Oman secures $3.55 billion loan from Chinese banks

• Sino-Omani relations deepen with USD 3.55 billion loan for the Sultanate
• Doha-Muscat ties grow as Oman remains neutral in GCC crisis

August 3
Oman secures USD 3.55 billion loan from Chinese banks
A group of Chinese financial institutions will lend Oman USD 3.55 billion, the largest ever transaction for a Gulf region borrower in the Chinese market. The sultanate has already borrowed USD 10 billion in 2017 to compensate for lost revenue from lower oil prices.

August 7
Kuwait’s Emir pens message to Sultan Qaboos
The Times of Oman reported that Sultan Qaboos bin Said has received a written letter from the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber Al Sabah. The emir’s message concerned cooperation between the two Arabian Peninsula countries.

Samsung Engineering to build USD 1 billion plant in Oman
Samsung Engineering, in a 50-50 joint venture with Petrofac of Britain, has signed a USD 1 billion deal with Duqm Refinery Petrochemical Industries Co. The refinery project comprises utilities and offsite facilities to be built by 2021 in the Duqm Special Economic Zone, located on the Arabian Sea in the southern part of Oman. The plant will have a refining capacity of approximately
230,000 barrels/day.

August 8
Qatari shipping hub to relocate from Dubai to Oman
Milaha Maritime & Logistics, the Qatar-based shipping and logistic company, will move its regional trans-shipment hub from Dubai to the port of Sohar in Oman. Since the blockade of its ports began in June, Qatar has been unable to move goods via the UAE, causing imports to drop significantly. Oman has remained neutral in the Gulf dispute and therefore represents a feasible alternative shipping link. Milaha Maritime & Logistics has announced that it will also be using three Indian ports for trade, and will open three new direct shipping lines with Malaysia, Pakistan, and Taiwan, as reported by al-Jazeera.

Analysis: Doha’s ability to create new shipping hubs and supply chains in the wake of the Qatar crisis is remarkable. The Arabian emirate’s forward planning for the ongoing rift helped to quickly create new conditions for port operations and transit nodes. In a blow to Dubai, Milaha Maritime & Logistics moved to Sohar, which has competed with the UAE’s Fujariah port. Oman’s port(s) will likely see further competition with Emirati ports as Qatar deepens its trade links with the Sultanate.

August 20
Oman’s top diplomat discusses bilateral ties with Jordan
Jordan’s King Abdullah II received Oman’s Foreign Minister Youssef Bin Alwai. The king and the minister discussed their eagerness to activate bilateral cooperation agreements in the economic, investment, military, and security spheres. In addition, they spoke about the latest regional developments in Yemen, Syria, and Iraq. The Hashemite Kingdom’s monarch expressed his appreciation for the role which Sultan Qaboos has played in defusing regional crises.

Oman to invest USD 122 million in uranium miner Berkeley Energia
Oman’s sovereign wealth fund will invest USD 122 million in Berkeley Energia, an AIM-listed uranium miner. The funds will finance construction of a mine near Salamanca in northwestern Spain. In return, Oman will acquire a stake of up to 37 percent in the company. As Oman looks to reduce its dependency on oil revenue, it has been exploring nuclear power options; following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, however, it indicated that it would put development plans on hold.

Photo credit: Flickr/U.S. Department of State