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State visit of Sultan of Oman to India

  • Context (PIB): The Head of State of the Sultanate of Oman, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, for the first time in history, was on a state visit to India.

Keynotes from the Visit

  • The India-Oman Vision Document was signed reflecting the convergence of India’s Amritkaal vision and Oman’s “Vision 2040”.
  • Both countries expressed cooperation in digital connectivity, cyber security, financial crimes, medical tourism and maritime security.
  • The third tranche of the Oman-India Investment Fund was announced, a 50:50 collaboration between the State Bank of India and Oman Investment Authority.
  • An Oman Desk in Invest India and an India Desk in Invest Oman would be created.
  • The establishment of a Hindi chair of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in Oman was announced.
  • The Ministry of Culture announced recreating the stitched ship’s journey from Mandvi, Gujarat, to Muscat in the 2025-26 voyage.
  • The possibility of leveraging India’s UPI for a corresponding Omani platform, along with discussions on trade in the Rupee was considered.
  • Progress on negotiations on the India-Oman Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was appraised.

India-Oman relations: Convergences

  • Historical Ties: Links between the Makran coast of Oman and Meluha of Indus Civilisation establish age-old people-to-people contact.
  • Geographical Proximity: Oman is the closest neighbour to India in the Arabian Gulf region.
  • Strategic Relations: Diplomatic relations were established in 1955 and upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2008.
  • Trade and Investment: Bilateral trade between both countries increased to USD 12.39 billion in 2022-2023 from USD 5.4 billion in 2020-2021.
  • Defence Ties: Currently, Oman is the only country in West Asia with which all three services of the Indian Armed Forces conduct regular bilateral exercises.
    • Joint military drill Al-Najah and naval exercises named Eastern Bridge and Naseem-al-Bahr are conducted between India and Oman.
  • Maritime Security: Operation Sankalp during the Persian Gulf crisis in June 2019 to ensure the safe passage of Indian-flagged ships and MoU on Duqm Port signifies maritime cooperation.
  • International groupings: The Sultanate of Oman is an important interlocutor at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League, and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) for India.

Duqm PortDuqm Port

  • Duqm port is located in southern Oman on the Arabian Sea and close to the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Through the Gulf of Aden, it provides easy access into the Red Sea.

Challenges in India-Oman Relations

  • Slow Progress of the Middle East to India Deepwater Pipeline (MEIDP) limits the cooperation potential.
  • China factor: With Oman’s biggest oil importer and Belt and Road initiative China poses a challenge.
  • Global diplomatic challenges: Allegations of Oman backing the Houthi rebels in Yemen may lead to diplomatic challenges for the India-Oman relations.
  • Trade skewed towards oil import: With India targeting a reduction in fossil fuel consumption, oil imports and subsequent trade relations may hamper.

Way Forward

  • The proposed India-Middle-East-Europe Connectivity Corridor (IMEEC) infrastructure project would open new avenues for cooperation between the two countries. 
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