On behalf of the Government and people of India, I extend heartiest felicitations and best wishes to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said as well as the Government and people of Oman on the joyous occasion of the National Day of the Sultanate of Oman. India and Oman have always enjoyed very close and friendly relations. We are maritime neighbours linked by geography, history and culture. Our civilisational and historical links span over 5000 years. In recent years, under the wise leadership and guidance of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, our relations have evolved into a strategic partnership. The visit of Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi in February this year has imparted a fresh momentum to IndiaOman partnership. Eight Agreements/ Mous were signed during the visit to pursue cooperation in various fields including Defence, Space, Tourism and Health. Both sides agreed to develop cooperation in other new areas such as cyber security, energy security, renewable energy and food security. India accords high priority to expanding its economic and commercial ties with Oman. Given the strong people-to-people connect as well as air and maritime connectivity, there is potential to elevate the level of economic engagement. The India-oman Joint Commission Meeting in July 2018, co-chaired by Commerce and Industry Ministers of the two countries, undertook a comprehensive review of the existing level of economic and commercial cooperation and explored means of expanding it. Bilateral trade and investment between India and Oman remain robust and buoyant. Bilateral trade rose by 67 per cent to reach $ 6.7 billion in 2017-18 (AprilMarch). Investments in more than 3000
Indo-omani business establishments have reached $ 7.5 billion in 2017-18.
There is significant scope for enhancing mutual engagement and cooperation in sectors like food security, power (including renewable energy), minerals and mining, agriculture, IT & IT enabled Services, pharmaceuticals, health-care, etc. India can be a reliable partner for Oman’s national programme for economic diversification. Similarly, we view Oman as a priority partner for many of our flagship programmes.
India is also ready to share its experience with Oman in skill development of youth and development of small and medium enterprises. India has been contributing to human resource development of Oman through providing professional training under its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme.
India and Oman have been cooperating on security matters, including counterterrorism. Both countries also have robust defence cooperation, which is a key pillar of our strategic partnership. The three wings of the Armed Forces hold staff talks and advanced joint exercises with each other. We are happy that HE Sayyid Badr Saud Harib Al Busaidi, Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs of Oman, paid an official visit to India in September 2018 which provided an opportunity to review the progress in defence cooperation between the two countries.
India and Oman have close cultural relations. Affirming the support of Government of Oman, HE Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of Oman, had inaugurated the First ever Festival of India in Oman during November 2016-March 2017. Popularity of Yoga has been rising, as reflected in increasing participation in celebration of International Day of Yoga on June 21 every year.
The Indian diaspora in Oman has played a critical role in cementing the relationship between our two countries. It has also made a significant contribution to the economic progress of Oman. We deeply appreciate the warm hospitality accorded by the Government of Oman under the leadership of His Majesty to the Indian diaspora. There are about 800,000 Indians in Oman. The large, diverse and highly regarded expatriate Indian community in Oman is spread over the entire spectrum of professions. Thousands of Indians are working as doctors, engineers, chartered accountants, teachers, lecturers, nurses, managers, etc. The vibrant Indian community in Oman regularly organises cultural programmes and invites artistes and singers from India.
A notable feature of people-to-people contacts between India and Oman in recent times has been the increasing tourist flow to ‘Incredible India’ from Oman. In recent years, India has emerged as a coveted destination for Omanis for tourism, including medical tourism. Indian tourists are also travelling in larger numbers to enjoy the scenic beauties and warm hospitality of Oman. The two countries are well connected by 260 weekly flights directly linking eleven destinations in India with Oman.
India remains committed to further strengthening and expanding its strategic partnership with Oman and looks forward to working with all stakeholders to pursue this shared objective.