The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has unveiled plans to look at developing a British presence at Oman’s major Duqm port. The move underlines Britain’s increasing defence engagement with, and presence in the Gulf – a key manifesto commitment at this year’s General Election.
Visiting the site, Michael Fallon said:
The booming port complex at Duqm is a key strategic location for both the UK and Oman. There are areas of mutual benefit for both countries.
I was impressed by the scale and vision of the project. I believe there could be a part to play for the UK from a military, as well as a commercial perspective.
The Duqm port project provides significant opportunity to the defence, security and prosperity agendas for both the UK and Oman. It will offer an airport with a 4km runway close to a port large enough for a Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers to manoeuvre and will also be connected to other Gulf countries by the Gulf Rail Project. A permanent presence at Duqm would enable the UK to shape the development of the Naval facility to support future carrier capability and wider British maritime needs in the area.
Whilst in Oman, Michael Fallon also met with the Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs His Excellency Sayyid Badar bin Saud bin Harub Al Busaidi and the Minister of the Royal Office His Excellency Fariq Sultain Bin Mohammed Al Numani to re-affirm the UK’s strong historic ties with the country.
Michael Fallon said:
Omani security is also our security. It is important that we continue to cooperate closely in the military, security, counter-terrorist and intelligence fields.
We have a shared interest in dealing with the global threat posed by violent extremists and we are grateful for the role Oman has taken during this challenging time in the region.
Oman is a longstanding British ally in the Gulf with shared interests across diplomatic, economic and security matters. With a particularly strong defence relationship, the UK and Omani armed forces regularly train together and the UK now intends to look at options for a permanent training facility in the country.