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Ghalib bin Ali bin Hilal Alhinai (Arabic: غالب بن علي الهنائي‎) (c. 1912 – 29 November 2009) was the last elected Imam (ruler) of the Imamate of Oman.[1][2][3]

Ghalib bin Ali bin Hilal Alhinai
Died29 November 2009 (aged 96)
OccupationImam of the Imamate of Oman
Known forbeing the last Imam of Imamate of Oman

Early life and careerEdit

Prior to assuming the role of Imam, Ghalib served as the Qadi (judge) of Rustaq and Nizwa.[1] He later served as the Treasurer of the Imamate.[1] After the predecessor, Imam Alkhalili, died on 3 May 1954, Ghalib Alhinai was elected to be the Imam (ruler).[1] His father, Ali bin Hilal Alhinai, previously served as the Wali (governor) of Rustaq.[4]


Oman was split between the interior, which was known as the Imamate of Oman, and the coastal Oman, known as the Sultanate of Muscat.[2] The British government exercised vast control over the Sultanate as the defense secretary and chief of intelligence, chief adviser to the sultan and all ministers except for one were British.[5][6] Shortly after Imam Ghalib was elected in 1954, he led the Imamate of Oman in the Jebel Akhdar War against sultan Said Bin Taimur, backed by the British government, attacks on the Imamate.[3]

In 1937, an agreement between the sultan and a subsidiary of Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), a consortium of oil companies that is largely British owned, was signed to grant oil concessions to IPC, in which the sultan received a sizable signature bonus. IPC informed the sultan that potential oil may exist in the interior of Oman and offered financial support to raise an armed force against any potential resistance by the Imamate. The British government favored IPC's plan as it sought benefits from the expansion of the Sultanate's territory and considered oil discovery in Oman as a valuable insurance against the insecurity of other parts of the Middle East.[3] The planning of occupying the interior started early in 1945 as news broke out that Imam Alkhalili, the predecessor to Imam Alhinai, was ill and the sultan expressed his interest to the British government of occupying the interior right after the death of the Imam.[7]

The idea of having the oil company negotiate directly with the interior of Oman was not favored by the British Political Agent who resided in Muscat providing the justification that it would mean recognizing the authority of the Imamate and it would increase its prestige. The British Political Agent believed that the only method of granting the oil company access to the interior was by assisting the sultan in occupying the Imamate.[8] The position of the British government was thereafter to eliminate any possibility of entering into direct relations with the interior in order not to alienate the sultan and to avoid invalidating the claim of IPC that its concession from the sultan covers the entirety of Oman.[9] In 1946, the British government offered arms and ammunition, auxiliary supplies and officers to occupy the interior. In September 1946, the British government studied the proposal that was promised to the sultan of using the British Royal Air Force (RAF) to occupy the interior. The British government concluded that it is reluctant "in principle" to the use of force for the reason of avoiding international criticism that may lead to the calling of the British government before the United Nations Security Council. Meanwhile, the British government recognized that the use of RAF would expedite oil exploration operations in the interior of Oman.[10][11]

The war was triggered by the sultan, Said Bin Taimur, on 25 October 1954, when he licensed IPC oil prospectors to search for oil near Fahud, an area located within the territory of the Imamate of Oman and sent Muscat and Oman Field Force (MOFF), later renamed Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces (SAF), troops to occupy it. The MOFF moved to occupy Tanam on the following day.[12] The move was considered by the Imam to be a breach to the Treaty of Seeb, an agreement which recognized the autonomy of the Imamate.[12] The occupation of Fahud and Tanam was only a prelude to a grand design by the Sultanate to occupy the entire Imamate. On 13 December 1954, the MOFF, which was instilled with eight British officers, marched from Fahud to Adam and occupied it. Subsequently, the capital of the Imamate, Nizwa, was captured by the Sultanate on 15 December 1955.[13][3] However, resistance from the Imamate forces persisted and Talib Alhinai, who was the Wali (governor) of Rustaq and the younger brother of the Imam, played a key role in strengthening the Imamate's forces by recruiting additional forces and acquiring Saudi, Egypt and Iraq's support.[14][15] The restrengthening of the Imamate's forces materialized when a number of the interior villages were recaptured, including Bilad Sayt, on 14 June 1957. The MOFF moved an artillery battery to Bilad Sayt in anticipation of an easy victory. However, the Imamate's forces proved to be much better organized than anticipated. After weeks of skirmishes, the MOFF, with no civilian support from the locals in the interior, had no choice but to surrender their way back to Fahud. The Imamate's forces freed Nizwa (capital), Firq, Izki, Tanuf, Bahla and Jebal Akhdar from the Sultunate's control, while Ibri was the only area that remained under the occupation of the Sultunate.[13][3]

