Video Summary

[RSTV The Big Picture] India-Oman Ties

The Sultanate of Oman is crucial to India’s foreign policy pursuits in the Persian Gulf region which has had its basis in the 1953 India-Oman Treaty of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce.
By IT's Video Summary Team
February 27, 2020

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Key bilateral agreements between India and Oman
  • Commercial relations
  • Cooperation in Energy sector
  • Cultural Cooperation
  • Strategic importance
  • Defence ties
  • Indian Community in Oman
  • Death of Oman’s longest serving monarch
  • Change in regime on Oman
  • Conclusion

India-Oman Ties

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Introduction:

The Sultanate of Oman has been an age old strategic partner of India. The two countries are linked by geography, history and culture and enjoy warm and cordial relations, which are attributed to historical maritime trade linkages, intimacy of the Royal family with India and the seminal role played by Indian expatriate community in building Oman, which is acknowledged by Omani Government.

  • While people-to-people contact between India and Oman can be traced back 5000 years, diplomatic relations were established in 1955 and the relationship was upgraded to Strategic partnership in 2008.

Key bilateral agreements between India and Oman:

  • India and Oman share a long list of bilateral agreements spanning almost every field of cooperation.
  • They cover cooperation in Health; Tourism; Military Cooperation; peaceful uses of Outer Space; visa exemption for diplomats/officials; Legal and Judicial Cooperation in Criminal Matters; Extradition; legal and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters; Agriculture; Civil Aviation; Avoidance of Double Taxation; Standards and Measures; Manpower; Maritime Issues; Joint Investment Fund; and Cultural Cooperation etc.
  • There are also MoUs for Cooperation between Oman’s National Defence College (NDC) and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) of India; Cooperation between FSI and Omani Diplomatic Institute; and State Audit Institution of Oman and the Office of Comptroller and Auditor General of India. 

Commercial relations:

  • Both India and Oman accord high priority to strengthening economic and commercial relations between the two countries.
  • Economic cooperation between India and Oman is reviewed thorough the institutional mechanism of Indo-Oman Joint Commission Meeting (JCM).
  • India is among Oman’s top trading partners.
  • For Oman, India was the 3rd largest (after UAE and China) source for its imports and 3rd largest market (after UAE and Saudi Arabia) for its non-oil exports in 2018.
  • During 2018-19, bilateral trade was US$ 5 billion.
  • Major items of Indian exports include: mineral fuels and products of their distillation, textiles, machinery, electrical items, chemicals, iron and steel, tea, coffee, spices, rice and meat products and seafood.
  • Among major Indian imports are: Urea, LNG, polypropylene, lubricating oil, dates and chromite ore.

Cooperation in Energy sector:

  • India purchases oil from Oman in spot market.
  • In 2018, India was the second largest (after China) importer of Oil from Oman and imported more than 21,000 barrels in 2018.
  • Indian Oil Corporation has acquired 17% stake of Royal Dutch Shell in Mukhaizna oilfield in Oman for US$ 329 million.
  • India has also invited Oman to participate in augmenting India’s Strategic Oil Reserves.
  • The meet the growing energy demands for India, the South Asia Gas Enterprise Pvt. Ltd. (SAGE) has been constructing an underwater natural gas pipeline via Oman, the Middle East to India Deepwater Pipeline (MEIDP)-also known as the Iran-Oman-India pipeline. The project is under construction and sought to bring Iranian cheaper natural gas to India via Oman.
  • Oman has also conveyed its desire to join International Solar Alliance to India.
  • Oman has reiterated India’s offer to share India’s experience and capabilities with Oman in development of its renewable sources of energy, such as solar and wind power etc.

Cultural Cooperation:

  • India and Oman have close cultural relations. Omanis are familiar with Indian culture on account of millennia old people-to-people exchange, presence of large Indian community in Oman and geographical proximity.
  • Indian Social Club and its various regional, linguistic and sports wings actively promote Indian Culture in Oman, celebrating National Days, Festivals and Cultural diversity of India.
  • Yoga is quite popular in Oman specially among expatriates and local youth.

Strategic importance:

  • The Sultanate of Oman with a population of 2.9 million is crucial to India’s foreign policy pursuits in the Persian Gulf region which had its basis in the 1953 India-Oman Treaty of Friendship, Navigation and Commerce.
  • It was also the first of its kind between India and an Arab nation.
  • India’s strategic calculations is motivated by its critical maritime geographical location and its 1,200 miles long maritime boundary connecting it with the vital maritime routes that link it up with Europe.
  • At the same time, India’s role is pertinent to its food security which supplies wheat, rice, sugar and other food products to the Gulf nation.
  • The visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 12 February 2018 signified the strategic importance India accords to the Gulf nation which an integral component in its re-invented ‘Act West’ policy.
  • Oman has been an important interlocutor at Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Arab League and Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).

Defence ties:

  • The defence ties between India and Oman have emerged as a key pillar in the strategic partnership.
  • In 2005, Oman became first country in GCC to institute a robust defence and security cooperation mechanism with India which was renewed in 2016.
  • In 2010, Omani government announced its decision to purchase assault rifle INSAS namely Indian Small Arms Systems manufactured by Indian government owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) after it successfully passed the trial run and endurance tests for extreme temperatures. It therefore became the standard assault rifle for the Royal Omani Army.
  • India and Oman conduct regular tri-services exercises, anti-piracy missions to boost the maritime security in the region.
  • Bilateral joint air force exercise named Ex-Eastern Bridge-V.
  • Joint armed forces exercise Al Nagah.
  • Joint naval forces exercise Naseem al Bahr.

Indian Community in Oman:

  • There are about 7,70,000 Indians in Oman, of which about 6,55,000 are workers and professionals.
  • There are Indian families living in Oman for more than 150-200 years.
  • Thousands of Indians are working as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, teachers, lecturers, nurses, managers, etc.
  • The Basic Law of Oman recognizes the right to different forms of worship.
  • Indian Embassy receives good support from local authorities in delivery of services aimed at welfare of Indian community in Oman.

Death of Oman’s longest serving monarch:

  • Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the incumbent Sultan of Oman has died recently. He was the longest-serving leader in the Middle East and Arab world, at the time of his death and ruled for nearly five decades.
  • He was highly revered in Oman due to his developmental policies, foreign policy of independence and non-alignment in the sectarian gulf region.
  • His reign saw rise in living standards, infrastructural growth, abolition of slavery, end of the Dhofar Rebellion and promulgation of Oman’s constitution.
  • He has been succeeded by Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said as Sultan of Oman.

Change in regime on Oman:

  • Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq al Said is the new Sultan of Oman and has shares good experience and understanding of the ties between the nations.
  • The Sultan will be looking forward for continuation of Oman’s policy of friendship with other nations, non-intervention in the internal affairs, help diffuse the crisis in Gulf, and work tirelessly for peace and stability in the region.

Conclusion:

India should look forward to maintain the historical friendly ties between the nations, and work in synergy with the country for mutual benefit, regional stability and maritime security.

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