France and the Sultanate of Oman have a long-standing, confident relationship based on our military and security cooperation and a shared commitment to resolving conflict through dialogue, in accordance with international law, and in multilateral forums.
Bilateral strategic dialogue is generally held yearly, at the level of the Secretaries-General of the French and Omani Foreign Ministries. A France-Oman joint commission on economic and cultural issues meets every two years or so (the last one took place in 2016).
There are 600 French nationals on the consular register.
The French Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, visited Oman in September 2016, and met his Omani counterpart in Paris on 16 January 2018. Mr Yusuf bin Alawi, Omani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, met Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in Paris in September 2019.
Ambassador of France to Oman: H.E. Ms Véronique Aulagnon
Ambassador of Oman to France: H.E. Sheikh Dr Ghazi bin Said bin Abdullah Al-Bahr Al-Rawas
Bilateral trade between France and Oman stood at €277 million in 2020, down 46.7% on the previous year. This decline is due to a drop in our exports (down 39.9% and falling every year, to €255 million), caused by the completion of contracts in the aviation sector and the closing of the Sultanate in March 2020 during the COVID-19 crisis, and the collapse of French imports from Oman, which slid by 80% in one year to just €22 million. This can mainly be explained by the total cessation of our purchases of refined petroleum products and coke in 2020, as they represented 82% of French imports in 2019, equivalent to €86 million.
Despite encouraging results in 2018 and 2019, France’s market share continues to fall in the long term, dropping from 2.4% in 2002 to 0.7% in 2020. France now ranks 25th among Oman’s suppliers, behind the United Arab Emirates (43%), China (8%), India (5.2%) and our major European competitors, Germany (2.1%), the Netherlands (1.4%) and the United Kingdom (1.1%).
In the first half of 2021, bilateral trade between France and Oman stood at €106 million, a year-on-year decrease of 8.3%. In detail, our exports to the Sultanate dropped by 30% to €74 million, against a public health backdrop marked by a more severe closing of the Sultanate than in the first half of 2020. Our imports from Oman picked up during the same period, to reach €32 million.
In terms of investments, France is a leading economic player in Oman, with significant market share in electricity and water, waste management, oil and gas, security, logistics, retail and corporate services. Some 40 French companies are established in Oman, including Air Liquide, Apave, Axa, Bolloré Logistics, Carrefour, CMA-CGM, Idemia, JCDecaux, Newrest, Schneider Electric, Suez, Thales, TotalEnergies and Veolia.
France supports the Sultanate’s efforts to promote its heritage, with continuous support to several archaeological missions, and the presence of researchers from the French Research Centre of the Arabian Peninsula (CEFREPA). The renovation of the Omani-French Museum in Muscat has yet to be completed. A French company is currently positioned for the building of a new museum. We are promoting the development of partnerships between the National Museum, the Muscat Opera and other Omani museums with a number of French museums.
Between 20 and 30 Omani students study in France every year, mainly as part of mobility programmes covered by the Omani Government. Health cooperation, founded on a bilateral agreement for the training in France of specialist Omani doctors, is appreciated and is expected to be expanded. The SPHERE association runs a popular programme, which promotes French higher education. There are little to no academic partnerships.
French language teaching has been introduced to the Omani school system as an option in several pilot schools for the end of secondary education. It is taught in two universities to small groups. The Omani-French Centre (CFO), governed by a bilateral administrative arrangement, receives 250 French learners in each session, and offers a cultural programme aimed at young people.
The Lycée Français de Mascate (LFM) French school in Muscat, under contract with the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE), has seen staff numbers drop due to the public health crisis and the departure of many foreign nationals. It is located on a site with modern, high-quality facilities.
Updated: August 2022
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