About Us India and Oman Bilateral Relations

INDIA-OMAN BILATERAL RELATIONS

India and Oman, maritime neighbors linked by geography, history and culture, enjoy close and friendly relations. Inspired by civilisational and historical links spanning over 5000 years, India and Oman have expanded their bilateral cooperation and exchanges since establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955, forging a mutually beneficial Strategic Partnership. India-Oman bilateral relations are anchored in their shared interests, mutual understanding and respect for each other’s priorities, concerns and sensitivities. Regular high-level visits and exchanges have been a key feature of this relationship. India remains committed to nurture and expand its strategic partnership with Oman through enhancing the existing cooperation and identifying new areas for bilateral, regional and global collaboration, with a view to meet the development aspirations for our two countries

POLITICAL RELATIONS

Visits at the highest level have been exchanged frequently between India and Oman. President Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma (1996) and Vice-President Shri Krishna Kant (1999) visited Oman. Four Prime Ministers have visited the Sultanate: Shri Rajiv Gandhi (1985), Shri P. V. Narasimha Rao (1993), Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998), Dr. Manmohan Singh (2008) and Shri Narendra Modi (2018). His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said visited India in 1997. His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, visited India in December 2007. 
During the State Visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to Oman on 11-12 February 2018, he met with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. Hon’ble PM also received H.H. Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers and H.H. SayyidAsa’d bin Tariq Al Said, Deputy Prime Minister for International Relations and Cooperation Affairs and Personal Representative of His Majesty the Sultan. Eight Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding were signed between India and Oman during the visit covering bilateral cooperation in Health, Tourism, Military Cooperation, visa exemption for diplomats/officials, legal and judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters, 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 peaceful uses of Outer Space.  Hon’ble PM also addressed India-Oman Business Meet of Omani CEOs.

Ministerial level visits have taken place regularly. H.E. Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, visited India in February 2014.  He again visited India in June 2014 for extending greetings to the new Government after general elections, thereby earning for Oman the distinction of being the first country in the world to have sent its Foreign Minister after assumption of power by the NDA Government in May 2014. He visited India on 2-3 April 2017 during which he held official level discussions with India’s External Affairs Minister and called on Vice President and Prime Minister. H.E. Dr. Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce & Industry visited India in October 2014 for the 7th session of Joint Commission Meeting. Minister of Oil and Gas of Oman visited India in April 2014.

From the Indian side, Smt. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India paid an official visit to Oman from 17-18 February 2015. Shri Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister of India visited Oman from 20-22 May 2016, during which, four MOUs/Protocol were signed which relating to defence and maritime security cooperation between the two countries. Shri M J Akbar, MOS for External Affairs visited Oman to attend the 5th India-Arab Partnership Conference, held in Muscat from 14-15 December 2016.  Dr. Mahesh Sharma, MOS (I/C) for Culture visited Oman on 10-12 December 2017 to participate in the Second UN World Tourism Organization/UNESCO World Conference on Tourism and Culture in Muscat. Shri Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation visited Oman on 16-17 July 2018 for co-chairing the 8th session of India-Oman Joint Commission Meeting and 9th session of India-Oman Joint Business Council alongwith H.E. Dr. Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

DEFENCE COOPERATION

India-Oman Defence cooperation has emerged as a key pillar of the strategic partnership between the two countries. There has been regular exchange of visits by Defence Ministers of both sides. India’s Defence Minister visited Oman from 20-22 May 2016 during which four MOUs/Protocol were signed. Over the past few years visits Defence Secretary, CNS and COAS to Oman with reciprocal visits to Indian by all three Omani Service Commanders, Secretary General of Defence etc. have also been witnessed. The Ministries of Defence of both countries review their relations annually under the aegis of Joint Military Cooperation Committee meeting. Both Air Force and Navy undertake staff talks on a regular basis which has been the catalyst for new areas of cooperation. A large number of Omani Military personnel regularly subscribe to numerous courses offered under the ITEC scheme. In addition, other than the Defence Subject Matter Expert Exchange that regularly takes place Indian Navy has been deploying mobile training teams in Oman on an annual basis for training of RNO personnel.

India and Oman conduct regular biennial bilateral exercises between all three services. The 2nd Army exercise ‘Al Najah’ concluded in Mar 2017 in Himachal Pradesh. The Air Force exercise ‘Eastern Bridge’ culminated in Jan 2017 at Jamnagar and next Naval Exercise is scheduled in Dec 2017 in Oman. Since 2008, Oman has been extending its support to Indian Navy’s anti-piracy missions and Indian Naval Ships are regularly welcomed by Oman for Over Seas Deployments. Royal Navy of Oman’s sailing vessel ‘Shabab Oman’ along with INS Tarangini participated in the joint sailing voyage from Muscat to Kochi in end Nov 2015 tracing the ancient trading routes between India and Oman. The joint sailing was to commemorate the 60th anniversary of India-Oman diplomatic ties. Indian Air Force and Indian Navy aircraft regularly utilize Omani Airports for refueling and operational turnaround. Constant and continues senior leadership engagements have facilitated greater bonds of friendship.

