King kingdom

King of Saudi Arabia sends letters to Gulf leaders

Saudi-Omani fraternal relations in center of attention as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

RIYAD: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Oman, the first stop on a tour of the Gulf States, should build on talks Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq had with King Salman during of his visit to the Kingdom in July.

On the agenda, issues of mutual interest and ways to promote the interests of the Kingdom and Oman as well as to “realize the aspirations and hopes” of their peoples.

The Omani news agency ONA described the visit as a reflection of the “consecrated and historic” ties between the two Gulf countries.

For more than half a century, Saudi-Omani relations have been characterized by cooperation, mutual respect and understanding on various regional and international issues.

Likewise, ties at the individual level run deep through ties of history, shared Arab customs and traditions, and a common Arab Gulf heritage.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Oman on his Gulf tour. (SPA)

The two countries coordinate their actions under the aegis of the Gulf Cooperation Council in accordance with the common visions and strategic objectives of the bloc, with a view to achieving integration between the member states in different fields.

A similar spirit of cooperation informs their roles within the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN and various other international bodies.

Sultan Haitham’s visit to Saudi Arabia produced promises of cooperation in different fields, including real estate development, tourism, petrochemicals, manufacturing industries, logistics, information technology and banking systems. Also on the agenda, a project to create an industrial zone in the Duqm Special Economic Zone.

A memorandum establishing a coordinating council was signed by the two countries, with the aim of ensuring continuous consultation and coordination on issues of common interest in all fields. A separate agreement was signed to boost government and private sector trade and investment as well as cooperation in the areas of environmental and food security.

The crown prince’s trip is expected to build on discussions Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq had with King Salman in July. (AFP)

According to a joint statement, the two sides also agreed to speed up the opening of their border posts to facilitate the movement of people and goods in order to “integrate supply chains in order to achieve the desired economic integration”.

They further welcomed the “effective communication” between the ministers of the two countries and called on them to work towards concluding a number of cooperation agreements.

“Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Arab world and its main economic engine, home to a quarter of the world’s oil reserves and the largest free market in the Middle East and North Africa region. It is a key and valuable business partner of Oman, ”Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al-Said, Oman’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News on the eve of Sultan Haitham’s visit.

INNUMBERS

• Total Saudi investments of RS 24 billion ($ 6.4 billion) in Oman

• SR4 billion of total Omani investments in Saudi Arabia

• SR2 billion Saudi-Omani trade volume in the first quarter of 2021

Ties between Oman and Saudi Arabia have remained strong in part thanks to regular bilateral meetings and shuttle diplomacy, a tradition established after the signing of the March 1990 accord that ultimately demarcated their 658 km border.

The border agreement signed at Hafr Al-Batin in Saudi Arabia solidified the relationship, sweeping aside past territorial disputes and giving both states equal access to the region’s abundant water resources.

In the decades that followed, relations grew stronger, resulting in ambitious economic partnerships and joint action on the GCC, which saw a fusion of strategic goals and a shared vision for economic diversification.

In 2006, Saudi Arabia and Oman agreed to open a new border crossing to facilitate the expansion of trade.

Their engineers have teamed up to build a Saudi-funded highway through Rub Al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), connecting Al-Ahsa in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province to Ibri in Oman, saving around 16 hours on time. journey between the two countries.

Authorities expect the road to be opened to civil and commercial traffic by the end of this year, potentially ushering in a new era of commercial activity.

Once opened, the new highway will reduce the cost of import-export logistics, especially for traders operating from Omani ports of Sohar and Duqm, not to mention the potential tourism boom – a sector that both countries wish to develop.

In particular, the Omani side hopes that the new road – and perhaps even a future rail link – will encourage more joint investments in the Sohar industrial zone and the Duqm special economic zone.

Sultan Haitham’s visit to Saudi Arabia produced promises of cooperation in various fields. (AFP)

Other partnerships include the development of Khazaen Economic City, the Salalah 2 gas plant and the Salalah desalination plant. Saudi Arabia is also a large importer of Omani fish, which makes the development of the Sultanate’s fisheries a matter of enormous common concern.

The environment is another key area of ​​cooperation, with the two states joining together to cut carbon emissions by 60%, plant billions of trees and make Saudi and Middle Eastern green initiatives a reality.

Sultan Haitham hailed the initiatives in previous talks with the Saudi Crown Prince. The two countries have also started to share their expertise in industrial development, urban planning and mining, with ministerial delegations meeting recently via video link to discuss new collaborations.

The visit of the Crown Prince honors the historical ties between the two Gulf countries. (SPA)

High-level officials and delegations have made reciprocal visits in recent months with the aim of mainstreaming Oman’s Vision 2040 and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 – two economic development and diversification programs designed to create dynamic and modern economies that offer young citizens exciting new careers and improve the overall quality of life.

Among a long list of Saudi companies seeking investment opportunities in Oman is Al Sayadiyah United Co., which has been operating for around 40 years, marketing fish and seafood products from various GCC countries. .

In comments to Arab News in September, Marwan Raffa, CEO of Al Sayadiyah, said he expected very good experience in business operations with Oman and was in contact with his Omani counterparts to expand the business operations there.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s willingness to deepen ties with Oman, he said: “Good relations open more opportunities.