The Mysterious “White Sultan of Oman”

This is a picture of Sultan Qaboos back in 1970 sitting next to “The White Sultan“, Timothy Landon.  There is a good chance that you have heard little or nothing about this man as he tried, succesfully it seems, to stay under the radar throughout his life.  This is reportedly the only pic ever taken of him!  The whole story is quite intriquing really,  like something you see in the movies.  (You know, the part where the FBI/CIA agent whispers, “This is the only known photo we have of him from many years ago” in some secret ops room….)

You can read more about this incredibly important individual to the history of Oman and yet widely unknown to the public by checking these sources: TimesonlineObituaryThe Guardian Obituary, The Telegraph Obituary, The Independent Article, and The London Evening Standard’s article, “The Rise of the White Sultan” (written while he was living).  Many of the things written about him seem to be after his death…

Here are some things I find fascinating about “The White Sultan”:

  • He was born in Vancouver, Canada (That’s where I’m from!) to a British military father and Canadian mother.  He held a Canadian passport until his family moved back to Britain after WWII.
  • He served in both the British and Omani armies and then he got out of the spotlight to become HM’s right hand man in London, handling major partnerships from there.
  • It is reported that Sultan Qaboos sent him 1,000,000 English pounds each year on his birthday (other reports say on Christmas).
  • His connections eventually made him one of the wealthiest British citizens ever (wealthier than the Queen!) and how he acquired his wealth is another great mystery.  (Some say through real estate, others say oil and others say simply through shrewd investments. Gun smuggling sure helped as well!)
  • Omanisation (a popular topic these days) seems to have originated with this man!!!
  • As advisor and friend to HM Sultan Qaboos, he was pivotal in the coup at the Salalah palace and in the success of the Dhofar War.
  • Sayid bin Taimur’s one regret in life, reportedly made on his deathbed, was that he hadn’t had Landon killed. Wow! That should give you a pretty clear idea of just how influential this man was to HM Sultan Qaboos and indeed to the current prosperity that the Sultanate now enjoys!
  • At his death, it is estimated that his assets were worth more than £500m! (Not bad for a small town Canadian boy!  🙂 )
  • Like HM Sultan Qaboos, Timothy Landon had a great love of classical music and generously supported musicians.

Born on August 20th, Timothy Landon would have turned 69 yesterday.  He died in July of 2007.

My question to Omani readers out there is this: How much is known about “The White Sultan” in Oman?! More personally, how much did you know about this individual, Timothy Landon, who seems to have played such a crucial role in the history of the Sultanate of Oman?  I think they should turn the life story of this mystifying man into a big screen action film.  Now Not coming soon to a theatre near you: “The White Sultan of Oman”!

36 responses to “The Mysterious “White Sultan of Oman”

  1. My dad tells he has Omani Nationality and used to have house next to Al Husn Palace in Salalah.

    Very influential , Brig London,

  2. Pingback: The Mysterious “White Sultan of Oman” | Andy in Oman | عُمان الان Oman Now

  3. hhh,
    Thanks for the comment. Yes, I did read that Timothy Landon was given an Omani passport. Interesting! Thanks to you and your dad for the info. 🙂

  4. my friend the man beside him is not the sultan qaboos you can google it and see Qaboos looks different in the same time of this photo been taken

  5. Wow , in 13 years here this is the first I’m hearing about this guy and I’m not really the ignorant type (0.o) . Thanks for that one.

  6. rantonit,
    Thanks for the comment. I was surprised to hear about Timothy Landon as well. Sounds like someone who was quite important to the history of Oman. My pleasure to share that fascinating story with you!

  7. he is not timothy landon hes his majesty the white sultan who ruled that country and dictated and enforced the british rule over the country through the so called sultan qaboos. we need to verify this so the world would know abt it

  8. Anonymous,
    I suppose if I left a ridiculous comment like that I would choose to remain anonymous as well!

  9. What I say about that, Even “Fundamentalist” they would say so…

    Desert hot winds.. Sand and Fire hot hills, What whitemen doing here .. by travelling all along
    the curve of the world map. I dont think that they came for help. They came by holding a colonial flag. Afterwards West broken their own flag of colonial Flag and started this practice by book…named democracy.
    Hence Industrial Revolution in EU and US. haven’t been useful for all human race.

    So friends.

    All world saw white friends in Iraq , the motherland of tradition and capabilities , bombed by state-of-the-art machinery.

    I imagine those scenes. And then

  10. Sabah,
    Go ahead and blame everything on “the whiteman”. So racist. And ignorant.

  11. Hi Andy,

    There are Omanis who know about Tim Landon but very limited. He was in power for long time and help Sultan Qaboos particularly in setting up the security office / intelligence office. It seems he made a lot of money when he was serving in Oman. It was a stage where number of foreign officers were required due to scarcity of experiences. British were present at gulf for more than hundred years and tied themselves with local monarchies. It was not easy to get rid of them just at once. However, most seconded officers are no more in military departments. The picture is not for Sultan Qaboos. That guy with Landon is an inelegance officer who is still alive. I’m 100% sure of that.

