Oman-China Ties to rapidly expand after the COVID-19 Pandemic: Experts

Mohammad Al-Muqadam, Former Head of the History Department at Sultan Qaboos University, said that bilateral ties are strong due to several factors, including sound commercial ties nurtured by the ancient Silk Road.

Cooperation extends to politics, the economy, culture and elsewhere, especially within the framework of the Belt & Road Initiative.

The Omani Duqm Region, said Al-Muqadam, is a crucial point along the Belt & Road Initiative given its location on the Arabian Sea which is open to the Indian Ocean & Near International Shipping Lines.

Al-Muqadam said Oman benefited a lot from the initiative, including the 11 hectare “Chinese-Omani Park” in Duqm, 550 km south of the capital Muscat. Total Chinese investment in the project has reached 10.7 billion US dollars.

Member of the State Council Hatem Al-Taie told Xinhua that one of the most important characteristics of this project is the diversity in investments between petrochemicals, building materials, e-commerce, water desalination, cars, solar energy and tourism.

Park Win-Win Project

“Duqm overlooks the Arabian Sea, which is an operating base for Chinese companies near the export markets that they want to develop in the Gulf, the Indian subcontinent and East Africa. Duqm is also close to the maritime trade tracks and some places of raw materials that Chinese companies will need,” Al-Taie said.

Al-Muqadam said he believed that after the COVID-19 pandemic, China will continue to develop its relations with countries across the world, including Oman.

“This is because China succeeded in managing the COVID-19 crisis with great intelligence,” he said, pointing out how China offered assistance and humanitarian aid to countries.

“This gave China a lot of appreciation as a true ally and friend of these countries and as a trusted friend in a time of trouble,” Al-Muqadam said.

For Al-Muqadam, while Oman’s relations with China are historical, ties are set to become stronger, especially in trade.

The Belt & Road Initiative has witnessed major expansion across the globe, and dozens of Countries and International Organisations have joined in.

“We can say there was an ‘international agreement’ on the initiative, recognising its importance and the size of the benefits it would bring to the whole world, especially with China’s emphasis of the principle of ‘benefit for all,'” Al-Taie said.

“We all know that there are many Chinese investments in the countries of the Middle East region, including Oman. These are investments in capital, people, technology & expertise. Chinese companies play an important role in the fields of sustainability, modernisation of the regional economy and facilitating social stability in the countries of the region,” Al-Taie added.

Journalist Khalfan Al-Touqi, Editor-in-chief of the Aashiq Oman website, believes an important reason behind the success of the initiative is its convergence with the development visions of countries around the world.

Al-Touqi said that after the COVID-19 crisis the two countries could see strong growth in medicine and tourism.Oman-China

“The first flight from Oman to a foreign country during COVID-19 crisis was to China, specifically to Guangzhou, to bring in quantities of medical equipment that my country needs during this crisis. Then a number of other flights followed. This emphasises the depth and strength of relations between the two countries,” Al-Touqi said.