have casual NSA encounters

If you are gay and you want to practise cruising and to have casual NSA encounters in public places in Oman in an anonymous way, here you can find spots such as beaches, parks, forests and other spaces next to urban areas, as well as every kind of public toilets and rest areas of highways where you can practise cruising in Oman, Oman.

Below we show a Oman cruising map with all cruising areas and spots that shared our gay community. Click on the map markers for details of each spot.

In the tab for each zone you will find a location map with directions to the place: driving, walking, public transport or bike. You can vote the area and leave a comment for the rest of the community guys know your opinion, and if you want people to know you’re in the area, do not hesitate to check in.

Cruising areas most visited in Oman, Oman

If you know any other places or spots where Cruising can be practised in Oman, you can add them to the map and share them with the rest of gay people through this link: Add a new cruising spot in Oman, Oman

Was Oman’s Late Sultan the ‘Only Gay Monarch’ in the World and Why Do People Care?

Although Sultan Qaboos’ sexuality has been open to question for decades, the recent death of the 79-year-old Omani Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said on Friday night has re-ignited a conversation surrounding his life. Ruling Oman since 1970, Sultan Qaboos’ sexual identity has been has often been the subject of speculation, mainly because the Sultan had only one short childless marriage to his first cousin Nawal Bint Tariq. Over the last 40 years, rumors claimed that the Sultan was leading an openly gay life, without coming out publicly. Although never confirmed or supported by proof, details about Qaboos’ affairs with several men have often been discussed online. Even though many online commentators describe the Omani Sultan’s sexual identity as an ‘open secret’, homosexuality remains illegal in the conservative gulf Sultanate and is punishable by law.

Quick facts about Gay Oman:

Whilst the Gulf States are notorious for having some of the worst anti-gay laws in the world, Oman is another (slightly) more tolerant haven in the region. Ask anyone from the Middle East about gay Oman and they’ll be quick to tell you about the country’s former gay Sultan!

Yes you read right! Oman, a proud Islamic country, with clear laws outlawing any forms of homosexuality, had a (supposed!) gay ruler: Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said. Sadly, as far as the public press in Oman is concerned, this is just a rumour. It has never been confirmed by anyone, least of all by himself.

However, unofficially, in both Oman and throughout the Middle East, he is well-known as being gay, apparently leading a very lavish gay lifestyle in his palace. He divorced his first wife (who was also his first cousin) and not fathered any children.

He is also rumoured to have had an English lover. Sadly the fun ends there. Everything about the alleged gay Sultan of Oman is based on rumours and unconfirmed reports.

With regards to the gay scene of Oman, everything is underground, as is the case with most Arab countries. We advise using gay dating apps to connect with locals to discover more. Due to the strong censorship laws, you will need a to do so.

LGBTQ rights in Oman

On the face of it, homosexuality is very illegal in Oman, punishable with a jail sentence of up to 3 years. However, cases rarely get to court unless there is a risk of a public scandal. In 2013, an article in an Omani newspaper called, “The Week”, suggested Oman was more tolerant about LGBTQ people compared to the other Gulf states.

The Omani government (mainly led by the influential Shura Council, Tawfiq al-Lawati) responded by threatening to shut down the paper unless it publicly apologised, which it subsequently did with an entire front-page article.

For the most part, Oman is a stunning country to visit. It’s extremely wealthy, neutral in foreign relations, which therefore makes it a very safe place to visit. The majority of Omanis are well-educated, civilised and down to earth, which makes being gay in Oman slightly easier as long as you’re discreet.

That being said, the country has very strict media censorship and a very influential religious sect, so any obvious/open acts of homosexuality will likely get you into trouble as was the case with The Week newspaper.

Quick facts about Gay Bahrain:

Bahrain is often considered to be one of the most tolerant of the Gulf States, in particular when compared to its giant neighbour, Saudi Arabia. So much so, that the Saudis nickname Bahrain as “the Bar” because it’s where they can easily drive to for a weekend trip to buy alcohol and meet people freely(!)

In the media, homosexual issues were discussed as early as 2001 in the Arabic language newspaper, “Al-Meethaq” and subsequently in the English language paper, “Gulf Daily News”.

LGBT rights in Bahrain

On the face of it, like Jordan, Bahrain appears to be another shining gay star in the Arab world, having legalised homosexuality as early as 1976. It also has an equal age of consent of 21 for both straight and gay couples.

Sadly, other sections of the Bahrain Penal Code relating to “public immorality”, “public indecency” and “immoral behaviour” are used to crack down on the LGBTQ community in much the same way as it has been used in Jordan.

