India and Oman are now going to embark on a new and stronger relationship with far greater momentum and energy than ever before
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived to a rousing and warm welcome on his maiden visit to Oman on 11-12 February. The Indian flag flew high and vibrantly as thousands of Indian expats in Oman gathered at the Sultan Qaboos stadium to hear the man who has taken on an almost rock-star-like aura when he addresses Indians overseas. The robust bilateral ties between the two nations received a shot in the arm with this much awaited and successful visit.
Eight Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two nations to consolidate the joint work on strategic relations as part of PM Modi’s visit
True to his assayed connect with people, Mr Modi kick-started his two day trip with an address to the large, vibrant Indian community in Oman. Indians across professional and social platforms came together in a manner which was never witnessed in Muscat before. He urged the Indian expatriates living in Oman to continue to play a greater role in building a modern India while remaining loyal to the country where they are live and work.
“India and Oman are now going to embark on a new and stronger relationship with far greater momentum and energy than ever before,” said PM Modi, “Oman is our closest neighbour and we are honoured to have such a close relationship with them as well. It is a testament to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said’s wise policies that we share such a strong relationship”.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos received the Indian Prime Minister at the royal palace, Bait Al Barakah. Various aspects of the prevailing cooperation between the two countries and means of promoting the good relations between them were discussed in the meeting. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Oil and Gas, the Secretary-General of the Foreign Ministry, Minister of Manpower, Inspector-General of Police and Customs, the Sultanate’s Ambassador to the Republic of India and the official delegation accompanying the PM.
Eight Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two nations to consolidate the joint work on strategic relations as part of PM Modi’s visit. The MoUs, signed by Oman officials and Indra Mani Pandey, Indian Ambassador to the Sultanate, covered visa exemption for diplomats, services of Duqm Port and dry-dock for maintenance for Indian military vessels, legal and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters, tie-up between Oman’s National Defence College (NDC) and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), health, tourism, peaceful use of space and Oman’s accession to India-based International Solar Alliances.
India and Oman have increased their bilateral cooperation and interactions since the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 1955 and have forged a mutually beneficial Strategic Partnership. Both the nations are bound by civilizational and historical links spanning over 5000 years. The Sultanate of Oman has been a very important strategic partner for India and the two nations have been bound by friendship and people-to-people contact on a consistent basis. Regular high-level visits and exchanges have been a key feature of this partnership. Ministerial-level visits during 2017 included the visit of Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs to New Delhi in April 2017 and India’s Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture to Muscat in December 2017.
The visit was part of PM Modi’s Middle East thrust to invite investment and augment interest in the Indian growth story
Oman is home to 0.8 million Indians and both the countries enjoy a mutually beneficial strategic partnership which is based on their shared interests, mutual understanding and respect for each other’s cultures, interests and sensitivities. The history of trade relations between the two nations goes back to several millennia. In modern times, their economic and commercial relations continue to be robust. Bilateral trade has returned to its upward trend and its value increased from US$ 3.8 billion in 2015-16 to US$ 4 billion in 2016-17. It has already crossed US$ 3.76 billion during April-October 2017 and is likely to reach US$ 5 billion during the year ending March 2018. Investment flows have been healthy both ways, as is reflected in several joint ventures, established both in India and Oman. There are more than 2900 Indo-Omani joint ventures in Oman. The India-Oman Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF) has been operational and the initial corpus of US$ 100 million has been fully utilized. OIJIF has raised another $ 220 million for the second portion which is being invested. Indian companies are among leading investors in Sohar and Salalah freezones and they are interested in investing in Duqm SEZ too, where an India-Oman joint venture ‘Sebacic Oman’ is setting up the largest sebacic acid manufacturing plant in the Middle East, which will be worth US$ 1.2 billion on completion.
India has always been a steady partner in Oman’s growth story. Indian companies have been encouraged to participate in key sectors of Oman, including logistics, minerals and mining and manufacturing as well as in free zones and special economic zones. India has already been contributing to the human resource development of Oman through providing professional training under its ITEC Programme. From food security to renewable energy, SME development, cybersecurity, space applications, defence, engineering goods, IT & ITeS, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, education and training, there is the remarkable opportunity for expanding India-Oman cooperation.
The visit was part of PM Modi’s Middle East thrust to invite investment and augment interest in the Indian growth story.