Skip to main content

What’s behind Sisi’s recent trip to Oman?

While Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is calling on Tehran and Riyadh to cool their tensions, Egypt is strengthening its ties to Oman, which has become a stable and trustworthy ally.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi attends the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries in Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian Province, Sept. 5, 2017. REUTERS/Mark Schiefelbein/Pool - RC171B1A3CC0
Read in 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s three-day trip to Oman from Feb. 4-6 reaffirmed Cairo and Muscat’s close relationship. The two countries’ media coverage of the “historic” visit — the first made by an Egyptian head of state to the sultanate since 2009 — underscored the decades-old warm ties between the two Arab countries. Oman’s Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah said Muscat saw Egypt as “the backbone of the Arab nation and the podium which embraces all Arabs.”

After 1970 — the year in which Sultan Qaboos bin Said ascended to power and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser died — Egypt and Oman quickly overcome major problems that had previously plagued Cairo-Muscat relations when the two capitals were in opposing Cold War camps. During the 1960s, Nasser’s brand of Arab nationalism inspired the Marxist insurgents in the Dhofar governorate in Oman, whose rebellion against Sultan Said bin Taimur’s monarchy erupted in 1965. Yet within the framework of Qaboos’ early opening of Oman’s relations with the greater Arab world and the West, Muscat respected Egypt’s sovereignty and right to conduct its own foreign policy. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (1970-1981) simultaneously realigned Egypt with Washington and Western-backed conservative Gulf sheikdoms, bringing Cairo away from the Kremlin and left-leaning secular Arab nationalist regimes and movements in Algeria, Iraq and Syria. The sultanate earned more of Egypt’s trust when Oman (and only two other Arab League members) maintained relations with Cairo after the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.