Oman has always been one of the mainstays of India’s West Asian policy in the region. The defense of the MoU has been renewed this year as both sides want to expand the partnership from navy to navy. To date, Oman has launched Vision-2040 to change its economy which wants strong Indian investments in areas such as port infrastructure and special economic zones, said Hamed Saif AL Rawahi, Oman Ambassador to India to Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury of ET in a large interview. .
India and Oman celebrate the 65e Anniversary of diplomatic relations this year. The two nations maintain warm and friendly relations, steeped in history, as well as sustained people-to-people contacts. 2021-2022 presents the 65e anniversary of the renaissance of well-established diplomatic relations between the two nations.
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The two Arabian Sea nations are linked by history, geography as well as culture and attribute historical maritime ties.
While such good contact between nations can be traced back 5,000 years, diplomatic relations were established in 1955 and the relationship was enhanced in 2008 into a strategic partnership, Oman has been one of the key pillars of Indian politics in Western Asia.
The late Sultan Qaboos who was a visionary leader whose dual policy of mediation and moderation in mentioning world issues has earned him much praise and respect around the world. He has played a crucial role in supporting peace initiatives in various disputes and his legacy is well preserved by Haitham bin Tarik, the current Sultan.
Sultan Qaboos was the reason for the special ties between India and Oman. Under his leadership, the two nations have become strategic partners.
“A true friend of India and a strong leadership to develop a strategic partnership between India and Oman”, as declared the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who recalled the contribution of Sultan Qabus to the relations of the two country after his death. .
It would be interesting to clarify that a special India week is planned in January 2022 in the Sultanate of Oman to celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav and this is planned in association with the Indian diaspora and also the friends of India and even it is planned to organize many events to celebrate the occasion in full in Oman which would also invoke the participation of the Omani ministerial delegate as guest of honor.
At a meeting held on the 14the January 2021, where the two countries examined the full spectrum of relations between India and Oman, which includes the fields of politics, energy, investment, trade, defense, security, space, mining, science and technology, culture and consular.
Defense cooperation between the two nations
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman last September on the exchange of information on white shipping.
The signing will increase the opportunities for information exchange on merchant marine traffic through the Indian Ocean Region Information Fusion Center, the dedicated center in Gurugram to undertake collection, fusion and dissemination data with partner countries, and the MSC headquartered in Muscat.
Indian Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh then visited key defense facilities in Oman such as Camp Muaskar Al Murtafa (MAM), Maritime Security Center, Said Bin Sultan Naval Base, Air Base in Al Musanna and the National Defense College.
The Indian Navy and Royal Oman Navy cooperate on different fronts, including operational interactions, training cooperation and subject matter expert exchanges in various fields. Since 1993, the two navies have participated in the biennial maritime exercise “Naseem Al Bahr”. It was last held off the coast of Goa in 2020 and will take place again in 2022.
Great opportunities for Indian investments in Oman
Sultan Haitham bin Tarik al Said, who came to power in the country in January 2020, led the government’s efforts to transform Oman’s economy to attract more foreign investment (FDI). This effort has been made on an overhaul of the activities in Oman and the investment framework which includes most of the updates in 2019 of the commercial law of Oman, the law on foreign investments, the law on privatization, the law on public-private partnerships and the law on bankruptcy. Under his leadership, the country is now developing more benefits for foreign investors, including a program of tax and tariff incentives, permits to invest in several new industries in the economy, expanded use of land , increased access to capital and labor. and employment incentives for eligible businesses. These reforms were made to enhance Oman’s investments and are in line with Oman’s Vision 2040 development plan.
Oman now has potential in several sectors such as tourism, fishing, logistics, mining, creative and technological services, and manufacturing. The government of Oman is also actively encouraging foreign direct investment and has used oil and gas revenues to bring some development to the country’s human resources and infrastructure.
Oman’s location on the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean, at the crossroads of the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and South Asia, and close to shipping lanes carrying a significant global maritime commercial traffic and access to larger regional markets which is an attractive feature for potential foreign investors.
Several of Oman’s most promising development projects and investment opportunities relate to its free zones and ports, primarily in Duqum where the government is considering a 2,000 square kilometer free trade zone and logistics hub. Due to its “friends of all, enemies of none” foreign policy, Oman is certainly not faced with the external security problems of its neighbors.
Oman has recently taken several measures to promote investment. He created the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones (OPAZ) in August 2020 to oversee and facilitate investments in the Duqm Special Economic Zone, the Almazuna Free Zone, the Salalah Free Zone and the Sohar free zone. In 2019, it promulgated five laws to promote investment: the law on public-private partnerships; the Foreign Capital Investment Law (FCIL); the law on privatization; bankruptcy law; and the Law on Commercial Companies.
International relations as perceived by the current sultan
The late Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, who was the oldest ruler of the Arab world, died in January 2020 after ruling since 1970. HM Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, former Minister of Culture, was recommended by the deceased sultan and ratified by the ruling family. Sultan Haitham, who previously headed the Oman Vision 2040 committee, which is the government’s 20-year roadmap for social and economic reforms.
The last Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said came to power as one of the names who has been in politics for a few years and was also behind the scenes of the Oman-2040-Vision which is one of the most crucial projects of the nation. . The most crucial challenge that Oman is likely to face in the coming decade is to be able to diversify the economy to ensure the effect of fluctuations in oil prices. On a related note, the government is also focusing on other sectors, except petroleum, such as the tourism sector, facilitating visa requirements for more nationalities, which would increase the number of visitors. . The government also places importance on promoting greater employment opportunities for Omanis and specifically trains Omani citizens in skills in sectors other than petroleum.
Steps needed in Oman to reach the goal
Sultan Haitham bin Tarik approved the launch of the “Oman 2040” vision for the future. Because the economic and social development of the Sultanate will be imposed from early 2021 until 2040.
The Sultan also said that Vision 2040 is the result of a national consensus reached through discussion and consultation between all parts of society ”.
Vision 2040 aims to make Oman one of the most developed countries in the world to ensure lasting prosperity as well as security for all. It presents a vision for Oman’s change from an oil-based economy to a more diverse knowledge-based economy.
Oman’s economy was traditionally based mainly on fishing, agriculture and trade even before the discovery and increase of its gas and oil reserves. While the country’s oil revenues have contributed to the rapid growth of the country’s economy, the government has pursued a development plan which is mainly focused on the diversification, privatization and industrialization of the economy with the main aim to reduce the dependence on industries of oil’s contribution to total GDP.