Quick facts about Gay Jordan:

Jordan’s draw as a huge tourism attraction in the Middle East has helped bolster its gay credentials. So much so, that LGBTQ tour companies often offer Jordan as an add-on for holidays to Israel. We can understand why, given that such a small country offers unique cultural gems like Petra, Wadi Rum and even a slice of La mer morte.

In terms of public gay events in Jordan, there have been several over the years, mainly for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Whilst there is no obvious gay scene in Jordan, there is an underground scene, which you’re likely to discover by befriending locals on Grindr. One well known gay friendly bar in Amman is , which becomes a club on weekends.

LGBTQ rights in Jordan

On the one hand, Jordan appears to be one of the most progressive LGBTQ countries in the world for the simple reason that it decriminalised homosexuality in 1951, nearly 2 decades before the UK! At the same time, it also reduced the age of consensual relationships to 16, which is the same for heterosexuals.

Sadly, the LGBTQ community is victimised and prosecuted under laws relating to the disruption of “public morality”. For example, in 2017 the Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila was banned from performing in Jordan by the Ministry of Interior because their lead singer, Hamed Sino, is gay!

Quick facts about gay Tunisia:

Tunisia has gained a positive reputation amongst the LGBTQ community of the Arab world, particularly due to the strong activism of organisations like “Association Shams” and “Mawjoudin”, who have been campaigning hard for LGBTQ minorities rights. On 18 May 2015, “Association Shams” even received government recognition as an official organisation.

More recently, an openly gay man, Mounir Baatour, is seeking to run for President! Whether or not he’ll succeed, the very fact that he is able to run says a lot!

In terms of gay events in Tunisia, small discreet Pride receptions have been taken place in private, mainly in the capital, Tunis. Most impressive is the Mawjoudin’s Queer Film Festival, which successfully took place in January 2018. This was a big deal because it was the first ever public film festival in Tunisia to celebrate the country’s LGBTQ community.

Gay rights in Tunisia

Whilst homosexuality is illegal in Tunisia with up to 3 years imprisonment (Article 230 of the 1913 Penal Code), activism is so strong that there are signs that this is likely to change very soon. For example, in June 2018, a government-sponsored committee called the Individual Freedoms and Equality Committee (COLIBE), in Tunisia.

In addition, in April 2020, one for the first time. Whilst gay marriage and homosexuality both remain illegal in Tunisia, this is still a small win for the Tunisian LGBTQ community!

Sadly, until the anti-gay law is overturned, the LGBTQ community will not only continue to be arrested but also subjected to the awful “tests”!

Quick facts about gay Lebanon:

When it comes to gay life in the Arab world, Lebanon is the runaway winner in our opinion. By Arab standards, you just can’t beat the gay scene of Beirut, which even has the largest gay club in the Arab world, called POSH. Lebanon has many LGBTQ movements like Helem and Meem, as well as and annual gay events like the International Day Against Homophobia, Transpobia and Biphobia.

It even had a Beirut Pride scheduled to take place in 2017 and subsequently in 2018. Sadly, both were either forced to proceed in private, or cancelled due to pressure from radical Islamists. On a positive note, future Beirut Pride events are being planned.

LGBT rights in Lebanon

Homosexuality is technically not illegal in Lebanon. Article 534 of the 1943 Lebanese Penal Code, introduced during the French Colonial years, outlaws all relations that “contradict the laws of nature”, punishable by up to one year in prison. Although there is no direct reference to homosexuality in the Penal Code, Lebanese judges since the 1940s have sadly interpreted these Colonial laws as applying to homosexuals.

Fortunately for the LGBTQ community in Lebanon, Lebanese judges have very recently started to pass rulings determining that A.534 does not apply to homosexuality, thus paving the way for decriminalisation.

In addition, Lebanese politicians openly campaign for decriminalisation of homosexuality, which is a positive sign of changing times. For more, check out our article about gay travel in Lebanon.

Stefan Arestis

Stefan is the co-founder, editor, and author of the gay travel blog As a travel nerd, he has explored more than 80 countries across 5 continents. What he loves the most about traveling is discovering the local gay scene, making new friends, and learning new cultures. His advice about LGBTQ travel has been featured in Gaycation Magazine, Gaycities, Gay Times, Pink News, and Attitude Magazine. He has also written about gay travel for other non-gay-specific publications including Lonely Planet, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. Stefan is also a qualified lawyer, having practiced as a commercial property litigator in London for over 10 years. He left his lawyer days behind to work full time on Nomadic Boys with his husband Sebastien. Find out more .

