Oman, Singapore all set to enhance bilateral ties

By: Kabeer Yousuf

MUSCAT: By Kabeer Yousuf — MUSCAT: April 1: With long-standing maritime relations, the GSFTA and the recent air links between Oman and Singapore by Oman Air, the two friendly nations are keen to take bilateral relations to new highs and enhance further cooperation across a broad spectrum of areas. Heralding the ongoing relations between the two, the Royal Navy of Oman (RNO) has named its latest vessel in the Al Ofouq series of ships in the Singapore waters on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Observer, Masagos Zulkifli bin Masagos Mohammad (pictured), Singapore’s Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs who is in Oman to commemorate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two sides on Thursday said that the two sides are aiming at increased cooperation in a number of areas.

“Looking ahead, we hope to see more high-level bilateral exchanges. We are also interested to expand cooperation between our officials, in the area of public sector development. To date, more than 440 Omani officials have attended courses organised under the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), both in Singapore and in the Singapore-Oman RIID. We have recently introduced a new SCP cluster focusing on leadership programmes in areas such as judicial governance, civil aviation, education and maritime management. We look forward to the participation of Omani officials in this new cluster”.

RIID (Regional Institute for Infrastructure Development) is a training centre established jointly by Oman and Singapore to conduct training courses in IT, power, water, airport terminal, and port management in Oman in 2012.

“We also hope to continue to build on our strong maritime links to improve exchanges between our maritime leaders and we will host the inaugural Advanced Maritime Leaders Programme from April 16 to 20, 2015, which is an immersive executive programme that seeks to further hone the leadership skills of senior maritime leaders to transform their organisations”.

He further said that Singapore is also looking forward to greater business cooperation in the marine sector as well. ‘ST Marine’ of the country that hosted Oman’s own ‘Jewel of Muscat’, was awarded a contract in April 2012 to build four Offshore Patrol Vessels for the RNO.

“I am happy to note that three out of four ships have been launched and the fourth is on schedule for completion this year. Technically speaking, the Singapore-Oman Joint Committee serves as the key institutional platform for exchanging public sector expertise, while the Oman-Singapore Business Council plays a central role in facilitating business opportunities between Singapore and Oman. Our two Foreign Ministries also have annual bilateral consultations”.

He said that the inaugural flight from Singapore to Muscat was very comfortable and a wonderful experience and that peoples of both countries should make use of the direct air links between the two.

“I would urge both Omanis and Singaporeans to take advantage of the direct flights between Muscat and Singapore. I am certain that it would boost both tourism and business travels between both countries. At the Government-to-Government level, the direct link will also provide a convenient means for ministers and senior officials to travel”.

Masagos who believes in learning from each other’s experience said that one of the reasons behind his country’s success was the ability to learn from other countries’’ experiences.

“There is much we can learn from each other’s experiences. Singapore continues to welcome Omani delegations on study visits in various areas which may be of interest. We have always told our Omani friends that Singapore is happy to share our developmental experience but it is for Oman to determine whether this would suit its own needs. This is the story of Singapore’s development. We adapted other countries’ experiences to meet our own needs. I hope that the recent visit to Oman by Peter Ho, Senior Adviser to the Centre of Strategic Futures and Chairman of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, has contributed positively to discussions on the Oman 2040 vision project”, Zulkifli further said.

The minister will be visiting Duqm to explore investment avenues suiting Singapore’s needs.

“There are good investment opportunities for both sides. Singapore companies have actively participated in Oman’s infrastructure projects in Salalah and Duqm. Sembcorp for example, has built an Independent Water and Power Plant in Salalah and will be developing a Centralised Utilities Facilities for the Duqm Special Economic Zone. In December 2014, a consortium comprising Singapore’s Hyflux and Oman’s National Power and Water Co was awarded a $250 million contract to design, build, own and operate an independent water project in Qurayyat. Singapore firms look forward to more opportunities to contribute to Oman’s economic development”.

Oman our 4th largest investor from the Middle East and Bank Muscat has been operating in Singapore since 2011.

SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER

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