With the demise of Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, the president of the UAE, who ruled the Emirates for about 18 years, the Gulf and Middle East region lost a visionary leader and statesman.
The news was received with sorrow, grief and genuine sadness by the world.
A leader with great achievements, Shaikh Khalifa was a man of honour. He believed in developing peaceful ties with countries all over the world, including neighbours while emphasising the need to follow international law.
As a UN spokesman described, Shaikh Khalifa was a ruler who led the Emirates through a significant period of development, marked by great economic advances and a surge in its regional and global influence.
While he focused on the need for restructuring in his country, not just in terms of governance but also in terms of society and nationalism, Shaikh Khalifa continued to ensure that the country pursued an active foreign policy. He believed in developing peaceful ties with countries all over the world, including his neighbours, and upholding international law.
The Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates, throughout his period of reign maintained solid social, economic and cultural relations.
Declaring three days of national mourning, His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik said: “The Sultanate of Oman shares the grief of the leadership, government and people of the brotherly United Arab Emirates in their great affliction.”
Relations between the UAE and the Sultanate of Oman have, over the years, witnessed very positive growth in all areas, making them a model of cooperation and friendship. The relationship has been marked by tremendous changes and rapid developments.
On the demise of Sultan Qaboos, Shaikh Khalifa had said, “Today, we mourn an exceptional leader who was one of the most prominent leaders of the Arab and Islamic world. He spared his life for serving his loyal people.”
Regular exchange of visits by the leaders of the two countries has immensely contributed to the deep mutual understanding between them.
The visits have been within the framework of the “one family” relationship that binds the two countries and which stems from a deep-rooted joint history and good neighbourly ties.
Leaders of the two countries have always stressed the strong relations of cooperation among the Gulf Cooperation Council, and both sides have always found ways to boost ties that bring the two countries together.
During Shaikh Khalifa’s visit to Oman in 2005, the two countries signed a number of agreements, prominent among them were the data link over the Internet between securities markets in Abu Dhabi and Muscat.
During the past three decades, albeit differences, there have not been any hindrances in the two countries’ quest for greater economic cooperation, which eventually led to a better relationship.
Through the 1999 Oman-UAE border pact, the two countries enhanced their socio-economic relations exponentially. The accord opened the door for cooperation in the fields of trade, tourism, investment and other areas.
On the business side, the level of trade and investment cooperation between the two countries has grown in recent years, and the Sultanate of Oman has become one of the most important markets for Emirati trade. Non-oil exports between the two countries increased 28.7 per cent to RO 389.9 million in the first six months of 2021, compared to RO 302.1 million during the same period in 2020.
The imports from the UAE to Oman also increased from RO 1,582.5 million in 2020 to RO 1,930 million in 2022.
While the capital city of Muscat is only 500 km away from the UAE’s commercial hub of Dubai, the other cities in northern Oman are less than a three-hour drive from the UAE. Thousands of people seamlessly commute between the countries every day. The world will always remember the late leader thanks to his stances that reflected an honourable image of the region.