His Majesty the Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik. Photo courtesy of the embassy
On November 18, the Sultanate of Oman marks its 50th National Day anniversary under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham Bin Tarik, who was chosen by the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Bin Taimour, as the Sultan of Oman, due to (what the late Sultan perceived as) traits that qualified him to shoulder the responsibility. And January 11 was a virtually unforgettable day in Omani history, as the Sultanate surprised the whole world with a smooth transition of power.
Within a short span of ten months, His Majesty Sultan Haitham was able to make many achievements. He restructured the State’s Administrative Apparatus to keep pace with Oman Vision 2040 which were drawn out by all segments of society under his patronage, and the participants determined the future goals and economic, social and cultural approaches for a more verdant phase of development.
His Majesty the Sultan’s attention to the people was crystalised in the way he tackled the coronavirus pandemic by giving an order to form a Supreme Committee to find scopes to deal with the virus.
The Committee, headed by Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al-Busaidi, Minister of Interior, has embarked on implementing the Royal directives of His Majesty the Sultan, who said the government “in its mandate to protect the health of citizens and residents, will spare no effort in combating the pandemic and curbing its spread”.
In view of the heavy toll on the global economy from COVID-19 and its repercussions that reflected in the Sultanate, His Majesty Sultan Haitham gave orders to form an economic committee, an offshoot of the Supreme COVID-19 Control Committee, to deal with the economic impacts on the domestic front. Accordingly, a number of decisions were taken and resulted in the Government offering packages and incentives to private sector establishments and firms.
His Majesty Sultan Haitham has reaffirmed the permanent stance of the Sultanate’s foreign policy, saying the Sultanate advocated peaceful co-existence among nations, good neighbourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, using dialogue as a means for solving disputes, while supporting values of tolerance, justice equality and the settlement of conflicts in accordance with the UN charter and rules of international law.
This has enhanced the Sultanate’s regional and international status and made it a lighthouse of peace and security. His Majesty the Sultan also stressed that he would follow in the footsteps of the late Sultan Qaboos Bin Said bin Taimour.
Economy… Oman Vision 2040
The Oman Economic Vision, scheduled to be implemented upon the start of the 10th Five Year Plan in January 2021, meets with serious challenges, including the slump in international oil prices and the global spread of COVID-19.
These challenges prompted the government to undertake stringent measures, including a Medium-Term Fiscal Balance Plan (2020-2024) which features many initiatives and programmes aimed at establishing solid foundations for financial sustainability.
These include reducing general debt, upgrading the efficiency of government spending, enhancing the State’s financial reserves, improving revenues from government investment (to help the country deal with any challenges) and, thus, setting economic growth upright.
The Ministry of Finance has also cut budgets for government units by 5 per cent, while downsizing operational budgets and financial plans of government firms by at least 10 per cent, among other measures.
The aggregate revenues of the 2020 budget stood at RO10.7 billion calculated at a rate of US$58 per barrel, while general expenditure was estimated at RO13.2 billion, which entails an estimated deficit of about RO 2.5 billion, or 8 per cent of the GDP.
Their laws and incentives related to investment helped furnish an attractive climate for investments from home and abroad. These include the Foreign Capital Investment Law.
The government has capitalised on investment in Omani ports, particularly the Port of Sohar and the Port of Salalah, in addition to special economic zones (like the Special Economic Zone in Duqm and the Port of Duqm).
The tourism sector also forms one of the basic pillars of economic diversification. The government has devised clear-cut strategies to maximise benefits from investment in the tourism sector.
Al Duqm Drydock in Oman. Photo courtesy of the embassy
Oman-Việt Nam relations were established in 1992, followed by the establishment of the Oman-Vietnam Joint venture Investment Company (VOI) in 2008.
Oman’s embassy in Hà Nội opened in 2010, and during 28 years of diplomatic relations, the two countries signed seven bilateral co-operation agreements and two memoranda of understanding in the fields of aviation, trade and investment, double taxation avoidance, oil and gas, agriculture, labour and a joint council of business.
These mechanisms provide a legal framework to develop and strengthen bilateral relations now and in the future, contributing to the investments of VOI which have reached $250 million in the fields of health, services, agriculture, energy, education, highways, logistics and water supplies, and increased the volume of bilateral trade by 122 per cent, with a value of $200 million dollars annually, and it is expected to be doubled in future after opening direct flights and operating direct shipping lines between the two countries.
The two countries could also expand their co-operation to many other fields such as ports, technology, agriculture and fisheries with high technology, training and investments in free economic zones and logistics, with experiences in the maritime economy, by taking advantage of the strategic locations of both countries, and in line with the sustainable development plans of Oman and Việt Nam.
Oman and Việt Nam hope that the efforts of the two countries' leaders will bear fruit in strengthening bilateral cooperation in all political, economic and cultural fields, in order to achieve the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of the two friendly countries. VNS