Oman’s Sultan visits Saudi Arabia on first overseas trip | Oman News

Discussions are scheduled to focus on the Yemen war and economic and investment cooperation between Oman and Saudi Arabia.

The Sultan of Oman visited Saudi Arabia on Sunday during his first official overseas trip since taking office last year, with talks scheduled to focus on the Yemen war and economic cooperation and investment while Muscat seeks to support its finances.

Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, whose country has joined the United Nations-led efforts to secure a peace initiative in Yemen, arrived in the Red Sea city of Neom for a two-day visit.

He was welcomed by Saudi King Salman – in what Saudi media said was the first face-to-face meeting of the 85-year-old monarch since the coronavirus pandemic began – and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman .

The sultan recently faced his biggest challenge with it events against unemployment in the debt-laden country, which pursues large-scale reforms and austerity measures.

The Saudi cabinet has authorized officials to prepare and sign draft agreements with Oman in fields including trade, culture, investment promotion and mail and transportation, Bloomberg said.

Saudi Arabia and Oman will establish a joint council to monitor several agreements, Oman’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi told Saudi property newspaper Asharq Alawsat on Saturday.

He said the opening of a new delayed road linking the two Gulf states will facilitate logistics and other infrastructure projects.

“There has been a lot of work behind the scenes to try to build the foundations of something much more significant between the Saudis and the Omani,” said Bloomberg’s Ayham Kamel, head of the Middle East and Africa team. of the North in the political risk consultancy Eurasia Group. . “Sultan Haitham is considered in Riyadh as leaning towards Saudi Arabia in terms of Gulf affairs.”

Oman stretches

Since the fall in oil prices in 2014, Oman’s debt-to-GDP ratio has jumped from about 15 percent in 2015 to 80 percent last year, while Oman’s plans to diversify revenues away from oil and reduce spending on its inflated public sector have slowed. progress.

Oman is one of the financially weakest among Gulf oil producers, but has long played the role of facilitator in efforts to resolve regional conflicts because of its neutral foreign policy.

Translation: Smile for a beautiful future Wishing all the best to both nations and the wider region. Stability, development and prosperity. We are optimistic.

Relations between Oman and Saudi Arabia have always been fresh despite their common border. Saudi officials were alert to Oman’s cordial ties with Iran, which Riyadh considers a regional threat.

Omani officials have cultivated a careful neutrality in the region – which has seen rivalry being fought between Riyadh and Tehran. Muscat has also been alerted to the undue influence from his larger neighbor.

But the death last year of human sultan Qaboos bin Said, who ruled for fifty years, opened up an opportunity for change.

The sultanate, which shares borders with Yemen, has intensified diplomatic efforts to ensure a ceasefire between the Yemeni-linked Houthi movement linked to Iran by Yemen and the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the group for more than six years. .

Discussions between the coalition and the Houthis are focused on steps to lift a blockade on ports held by Houthi and Sanaa airport in exchange for a promise by the group aligned with Iran for truce talks.

The coalition intervened in Yemen in March 2015 after Houthis ousted the internationally recognized government from the capital, Sanaa and swathes of territory in the north of the country. The war has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

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