The Sultanate of Oman has been independent since the 17th century. At its peak, in the 19th century, it became a large coastal empire stretching from Gwadar, in modern day Pakistan, to Cabo Delgado, between Mozambique and Tanzania, rivalling with Portugal and the British empire as a hegemonic power in the Arabian Sea. Weakened by internal conflicts, it became a British Protectorate in 1891, and regained independence in 1971. The country faces the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. It borders with the United Arab Emirates to the north, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest. The population is estimated to be about 4 million and the official language is Arabic.

Thanks to its geographical position, Oman shares with the EAU the control of the southern bank of the strait of Hormuz, through its enclave of Musandam, located at the extreme end of the horn of the Arabian Peninsula. The strait of Hormuz is a crossing point for maritime trade routes to and from the peninsula and, most significantly, the world’s single most important oil passageway. For this reason, the Sultanate of Oman has historically played a leading geostrategic role in the balance of power across the region.

Under the leadership of Sultan Qabos bin Said al Said, Oman has undertaken important internal reforms to diversify its economy. The country has also taken on a leading diplomatic role in the region by participating in many initiatives to bolster regional security.

Located in one of the most sensitive areas of the world, in the last few years, Oman has also promoted a package of reforms for its armed forces which has made them one of the most efficient in the region.

Diplomatic, economic and commercial relations between Oman and Italy have intensified considerably. Italian firms operate in Oman in many sectors, especially infrastructure, tourism, agri-food, environment and energy.

Being everyone’s friend and nobody’s enemy. (Re)Discovering Oman’s go-between role

Keeping in mind the intertwining of domestic and international dynamics, Oman’s interest in not getting entangled in regional struggles is deemed functional in countering possible destabilizing spillover effects across the country. The recent high-level official visit to the Omani capital by the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, well exemplifies the Sultanate’s high priority in maintaining cordial relations with Tehran.

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