Oman Historical Relations with Great Powers

Oman has been known since ancient times of its great historical links with different civilizations, due to the cultural exchange and economic activities. The expansion of Oman to the Eastern part of Africa, specifically when Sayyid Said chose Zanzibar as a capital city, contributed significantly to make Oman the empire that attracts the great powers. Many countries such as Britain, France and the United States of America aimed to conclude international treaties, which reflects their interests and ambitions in many fields including the commercial and military fields. For example, the commercial relationship between Oman and the US have started when the American merchant Edmund Roberts visited Zanzibar in 1827, to get commercial facilities similar to the one that was granted by the Omani government to Britain. Later, the idea of concluding a trade treaty with Sayyed Said bin Sultan was suggested by Edmund Roberts, in order to import the American goods in the property of the Omani Empire. The US president Andrew Jackson agreed to the idea of signing the agreement between the two parties in 1833. The treaty remained in force until 1958. later it was replaced by a new treaty of economic relations and the consular rights.   In general, Oman was able to establish a balanced political relations with many European powers in the 19th and early 20th century. Such as Britain, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany and other great powers. In the ruling period of Imam Ahmad bin Said- the first ruler of Al Said dynasty in Oman- the commercial transactions have started with France. It was in Mauritius island, which was affiliated with France at the time. Omani ships were sailing in order to export sugar and return freighted by fish and coffee. Due to the continuing trade relations between the two countries, Imam Ahmed bin Said showed his desire to establish a free of charge French commercial agency, at the port of Muscat.

As for the Omani-British relations, many treaties and agreements have been signed between the two sides throughout history. The first British ship anchored in Oman in 1613. So the merchants of the East India Company considered Oman as a middle station, where they can stop on their way to and from India. The British established their relationship with the Omanis under the leadership of Nasser bin Murshid al-Yaarbi, the founder of the Yaribiy dynasty in Oman. They also helped them to dispose of the Portuguese military presence in both Oman and the Gulf, opening the way for the British to consolidate their relations in the region.

Obviously, the Omanis were moving towards the rules of the modern state. They were valued and respected by all the competing European powers in a certain time. In 2016, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Foreign Minister Yousuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah signed a scientific and practical cooperation agreement between the United States and Oman to expand bilateral cooperation. The existence of the agreements between Oman and the other great powers today proves Oman's ability to maintain its relations with these countries.  

Written By Attifa Nasser Al-Maskari
Photo credits: Omani-French Museum 

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