It has been a real pleasure to serve as US Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman. I will complete my tour as Ambassador later this month, and I want to extend my warm wishes to the people of Oman. Both personally and professionally, my time in this beautiful country has been tremendously rewarding.
During my nearly four years here in the sultanate, I have had many wonderful opportunities to engage with the people of Oman and to see the US-Oman partnership expand at multiple levels. I believe none of this would have been possible without the hard work of our two peoples and the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said. I wish His Majesty the Sultan enduring good health, long life and success. His Majesty the Sultan continues to be one of America’s strongest partners in the region and around the world. I would like to extend my personal thanks to His Majesty the Sultan and our many partners at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and throughout the Government of Oman for their steadfast support of our bilateral relationship and the work of my embassy.
I am very proud of all that my embassy team and our Omani partners have accomplished together. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of joining the Secretary General of the Ministry of Defence to sign the Framework Agreement. The agreement strengthened our longstanding strategic relationship, showed our shared commitment to promoting mutual security goals, and reflected US support for Oman’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Another recent highlight was the visit in January of Secretary Mike Pompeo, during which His Majesty the Sultan graciously hosted him at Bait al Baraka for an important meeting.
The United States and Oman coordinate closely on many of the most difficult issues that face the region and, indeed, the world. We appreciate Oman’s international role a great deal. His Majesty the Sultan is rightly known as a leader in efforts to advance dialogue and reconciliation. Oman has exemplified this spirit once again this year in its engagement to promote peace in Yemen as well as between Israelis and Palestinians.
Oman and the United States have also advanced our bilateral people-to-people ties by making reciprocal travel easier and fostering educational exchange in both directions. In January, we committed to extended visa validities that will enable Omani and American tourists and businesspeople to obtain ten-year visas and official travellers to receive five-year ones.
The number of Omani students benefiting from the US higher education system continues to grow, and the next cohort of American Fulbright scholars will arrive here in the coming months to share knowledge and learn from Omani colleagues.
As we mark the tenth anniversary of the signing of our bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA), we celebrate increased trade in both directions, which is creating jobs and benefitting consumers in both of our countries. In fact, bilateral trade in goods and services between Oman and the United States surged in value to over US$4bn in 2018. Data published by the US Department of Commerce shows exports of American goods to the Omani market totalled over US$2.4bn in 2018, with Omani exports escalating to almost US$1.3bn. I believe the next ten years will be even more productive for the FTA, as private sector leaders in both countries find creative new ways to leverage the extraordinary opportunities it offers to promote prosperity and bring our countries closer.
In 2018, we witnessed another major milestone in our commercial ties: The Oman American Business Center (OABC) became an official US Chamber of Commerce affiliate, which enables it to tap into the vast network of American companies overseas and attract more business to Oman. I am also very pleased with OABC’s growing profile and its engagement with the local business community. Thanks to OABC, the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and many other excellent local partners, we recently concluded the fifth successful ‘Discover America’ campaign here in Oman, which promotes US products and celebrates the widespread popularity that the American brand enjoys here in Oman. We look forward to continued partnership with the local business community in the future.
After this month, I will take up new challenges, as I come to the end of my time here as US Ambassador and I retire from government service. I am particularly proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved during my tenure here. I am fully confident that the vibrant Oman-US relationship will continue to stand the test of time, evolving to the mutual benefit of both our countries.
As I leave my post, I will carry with me a feeling of enduring warmth for Oman and its wonderful people. I appreciate your friendship with the United States and with the US Embassy community. I couldn’t be happier that my last government posting was in this amazing country, where my family and I have made lasting friendships and memories that we will carry with us for many years to come.
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