Agreements and Bilateral Cooperation mechanisms:

Key bilateral agreements/MoUs between India and Oman 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; Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection; Standards and Measures; Manpower; Maritime issues; Joint Investment Fund; and Cultural Cooperation.  There is 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. 

ECONOMIC & COMMERCIAL RELATIONS

India accords a high priority to expanding its economic and commercial ties with Oman. Institutional mechanisms like Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) and Joint Business Council (JBC) oversee economic cooperation between India and Oman. The 7th session of the JCM and the 8th JBC (coordinated by FICCI and OCCI) were held in New Delhi in October, 2014 along with Oman-India B2B Roadshows. The 8th session of the JCM and the 9th JBC were held in Muscat on 16-17 July 2018  co-chaired by Shri Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Civil Aviation, and H.E. Dr. Ali bin Masoud Al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce & Industry.

Bilateral trade and investment between India and Oman remain robust and buoyant. Bilateral trade rose by 3.6 per cent from US$ 3.8 billion in 2015-16 to US$ 4 billion in 2016-17. It further jumped by 67% to reach US$ 6.7 billion in 2017-18. Major items of India’s exports to Oman include mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances; articles of iron or steel; electrical machinery and equipment, textiles and garments, chemicals, tea, coffee, spices, cereals and meat products and seafood. Main items of India’s imports from Oman are include  fertilizers; mineral fuels, mineral oils and products of their distillation; bituminous substances; mineral waxes; aluminum and articles thereof; organic chemicals; salt; sulphur; earths and stone; plastering materials, lime and cement.

India-Oman Bilateral Trade in US$ Millions
(Source: http://commerce-app.gov.in/eidb/)


Financial Year

India’s Export to Oman

India’s Import from Oman

Total Trade

2013-14

2,812.27

2,951.18

5,763.45

2014-15

2,379.44

1,752.24

4,131.69

2015-16

2,190.89

1,673.00

3,863.86

2016-17

2,731.48

1,275.11

4,006.59

2017-18

2,439.46

4,264.29

6,703.76

Bilateral Investment:

Investment flows, both ways, have also been robust, as reflected in numerous joint ventures (JVs), established both in India and Oman. There are over 3200 Indian enterprises and establishments in Oman. Indian firms have invested heavily Oman in various sectors like iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, textile, cables, chemicals, automotive, etc. In Sohar, with an estimated total Indian investment of over US$2 billion in projects from Larsen and Toubro, Jindal Shadeed Iron & Steel, Indsil Ferrochrome, Metkore Alloys & Industries etc, Indian entities comprise the largest foreign investors. In Salalah, Indian investments are in manufacturing projects like TVS Chennai’s Dunes Oman LLC (automotive), GC Textile Corporation & Division (textile), Oswal Group’s Saltic FZCO (Chemicals), Hind Aluminium (Cables), Kailash Group’s guar processing unit, Indo-Oman Apparel, Nagarjuna Fertilizer plant etc. In Duqm Special Economic Zone also, an Indo-Oman JV Sebacic Oman is undertaking a US$ 1.2 billion (on completion) project for setting up the largest Sebacic acid plant in Middle-East. ‘Little India’ project in Duqm, worth US$ 748 million (on completion), has been signed.

In addition, L&T, Jindal, EPIL, ShapoorjiPallonji, Shriram, Aditya Birla Group, Nagarjuna Construction Company, Simplex, KEC International, etc.  are some of the well-known Indian companies which has been executing various projects in Oman. Indian firms have gained a reputation for excellence in sectors like construction and engineering, waste management, logistics, manufacturing, finance and capital, software solutions, communications, oil and gas etc. Indian financial institutions such as State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, HDFC Ltd and ICICI Securities and Public Sector Undertakings such as Air India, Air India Express, Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), New India Assurance Co., Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd. (TCIL), Engineers India Ltd.(EIL), Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) and National Building Construction Company (NBCC)  have presence in Oman.

