Economic cooperation is the only way to develop relations between various countries of the world. These ties have more mutual interests than cultural, social, ideological, and historical relations.
Today, the world is passing through a phase of successive developments which require that economic relations should be given priority. The geographical distance should not come in the way of such cooperation. When the two countries are geographically closer to each other, the cooperation between them can be more dynamic and fruitful.
The economic relations between the Sultanate of Oman and Saudi Arabia are an example. Due their geographic proximity to each other the road is already paved for massive economic activities including trade and investments. This will address the aspirations of the people of Oman and Saudi Arabia.
Whenever differences have surfaced between nations, mutual economic interests have come forward to bring them together on the path of cooperation. This has already been realised by the world. The leaderships of Oman and Saudi Arabia also realise the potential of the economic ties. His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik and King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia met to discuss the relations between the two countries, gave clear indications that they have mutual interests in economic ties.
The setting up of the Economic Coordination Council to look after the activities of mutual interests in the area is a clear indication that the two neighbouring countries have embarked on the path which can ensure a more prosperous future for the people of the two countries. The council would keep an eye on the ongoing economic cooperation, find more avenues for it and further strengthen the relations in the area. Oman and Saudi already have economic relations which have been growing continuously. By the end of 2020, there was investment of around RO 188 million by 1,079 Saudi companies.
There is also a healthy bilateral trade between Oman and Saudi Arabia and the volume of trade has reached 11.54 billion Saudi riyal in 2020 from 4.6 billion Saudi riyal in 2010. The statistics show that the annual growth rate of Saudi imports to Oman in five years between 2016 and 2020 was 6.94 per cent, while Omani exports to Saudi Arabia during the same period has increased 7.4 per cent. The Saudi imports to Oman recorded a growth of 16.6 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019.
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion of the Sultanate of Oman has offered 150 opportunities to Saudi investors. These avenues are expected to attract around RO 1.5 billion. Perhaps it is an important starting point for the investments which will be required in the future. Along with these opportunities, all facilities will also be available and setting up of economic zones would also open more avenues.
We should not ignore the direct road link between Oman and Saudi Arabia which can contribute to the strengthening of bilateral economic activities. This will shorten the distance and bring the two countries closer to 800 km from existing 1,638 km. This will increase trade between the two countries and open more active horizons of economic cooperation.
Saudi Arabia is economically the biggest country of West Asia. It has diverse economic activities. Its Vision 2030 is the same as Oman’s Vision 2040. Both the countries are on the path of diversification of their economies which can also show some more areas of cooperation.
His Majesty Sultan Haitham's official visit to Saudi Arabia and the agreements which were signed during the visit have opened more prospects. Now, the ball is in the courts of both the public and private sectors that how they use the opportunity which have been put forward.
We expect that in the future, economic cooperation will be the focus. This is the only area which has mutual interests and a similar objective of making the lives of the people more prosperous.