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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Saudi Arabia and Oman agree to set up joint investment fund

It comes after Riyadh said last week it would invest Dh44.7m in the development of Oman's Duqm port into a major industrial hub

Saudi Arabia said last week it would invest US$120 million (Dh44.7m) in the development of Oman's Duqm port into a major industrial hub. Fatma Alarimi / Reuters
Saudi Arabia said last week it would invest US$120 million (Dh44.7m) in the development of Oman's Duqm port into a major industrial hub. Fatma Alarimi / Reuters

Saudi Arabia and Oman agreed on Tuesday to establish a joint investment fund to strengthen bilateral ties, as Riyadh seeks to counter Iranian and Qatari influence in the region.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between the Saudi interior minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud and his Omani counterpart, Yusuf bin Abdullah Alawi, in Muscat.

“The talks focused on strengthening trade ties between the two sides with a plan to establish an Oman-Saudi Arabia Investment Fund," a political source close to both governments told The National, adding that Prince Abdulaziz also discussed security issues and regional developments during two days of talks with Omani officials.

It comes after Saudi Arabia said last week it would invest US$120 million (Dh44.7m) in the development of Oman's Duqm port into a major industrial hub, which Muscat hopes will drive non-oil revenue.

“It is a clear sign here that Saudi Arabia needs to reach out to Oman through investments," said the source.

"The Saudis don't want Oman to side with Qatar, especially since the Qataris are now investing heavily in the sultanate. At the same time, Saudi Arabia feels it must contain Iran's influence on both Oman and Qatar."

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Saudi interior minister arrives in Muscat for talks

Exclusive: Oman looks to develop industrial and logistics parks in concession areas

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Qatar has agreed to invest $400m in Sohar port in the north-east of Oman, while its national airline, Qatar Airways, has moved all of its Dubai operations to Sohar International Airport.

Iran, meanwhile, is building a car manufacturing company in Duqm, in the east of the country, and a hospital in the northern Al Batnah region.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have been boycotting Qatar since June last year over its alleged support for extremists and interference in the affairs of its neighbours. Oman has remained a neutral player in the dispute.

Muscat also does not play a role in the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen on behalf of the internationally recognised government of president Abdrabu Mansur Hadi. Pro-government and coalition forces are battling to regain full control of the country from Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

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