His Majesty arrives to grand welcome in Oman
By Liza Mohd in Oman & Azlan Othman in Kuwait City

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam arrived in the Gulf State of Oman yesterday to begin his State Visit.

Upon arrival at the royal private airport yesterday afternoon, His Majesty was warmly welcomed by the King of Oman, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

His Majesty was also greeted by several Omani ministers.

Later, His Majesty headed to Al-Alam Guest Palace for an official welcoming ceremony. At the Muscat Gate of the palace, His Majesty was escorted by horse guards and later received a royal salute.

The Brunei national anthem was played followed by the firing of 21 canon shots to honour His Majesty's arrival.

Later, His Majesty was greeted by the Omani royal entourage; Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos was introduced to the Brunei delegation.

Inside the palace, His Majesty attended an official meeting with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and both rulers discussed ways to improve relations and strengthen bilateral ties in a number of areas.

As a tradition in Oman, His Majesty was served Omani Qahwa or coffee as a gesture to officially welcome the ruler.

His Majesty also attended a banquet at the palace with His Majesty Sultan Qaboos later in the evening.

After the official meeting between His Majesty and Sultan Qaboos, two meetings at the ministerial level also took place.

During the meeting Brunei's Minister of Energy Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Dewa Major Gen (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Hj Mohammad bin Hj Daud and Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Pehin Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng met with Omani Minister of Oil and Gas Dr Mohammed Hamed Seif Al Rumly and also Omani Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sayyid Badu bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi.

At the meeting both parties reviewed possible areas of cooperation in oil and gas sector as well as the current trends related to the oil and gas prices.

Today, His Majesty is scheduled to visit the Sultan's Special Force and meet Deputy Prime Minister His Highness Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said. His Majesty will hear a briefing on the development of Oman's economy by the Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbool bin Ali bin Sultan.

A signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to further improve the framework for bilateral investment and trade relations and the establishment of Joint Investment Fund between both Sultanates are also expected to take place today.

In Kuwait, before leaving the Bayan Palace yesterday afternoon, a 'doa selamat' was read by Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, the State Mufti.

Prior to departure for the Kuwait International Airport, His Majesty briefly met His Highness the Emir at the Bayan Palace.

His Majesty accompanied by His Highness the Emir then proceeded to the airport for the official farewell ceremony.

Present at the airport to bid farewell to His Majesty were His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Crown Prince of Kuwait; Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Deputy Chief of National Guard; other members of the Kuwaiti royal family and state dignitaries, as well as members of the Kuwaiti government.

Also present at the airport was Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Jaberudin bin Pengiran Haji Mohd Salleh, Non-Resident Ambassador of Brunei Darussalam to Kuwait.

On arrival at the airport, His Majesty and His Highness the Emir were led to a special dais to receive the salute of the guard of honour. After the national anthems of both countries were played, His Majesty together with His Highness inspected the guard of honour.

Following this, His Majesty and His Highness bid each other farewell. The state visit of His Majesty has demonstrated the warm and friendly ties, as well as enhanced relations between Brunei Darussalam and Kuwait. During the visit, the leaders identified potential areas, which both sides can work together and witnessed the signing of several documents of bilateral cooperation.

Meanwhile, trade statistics showed that Brunei's export to the Sultanate of Oman in 2007 stood at $602,913 and import at $69,519, down compared to figures in the past four years. In 2006, export stood at $683,041 and import $189,355.

His Majesty made a state visit to Oman in 1984 and visited again a year later to attend the country's national day celebrations. A high level exchange of visits have been made since 1984 including the visit by His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in 1984, 1985 and 1992 and by HRH Princess Hjh Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in 1995, 1997 and 2000 for bilateral consultative meetings.

A joint working group called bilateral consultative meeting was established in 1993 to enhance ties. So far, 10 meetings have taken place alternately in the respective capitals of both countries, the last in Muscat in February 2008. HH Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmood al Said, Deputy Prime Minister visited Brunei in March 1997.

About a dozen agreements and MoUs have been signed between the two countries since 1988, with the latest between the two Ministries of Health in February 2009 and an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income in February 2008.

The two countries cooperate in education, health, oil and gas and defence. In education, for instance, a group of secondary school students from Brunei visited Oman in February this year while 13 Omani students have graduated from UBD under Brunei's scholarship.

In oil and gas, there are 21 Bruneians from BSP Sdn Bhd currently working for Petroleum Development of Oman and Oman LNG, while 12 Omanis are working at BSP and BLNG. On the whole, there are currently 94 Bruneians residing in Oman including family members, working in the private sector, staff at the embassy and their families.

As for defence cooperation, the Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces visited Oman in February 2008, while the Omani Royal Armed Forces participated in the Brunei International Tattoo in July 2006 hosted by the Ministry of Defence and RBAF in conjunction with His Majesty's 60th birthday. - Borneo Bulletin (16th Apr 2009)