On the sidelines of Expo 2020 in Dubai, the Oman-United Arab Emirates Economic Forum was held, with the aim of enhancing investment and economic cooperation between the two countries, as well as exploring the various opportunities for strengthening trade relations to achieve mutual benefits.
"The Forum is an opportunity to discover more areas of partnership and cooperation," said Qais al-Yousef, Oman's Minister of Commerce and Industry, during the opening of the Forum. "We hope to open wider prospects for economic integration, investment cooperation and growing bilateral trade," he added. Both the Omani and Emirati business sectors stressed that the forum "aims primarily to strengthen joint cooperation frameworks and discuss investment opportunities in target sectors of economic viability and increase the volume of trade".
Primarily, the Economic Forum focused on developing business partnership in sectors such as innovation, renewable energy, water solutions, financial services, logistics support, construction, real estate and entrepreneurship. During the Forum, bilateral meetings were held between major Omani and Emirati multinationals to discuss opportunities for joint cooperation and business facilitation.
Oman, at the meeting, highlighted its "Invest in Oman" programme for the encouragement of foreign entrepreneurs and investors in various economic sectors, industrial cities, etc. In fact, they are engaged in seeking to adopt public-private partnerships. "The private sector plays a vital role in economic development and depends on it to achieve economic diversification trends," said Al-Saleh, president of the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "Oman is working to create potential and strengths to encourage domestic and foreign investment, especially in sectors aimed at economic diversification, namely manufacturing, logistics, mining, tourism and fisheries," he said.
The Economic Forum was preceded by a meeting between Al-Yousef and Thani bin Ahmed Alzeyoud, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, to discuss ways to enhance the prospects of trade and investment cooperation between the two nations. "Existing partnerships have reflected positively on the business sector of the two countries, particularly in the areas of tourism, promotion of national products between the two countries and exchange of experiences," said Abdullah Mohamed al-Mazrouei, president of the UAE Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
Oman accounts for 20 % of total Emirati foreign trade. "We are working to strengthen investment in Oman in specific sectors," said Redha al-Saleh. The UAE believes that the difficult Omani financial and economic situation is one of the main drivers for Muscat to support partnerships with its neighbouring country, and to develop a number of plans, thanks to long-standing cooperation in a number of areas.
Omani officials are fully convinced that their nation "will be one of the UAE's most important economic partners alongside Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and therefore believe that maximum capacity should be made to increase investment rates and increase the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries". Direct investments between the countries have increased by more than $4.2 billion, as well as increasing Emirati investment indicators in Oman by more than $1.5 billion.
Oman continues to work on the issue of economic integration to strengthen relations between neighbouring countries, especially in investment development in all existing areas, as this is one of the main Omani ambitions, as well as bilateral trade partnerships, allowing them to boost their economic growth. In the meantime, it continues to face the consequences of the collapse in oil prices and the impact of the pandemic.