Egypt-Oman: A history of friendship

Doaa El-Bey , Tuesday 23 May 2023

On Sunday, Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tarik paid his first official visit to Egypt, reports Doaa El-Bey

Egypt-Oman: A history of friendship
Al-Sisi with Bin Tarik


During his two-day visit to Cairo, the first since assuming power in 2020, Sultan Haitham bin Tarik met with President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. Discussions between the two leaders addressed a range of regional crises, with both leaders agreeing that regional conflicts must be settled in a way that maintains the interests of Arab peoples and preserves their resources.

The talks involved an exchange of views on regional and international issues in the framework of regular coordination and consultation between Egypt and Oman, and their endeavours to realise regional stability and security, according to a statement issued by the Egyptian presidency.

Sultan bin Tarik’s visit coincided with the beginnings of a fragile ceasefire in Sudan and came in the wake of an Arab League (AL) summit which witnessed the end of Syria’s suspension from the pan-Arab organisation. Arab states are now expected to reintegrate Syria, and work together to resolve the crisis there. Bi- and multilateral cooperation between Arab states is also needed to help resolve ongoing crises in Libya and Yemen, and Muscat’s long-term relations with Tehran are regarded as an asset in any future negotiations between Cairo and Tehran to normalise relations.

During the long reign of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Oman adopted a policy of neutrality when it came to inter-Arab problems. During the rift between Qatar on the one hand, and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE on the other, Muscat pointedly refrained from supporting either side. Even more notably, Muscat was one of the few Arab capitals not to sever diplomatic ties with Cairo when Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

President Al-Sisi praised the history of friendly relations between the two states, saying they have always been based on solidarity and cooperation in the face of crises and challenges. For his part, Sultan Bin Tarik underscored Egypt’s strategic and cultural depth for the Arab world and praised its role in preserving regional security and stability.

The two-day visit witnessed the signing of six MoUs enhancing cooperation in the fields of education, the judiciary, heritage and archive preservation, transportation, aviation and taxation. They built on the set of MoUs signed during President Al-Sisi’s own visit to Muscat in June 2022, his first to Oman since Sultan bin Tarik ascended the throne in 2020.

The Omani-Egyptian Business Forum, held during Sultan Bin Tarik’s visit, aimed to “showcase the investment potential available in the Sultanate and the regulations and basic structures that will help attract investors in many areas, including renewable energy and green hydrogen,” said Abdullah Nassir Al-Rahbi, Oman’s ambassador to Cairo.

“Egypt looks forward to increasing trade and joint investments between Cairo and Muscat... through activating bilateral and multilateral agreements,” a ministerial statement quoted Minister of Trade and Industry Ahmed Samir as saying.

The forum was attended by the finance and trade ministers of both countries, Egyptian businessmen and the head of Oman Investment Authority (OIA).

The OIA is currently looking at investment opportunities in Egypt, especially in the field of wind power. Its target is to invest $5 billion over the next three years, a third of which is being earmarked for wind power projects.

Trade exchange between the two countries increased by 64 per cent in 2022, up to $1.1 billion from $650 million in 2021, according to CAPMAS.

In a statement issued the day before the Sultan’s visit, CAPMAS said Egypt’s exports to Oman rose by 23.7 per cent to reach $202 million in 2022, up from $163 million in 2021. Egypt’s imports from Oman rose by 78.3 percent to reach $869 million in the same period.

Egypt and Muscat marked 50 years of diplomatic relations last November. The occasion was celebrated at an event held in the Egyptian Museum of Civilisation.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 25 May, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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