The Foreign Ministry in its current form was established in 1970 when His late Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said came to the throne and launched Oman on a new path of modernisation and progress.

But Oman has always been an outward looking nation. Political, trade and cultural exchanges with foreign countries go back thousands of years. As long ago as the 7th century CE, flourishing maritime trade routes from Oman across the Indian Ocean created ties with other nations as far away as China.

In 1800, Oman and Britain signed a treaty expressing the hope that “the friendship of the two states may remain unshook till the end of time, and till the sun and the moon have finished their revolving career.”

Sultan Qaboos and Queen Elizabeth II
Oman has a long-standing and warm friendship with the United Kingdom.

In 1833 Sultan Said of Oman signed a treaty of friendship and commerce with a trade representative of the United States. In 1840 his envoy, Ahmad bin Na’aman, set sail for New York on the Sultanah, marking the symbolic inauguration of a diplomatic relationship with the United States.

Under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos, supported in the early days by Prime Minister Sayyid Tarik bin Taimur Al Said, Oman embarked on a major effort to reconnect with the outside world and establish fresh diplomatic relations with foreign countries. Operating from a small office near the Al–Alam Palace in old Muscat, the first generation of diplomats travelled widely to win recognition for Oman – first with the Arab League and then, in 1971, with the United Nations.

The results soon took physical shape with the opening of many embassies in Muscat.

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw Oman establishing its role as an international player championing the cause of peace. In pursuing this goal, His late Majesty Sultan Qaboos demonstrated exceptional courage, ability and wisdom. In 1971 Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said was appointed Minister of State, followed by Qais bin Abdul Munim Al Zawawi in 1973.

omani flag hoisted at UN 1971
1971: The Omani flag is hoisted at the United Nations for the first time.

Oman was one of just three Arab states not to break ties with Egypt when President Sadat of Egypt made peace with Israel following the Camp David Accords. It marked the beginning of Sultan Qaboos’s role as an honest facilitator and interlocutor – always championing the cause of dialogue and peace.

In 1979 His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik began 23 years of service with the Foreign Ministry. After periods as head of the Political Department and the European and American Department, he was appointed Undersecretary for Political Affairs in 1986. In 1994 he was appointed Secretary General of  the Ministry with the rank of Minister.

GCC Inaugural summit 1981
1981: GCC inaugural summit.

In 1981 Oman’s commitment to peace and international cooperation saw it become a founding member of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

During the Iran Iraq war from 1980 to 1988 Oman maintained a unique position of constructive neutrality.

In 1983 Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah was appointed Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and later Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, a role he fulfilled with great distinction until 2020, becoming one of the longest serving ministers responsible for foreign policy in the world.

In 1985 the Ministry moved into its current premises on Al Kharjiyah Street in Muscat close to the Diplomatic enclave.

Throughout the 1990s Oman’s international diplomacy remained committed to dialogue and the search for peace. Border agreements were reached with neighbours, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni Republic and the United Arab Emirates.

From 1991, under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos, Oman became an active participant in the Madrid peace process. Oman established diplomatic dialogue with Israel in 1993. In 1994 Yitzhak Rabin visited Oman, making it the first Gulf country to receive an Israeli Prime Minister.

From 2000, the political and diplomatic situation in the Gulf region became ever more complicated culminating in the war in Iraq. Under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos, the Foreign Ministry pursued a policy of promoting peace and dialogue with renewed energy. From 2013 Oman played a discreet but important role in facilitating the JCPOA agreement between Iran and Western countries to ensure that Iran’s nuclear capabilities remain solely for peaceful purposes.

SQ Rouhani JPCOA
Oman helped secure the deal on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

In 2015 when war broke out in Yemen, the Foreign Ministry offered its services as a facilitator in the search for peace.

In 2020 Badr Albusaidi was appointed Foreign Minister.

Today the Foreign Ministry continues to look after diplomatic relations with nearly 100 countries, maintaining a network of embassies and missions around the world.