A time-honoured connect that will help bridge the Gulf – Oman: India’s Gateway to West Asia | 16 December 2023 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It talks about the India-Oman relationship in the backdrop of the state visit of the Sultan of Oman to India.


  • GS2: Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests


  • The Sultan of Oman, Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, is on a state visit to India from December 16. This is his first visit to India after taking over in January 2020 following the passing of Sultan Qaboos.
  • The visit comes at a crucial time when the region is facing the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and highlights the strong strategic partnership between India and Oman.


  • Oman's Strategic Importance: Oman's location on the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman, makes it strategically important to India. It is India's closest neighbor in the Gulf region and completes the trio of key strategic partners India has in the region, along with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
  • Historical Ties and Shared Interests: The ruling family of Oman has had a long-standing connection with India, dating back to the reign of Sultan Qaboos, who was known for his pro-India stance. There is a large Indian community in Oman, contributing to the close people-to-people ties between the two countries.
  • Oman's Role in Regional Diplomacy: Oman has played a crucial role in maintaining peace and stability in the region. It has pursued a policy of moderation and mediation, even during the Cold War and the Arab-Israeli conflict. It has also maintained good relations with both the Western powers and neighboring Iran.
  • India-Oman Strategic Partnership: The India-Oman strategic partnership, based on mutual trust and shared interests, was signed in 2008. Defense and security cooperation is a key pillar of this partnership, with joint exercises between all three wings of India's defense forces and Oman's military.
  • Trade and Economic Ties: Trade and commerce is another important pillar of the partnership. Bilateral trade reached $12.388 billion in FY2022-23, and there are over 6,000 India-Oman joint ventures in Oman. India was the second largest market for Oman's crude oil exports in 2022.
  • Future Cooperation: Both countries are looking at increased engagement in areas such as space cooperation, rare earth metals exploration, and the India-Middle-East-Europe Connectivity Corridor (IMEEC) project.
  • India's Gateway to West Asia: Oman's ability to navigate the complex geopolitical landscape of the region makes it India's gateway to West Asia. With the ongoing Israel-Hamas war posing a significant challenge, Sultan Haitham bin Tarik's visit is an opportunity for India and Oman to strengthen their strategic partnership and work together to promote peace and stability in the region.

Way Forward:

  • The Sultan of Oman's visit to India is a significant event that reaffirms the strong strategic partnership between the two countries.
  • Oman's strategic location, historical ties with India, and commitment to regional peace and stability make it a key player in West Asia.
  • As India seeks deeper engagement in the region, Oman will remain a crucial partner and its role as India's gateway to West Asia will continue to grow in importance.

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