Dr. Said Mohammed Al-Saqri, Oman’s minister of economy, emphasized that economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate has witnessed significant progress over the past two years since the establishment of the coordination council between the two Gulf nations and the opening of the land border connecting them.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Saqri stated that the collaborative partnership between Saudi Arabia and Oman has experienced substantial growth, reflected in the volume of their non-oil trade.
In 2022, Omani non-oil exports to Saudi Arabia increased by approximately 33.9%, reaching around $2.4 billion, compared to about $1.68 billion in 2021.
Saudi Arabia accounted for 10.5% of Oman’s non-oil exports in 2022.
Al-Saqri further noted that Oman presents more investment opportunities for the Saudi private sector, particularly in the oil and gas sector, including exploration and production, support services, and oil and gas-related industries.
Additionally, there are strategic investment opportunities in the field of clean and renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy, as well as green hydrogen, aimed at promoting sustainable energy solutions and reducing carbon emissions.
When asked to assess economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Oman, Al-Saqri said: “Economic cooperation has witnessed significant advancement over the years. This cooperation has unfolded through a series of stages and agreements that reflect the depth of the relationship between the two nations.”
“The most pivotal milestones in the economic collaboration between Saudi Arabia and Oman include the establishment of the Saudi-Omani Coordination Council in July 2021.”
“This council aims to formulate a shared vision for deepening and sustaining the bilateral ties while elevating cooperation in political, economic, security, military, and human development domains,” explained Al-Saqri.
The minister added that the council also sets the framework for agreements and joint projects to enhance investment and oversee the implementation and facilitation of initiatives and projects.
The council has played a pivotal role in accelerating the pace of economic and trade cooperation between the Kingdom and the Sultanate.
The council is grounded in the common factors between Oman’s Vision 2040 and Saudi Vision 2030.
While looking to diversify the two countries’ economies, the two visions promote reducing reliance on oil and creating conditions conducive to greater private sector and investor involvement in economic activities.
Additionally, they seek to attract foreign direct investments and capital as key drivers for sustainable economic growth.
As for cooperation projects between Saudi Arabia and Oman, Al-Saqri said: “They have collaborated extensively in the oil and gas sector, embarking on joint projects and exchanging experiences and expertise.”
“As two of the region's most significant oil and gas producers and exporters, this partnership holds great significance. Furthermore, both nations have actively encouraged mutual investments across various vital economic sectors, including infrastructure, manufacturing, technology, and tourism,” added the minister.
Numerous agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed between the public and private sectors of both the Kingdom and the Sultanate, aiming to broaden the horizons of cooperation.
The agreements encompass a wide range of areas and aim to reduce production and export costs, thereby enhancing sustainable economic growth in the two nations.
Regarding setting up a Saudi-funded company in Oman, Al-Saqri referred to the allocation of $5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), under the directives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, to establish a company in Oman for the purpose of investing in available and promising opportunities and strategic joint projects between the two countries.
Al-Saqri moved on to note that the allocation “resulted in numerous joint economic projects being realized, spanning a wide range of economic sectors, including oil, gas, industry, infrastructure, and tourism.”
“The strong collaborative ties between Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have significantly boosted the volume of trade between the two nations,” affirmed Al-Saqri.
“Available data indicates a substantial increase in Oman's non-oil exports to Saudi Arabia in 2022, rising by approximately 33.9% to reach around 922 million Omani rials ($2.4 billion), compared to about 650 million Omani rials ($1.68 billion) in 2021.”
“Consequently, Saudi Arabia holds the second position, accounting for 10.5% of Oman’s non-oil exports in 2022.”
“Moreover, imports from Saudi Arabia to Oman increased by about 12% in 2022, reaching approximately 1.8 billion Omani rials ($4.6 billion), compared to about 561 million Omani rials ($1.45 billion) in 2021.”
It is expected that the acceleration and expansion of trade between the two countries will continue through joint strategic projects and increased investment opportunities.
According to Al-Saqri, this includes the launch of more collaborative projects and mutual investments in diverse sectors, especially following the opening of the land route directly connecting Oman to Saudi Arabia.
Talking about opportunities that Oman offers to Saudi investors, Al-Saqri said: “Oman’s investment environment is characterized as encouraging and attractive to foreign investments in general, thanks to its strategic location, economic, political, and security stability, a clear and transparent legal and institutional framework, advanced infrastructure, and simplified procedures and incentives for investment and business.”
“All these factors make Oman a reliable and ideal investment destination, especially given the abundance of investment opportunities for investors in general and Saudi investors in particular,” he added.
Delving into energy sector investment opportunities, the Omani minister said that one of the most significant investment opportunities is provided by the oil and gas sector, offering vital prospects in areas such as oil and gas exploration and production, support services, and oil and gas-related industries for the petroleum sector.
“Additionally, there are strategic investment opportunities in the field of clean and renewable energy, such as solar and wind energy, as well as green hydrogen,” said Al-Saqri.
Opportunities mentioned by the minister aim to promote sustainable energy solutions and reduce carbon emissions.