Last updated in April 2017
Germany is held in high regard in Oman. Political relations are friendly and untroubled. Bilateral political consultations were held in Berlin in May 2014; the 14th meeting of the Joint Economic Commission was held in Muscat on 5 and 6 December 2016. Oman's Foreign Minister Alawi travelled to Berlin in August and November 2015 for talks with the German Foreign Minister. Foreign Minister Steinmeier visited Muscat in March 2016. Federal President Wulff paid a state visit to Oman in December 2011. German Bundestag President Lammert visited Oman in March 2013, Bundestag Vice‑President Roth in March 2015. The German Länder regularly send delegations to Oman for talks. Most recently, Bavarian State Minister Merk visited Muscat in February 2017.
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 degree of trust.
Germany has always been one of Oman’s key economic partners. In 2015, German exports to Oman were worth 942.8 million euros. Germany’s principal exports to Oman were industrial chemicals, motor vehicles and components, pharmaceuticals, plastics and machinery. Imports from Oman amounted to 48 million euros in 2015. The actual value of German exports to Oman is probably higher as some of them reach Oman via the United Arab Emirates. Germany is not a direct buyer of Omani oil and gas.
The 14th meeting of the German‑Omani Joint Economic Commission, which was set up in 1978, was held on 5 and 6 December 2016 in Muscat. Trade and investment, SME development, renewable energies, environmental protection, education and training, healthcare and tourism were agreed as the main fields for cooperation. In November 2014 and November 2016, the Owners Forum Middle East was held in Muscat. It brought together some 160 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 and negotiations are currently ongoing.
In 2013, aggregate German direct investment in Oman was worth an estimated 55 million euros. German companies are involved in a number of infrastructure projects in Oman: Siemens has supplied turbines for gas-fired power plants in Sohar and Barka and Munich Airport has provided consulting services for developing Muscat and Salalah Airports. Over the past few years, Germany has become an important trade fair venue for Omani entrepreneurs. Germany has had a pavilion at the BIG Show in Muscat every year since March 2012, as it did again in 2016. A large number of Omanis travel to Germany for medical treatment, Germany’s healthcare system enjoying a good reputation in Oman. Cooperation in healthcare 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. There are 500 German citizens living in Oman.
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 the field of scientific research, the Helmholtz Association signed a cooperation agreement with the Research Council (TRC) on 1 June 2015. Alongside this there are several individual science projects as well as contacts of the Fraunhofer FOKUS.
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. In the winter semester 2016/17, 1615 students were enrolled at GUtech in various engineering and economics programmes, some two‑thirds are women. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has a lector working there. GUtech relocated to Halban at the beginning of the 2012/13 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 1500 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 academic year, German has been offered as second foreign language at five state secondary schools in Oman. Two of the schools have been admitted to the Schools: Partners for the Future network (PASCH). The Goethe-Institute engages in cultural work from its regional base in Abu Dhabi.
In archaeology, there are long‑standing bilateral contacts with German universities and research institutions. In 2017, a group of archaeologists from the University of Tübingen, the sixth to do so, spent time working on an excavation near Al Khashba. 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 funded the investigation and restoration of prehistoric tombs in Bat. GUtech is advising Muscat Municipality on urban development projects such as the restoration of the city’s historic quarter Muttrah. New excavation projects are planned with the University of Heidelberg in 2017.
Relations in the sports sector encompass football, hockey, volleyball and track and athletics. The founding in Muscat of the Omani‑German Friendship Society, with HH Sayyid Tariq bin Shabib Al Said as its Honorary President, was officially announced in June 2014. The Berlin‑based German‑Omani Association, which was founded in Bonn on 4 September 1992, also seeks to develop friendly relations between the two countries and promote cooperation in culture, business, science, academia and sports.