The best gay friendly country in the Middle East is in no doubt Israel no Lebanon.

Yes, but Israel is not an Arab country, which is the focus of this article.

After reading your article and talking with gay men here in Canada who used to live in the region… I think I am much more comfortable now visiting the Middle East as it has always been on my bucket list to visit the ancient sites in Egypt and Jordan with my partner. We plan to go in 2022. I can confirm that these former residents told me avoid all PDA’s (these are frowned upon for straight couples as well), if anyone asks you, you’re friends and that will generally be the end of it. Book hotel rooms with 2 single beds (we can tough it out for a week or so) and stay off hookup apps in Egypt because authorities have been known to use them for entrapment. They recommended deleting all gay apps or any pics from your phone prior to arriving as well – this was recommended for those that want to be uber-cautious in the event that immigration authorities ask to see your phone. Furthermore,according to these former residents, you need to really be causing an overt public stir (think open PDA’s or walking around Cairo wearing a rainbow flag) to be arrested as a tourist. I am told authorities generally don’t want the hassle of dealing with foreigners and their governments. Am I too optimistic?

I think that pretty much sums it up very well in a nutshell!

I wish to get in contact with you because in my country uganda lgbt“s are persecuted

I hope there will be a point in time when being gay is decriminalized in all of the Arab Nations and all of the Non Arab Nations whether they have Muslim Majorities or not. Many people in the West talk about Israel being the most or only gay friendly nation in the ME. If Ultra-Orthodox Jews ruled Israel, then being gay would be illegal there and there would also be fewer women’s rights: they would be required to wear dresses below knee-length and sit at the back of public buses.

We are pleased that ultra-Orthodox Jews do not rule Israel then eh?

Hello, Bonjour and Welcome to our travel blog. We are Stefan and Sebastien a French/Greek gay couple from London. Together, we have been travelling the world for over 10 years. Nomadic Boys is our gay travel blog showcasing all our travel adventures as a gay couple.

Gay Travel Index

Amsterdam Bangkok Barcelona Berlin Bremen Brighton Brussels Buenos Aires Chicago Columbus Denver D�sseldorf Frankfurt Freiburg Hannover Hamburg K�ln Las Vegas Lisbon London Los Angeles Manchester Mannheim Melbourne Miami Beach Minneapolis Montr�al M�nchen New Orleans New York Orlando Palm Springs Paris Perth Philadelphia Phuket Praha Rome San Diego San Francisco Stuttgart Toronto Vancouver Wien Z�rich

Open secret

The sultan lived almost as an openly gay man, virtually hiding in plain sight, protected by a reluctance on the part of all players to acknowledge the obvious. Married briefly in the seventies, after his divorce, he seemingly gave up any pretence to heterosexuality.

One gay couple travelled around the 22 countries of the Arab League in 2019, ranking them on their gay friendliness. They included Oman in their list of the five most gay-friendly countries in the region.

“Ask anyone from the Middle East about gay Oman and they’ll be quick to tell you about the country’s gay Sultan!”

The flamboyant dresser surrounded himself in his palace with equally flamboyantly dressed male staff, most often described as ‘effete’. He reputedly also has an English male lover.

LGBTIQ rights in Oman

However, the sultan’s own sexuality did not translate to legal reform in the country. Oman’s legal code punishes homosexuality with up to three year’s jail. That said, the country appears not to bring prosecutions unless a matter becomes a public scandal.

In 2013, a local paper published an article describing the sultanate as more accepting of homosexuality than neighbouring countries. The over the top government response indicates the regime’s sensitivity on the subject. The paper only avoided closure by dedicating its entire front page to an extravagant apology for suggesting Oman provided a safe haven for Arab gays.

Apparently, neighbouring countries tolerate the lack of repression in Oman and the sultan’s own sexuality, provided it remains unacknowledged.

Despite the lack of freedom Sultan Qaboos allowed his subjects, whatever their sexuality, at least gays do not risk execution as in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

It is probable Qaboos could not have provided a diplomatic channel for the despotic ayatollahs of Iran as an openly gay ruler. However, the hypocritic mullahs were happy to make use of his services while his sexuality went unacknowledged.

One wonders, however, if reform might come quicker for LGBTIQ people in the Middle East if rulers like Sultan Qaboos and the allegedly closeted King of Morocco lived openly as their authentic selves.

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