Oman provides India strategic depth in West Asia and Eastern African region

India is increasing its presence with significant interest in Oman by creating a footprint in the Gulf Cooperation Council and Eastern Africa and this has given Delhi strategic depth in the region.

“Oman’s Sea ports and Industrial hubs established along its 1700 kilometers of its sea coast on the Indian Ocean makes it one of the most ideal area for international businesses to make a home. The Sultanate of Oman offers 4 sea ports and an equal number of industrial free zones all facing the Indian Ocean and Indian private and public sectors are increasingly increasing their footfall in the country,” Oman’s Ambassador to India Sheikh Hamad Bin Saif Al Rawahi told.

Prime Minister Narinder Modi’s visit to the Sultanate of Oman in 2018 initiated a new energy in bilateral relations with enhanced cooperation in trade and investment, energy, defence, security, food security and regional issues, according to Al Rawahi.
“The Industrial Zones at Oman’s Duqm offer 30 years corporate tax exemption, 0% customs duty, 100% foreign ownership, usufruct agreements, 50 years renewable , no restrictions on repatriation of profits , no income tax, currency exchange freedom and a stable currency rate. These Sea Ports are supported with airports and warehousing facilities for the benefit of the entrepreneurs,” the Ambassador said as his country celebrates 49th National Day anniversary on Monday.
Port of Duqm SEZ, which is earmarked to be the Indian Oceans largest deep sea port where an Indo-Oman Joint Venture, Sebacic Oman is undertaking a $ 1.2 billion project for setting up the largest Sebacic acid plant in Middle-East. A ‘Little India’ integrated tourism complex project in Duqm, worth $ 748 million, has been signed between the two countries.
“Some of the established industrial enterprises in Port of Sohar, with an estimated total Indian investment of over $2 billion, Indian entities comprise the largest foreign investors. Oman India Fertilizer Company in Sur is a $ 969 million India-Oman joint venture in Oman between IFFCO and KRIBHCO of India and Oman Oil Company (OOC) for manufacturing of fertilizers.plant produces all the UREA exclusively for Indian farmers. Port of Salalah, Indian investments are in manufacturing of automotive parts, textiles, cables, guar gum, etc. All these ports .
are a mere 5 days shipping time from western Indian Sea Ports,” informed Al Rawahi.
Oman too has invested substantially in India and some of the recent investments are– India-Oman Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), a JV between State Bank of India and State General Reserve Fund (SGRF) of Oman, a special purpose vehicle to invest in India, has been operational. Bharat Oman Refineries BORL the Oman India Joint venture is a US$ 1.2 billion dollar investment in India.

Way back in 1994 Oman banks financed vaccine production startup facility Shantha Biotechnics the first Indian company to develop, manufacture and market recombination human healthcare products. The startup was wholly funded by Oman banks with significant share holding by Oman investors. It was a major breakthrough in international vaccine pricing and supply to poor countries worldwide. Today the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sanofi group of France. “Many such enterprises involving the Omani private sector in India flourish today. India’s strategic engagements with the Gulf have witnessed a significant increase under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi who has taken a keen interest in foreign policy and has invested significant diplomatic effort in the Middle East,” the Ambassador pointed out.
Between Oman and India Investment flows both ways have increased and have been robust, as reflected in numerous joint ventures , established both in India and Oman with estimated total investment of around $ 7.5 billion. There are over 3200 Indian enterprises and establishments in Oman and 400 flights a week between the two countries offering innumerable opportunities in a congenial environment this is reflected with the number of Indians living in Oman. There are about 8,00,000 Indians in Oman, With 20 Indian schools catering to the educational needs of over 46,000 Indian children.

“Oman is an important regional player, Despite being part of the GCC it has for long maintained an independent foreign policy and has been able to successfully project itself as a mediator in regional disputes. Under the dynamic leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qabioos Bin Sad Al Said, Muscat was instrumental in facilitating negotiations between the US and Iran during the Obama administration which eventually led to the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and the P5+1. Oman’s ability to mediate disputes among the Arab Gulf countries had come to the fore during the diplomatic row between Qatar and others in 2014 and its absence in 2017 had said to have complicated the matters. In the past, Muscat has played the mediator between Iran and the Arab Gulf countries as it maintains relations with Iran and has kept the diplomatic channels open,” explained the Ambassador.