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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Clean energy cooperation at centre of Oman-Swiss ties

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MUSCAT: Opportunities for cooperation in the clean energy space, centring primarily around green hydrogen production and export, are expected to dominate official discussions during Swiss President Dr Alain Berset’s landmark visit to the Sultanate of Oman.


The visit – the first by a Swiss head of state – will also commemorate 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two friendly countries, both reputed globally for the advocacy of peace and mediation in the resolution of conflicts.


Of late, however, bilateral ties have pivoted towards prospects for cooperation in green hydrogen, as Oman scouts potential markets across the European Union, among other parts of the world, for its zero-carbon fuel resources due to come on stream from 2030.


These efforts reached a high point in June, when an official delegation headed by Mohsin bin Hamad Al Hadhrami, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, toured a number of European countries, including the Swiss Confederation. The delegation participated in the Business Forum of the Omani-Swiss Friendship Association, which focused on prospects in key sectors such as renewable energy, green hydrogen, storage systems and carbon neutrality.


In presentations made on the occasion, key officials also provided an overview of Oman’s strategy in the field of green hydrogen. They reviewed the country's efforts to promote the use of green hydrogen as a means to achieve sustainability in the energy sector, and highlighted opportunities for Swiss investment in renewable energy and green hydrogen in the Sultanate of Oman.


Both sides explored avenues for cooperation in the field of green hydrogen and negative emission technologies, and the exchange of experiences and knowledge in these fields.


Beyond the more recent focus on green hydrogen, bilateral ties between the two countries have also been underpinned by the pursuit of mutual opportunities spanning the infrastructure, tourism, technology, education and finance sectors.


In line with this broader focus, Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology participated in the third edition of the Oman-Switzerland Business Forum held in Lucerne in June this year. The event was organised by Oman-Switzerland Friendship Association and the Advisory Organization for the Swiss Export and Investment Programme in Lucerne.


The 2023 forum was presented as an opportunity for the Swiss supplier industry in the energy, cleantech and infrastructure sectors to tap into business prospects offered by Oman in the tourism, green energy and infrastructure sectors. Presenters cited the Vision 2040 strategy and the country’s plans to invest around RO20 billion and create more than half a million jobs. Switzerland, with its world-renowned top hotel schools and its reputation as a tourism destination, is the logical partner for Oman in this development, they stressed.


During the event, officials recalled the longstanding diplomatic relations between the two countries spanning half a century, with a free trade agreement having been in force since 2014. Significantly, Switzerland is the ninth largest investor in Oman, it was pointed out.


Playing a vital role in nurturing bilateral ties between the two countries is the Oman-Switzerland Friendship Association (OSFA). Established in 2016, its goal is to implement sustainable programmes that improve mutual knowledge and understanding between the Sultanate of Oman and Switzerland.


In October 2022, the Association hosted the second edition of its Oman-Swiss Business Forum here in Muscat, with a focus on two key themes: Innovation and Sustainability. High-level speakers from Oman and Switzerland delivered expert presentations on Finance & Investment, Tourism, Environment and Digital Technology (AI). Various presenters extolled opportunities for cooperation in: Economy & Trade, Science & Technology, Culture, Tourism and Education.


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