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India, Oman to sign pact on digital finance & payments

In a significant step to expand strategic ties with Oman, New Delhi and Muscat will soon sign of an agreement between National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Central Bank of Oman (CBO) for cooperation in digital finance and payments.

The landmark agreement will facilitate the use of RuPay cards and the UPI platform in Oman and collaboration for seamless digital remittances, benefitting Indian workers and professionals.

This will be signed during Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan Muscat visit on Monday-Tuesday.

This will be his second visit to Oman and the first high level visit from India to Oman in the post-pandemic phase. He last visited Oman in December 2020 in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His visit is aimed at comprehensively reviewing the state of bilateral relations and work on new proposals to take the relationship to a higher level, sources said.

After a brief lull due to pandemic induced disruptions, high level visits and exchanges have resumed with Oman. Omani Secretary General for Defence, Foreign Minister and Commerce Minister visited India in February, March and May 2022 respectively.

MOS will meet the Foreign Minister of Oman for reviewing the overall state of bilateral relations and have other high level meetings with a cross section of the leadership. He will also interact extensively with eminent members of the Indian diaspora, meet with grassroots and community organizations as well as voluntary groups and professional associations.

A main highlight of the visit will be the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the premises of Embassy of India in Muscat. Commissioned by Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), the life-size bronze statue of Gandhi ji will be the first ever in Oman, serving as an abiding memorial to the Mahatma’s ideals of peace and amity, reflected in the historical relations between India and Oman.

Oman is India’s oldest strategic relationship in the Gulf region and a close defence and strategic partner. Oman plays an important role in supporting Indian naval deployments in the western Indian ocean and Persian Gulf.

India is one of the largest investors in Oman with total investments of over $ 7.5 billion. Bilateral trade is on the rise with total trade in FY 2021-22 touching nearly $ 10 billion.

Oman is seeking to position itself as a global hub for Green hydrogen and this has emerged as a potential new area of collaboration between the two countries.

-Over 650,000 Indians call Oman home and are well represented in all sectors of the Omani economy. Recently, Pankaj Khimji, who is an Omani of Indian origin has been appointed Advisor in Omani Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion with the rank of Vice Minister, reportedly the first such appointment of an Indian-origin expat in a senior Govt position in the Gulf region.

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