MOSCOW: State Council Chairman Dr Yahya bin Mahfoudh al Mantheri delivered a speech at the Federation Council on Wednesday. He expressed to Chairperson Valentina Ivanova Matvienko his sincere thanks for giving an opportunity to address the Russian upper house and also for the warm hospitality he and his delegation received.
He said, “We look forward to fortifying our friendly relations, particularly in parliamentary arenas.” He recalled with appreciation the meetings and exchanges between the two councils in 2005 and 2008 and the visit of Chairperson Valentina Ivanova Matvienko to the Sultanate in April 2016, including the present visit, which all contribute to the consolidation of friendly relations and support cooperation and understanding.
He said, “Since the establishment of friendship in 1985 between the Sultanate of Oman and the Russian Federation, the relations have achieved several milestones. It continues to evolve at a good pace: based on mutual respect, coordination and co-operation at various levels, both in bilateral relations and in multilateral and international levels. The real indicator of the distinctiveness of these relationships is the state of satisfaction and positive impression on both sides.”
The State Council Chairman highlighted the depth of the Oman-Russian relations, which he said is reinforced by mutual visits, which have become frequent and include cooperation for political, economic, cultural, tourism, parliamentary purposes.
Speaking about the common stand of the Sultanate and the Russian Federation he said, “We on many international and regional issues have always sought to support constructive dialogue between different countries as a single way to address and resolve many international crises and issues. We have hosted political meetings and consultations periodically between senior officials, the most recent of which is the visit of the Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of Oman to Moscow and his meeting with His Excellency the Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation in February 2019.”
This proof of cooperation reflects in the easy facilitation of travel of citizens between the two countries. Recent statistical data, he said, indicate travel of a growing number of Russian citizens to the Sultanate for tourist purposes; in 2018, the increase was 150 per cent compared to 2017. More than 4,000 Russian tourists visited the Sultanate in January and February 2019. This means that the Sultanate has become a new tourist destination for them.
Dr Al Mantheri referred to the government’s extensive facilities for Russian tourists to Oman including the facilitation of the electronic visa, which saves effort and time for the tourists.
This has also played an important role in increasing the volume of
trade between the Sultanate and Russia, which peaked by 61.9 per cent in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
In addition, it has increased the frequency of reciprocal visits of officials in both countries, which has led to the exploration of new horizons and joint ventures in the fields of investment, energy, solid minerals and agriculture.
Elaborating on the cooperation in the cultural field, he said that the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg in July last year saw the organisation of Oman Day, which showcased Omani music and performances of artistic troupes and in March 2019, the antiques and valuables of the Hermitage Museum were displayed at the National Museum of Oman. He also mentioned the performances of well-known Russian artists at Royal Opera House Muscat.
The Council Chairman concluded his speech by reiterating the keenness of the Sultanate to elevate the good relations and enable its further growth.