Qatar, Oman sign deal to boost trade, economic ties amid siege

Agreement covers wide range of cooperation sectors, including production and export of food products from sultanate to Qatar

Qatar signed a memorandum of understanding with Oman on the development of bilateral investment and trade on Sunday, almost eight months into a crisis between the emirate and its Arab neighbours.

The Omani news agency ONA said the agreement signed in Muscat covers a wide range of cooperation sectors, including the production and export of food products from the sultanate to Qatar.

Omani Agriculture Minister Fuad al-Sajwani, quoted by ONA, said the memorandum reflected the “solid relationship” between the two countries.

The head of Qatar’s delegation, minister of municipalities Mohamed bin Abdallah al-Rumaihi, for his part, hailed the emirate’s “strategic relations” with Oman.

Rumaihi said that Qatar has many investments in various fields in the sultanate and is now looking forward to invest in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm in food industries and strategic storage as well as in some fishing ports, in addition to the development of infrastructure and urban projects within urban planning of coastal regions, especially fishing ports as they are important for food industries and food security, according to the Peninsula, a Qatari website.

‘Economic war’

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Egypt broke off ties with Qatar in June, accusing it of supporting extremists and being too close to Iran, Riyadh’s arch-rival. Qatar denies the charges.

The Arab states led by Saudi Arabia have recalled their diplomats from Qatar and banned the emirate from using their airspace or ports.

Qatar declared on 10 January that the embargo amounted to an “economic war” and that it would seek redress for people adversely affected by the crisis.

Oman, a member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, generally remains neutral in such regional disputes.

To break its isolation, Qatar inaugurated Port Hamad in September, a major platform for the country’s imports. It has also turned to Iran and Turkey, especially, to import food products.