Last updated in January 2014
Germany is held in high regard in Oman. Political relations are friendly and untroubled. The most recent bilateral political consultations were held in Berlin in April 2010. Former Federal President Wulff paid an official visit to Oman in December 2011. Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited Oman in May 2011 and March 2012. German Bundestag President Lammert paid a visit to Oman in March 2013. Oman’s Foreign Minister Alawi travelled to Berlin in May 2013 for talks with the German Foreign Minister.
The activities of German companies in Oman since the 1960s have helped to successfully build a robust infrastructure in the Sultanate and have created a considerable measure of trust.
Germany has always been one of Oman’s key economic partners. In 2012, German exports to Oman were worth EUR 820 million. Germany’s principal exports to Oman are motor vehicles, machinery and equipment. German imports from Oman grew in 2012 compared with the previous year, from EUR 37 million to EUR 51 million. So far, Germany has not been a direct buyer of the Omani oil and gas. The actual value of exports is probably higher as some German exports reach Oman via the United Arab Emirates.
The 12th meeting of the German-Omani Joint Economic Commission, which was set up in 1978, was held from 10 to 12 December 2012 in Muscat. At the meeting, the following priority areas of cooperation were agreed on: renewable energy, infrastructure/transport, health care, education and training and tourism.
In late October 2013, the Owners Forum Middle East was held for the second time in Muscat and will in future be held once a year. It brought together 180 entrepreneurs from family firms who discussed regional economic topics and talked about the challenges that entrepreneurs face in different cultures. Omani family businesses took advantage of the forum to strengthen their relations with German companies.
A bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement entered into force on 4 April 2010. The German-Omani double taxation agreement, which was signed on 15 August 2012 in Muscat, has yet to be ratified by the German side.
In 2010, aggregate German direct investment in Oman was put at EUR 40 million. German companies have recently succeeded in winning major contracts for the following infrastructure projects in Oman: turbines for gas-fired power plants in Sohar and Barka and consulting services for developing Muscat and Salalah Airports. In September 2011, Brenk Systemplanung from Aachen was awarded the contract to evaluate Oman’s mineral and mining sector.
Over the past few years, Germany has become an important trade fair venue for Omani businesspeople. Germany had a pavilion at the BIG Show – Builders International Gathering in Muscat in March 2012 and 2013.
A large number of Omanis travel to Germany for medical treatment. Cooperation in the health care sector is to be stepped up based on a memorandum of understanding signed by the two countries’ health ministers in January 2011.
The growing number of German tourists visiting Oman has tipped the balance of trade in Oman’s favour. Germans currently make up the second-largest group of visitors from Europe, after Britons.
In higher education, there are ties between the state-run Sultan Qaboos University and German universities as well as with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and German research institutions. It is only in recent years that German higher education institutions have focused their interest on Oman’s education market, as on those of the other Gulf states.
Bilateral relations in the cultural and education sectors focus on cooperation in science and technology, in particular with Oman’s Ministry of Higher Education and Ministry of Heritage and Culture, as well as between German universities and the Sultan Qaboos University and the University of Nizwa. Since 2005, Omanis have been coming to Germany to study under the Omani government’s scholarship programme.
In December 2006, an agreement to set up the private German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) was signed with the German partner RWTH Aachen University. It began operating in Muscat in autumn 2007. Some 800 students are currently enrolled at GUtech in various engineering programmes, 70 per cent of them women. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has an academic teacher and two language assistants working there. The Goethe Institute provides GUtech with financial and organisational assistance in operating the German language learning centre. GUtech relocated to Halban at the beginning of the 2012/2013 winter semester, commencing teaching there in October 2012. The Faculty of Urban Planning and Architecture’s flagship project Eco House won a competition organised by Oman’s Research Council in 2012.
There are currently some 400 Omanis learning German. Language instruction is offered mainly by universities and colleges, including the Sultan Qaboos University, the University of Nizwa and GUtech.
Since the beginning of the 2012/2013 school year, German is being offered for the first time as second foreign language at a number of state secondary schools in Oman.
In archaeology, there are long-standing bilateral contacts with German universities and research institutions. Since February of this year, a group of archaeologists from the University of Tübingen have been in Bat to continue work on the registration and preservation of the necropolis there. In the future, many of the finds from this site are to be put on show at the newly built National Museum in Muscat. The Federal Foreign Office is currently funding the registration and restoration of prehistoric tombs in Bat. GUtech is also advising Muscat Municipality on urban development projects such as the restoration of the city’s old quarter Mutrah.
Relations in the sports sector encompass football, field hockey, volleyball and track and field athletics. Omani coaches are regularly invited to the University of Leipzig for further training.
The aim of the Berlin-based German-Omani Association, which was founded in Bonn on 4 September 1992, is to develop friendly relations between the two countries and promote cooperation in culture, business, science and sports.