Indian financial institutions such as State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, HDFC Ltd and ICICI Securities and Public Sector Undertakings such as Air India, Air India Express, Life Insurance Corporation(LIC), New India Assurance Co., Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd.(TCIL), Engineers India Ltd.(EIL), Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) and National Building Construction Company (NBCC) have presence in Oman. Indian companies have invested in Oman in sectors like iron and steel, cement, fertilizers, textile, cables, chemicals, automotive, etc. specially in Sohar and Salalah. 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 and the initial corpus of US$ 100 million has been fully utilized. OIJIF has raised another $ 220 million for the second tranche which is ready for investments. Oman India Fertilizer Company in Sur is a USD 969 million India-Oman joint venture in Oman between IFFCO and KRIBHCO of India and Oman Oil Company (OOC) for manufacturing of fertilizers.

Indian business delegations regularly visit Oman to participate in important trade exhibitions in Oman. During 2017-18, Indian various business delegations visited Muscat to participate in various exhibitions in Oman including Big Show, Infra Oman, COMEX IT exhibition, Oman Med-health, Food & Hospitality Oman, Fire & Safety Exhibition, Medical Travel exhibition (IMTEC), Mineral & Mining Exhibition (OMMEC), Omanplast, Interior Design and Décor Furnishing Exhibition, etc. Similarly, Omani business delegations also visit India to participate in exhibitions related to sectors like Health, Ceramics, IT and Electronics, etc.

To facilitate business matchmaking with Omani companies for the Indian delegations, the Embassy organized ten Business-to-business meetings in sectors like healthcare, infrastructure, construction, IT, minerals & mining, food & hospitality, ceramics, fire & safety etc. The Embassy also organized two India Business Forums and an ‘Invest in India’ Seminar.

ITEC: Oman has been optimally availing the allocated slots under the Indian Technical & Economic Cooperation (ITEC) Programme. For 2018-19, 125 slots have been allotted for Officials from Oman for training under ITEC.

CULTURAL COOPERATION

India and Oman have close cultural relations. The vibrant Indian expatriate community in Oman regularly hosts cultural performances and invites celebrity artistes and singers from India. First ever Festival of India in Oman was organized by Embassy of India, with the support of Ministry of Culture, India, during November 2016-March 2017. The Festival was inaugurated by Foreign Minister of Oman, H.E. Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.

To mark the celebration of 70 years of India’s Independence, the Embassy has been organizing a series of events, starting with a Special Reception on 15th August 2018, with special emphasis on the importance of 70 years of India’s freedom and highlight achievements of India during past seven decades. The Embassy has also already organized a number of events such as seminars, essay competitions, painting competitions, cultural performances (by cultural troupes sponsored by Ministry of Culture of India), musical performances, theatre festival, etc. Indian Social Club of Oman as well as Indian Schools in Oman have also been organising their own events also to mark India@70.

Around 5,000 persons, including Omanis, members of Indian community, members of other expatriate communities, Diplomatic Corps and students joined the yoga session to mark 4rd International Day of Yoga (IDY) held at Oman Convention and Exhibition Center on 21 June 2018. Yoga Sessions were also held in numerous other cities of Oman.  A series of Yoga session were also organized in run upto IDY 2018. IDY celebrations in 2016 and 2017 were participated by about 3,500 persons and 4,500 persons respectively. 

Air Links: Currently, Air India, Air India Express, Indigo, Spice Jet and Jet Airways alongwith Oman Air are operating flights between India and Oman. There are a total of more than 250 direct flights per week between Oman (Muscat and Salalah) and a dozen destinations in India.

Indian Community in Oman

There are about 800,000 Indians in Oman of which about 680,000 are workers including professionals. 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. A large number of Indian doctors work in Oman in Government hospitals and in clinics in the private sector.

Indian community in Oman is organized under the Indian Social clubs in Muscat, Salalah, Sohar and Sur. These clubs have a number of sub-groups called linguistic wings which cater to the cultural and social needs of their members, for example, Indian Social Club in Muscat has 25 linguistic wings catering to all social requirements of Indian community. There are 20 Indian schools offering CBSE syllabus catering to the educational needs of about 46,000 Indian children. The Board of Directors is responsible for managing of Indian Schools in Oman.

Outstanding contributions of Indians and People of Indian Origin in Oman to the strengthening of our bilateral relations have been recognized by the Government of India through PravasiBharatiyaSamman Awards. The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awardees from Oman are: Shri Kanaksi Khimji (2003), Dr. P. Mohamed Ali (2004), P.N.C. Menon (2009), S.K. Virmani (2010), Kiran Asher (2012) R.M Parakh (2015).

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September 2018

Useful Resources:
Embassy of India, Muscat website: http://www.indemb-oman.gov.in/ 
Embassy’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IndiaInOman/ 
Embassy’s Twitter Account: Indemb_Muscat
Embassy’s YouTube Channel: Indian Embassy Muscat