Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said embarked on a two-day official visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday. This is his first official foreign trip since assuming power last year. The visit came upon the invitation of Saudi King Salman.
During his two-day visit, Sultan Haitham is expected to hold talks with Saudi officials on several issues, particularly the Yemeni conflict and economic and investment opportunities, as Muscat seeks to fix its economy.
An official delegation comprised senior ministers and diplomats, notably Deputy Prime Minister for Defense Affairs Sayyid Shibab bin Tarik al Said, Interior Minister Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal al Busaidi, and Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad al Busaidi, accompanies the Omani Sultan.
Upon his arrival in the Saudi Red Sea city of NEOM, the Omani ruler was welcomed by his Saudi counterpart King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. This was also recorded as the 85-year-old ruler’s first face-to-face meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.
Regarding the visit, the Saudi official state news agency reported that “The visit comes within the framework of strengthening the historical and fraternal relations between the leaderships of the two countries… It also aims to expand the prospects of joint cooperation and ways to develop them in various fields for the interest and steady progress of the peoples of the two countries.”
A day before Sultan Haitham’s departure from Oman, speaking to the Saudi-owned Asharq Alawsat newspaper, the Sultanate’s Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr al Busaidi said that the two countries would establish a joint council to conduct several agreements. The Omani Minister added that opening the belated new road interconnecting the two Gulf States would pave the way for logistics and other infrastructure projects.
Having the weakest economy among the Gulf oil producers, Oman is going through a deep economic crisis, particularly since the oil price crash in 2014. The Gulf country is attempting to diversify its economy away from oil and reduce its spending on the public sector. Recently, the Sultanate has experienced public demonstrations against unemployment and bad living conditions.
On the other hand, the Sultanate comes to the forefront due to its latest diplomatic efforts to ensure a ceasefire between Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi group and the Saudi-led coalition.