    Nice stay in Oman.

    • Thanks, Abdullah.
      Yes, I’ve heard that it might not be HM Sultan Qaboos in the photo. However, it is the only known published photo of Tim Landon out there. Thanks for commenting!

  12. I liked the article, and indeed this man is missing from the history of Oman, not much known about him to us the people of Oman.

    Not even in the book of In the Service of the Sultan this name is mentioned.

    Could you please tell me more or give me more information.

    Note: The man in the picture is definitely not H.M Sultan Qaboos, I can assure you that.

  13. I am totally agree with the “Man from Oman” Thats not the Sultan Qaboos who is in the picture

  14. I think Ian gardenir who wrote in the service of sultan, could have something to tell us about this mysterious white sultan, He is currently live in Edinburgh just beside the hay statio, you could find outt abit more if you visit his webside

  15. Hello Andrew, was glad you brought this topic up abit. Ian gardener wrote his book in the service of the sultan which took him a ages to publish it in Oman, he might know something about the white sultan. he got his own website which contain his full contact number and email. Why don’t you get a wee buzz.

  16. I knew Tim quite well when he was a captain in Muscat Regt., stationed in Salalah c1968. He took me to meet Qaboos in the palace, where he was reportedly under house arrest. The person in the picture is most definately not Qaboos, but one of ” Tims’ Men. “

  17. The remarks made of Brigadier Landon by some in this are a disgrace. Brigadier Landon, alongside HM Sultan Qaboos was the co-father of Omanisation, by which many foreigners were replaced as quickly as possible by more than capable Omani’s. He was completely the servant of the Omani peoople (he was not actually British and was a Brigadier in SOAF, not some attached officer from UK) but by the late 1970’s had moved aside to allow Omani’s to rightfully take their place. He resided in Europe from that time, not Oman and his incredible success in business did not have much to do with Oman. Many hated him simply because he had the trust of His Majesty. Leave the memory of Tim Landon alone. He risked all at a very young age to see HM Sultan Qaboos ascend the throne and did more for Oman than anybody now will every truly know.

    • Tim WAS on secondment from the British army. When I knew him he was a lowly captain. He was SIO, Salalah, under Said Bin Taimor.(?) His right hand man was Said Bin Gair (?)

  18. that very much is sultan himself/both sultan and tim had one very thing in common which nobody is speaking about/however tim was jolly good man.very friendly and i miss him from the bottom of my heart/it must all the thick fat cigars caused his death/may his soul rest in peace.

  19. I served in the Oman Army with Tim Landon at the time the photo above was taken. The Omani sitting next to Tim Landon in the Landrover is certainly not HM Qaboos. He was a civilian employed on intelligence duty.

    • Roger,
      People have sworn that it’s Tim Landon but definitely not HM Qaboos. Others have sworn that it’s HM Qaboos but certainly not Tim Landon next to him. I can’t remember which book I got it from, but they declared that the western man in the photo is indeed one of the very few pics of Timothy Landon out there. There is more debate about whether it is in fact HM Qaboos so thanks for the comment.

  20. Please could we now leave Tim Landon and his memory to rest. He is gone. Oman is free because of the courage of HM Sultan Qaboos and bravery of thousands of Omani’s, many hundreds who died fighting for this freedom and the numerous British and other foreigners who lived (and died) beside them. Timothy Landon was amongst these

  21. Tim landon is the one who put qaboos in power and in return secured british influence in that country. It usually american puppets are in charge in that region but not in oman its her majesties goverment. British puppets and the white sultan was the puppet master

    • I think you’ve watched one too many conspiracy videos on youtube late at night with some strange weed in the pipe…

  22. Because of the white sultan , qaboos is in power. Thats why qaboos gives his true alegance to the british goverment and the white sultan . Time will tell us the truth .

    • 2 minutes after “Anonymous” comes “Gustav”…Hmmm…I wonder if this is another voice in your head. When does voice #3 come along? Yes, only time will tell.

  23. hi the story here is not true and we as Omani we don’t have any problem to our sultan to grant the people who spend there live to share with us the progress I think you don’t know about him than we know ,

    • I agree with Ahmed. Andy Brown please remove this thread from your blog. It is not positive and an unfair intrigue based mostly on your curiosity about a fellow Canadian, (who in fact left Canada as a small child) and who made a success of his life as well as helped Oman immensely to develop

  24. Just done reading a Book by J O H N B E A S A N T on his take on omani history.could answer and maybe raise a lot many more questions in your mind. Though not sure would be accessible in Oman.

  25. I was a contemporary of Qaboos at Sandhurst and met him again in Oman in the mid-70s. The picture doesn’t look like him to me – he had a very distinctive face. I only met Tim Landon once and frankly can’t remember much about him – so can’t confirm whether it’s him or not.

  26. P.S. Roger Brown, who commented above, is a reliable witness. What he says is almost certainly true.

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