Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Oman and Germany in 1972, the two countries have laid the foundations for fruitful cooperation in the political, diplomatic, economic and cultural fields, characterized by positivity and mutual respect. To mark 50 years of such relations, Muscat Daily spoke with HE Thomas F Schneider, German Ambassador to Oman, who said that Oman and Germany share many common values.
HE Thomas F Schneider, German Ambassador to Oman, is optimistic about the strong diplomatic relations between Oman and Germany over the past five decades, its constructive foreign policy and the international trade relations between the two countries.
“Over the years, we have shared a strong relationship, bilaterally and internationally. We hope to further deepen this relationship in the years to come. A visible testament to our commitment is this new embassy building in Al Khuwair – proof that we believe in a bright future for German-Omani relations,” said HE Schneider.
The German Ambassador praised Oman as an international mediator in many ways. “We live in a region of conflict. However, Oman has played an important role in promoting peace by acting as a facilitator in international conflicts, both regionally and internationally. Oman has been very responsible and reliable in resolving issues. We highly appreciate the wise and constructive foreign policy of the government established under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, whose legacy was carried on by His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik. The international community also needs Oman’s balanced position in the future,” he said.
Since the 1960s, German companies in Oman have successfully contributed to building a robust infrastructure in Oman. Germany is one of Oman’s main economic partners in the non-oil sector. However, according to SE Schneider, there is still room to grow.
“Trade relations between the two countries have been good but have not fully exploited their potential. In 2020, Oman imported German goods worth RO300 million while Oman’s exports to Germany were around RO14 million – our challenge is to achieve a more balanced situation” , did he declare.
“Germany exports cars to Oman and imports chemicals from Oman. Now we do not import any energy products from Oman. But this may well change in the future, as we are looking for alternative energy sources in Germany, especially renewable energies, including hydrogen. And this is where Oman can play a very important role,” he added.
Regarding people-to-people contacts, HE Schneider said that a large number of Omanis travel to Germany for tourism or for medical care, while Germans currently constitute the largest group of tourists from Europe.
“We have tourism on both sides. Also, we have many Omani students studying in Germany. Since 2005, up to 350 students have returned from Germany to Oman from German universities with a degree in hand and are fluent in the language. So there are many contacts between the two countries and we are happy to see more developing,” he said.
Bilateral relations in the culture and education sectors focus on scientific and technological cooperation, especially in higher education where many cooperation programs are in place. In 2014, Germany and Oman signed a declaration of intent on cooperation in culture, education, science and research, he revealed.
According to HE Schneider, German tourists to Oman are mainly looking for the authenticity of the region and the country, a truly oriental and Arabic culture, also supported by a modern visionary leadership and government.
“Oman is a very diverse country where you can decide at the breakfast table if you want to spend your day diving in the sea, hiking in the mountains or in a wadi, visiting a heritage site or exploring the desert. I don’t know of any other place that offers such diversity and beauty,” he said.
Germany, however, also has a lot to offer Omanis. “In summer, Germany is the perfect place for Omanis who love green mountains and cool weather. It offers a lot of history, culture and traditions. And we are, of course, deeply honored that His Majesty the Sultan has recently chosen to come to Germany for a holiday with his family at his residence in Bavaria,” said HE Schneider.
“Frankfurt and Munich are two of the favorite destinations for Omani tourists. Oman Air’s direct flights to both cities make travel very convenient. Moreover, we are proud that many Omanis trust the excellent hospitals and health services in Germany for their medical examinations and treatment,” he added.
He also revealed that Germans love to travel the world and that Oman is one of their favorite destinations. “One of the things Oman could do to make it even more appealing to German travelers is to target those of all echelons, not just five-star tourists. Making travel to Oman a bit more affordable for a bigger number of people could improve tourism and business on both sides,” suggested HE Schneider.
On visa issues, HE Schneider said: “German citizens can currently come to Oman without a visa for short stays. Germany is part of the Schengen area which is currently studying the issue of a visa waiver for Omanis. The process is in the hands of the European Commission and decisions must be taken jointly with the other 25 Schengen states. Recently, representatives of the European Commission visited Muscat to launch technical discussions on this subject, he added.
Speaking about renewable energy, HE Schneider said: “Oman is located in almost ideal conditions for renewable energy, with lots of sun and wind. In the near future, it can be an excellent source of additional alternative energy. On this subject, we are in regular dialogue with the Omani government. We want to promote the exchange of technical expertise with Oman. And we are looking for partners in Oman to create an energy market of the future.
HE Schneider added: “There are already plans for green energy projects with German participation in places such as Duqm and Salalah and we hope more will follow.”
As an example, he mentioned a project in Sohar where a joint venture with the participation of a German company is currently setting up a pilot project for the production of “green steel” using green hydrogen.
“This means that it is possible to produce green steel, which is in high demand in European markets, in the near future. However, these projects are still in their infancy. We need time, patience and courage to work together to reduce our carbon footprint using clean, renewable energy and green hydrogen,” he said.
Regarding investments, SE Schneider said: “Investing in Germany is open to everyone and the opportunities are diverse and varied. There are already Omani investments in Germany in the chemical field. However, three key sectors will be crucial in the future: renewable energy, innovation and sustainability. There are many opportunities for Oman in these sectors,” he added.
Regarding the upcoming World Cup championship in Qatar, HE Schneider said: “The World Cup will be a great opportunity for Oman to encourage Germans to visit Oman during their trips to the region.”
In conclusion, the German Ambassador said: “Looking back on 50 years of diplomatic relations between Oman and Germany, I must say that both countries are steeped in history, pride and achievements and I wish that as many Omanis and Germans as possible visit each. countries of others.
50 years of diplomatic relations
Last month, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Sultanate of Oman and the Federal Republic of Germany was held at the Foreign Ministry.
The event, organized in cooperation with the German Embassy in Muscat, was attended by Sheikh Khalifa al Harthy, Diplomatic Undersecretary of the Omani Ministry of Foreign Affairs and HE Thomas Schneider, German Ambassador to Oman.
During the ceremony, a commemorative logo was launched, symbolizing the depth and strength of relations between the two friendly countries.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Oman and Germany in 1972, the two countries have laid the foundations for fruitful cooperation in the political, diplomatic, economic and cultural fields, characterized by positivity and mutual respect.
The ceremony took place in the presence of several officials from both parties.