Visit of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, Sultan of Oman, to India, 2023

At the invitation of the President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, the Sultan of Oman, paid his maiden State Visit to India on 16 December 2023. His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi. Hon’ble President Smt. Droupadi Murmu hosted a banquet dinner in honor of His Majesty.

This visit is of special significance as it marks the Sultanate of Oman's Sultan's first visit to India in over 25 years since the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos' visit in 1997. His Majesty’s visit follows the visit of the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, to the Sultanate of Oman in February 2018.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik held closed consultations followed by delegation-level talks on 16 December 2023. The meetings were marked by great warmth and friendliness. The two Leaders expressed satisfaction at the excellent state of bilateral relations, which have stood the test of time, evolving into a strong and enduring partnership built on historical ties, mutual trust and respect, and shared interests.

The two Leaders noted with satisfaction the continued exchange of high- level visits, which have helped achieve progress in the various areas of cooperation. Both Leaders also held discussions on the entire gamut of bilateral cooperation, including political and security cooperation, defence, trade, energy security and renewables, healthcare, education, culture, and people-to-people relations.

His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik expressed his gratitude to India for extending an invitation to the Sultanate to participate in the G20 as a special guest country. He also appreciated India for the successful organization of the G20 Summit and two editions of the Voice of Global South Summit, acknowledging India's role in facilitating a platform for global cooperation and discussions on critical international issues. His Majesty commended India and Prime Minister Modi for the remarkable achievement of India’s G20 Presidency in bringing together and uniting countries with diverse worldviews and priorities to culminate in the adoption of the landmark New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration.

A Joint Vision document titled ‘A Partnership For the Future’ was adopted during the visit, encompassing a shared vision of the leadership of Oman and India. The Joint Vision acknowledges the remarkable synergy between Oman Vision 2040 and India's development objectives, under ‘Amrit Kaal’, affirming commitment to harnessing these complementarities for deepening the partnership between India and Oman. The document identifies a range of areas such as maritime cooperation and connectivity, energy security and green energy, space, technologies, and applications, digital payments and financial cooperation, trade and Investment, health, tourism and hospitality, IT & innovation, as well as agriculture and food security with specific action points as part of the future roadmap to deepen ties between both countries for implementation.

The Leaders expressed confidence that the Joint Vision document will act as a roadmap for strengthening bilateral cooperation in diverse areas and will scale up the India-Oman partnership to new heights.

Both Leaders noted with satisfaction the remarkable growth in the bilateral trade. Bilateral trade more than doubled from USD 5.4 billion in 2020-21 to USD 12.3 billion in 2022-23.

Both Leaders appreciated that negotiations on an India-Oman Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) have commenced and already achieved substantial progress. Both sides agreed to continue working closely in order to accelerate and conclude the negotiations. The agreement has the potential to catapult this partnership and achieve a higher growth trajectory that would align with the immense potential of this historically close bilateral relationship.

The Leaders appreciated the announcement of the 3rd tranche of the Oman-India Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF), noting its potential to galvanize investments from Oman and the Gulf region into the fastest growing sectors of the Indian economy.

Both Leaders welcomed the steady deepening of defence cooperation between the two countries, underscoring the need to further enhance mutual engagement in this field.

The two Leaders concurred on expanding cooperation in the field of space and expressed their appreciation for the recent bilateral interactions in this sector. They recognized the vast potential for collaboration in various areas, including remote sensing, satellite launch and communication, and the practical applications of space technology, underscoring the shared interest between India and Oman in these domains.

Both sides discussed cooperation in civil aviation and air connectivity. Omani side conveyed interest in working together for airspace and air traffic management system optimization for mutual benefit. Indian side conveyed its willingness to continue the ongoing discussions between the civil aviation authorities of both sides for a collaborative way forward.

Both Leaders acknowledged the importance of health cooperation and expressed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral collaboration in this important sector. They highlighted the potential for companies to explore future partnerships with their counterparts in manufacturing generic medicines. Additionally, the Leaders discussed the possibility of Oman becoming a central hub for Ayurveda in the Middle East, given the traditional Indian system of medicine's growing popularity in the region.

Both sides acknowledged that the centuries old people-to-people ties represent a fundamental pillar of the historic India-Oman relationship. The Indian side conveyed its appreciation to the Oman side for taking excellent care of the more than 700000 strong Indian diaspora residing in Oman. The Omani side expressed gratitude for the substantial Indian expatriate community, recognizing their continued and valuable contributions to Omani society and the economy.

Both sides committed to enhancing cultural cooperation by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on culture. This agreement will promote increased collaboration in cultural activities, including sharing artistic performances, exhibitions, and cultural events.

On the sidelines of the visit, an India-Oman Joint Commemorative Postage Stamp was released symbolizing the long-standing cultural and people-to-people relationship between the two countries. The Joint Postage Stamp depicts traditional folk dances, artfully showcasing the cultural heritage of India and Oman and will be cherished by both philatelists and art enthusiasts in both countries.

The Leaders recalled the long history of maritime trade between India and Oman, enabling the exchange of goods and ideas across millennia. They reflected on the significant role played by dhows in facilitating trade and cultural exchanges, contributing to a longstanding and enriching history of interaction between the Indian subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula, especially Oman. The Leaders appreciated a proposal by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, to recreate a maritime voyage of a stitched ship, crafted with ancient knowhow in India. The tentative plan is for the ship to sail from the port of Mandvi in Gujarat to Muscat sometime in 2025- 26 followed by further voyages to other regions. Both Leaders expressed confidence that such a voyage would spotlight the ancient and historical connections between India and Oman, thereby strengthening the bedrock of mutual trust and people-to-people ties between the two nations.

Both sides also expressed their commitment to enhancing tourism cooperation, sharing best practices in sustainable tourism, and exploring the potential for increased tourism flows between the two countries.

The two Leaders strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They agreed that there cannot be any justification for any act of terror for any reason whatsoever. They affirmed their commitment to enhancing cooperation to combat terrorism and underscored the significance of fostering the universal values of peace, moderation, coexistence, and tolerance while highlighting the imperative of renouncing all types of violent extremism.

Both Leaders also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest and concerns. Both sides expressed a strong commitment to support endeavors that promote peace and stability globally and in the region.

India and Oman emphasized the need for all countries to abide by international law, respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, and resolve conflicts peacefully through dialogue and diplomacy.

The following MoUs and Agreements were signed and exchanged during the visit:

1. MoU between the Government of the Republic of India represented by the Ministry Of Culture and the Government of the Sultanate of Oman represented by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth in the field of Culture

2. MoU between the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology of the Sultanate of Oman and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of the Republic of India in the field of Information Technology

3. MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and National Center for Financial Information (FNCI) on cooperation in the exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, associated predicate offences and terrorism financing.

4. Agreement between the Government of Sultanate of Oman and the Government of Republic of India concerning the Gainful Employment of Accompanying Persons of Official Employees.

5. MoU between Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Dhofar University on establishment of the ICCR Chair of Indian Studies- Hindi Language.

6. Heads of Terms for Investment in Oman India Joint Investment Fund (OIJIF-III) to be entered between Oman Investment Authority (OIA) and State Bank of India (SBI).

Both Leaders expressed their confidence in the ample scope for the further development of bilateral relations. His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the warm and generous hospitality of the Government and the people of India. His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik also extended a cordial invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit the Sultanate of Oman.