The Sultanate of Oman and the Islamic Republic of Iran have strong historical relations, based on good neighbourliness, mutual respect, and joint cooperation in many issues that bring the two friendly countries together.
Although trade was the only connection, the relations extend to ancient civilisations, when Omani merchants and travellers sailed through the Strait of Hormuz to the Iranian border.
The relations became very strong in the 1970s after the late Sultan Qaboos assumed power in Oman.
Oman views its non-interference foreign policy doctrine as critical to ensuring that the Sultanate of Oman has no enemies and is not perceived as a threatening actor by any foreign government.
Despite all the political changes that afflicted the region, the relationship between the two countries, based on reciprocal respect with conditions of non-interference in the internal affairs of both states, remained stable. This made it a unique example in the history of bilateral relations in the region.
The late Sultan visited Iran in 1974, a visit that helped establish the principles of security cooperation in the Strait of Hormuz, and that both countries would respect each other’s interest while implementing new strategies and would maintain the free movement of ships in the Strait.
Late Sultan Qaboos visited Iran in 2009, meeting Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei and former Iranian President Ahmadinejad. Many joint agreements, including economic cooperation and Iran gas export, were signed during the visit. The late Sultan again visited Iran in 2013 to reaffirm cooperation and friendship between the two states.
In turn, Ahmadinejad visited Oman in 2007, followed by the visit of former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in 2014. In May 2022, President Ebrahim Raisi visited Muscat — a trip that saw the two countries sign a string of trade deals.
In February last the president confirmed that Iran has distinguished relations with Oman, and that there is room for further development of bilateral economic and trade relations, indicating that his government pursues a policy of expanding cooperation with other countries.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited the Sultanate last April, and confirmed that his talks with senior officials in Oman were positive and focused on improving regional and global cooperation.
The Omani-Iranian understanding was not limited to the political and diplomatic arena only, but also extended to military cooperation, as the two countries signed several memorandums of understanding to enhance military cooperation between them, the last of which was in 2019.
In addition to the establishment of several joint naval manoeuvres in the Strait of Hormuz, which the two countries participate in managing by conducting Joint patrols aimed at consolidating security and stability, according to a joint agreement in 1974.
The Strait of Hormuz is the most important oil artery in the world, through which more than 35 per cent of the world's oil supplies pass, due to the presence of the largest black gold exporting countries on both sides of the Gulf, which makes its security the focus of the world's attention.
In recent years, Oman has been a vital conduit for Iran in diplomatic affairs. Oman’s positive stand towards Iran contributed to strengthening mutual trust, to the extent that Tehran saw itself as an honest and reliable mediator to keep the door open for dialogue with Arab and Western countries.
Oman played a prominent role in opening the door to nuclear talks and keeping the spectre of war away from the region by facilitating talks between Iran and America before officially announcing them, which led to the international nuclear agreement in 2015.
The agreement constituted a historic turning point, and cemented Oman's diplomatic role in resolving long-term international crises, as if it holds the key to solutions to international crises.
Through mediation, Oman succeeded in releasing Arab and Western prisoners held by Tehran.
In 2011, Muscat supervised the return to their country of three American prisoners in Tehran.
Oman also endeavoured to protect Iranian interests in countries in which it does not have diplomatic representation. After the storming of the British embassy in Tehran in 2011, the UK reduced its diplomatic relations with Tehran, and Oman represented Iran's interests in London until the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 2014.
The same applies to Canada after the closure of its embassy in Tehran in 2012.
Tourism between Iran and Oman flourished after Tehran unilaterally cancelled entry visas for Omanis in 2018, followed by Muscat two years later by allowing citizens of 103 countries, including Iran, to stay in Oman for 10 days without the need to obtain an entry visa.
The Iranian city of Shiraz is considered the first destination for Omanis due to its variety of low-priced medical services, such as eye surgery, plastic surgery, and hair transplantation, in addition to its historical places.
Omani and Iranian culture and civilisation are historically rooted, and Iranian cities have historical and tourist attractions, in addition to Iran's possession of advanced medical technology. These make Omani tourists go to Iran.
The visit of the Omanis to Iran is also linked to religious tourism, as the Omanis go to visit the religious monuments in the Iranian city of Mashhad.