Oman and Germany
Since consular relations were established in 1967 and upgraded to diplomatic relations in 1972, Oman and Germany have developed a mutually beneficial relationship which encompasses cooperation in almost every field.
Developments in cultural ties between Oman and Germany
Academic ties between the two countries started in the 1970s with German geographical research in Oman undertaken by Professor Fred Scholz and his team, comprising development-related field research in the capital area, Musandam, al-Batinah and Dhofar. Since 1977 German archaeologists have carried out surveys in Oman in close cooperation with Omani archaeologists. Research by the German Mining Museum in Bochum established Oman as the ancient Magan. Al-Balid Archaeological Park in Dhofar was proposed by German researchers, and its realization between 1996-2001 co-financed by the German Federal Foreign Office. From 1999 to 2007, the universities of Kassel and Tübingen conducted an interdisciplinary project on the oasis settlements of Oman. The Omani-German Friendship Association, promoting economic and cultural ties and organizing numerous lectures and exhibitions in both Oman and Germany, celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. A major step forward was the establishment of GUtech, the German University of Technology, in Halban in 2007. More than 2.000 students are currently enrolled in study programs based on the academic standards of RWTH Aachen University, one of Germany’s leading universities in the field of technology and engineering. Around 270 Omani students have been studying in Germany with grants from Oman’s government under a joint programme set up in 2005 with DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service..
The rising numbers of tourists in both countries (including Omanis travelling for medical treatment) as well as closer cooperation in various fields have boosted the popularity of the German language in the Sultanate. Around 1.500 people are currently enrolled in German language courses. In 2013, the Goethe-Institut, in cooperation with Oman’s Ministry of Education, established a German Language Learning Centre in Muscat. German is also taught at four Omani Universities and several private schools as well as five public secondary schools. In May 2016, the Ministry of Tourism, the Goethe-Institut Muscat and Muriya Tourism Development signed an agreement to enhance the German language skills of Omani tour guides through intensive courses conducted by the Goethe-Institut.
Cooperation with cultural institutions and artists in Oman goes back a long way. Last year, the German Embassy in Muscat initiated a design contest for an Omani-German Buddy Bear and invited local artists to submit their proposals. The Buddy Bear is an individually designed sculpture and represents the people of the countries as well as their culture and can be found at every German Embassy around the globe. Mrs. Rebeca Nigrinis, a Colombian artist living in Muscat, was selected to design a truly Omani-German Buddy Bear. The two meter high sculpture now adorns the German Embassy in Muscat as a symbol of Omani-German friendship.
A conference on Omani-German relations during the 19th and 20th century is scheduled to take place in Berlin in summer 2020. The aim of the conference is to deepen the mutual understanding between Oman and Germany as well as to promote research in this field by bringing together scholars from the Sultanate of Oman, Germany and other countries. Germany also contributes regularly to the Muscat Film Festival – four films from Germany, including documentaries produced in Oman by German producers, featured in the 2018 festival. Plans for the future include stronger cooperation with the National Museum.
Economic co-operation between Oman and Germany
Economic ties between Oman and Germany were boosted by establishing an Omani-German Joint Economic Commission in 1978 which meets every second year. Since the late 1960s many German companies opened offices in Oman and contributed to the modernization of the Sultanate. In 2009, the German Industry and Commerce Office (AHK) was established in Muscat as a permanent branch of the official Foreign Chamber Network in Muscat.. The Muscat office provides services to Omani business people who want to get in touch with German companies and vice versa. A bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement between the two countries entered into force on 4 April 2010. Once the Omani-German Double Taxation Agreement, which was signed on 15 August 2012, is ratified by the German side, it shall facilitate and strengthen business relations between Germany and Oman. Cooperation in healthcare has stepped up based on a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries’ health ministers in January 2011.The first German-Omani Stroke Conference in February 2015 followed by signing a joint declaration in March 2018 on collaboration in the respective field contributed largely to this cooperation. Several German construction sector companies are represented at the German Pavilion at Oman’s BIG Show fair since 2012. As far as cooperation in the technology sector is concerned, the Muscat office of AHK in 2014 introduced a bi–annual symposium on renewable energy to share long-term experiences, transfer knowledge and create awareness in Oman for this important technology. GUtech aims towards cooperation opportunities in the hydrogen technology sector with the opening of an “Oman Hydrogen Centre” in January 2020. During the year, the German Ambassador hosts a number of round tables for the German business community in order to give an overview of the Omani business environment. On the other side, the Omani-German Friendship Association, founded in October 2012, connects Omani companies with strong business interests in Germany.
Trade relations between Germany and Oman show a continuous increase over the past 20 years. According to the Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (“Ghorfa”) the value of German exports to Oman between January and June 2019 amounted to 421 million EUR. The amount of imports lay at 25.6 million EUR. Among the most imported goods to Oman are cars and automotive equipment. Oman also imports general industrial machinery as well as electric and data processing equipment. On the other hand, German imports comprise metals, motor vehicles and pharmaceutical products. Germany does not directly import Omani oil and gas but rather belongs to Oman's major purchasers in the non-oil sector. In 2018, the value of German direct investments in Oman was around 199 million OMR. Companies from Germany are especially active in Oman's infrastructure sector. The German company Siemens supplied gas turbines for the power plants in Sohar and Barka. Other examples of German companies in the Omani market are Europoles, a joint venture producing spun-concrete poles in Nizwa, and Bauer Nimr LLC specifying in water purification. In November 2017, Siemens LLC Oman and GUtech implemented the Siemens Mechatronic Certification Program as a first of its kind institution in Oman. Apart from the transport and logistics sector, large cooperation potential between Oman and Germany lies in the fields of industrial development, renewable energy, health care, education and training as well as tourism. This development manifests itself in the Sultanate becoming the official partner country of the World’s Leading Travel Trade Show ITB Berlin in 2020.