This is the Sultan’s first visit to Qatar after assuming power last year following the death of Oman’s former ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq arrived in Qatar on Monday in a two-day official visit, during which he discussed with Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani ways to strengthen ties between the two Gulf nations on several levels.
“The Amir and the Sultan of Oman will discuss at the Amiri Diwan means of supporting and strengthening the well-established brotherly relations between the two countries and the prospects for their development to achieve the interests and aspirations of the two peoples, in addition to discussing the latest regional and international developments,” said the Qatar News Agency (QNA) in a statement.
The visit at the invitation of Qatar’s ruler marks the Sultan’s first trip since coming to power in January last year following the passing of former Sultan Qaboos bin Said – the Middle East’s longest-serving ruler.
“We in Qatar are looking forward to the visit of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, the Sultan of Oman, to Doha. Our close bilateral relations that bring together our two brotherly countries and peoples are well-established and rooted,” said Qatar’s Assistant Foreign Minister Lolwah Al-Khater, according to Al Alaraby AlJadeed.
Doha will be Sultan Haitham’s second foreign visit following his trip to Riyadh in July this year.
“The visit will open wider horizons for the future of the two countries, especially in the economic aspect, one of the important pillars of the Oman Vision 2040 and Qatar National Vision 2030, reinforced by legislative elements that stimulate investment and an important, attractive, encouraging and facilitated infrastructure,” said the Sultanate’s news agency on Sunday ahead of the visit.
The two Gulf states aimed to strengthen ties on several levels and enhance existing cooperation in politics and economics, among other fields.
During the visit, six Memorandums of Understanding have been signed between the two nations in the fields of military cooperation, investments, tourism, and trade, according to QNA.
The two neighbouring Gulf countries established diplomatic ties in the 1970’s following Qatar’s independence, witnessing major growth and an increase in cooperation in various fields since then.
This was made evident during the 2017 Gulf crisis, in which Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade on Qatar.
Oman was one of only two Gulf states that maintained diplomatic ties with Qatar throughout the crisis, which has since ended with the signing of the Al-Ula declaration in January this year.
“The State of Qatar appreciates the constructive role played by the Sultanate of Oman in the region for its wisdom and for creating a kind of regional balance, and we look forward to more coordination on issues of common concern,” Al Khater added.
Qatari writer and journalist Jaber Al-Harami told Al Araby Al Jadeed that “the visit of Sultan of Oman Haitham bin Tariq to Qatar carries multiple implications and messages, whether on the level of bilateral relations between the two countries or on the level of consensus between the two leaderships in the two countries, regarding files and crises in the region and the region.”
He emphasized that “there was an important role for the Sultanate of Oman during the Gulf crisis, which lasted for more than 3 years. Oman was wise, and it was equidistant from all sides.”
The visit coincides with the latest announcement of a Qatari-Omani partnership as Karwa Motors is set to start manufacturing operations for a joint project that will produce 500 buses annually in its first phase.
The first phase of operations at the Karwa Motors facility will focus on rolling out buses dedicated for Qatar ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2022, which will kick off in Doha in less than a year.
“The Karwa facility represents one of the most important strategic projects between Oman and Qatar. The two countries continue to seek potential investment opportunities across several vital and promising sectors, underlining the strong ties between them and the shared interests that have been addressed regularly by both governments and people,” said Hisham Ahmed al Sheedi, acting director of Economic Diversification Investments at the Oman Investment Authority (OIA).
The OIA official said this will also support efforts to “enhance our technical expertise in the automotive sector and develop supplementary industries that will support its growth, including several new small and medium-sized businesses.”
The new facility is located on a 600,000 sqm site, and the manufacturing facility is outfitted with the latest in technology according to Karwa Motors’ CEO Ibrahim Al Balushi.
Karwa Motors, in cooperation with OIA, is eyeing manufacturing electric vehicles amid a global shift to eco-friendly transportation methods.
Significant increase in Qatari-Omani trade
Omani academic and researcher in Gulf and Middle Eastern affairs Abdullah Baaboud told Al Araby Al Jadeed that several regional and international files were expected to be raised during the visit, however the economic relations between the two sides are of a great importance amid efforts to increase opportunities and volume of trade exchanges and Qatari investments in Oman.
Oman is the largest recipient of Qatari non-oil exports, as Qatari exports to Muscat amount to about $225 million per month, based on data issued by the Qatar Chamber.
Over 360 joint Qatari-Omani companies operate in various sectors within the Qatari market and more than 500 companies operate in both the Omani and Qatari markets in sectors, including services, energy, industry and others.
On the other hand, most Qatari investments in the Sultanate are divided into shares, alliances and partnerships in more than 200 Omani companies, in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, telecommunications, energy, tourism, education among other economic sectors.