India and Oman


The Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence of the Sultanate of Oman is on a visit to India

India and Oman relation:

  • India–Oman relations are foreign relations between the Republic of India and the Sultanate of Oman. India has an embassy in Muscat, Oman.
  • An Indian consulate was opened in Muscat in February 1955 which was upgraded to a consulate general in 1960 and later into a full-fledged embassy in 1971.
  • The first ambassador of India arrived in Muscat in 1973.Oman established its embassy in New Delhi in 1972 and a consulate general in Mumbai in 1976.
  • India and Oman have had trade and people-to-people ties for several millennia.
  • Oman is home to a large Indian expatriate community and for Oman, India is an important trading partner.
  • Politically, Oman has been supportive of India’s bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council


Trade between India and Oman has a history of several millenniums and archaeological excavations in Oman have unearthed evidence to show Indo-Oman trade in the during the Classical Age dated to circa third century BCE. Later, Oman had links with the Indian states in Gujarat and along the Malabar Coast. The Indian prince Tipu Sultan sent a diplomatic delegation to Oman during his reign.

In August 1957, during one of the Lok Sabha debates, the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, replying to a question asked on British Armed Forces interference in Oman said, “We have received indirectly a message purporting to come from some representatives of the Imam of Oman. The Government of India have viewed with concern the news of the military action which has taken place in Oman…have expressed to the United Kingdom Government the concern and conveyed to them public feelings in India, in regard to this action.”

The Sultanate of Oman had sovereignty over the Gwadar Port in present day Pakistan till 1958 when in September of that year, Pakistan paid £3 million (some say half that sum) to buy back the enclave, ending over 200 years of Omani control, before which it was a part of erstwhile India.

Cultural Ties of India-Oman Relations

Both Oman and India have strong cultural ties. This is further reinforced by the presence of a large number of Indian expatriates living in Oman. who organise cultural events in the country from time to time.

India is a major destination for Omani students pursuing higher studies and in recent years there have been increasing numbers of medical tourists coming into the country from Oman. Oman has also been trying to promote itself as a tourist destination in India.

Economic relations

Economic cooperation between the two countries is overseen by the Joint Commission Meeting and Joint Business Council. These two institutes look into matters of bilateral trade and cooperation. The investments between India and Oman have been constant with an upward trend. The value of trade between the two nations rose from $ 3.8 billion in 2015-2016 to $ 4 billion in 2016-2017.

There are 2900 Indian enterprises and establishments who have invested close to $ 4.5 billion in Oman. Certain Indian companies such as Air India, Bank of Baroda, New India Assurance CO have made investments in aviation, banking etc. Other avenues of investment include iron and steel, cements, chemicals, automotives, fertilizers, textiles etc.

Defence Relations

Oman is the first nation in the Persian Gulf to have formal defence relations with India. Both countries conducted joint military exercises in 2006 and later signed a defence agreement. The India Navy has berthing rights in Oman and has used the ports to conduct anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The Indian Air Force has also been holding biannual joint exercises with the Royal Air Force of Oman since 2006.

Oman also sought India’s assistance in fencing the border it shared with Yemen due to the growing unrest over there.

The standard issue rifle of the Royal Army of Oman is India’s INSAS rifle. Naseem al-Bahr

Naseem al-Bahr is a bilateral maritime exercise between India and Oman. The exercise was first held in 1993. The tenth edition was held in January 2016.

Indian Community in Oman:

  • There are about 6.2 lakh Indians in Oman, of which about 4.8 lakh are workers and professionals. There are Indian families living in Oman for more than 150-200 years.
    • There are many Indian schools offering CBSE syllabus catering to the educational needs of about 45,000 Indian children.


Oman’s Strategic Significance for India

  • About:
    • Oman is India’s closest defence partner in the Gulf region and an important anchor for India’s defence and strategic interests.
      • Oman is at the gateway of Strait of Hormuz through which India imports one-fifth of its oil imports.
    • Defence cooperation has emerged as a key pillar for the robust India-Oman strategic partnership. Defence exchanges are guided by a Framework MOU which was recently renewed in 2021.
    • Oman is the only country in the Gulf region with which all three services of the Indian armed forces conduct regular bilateral exercises and staff talks, enabling close cooperation and trust at the professional level.
    • Oman also provides critical operational support to Indian naval deployments in the Arabian sea for anti-piracy missions.
    • Bilateral training cooperation between the two sides is also robust with Omani forces regularly subscribing to training courses in India both at professional as well as higher command level. Indian armed forces also subscribe to the Staff and Command courses conducted in Oman.
    • Oman also actively participates in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS).
    • India has supplied rifles to Oman. Also, India is considering setting up a defence production unit in Oman.
  • Port of Duqm:
    • In a strategic move to expand its footprint in the Indian Ocean region, India has secured access to the key Port of Duqm in Oman for military use and logistical support. This is part of India’s maritime strategy to counter Chinese influence and activities in the region.
    • The Port of Duqm is situated on the southeastern seaboard of Oman, overlooking the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.
    • It is strategically located, in close proximity to the Chabahar port in Iran. With the Assumption Island being developed in Seychelles and Agalega in Mauritius, Duqm fits into India’s proactive maritime security roadmap.
    • The Port of Duqm also has a special economic zone, where about USD 1.8 billion investments are being made by some Indian companies.

Way Forward

  • India does not have enough energy resources to serve its current or future energy requirements. The rapidly growing energy demand has contributed to the need for long term energy partnerships with countries like Oman.
  • Oman’s Duqm Port is situated in the middle of international shipping lanes connecting East with West Asia.
  • India needs to engage with Oman and take initiatives to utilise opportunities arising out of the Duqm Port industrial city.
  • India should also work closely with Oman to enhance strategic depth in the region and add heft to its Indo-Pacific vision in the Western and Southern Part of Indian Ocean.

News Source: Indian Express

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