France and Oman

Presentation

Political relations and visits

The President of the French Republic visited the Sultanate of Oman in February 2009. Furthermore, the Secretaries-General of the French and Omani Foreign Ministries meet regularly as part of strategic bilateral dialogue (most recently in Muscat in January 2015). Finally, a French-Omani joint economic and cultural commission meets every four years, most recently in Muscat in January 2015.

Mr Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, visited Oman on 9 April 2015.

Economic relations

Over the past ten years, our total bilateral trade has never exceeded €700 million. It increased in 2013, reaching €584.5 million. It then stabilized at €518 million in 2015.

After dropping for the fourth consecutive year in 2013 (€197.6 million compared to €310 million in 2012), the trade surplus rose to €408 million in 2015. French imports from Oman, excluding aircraft, remain extremely limited. Our small market share can partly be explained by the influence of traditional suppliers (the United Arab Emirates, Japan, the United States and Saudi Arabia) and major emerging countries (India, China and South Korea), but it also remains smaller than that of our main European competitors (Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium).

We are mainly present in the energy, water, environment and infrastructure sectors. In January 2016, the Suez-Dégremont group signed an agreement with the government of Oman to build and operate a seawater desalination plant. Lastly, an ambitious project to build a rail network of over 2,000km (including 300km connected to the trans-GCC network), at an estimated overall cost of around €12 billion, opens up major opportunities for French businesses in this sector.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Our most active cooperation with Oman is in the fields of culture and heritage. France supports the Sultanate’s efforts to promote its heritage.
French teaching is also thriving in the current economic environment. After introducing French-language options to higher education in 2007, the authorities have decided to introduce French in four pilot schools, for the last two years of secondary education. The French school in Muscat, meanwhile, has seen its enrolment double in five years. In September 2015, the school moved to modern premises, on a 10,000m2 site kindly provided by Sultan Qaboos, after completion of the building project that began in 2012.

Lastly, the French and Omani authorities have decided to renovate the Bait Faransa Omani French Museum together.

Military cooperation

Our bilateral defence relations, established some 20 years ago, have solid foundations. They involve regular visits by French and Omani military authorities and are structured around four main areas: port calls by French military vessels in Oman, overflights by French military aircraft, reciprocal hosting of military trainees and monitoring of arms contracts. The Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, travelled to Muscat on 17 September 2016.

Updated: 4 January 2017

SITE MAP