MUSCAT: Tobias Ellwood, UK State Secretary for Middle East and Africa, Head of the British side in the Omani-British Joint Action Group, valued the efforts being exerted by the Sultanate under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in containing crises in the region to maintain security and stability. In an exclusive interview with Oman News Agency (ONA), he expressed gratitude and appreciation of the British government for the Sultanate’s sincere efforts in this regard.
He affirmed that the Sultanate does not only concern about its security, but it also exerts efforts to maintain the security in the region and its countries by bringing conflicting parties to the table. During his interview with ONA, the UK official commended the growing bilateral relations between the two friendly countries in many areas, affirming that his visit to the Sultanate stems from the keenness of the British government to enhance and promote these relations in the tourism, education, defence and security fields, particularly the aspects of cooperation in trade and investment areas.
Tobias Ellwood (pictured) said that his country leads the foreign investment in the Sultanate through investments worth £6 billion. The British official spoke of the economic agreements and partnerships signed between the two sides, such as Khazan project, signed between BP and the Sultanate’s government and partnership between the British Babcock International Group and Oman Dry Dock Company.
He affirmed that these investments and partnerships reflect the keenness of the British government to enhance trade and economic cooperation with the Sultanate. “They also reflect the confidence of the British companies on investment environment in the Sultanate,” he added.
He also spoke about the Omani-British Joint Action Group, which meets once every six months to highlight cooperation between the two sides in various fields. Regarding electronic visa waiver (EVW), he said that the second phase of EVW is in progress as the joint action group touched on means of impeding obstacles facing the Omanis while applying for EVW.
As far as Brexit is concerned, Tobias Ellwood said that this is an opportunity for the UK to reconsider its relations with European Union (EU) countries. “It is also an opportunity to strike more deals with strategic partners and allies,” he added. It should be noted that the Omani-British Joint Working Group was formed as per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the two countries during the visit of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom (UK) of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Sultanate in November 2010. — ONA