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President-elect Ebrahim Raeisi rang Oman’s Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said on 24 July and indicated that he sees Muscat as a critical go-between for Iran’s relations with the wider world. The two men exchanged Eid Al-Adha greetings as they reviewed bilateral relations.

Oman | Qatar
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GSN Risk Grade – B↓3 Overview Politics: Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Bin Taimur Al-Said was named ruler in January 2020, succeeding the late Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said as the 15th ruler of the Al-Busaidi dynasty (founded in 1750). Qaboos was a monumental figure who, having deposed his father in 1970, had led Oman since 1970.

Oman
Issue 1130 - 15 July 2021

Oman: First LPG exports leave Salalah

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State-owned OQ announced the first export shipment of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) from the Oman Gas Company terminal in the Port of Salalah on 30 June, with 5,000 tonnes each of propane and butane heading to customers in India.

Oman
Issue 1130 - 15 July 2021

Oman/Saudi Arabia: Road to somewhere

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 The Ramlat Khelah border crossing could prove a significant development. Customs and immigration facilities and a road linking the frontier to the Omani highway network at Ibri have been ready for some time. However, delays have been caused on the Saudi side by the technical difficulties of building a road through the Empty Quarter’s shifting sands. As of 7 July, the road on the Saudi side appears to have been completed, albeit buried in sand on some sections, but tarmac has not yet been laid on a 300-metre stretch straddling the border.

Saudi Arabia | Oman
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The merger of Saudi banks Samba Capital and National Commercial Bank (NCB) was formally completed on 11 July, with Samba rolled into NCB and the enlarged group adopting the new name of Saudi National Bank.

Saudi Arabia | Oman | Qatar
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Crown princes Mohammed Bin Salman and Mohammed Bin Zayed were once close partners but appear now to be competing as much as co-operating. In contrast, Qatar and Oman have been moving closer to a Saudi leadership keen to develop a better international reputation. This feeds into Muscat’s approach to Yemen, where Sultan Haitham has sought to guard Omani security via direct talks with the Houthis.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Bahrain | Oman | Qatar
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Both Saudi Arabia and Oman seemed keen to play up the significance of Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said’s visit to Neom, although for now the bilateral relationship is still mostly defined by the future potential gains that could accrue to both sides. Sultan Haitham arrived at Neom Bay Airport on 11 July on his first trip abroad since taking office in January 2020.

Saudi Arabia | Oman
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The visit by Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al-Said to Saudi Arabia has focused attention once again on the role the sultanate could play in bringing the Yemen war to an end. Oman has long positioned itself as a neutral player, hosting Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abd Al-Salam in Muscat and regularly receiving international delegations. Dozens of Yemeni tribal leaders and businessmen base in the sultanate and Iranian officials like foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif often meet Houthi representatives in Muscat.

Yemen | Oman
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The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion announced on 23 June it will start offering long-term residence visas to foreign investors, following the lead taken by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. 

Oman
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Extensive contacts between Saudi Arabia, Oman and Yemen have prompted renewed speculation about the role Muscat may be playing in persuading the Houthis to sign a peace deal with Riyadh, bringing an end to their destructive conflict.

Saudi Arabia | Yemen | Oman
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Sultan Haitham has adopted the same tactics as his predecessor in response to protests by unemployed locals that began in Sohar and spread nationwide. Muscat is offering short-term carrots, while security forces wield sticks, but despite Haitham’s reform commitments there is little sign of long-term answers providing an antidote to protesters’ complaints.

Oman
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Gulf airlines and the world’s two main plane-makers Airbus and The Boeing Company find themselves increasingly at odds over the terms of new deliveries, in a sign of the continued pressures facing the aviation sector. While the Gulf market has been a lucrative one for the two manufacturers in recent decades – as new low-cost airlines emerged and the major carriers refreshed and expanded their fleets – the coronavirus pandemic and a slow recovery is leading to orders being cancelled or deferred – and mysterious disputes emerging.

Bahrain | Oman | United Arab Emirates (UAE) | Qatar
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Government plans for the procurement of two utility-scale solar projects are still on track, but implementation and commercial operation timelines are expected to be delayed by a year, the Oman Daily Observer reported on 13 May, quoting offtaker Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP)’s parent company Nama Group.

Oman
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Oman could revive plans to import Iranian gas via a subsea pipeline, provided the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal is reinstated, oil and gas minister Mohammed Al-Rumhy told S&P Global Platts on 17 May.

Oman
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The latest Israeli-Palestinian flare-up is an all-too familiar expression of scarcely bottled-up frustrations in the West Bank and Gaza, which the aggressive departure from any two-state solution by Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his allies has exacerbated (GSN 1,097/1). GSN’s analysis of social media shows that, in the era of the Abraham Accords (GSN 1,109/1), the crisis – which began in the Jerusalem suburb of Sheikh Jarrah and spread more widely before focusing on Gaza and then, on 18 May, triggering mass protests on the West Bank – has exposed new rifts in attitudes. The ‘Arab street’ hasn’t disappeared – it has gone online.

Bahrain | Israel | Kuwait | Saudi Arabia | Oman | Qatar