Viewing cable 05MUSCAT582

05MUSCAT5822005-04-09 14:55:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MUSCAT 000582 
E.O. 12958: DECL: X5 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III. 
Reason: 1.4 (b, d). 
¶1. (U) Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Humud al-Busaidi 
Under Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (since 2000) 
Rank: Ambassador 
Personal Data 
¶2. (U) Born: May 30, 1960; Muscat, Oman. 
Married, two daughters. 
Education: Master of Letters (MLitt) (Political Philosophy 
and Economics), Oxford University 
Career Track 
¶3. (U) Sayyid Badr bin Hamad al-Busaidi joined the Omani 
diplomatic corps in 1989 as a First Secretary, tasked with 
establishing and running a Political Analysis Office 
reporting directly to the Minister.  In 1990 he was promoted 
to rank of Counselor and then in 1995, by Royal Decree, 
attained Ambassador rank.  He was appointed head of the 
Minister's Department in 1996 and, the following year, added 
the responsibilities of Acting Under Secretary and Chief of 
the Information Technology Department.  In 2000, the Sultan 
issued the Royal Decree appointing Sayyid Badr Under 
Secretary.  Playing an active role in the process that led to 
the establishment of the Middle East Desalination Research 
Center (MEDRC) in Muscat (a product of the Track II Middle 
East Peace Process), he currently also serves as Chairman of 
the MEDRC Executive Council. 
Relations with the Minister 
¶4. (C) Sayyid Badr is one of the leading minds of the young 
generation of top Omani officials.  It is a source of some 
frustration to him that he serves as deputy to Minister 
Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi, one of the 
longest serving veterans in the Sultan's cabinet and scion of 
the old guard.  He has urged the Ambassador to tell the 
Sultan things that Badr believes the Sultan's lieutenants may 
not be letting him know. 
¶5. (C) Sayyid Badr is almost never seen in the company of 
Foreign Minister Bin Alawi.  During a January 2004 reception 
also attended by the Minister, Sayyid Badr expressed his 
surprise to the Ambassador that both were present, indicating 
that wires must have gotten crossed.  We have rarely observed 
that matters raised with the Minister get filtered down to 
Sayyid Badr, or vice versa. 
¶6. (SBU) Sayyid Badr is close to another cabinet member, 
however.  Both he and Minister of Manpower Juma bin Ali 
al-Jumaa shared a two-pupil desk as young students in Old 
Muscat's historic Saidiyya elementary school. 
Political Views 
¶7. (C) Badr's political views are strongly moderate.  He 
hailed actions to take the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar 
television channel off the air in late 2004, and frequently 
urges the U.S. government to encourage moderates to appear 
more often on Al Jazeera.  He appreciates USG assistance 
programs under the Middle East Partnership Initiative, 
particularly in the educational sphere, and is embarrassed 
when those efforts come under criticism or resistance from 
conservative elements.  He is a strong proponent of the value 
of visits to Oman by senior U.S. officials.  Badr also 
champions economic liberalization, having firmly backed 
Oman's 2000 accession to the World Trade Organization and its 
pursuit in 2005 of a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.  In a 
February 2005 address to the Muscat American Business 
Council, he urged American businesspersons to share their 
impressions of Oman's investment climate with contacts in the 
U.S. to spur greater trade.  A March 2004 paper he presented 
to the Oman Historical Association hailed the "open trade 
policies" of the Al Bu Said dynasty stretching back to the 
18th Century. 
¶8. (C) Badr believes firmly in the rule of law.  He boasts 
that he carries an English and Arabic copy of Oman's 
constitution, the Basic Law, with him at all times.  During a 
cabinet meeting at which Deputy Prime Minister Sayyid Fahd 
was introducing a new bill, Badr claimed to have directly 
addressed Fahd with proof that it violated the Basic Law; 
Fahd was persuaded and withdrew the text.  When the foreign 
media reported claims by two Omani writers in 2004 that the 
Ministry of Information had banned them from publication, 
Sayyid Badr personally penned a denial issued by Oman's 
Ambassador in Washington.  Noting that the Information 
Minister denied banning the writers, Badr told the Ambassador 
that the writers should sue the Ministry in court if they 
believe their rights were violated.  Such actions, he 
believed, were the best defense against arbitrary government 
Unabashedly Ibadhi 
¶9. (C) Badr welcomed the Sultan's decision soon after his 
accession to the throne in 1970 to ban hunting and violent 
sports from the public school system he set out to create. 
Perhaps reflecting a bias for his Ibadhi faith, Sayyid Badr 
admits he studies violent crime statistics provided by the 
Royal Oman Police.  Among Omani-on-Omani crimes, Sayyid Badr 
estimated from the reports that only about 2% of violent 
crimes involved Ibadhi Muslims, while the minority Sunni and 
Shia Omanis accounted for the rest.  He has publicly credited 
Oman's Ibadhi traditions as encouraging a modern state "at 
ease with a history of diversity" and enjoying "the 
enshrinement of equal rights, regardless of race and creed." 
