British foreign minister arrives in Oman

  • Top British diplomat visits Oman
  • Muscat offers refuge to family of Yemen’s ex-president
  • Sultanate delays VAT implementation

December 8

British foreign minister arrives in Oman

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with Sultan Qaboos in Muscat and discussed the fate of British national Nazanin Zahari-Ratcliffe who is lodged in a prison in Iran. Tehran has charged her of espionage. According to Oman’s state-run media the Sultan and Johnson also reviewed bilateral relations and ongoing developments in the Middle East.

Analysis: Johnson’s trip is part of London’s ongoing defense relationship with Muscat. British military advisors continue to be stationed in Oman due to its strategic location in the Arabian Peninsula. The UK along with the United States act as the Sultanate’s security guarantor and help Oman in border control and maritime surveillance.

December 21

Oman offers refuge to family of slain Ali Abdullah Saleh

Following the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh at the hands of Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, Oman has offered refuge to the ex-president’s family. This comes amid a Houthi crackdown on Saleh’s relatives and loyalists in the strife-torn country. Omani media confirmed that 22 members of the former leader’s family had entered the Sultanate from Yemen’s al-Mahra province. The Saudi-led coalition took credit for facilitating the transfer.

December 25

Oman delays VAT roll-out

Rather than introducing a 5 percent VAT in 2018, Oman is delaying implementation until 2019. Local media reported that new taxes will also be imposed on sodas and tobacco products. Oman has been seeking to increase state revenue since oil prices plummeted in 2014.

Analysis: Oman’s VAT delay is prudent, given that Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not appear to be ready to implement the same. This comes despite having prepared their respective citizens with information campaigns to clarify how VAT works and how monies are to be collected and sent to the Central Bank.