On 25 July 1958, as a result of the ongoing war and British government's aim to be "less visible" in the Middle East in the post-Suez world, letters were exchanged between the sultan and the British leaders and subsequently an assistance in economic development agreement was signed, which consisted of strengthening the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces (SAF) by attaching British officers to lead small units and to head the SAF as a whole.[16] The war lasted 5 years until the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces, with much difficulty and following direct support of soldiers from the British Special Air Service, 1st Battalion of the Cameronions, a troop of the 15/19 Hussars, RAF fighter jets and a squadron of Ferret armoured cars,[16] put down the Jebel Akhdar War in 1959,[12] and Imam Ghalib Alhinai managed to escape to Saudi Arabia. He continued for a short time to lead a temporary government-in-exile from Dammam (Saudi Arabia) and established an Imamate Office in Cairo (Egypt) while the fighting continued in Oman.[17]

Imam Ghalib delegated his brother, Talib Alhinai, who was the Wali (governor) of Rustaq, and Suleiman bin Hamyar, who was the Wali (governor) of Jebel Akhdar,[18] to present the issue to the Arab League and the United Nations in order to seek recognition and claim legitimacy of the Imamate of Oman.[2] The Imamate's cause was closely identified with Arab nationalism and the various forms of anti-colonialism that were taking place during that period.[17] On August 1959, the UN Security Council voted by a narrow margin not to consider a request for an urgent meeting to discuss 'British aggression against' an independent Imamate of Oman. The United Nations General Assembly on 12 December 1967 adopted the 'Question of Oman' resolution by a majority of votes, which condemned the repressive intervention of the British troops against the locals, reaffirmed the need to acquire the consent of the locals to grant natural resources concessions and reaffirmed the "right of the people of the Territory as a whole to self-determination".[19][20] The 'question of Oman' remained on the UN General Assembly agenda in each year until 1971.[3] The Imamate's cause continued to be promoted up until 1970.[2] He continued to receive many visitors from Oman up until his death and was deeply respected by the people of Oman. He died on 29 November 2009 at the age of 96 in Dammam.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d Calvin H. Allen Jr: Oman: the Modernization of the Sultanate.
  2. ^ a b c d CNN Arabic: وفاة آخر أئمة عُمان في منفاه السياسي بالسعودية
  3. ^ a b c d e f Peterson, J. E. (2 January 2013). "Oman's Insurgencies: The Sultanate's Struggle for Supremacy". Saqi. Retrieved 29 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ : File 8/62 III Principal Shaikhs & Tribes of Oman..
  5. ^ The Guardian: Britain’s secret wars
  6. ^ British National Archive: Muscat and Oman Internal Affairs History
  7. ^ A.C.Gallowey: File 8/62 Muscat State Affairs: Principal Shaikhs and Tribes of Oman' [35r (69/296).]
  8. ^ British Consulate Muscat: File 8/62 Muscat State Affairs: Principal Shaikhs and Tribes of Oman.
  9. ^ Britannic Majesty's Government: Historical Summary of Events in the Persian Gulf Shaikhdoms and the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, 1928-1953 [97r (198/222).]
  10. ^ The Foreign Office London: File 8/62 Muscat State Affairs: Principal Shaikhs and Tribes of Oman [146r (291/296).]
  11. ^ India Office London : File 8/62 Muscat State Affairs: Principal Shaikhs and Tribes of Oman [89r (177/296.]
  12. ^ a b c John B. Meagher: The Jebel Akhdar War Oman 1954-1959, MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE 1985.
  13. ^ a b Allen, Calvin H.; II, W. Lynn Rigsbee (14 January 2014). "Oman Under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution, 1970-1996". Routledge. Retrieved 29 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ Europa Publications: A Political Chronology of the Middle East (2001)
  15. ^ Gregory Fremont Barnes: A History of Counterinsurgency
  16. ^ a b Robert Johnson : At the End of Military Intervention.
  17. ^ a b Majid Alkhalili: Oman's Foreign Policy.
  18. ^ Fiennes, Ranulph (8 October 2015). "Heat: Extreme Adventures at the Highest Temperatures on Earth". Simon and Schuster. Retrieved 29 April 2018 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ United Nations: 2302 Question of Oman.
  20. ^ United Nations: 22nd Session Adopted Resolutions.
  21. ^ Ghalib Bin Ali's obituary, in: Archived 2010-11-19 at the Wayback Machine (in Arabic)