He praised the Sultan's effort to "create a culture of peace." 
Personal Interests 
¶10. (SBU) Something of a renaissance man, Badr is an avid 
photographer, particularly of the sunrise over the sea near 
his home in Al Bustan.  In one meeting, he promised to send 
the Ambassador a compact disc of his best photographs.  He 
has also entertained thoughts of penning a bilingual 
autobiography that would focus on both the rule of Sultan 
Qaboos and the period preceding it, of which Oman's 
overwhelmingly youthful population remains largely unaware. 
His government biography also lists music, travel and tennis 
among his hobbies. 
¶11. (C) He is fond of recounting the story of how he acquired 
his impressive home.  Having dreamt of living by the sea 
since childhood, Sayyid Badr received a grant of land along 
the coast south of Muscat near the present-day Al Bustan 
Hotel.  The Ministry of Royal Diwan confiscated Badr's land 
after deciding it would be the ideal resettlement location 
for the village on which the hotel was being built.  Badr 
resisted, taking his case directly to the Sultan.  Offered 
compensation by the Sultan, Badr asked for the nearby home of 
a British advisor friend that overlooked the sea, to which 
the Sultan acquiesced.  While the house is by no means 
palatial, it is well appointed and has an incomparable view 
of the sea. 
¶12. (SBU) He noted that beachgoers often camp on his lawn, 
thinking it a public park.  Conscious of projecting a 
positive image, Badr has been known to serve tea to such 
interlopers.  In a similar vein, his family adopted a stray 
dog that wandered onto the property (not a typical act among 
Muslim Arabs).  While he would not let them in the house, his 
family tended to a litter of puppies that the stray dog had 
¶13. (SBU) Badr also possesses a strong interest in history, 
and has been a featured speaker at the Oman Historical 
Association.  While he previously enjoyed the sport of scuba 
diving, Badr currently prefers snorkeling and boating. 
Sayyid Badr is high-tech savvy, using a PDA device one year 
during the Sultan's New Year's horse race to provide 
interesting details on the sport and a wide variety of other 
topics for the Ambassador. 
Impressive Pedigree 
¶14. (SBU) Sayyid Badr's late father, Hamad bin Humud Al Bu 
Said, served as Sultan Said bin Taimur's personal secretary, 
and stayed on following the 1970 coup to serve Sultan Qaboos 
in the same capacity.  Hamad bin Humud was elevated to the 
rank of Cabinet Secretary in the governmental re-shuffle of 
¶1972.  He became Minister of Diwan Affairs in 1974, 
essentially fulfilling the role of de facto Prime Minister at 
cabinet meetings in the Sultan's absence until 1994.  During 
Hamad bin Humud's stint in government, he typified the utter 
disregard for conflict of interest prevalent at the time.  He 
obtained loans guaranteed by the Sultan in order to secure 
agency contracts from foreign corporations.  This privilege 
was parlayed into two major corporations he founded: 
commercial shopping giant SABCO, and Oman Shapoorji 
Construction (OSCO), which won government contracts to build 
the palace in Muscat, the Ministry of National Heritage, the 
Ministry of Diwan Affairs, the Majlis al-Shura, the stock 
exchange, and the commercial SABCO Center.  Badr's brother, 
Sayyid Khalid, is currently Chairman of SABCO Group and Oman 
National Investment Corporation Holding. 
¶15. (C) Sayyid Badr's mother, Zawan bint Hamed al-Nabhani, 
hails from one of the most prominent tribes of Oman's 
interior that has for generations often found itself in armed 
confrontation with the Al Bu Saids of Muscat.  Zawan (b. 
1940) is still alive, but required extensive cancer treatment 
in the U.S. in late 2003 and makes regular check-up visits to 
Houston approximately every six months.  Sayyid Badr, his 
sister Eyman (b. 1975), and brother Aymen (b. 1971), 
typically escort Zawan on her medical appointments.  Badr 
expressed his deep satisfaction with the level of care his 
mother received in the U.S. 
Family Life 
¶16. (C) Sayyid Badr was married at an early age and has two 
daughters (born in 1988 and 1990).  As of August 2003, Sayyid 
Badr was still married to Noora bint Abdullah al-Mawahish, 
but there were no signs of a wife during the Ambassador's 
lunch at Sayyid Badr's home in January 2005.  Badr's eldest 
daughter, Salsabeel, is considerably shorter than the younger 
daughter.  Both speak English without a noticeable accent, 
and both are B - B  students.  Salsabeel is more 
science-oriented and hopes to be accepted to Mount Holyoke 
College.  The younger daughter is drawn to the arts.  Badr 
was both surprised and pleased to learn that the Embassy 
offers free academic advising for persons interested in 
studying in the U.S., and that the counselor is an Omani