22 January 2017

Oman is to launch an auto manufacturing factory in Iran, in a rare show of cooperation between the Persian Shi'ite-run state and an Arab Gulf country, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported on Saturday, citing a top Iranian diplomat based in the sultanate. Read more here.

An Omani sovereign wealth fund earlier last year signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran's biggest carmaker, Iran Khodro Industrial Group, to study a proposal to build a $200 million assembly plant in the southern Omani port of Duqm, Reuters reported. Read more here.

Oman has maintained closer ties to Iran than most of its Arab and Gulf counterparts. Sunni-led Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy and the most influential of the six Gulf Cooperation Council members, has long had strained relationships with Iran, perceived as a regional rival.

The kingdom last year announced it would cut all ties and business links with Iran following an attack on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran. Read more here.

At the same time, Bahrain's foreign minister in April last year said that Gulf Arab states were prepared to confront Iran over its foreign policy and Tehran should drop its support for Middle East factions. Read more here.

The news of closer ties between Iran and Oman comes just days after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has vowed to end a landmark agreement signed by the previous Obama administration in 2015, which was supposed to end decades-old international and financial sanctions imposed by the West on Iran. Read more here.

© Express 2017