Sultanate of Oman
Sultan, prime minister, foreign minister: Qaboos Bin Said Al Said
Sultan Qaboos seized power in a coup against his father, Said Bin Taimur, in 1970.
Sultan Qaboos opened up Oman after years of isolationism. As sultan, he took on the role of prime minister and heads the foreign, defence and finance ministries.
His policies have proved popular in spite of the lack of a democratic government. He instigated the use of oil revenues to develop the country's infrastructure and modernised the government structure with the establishment of a Consultative Assembly in 1981, replaced by the Consultative Council - the majlis al-shura - in 1990 and the Council of State in 1997.
However, all important decisions are still made by the sultan.
In February 2011 Oman's main industrial centre, Sohar, saw a rare outbreak of discontent when demonstrators gathered to demand jobs and political reform. Their action followed a wave of pro-democracy protests across the Arab world. Sultan Qaboos responded quickly by promising more jobs and benefits.
Sultan Qaboos opened up Oman after years of isolationism