The sultan's health matters in Oman, since his 44-year reign is associated with the "Renaissance" following the isolation and underdevelopment under his father. (Qaboos's father, it should be noted, may have avoided development because it would have involved debt to Western powers, powers which have often used debt to impinge on Arab sovereignty.) What's more, he has no clear heir, with no known male relatives closer than cousins. A number of years ago he wrote the name of his preferred successor in a sealed envelope to be opened on the occasion of his death. This name would then have to be confirmed by a special council. Under the constitution, if no prince wins approval as sultan, the military would take over as a regency until there was consensus on a sultan.