Last updated in May 2015
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 May 2014. Former Federal President Wulff paid an official visit to Oman in December 2011. German Bundestag President Lammert visited Oman in March 2013. Oman’s Foreign Minister Alawi travelled to Berlin in May 2013 for talks with the German Foreign Minister. Bundestag Vice-President Claudia Roth visited Muscat in March 2014. In addition, the German federal states regularly send delegations to Oman for talks.
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 2014, German exports to Oman were worth EUR 693 million. Germany’s principal exports to Oman are motor vehicles, machinery and equipment. In 2014, German imports from Oman increased markedly compared with the previous year, from EUR 49 million to EUR 67 million. Germany is not a direct buyer of the Omani oil and gas. The actual value of German exports to Oman is probably higher as some of them reach Oman via the United Arab Emirates.
The 13th meeting of the German-Omani Joint Economic Commission, which was set up in 1978, was held on 27 and 28 November 2014 in Berlin. At the meeting, the following priority areas of cooperation were agreed on: renewable energy, infrastructure/transport, health care, education and training and tourism. In November 2014, the Owners Forum Middle East was held again in Muscat. It brought together 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.
In 2012, aggregate German direct investment in Oman was worth an estimated EUR 71 million. 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. In September 2011, the Aachen-based company Brenk Systemplanung 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 has had a pavilion at the BIG Show in Muscat every year since March 2012, and it did again in 2015.
A large number of Omanis travel to Germany for medical treatment, Germany’s health care system enjoying a good reputation in Oman. Cooperation in health care 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 1,300 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 working there. 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 1,000 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 has been offered for the first time as second foreign language at a number of state secondary schools in Oman. Two of the schools have been admitted to the Schools: Partners for the Future network (PASCH).
In archaeology, there are long-standing bilateral contacts with German universities and research institutions. In 2014, a group of archaeologists from the University of Tübingen were in Bat to continue work on the investigation 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 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 old quarter Mutrah.
Relations in the sports sector encompass football, field hockey, volleyball and track and field 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.