I paid a visit to Muscat in April 2014. It is always a pleasure to be back in Oman, in the capital city of a fascinating country that I know well and where I feel at home. Thanks to the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Oman is today a stable and more prosperous country.
It has successfully combined tradition and modernity, and gained international respect and recognition for its contribution to peace and security, as well as for its capacity to promote dialogue and mediation among nations.
Spain has a centuries-old tradition of strong relations with the Arab peoples, which is reflected in our language and culture. And now, in order to improve mutual awareness and understanding, we have created Casa Árabe, or “Dar Al Arabía," which actively endeavors to bring our societies closer together.
I am proud to note that the Omani authorities are counting on cooperation from Spanish institutions and specialized Spanish companies to undertake landmark projects, among which are the restoration of its architectural and historic heritage, the ongoing interior works at the new National Museum, and the design of the Omani Tourism Strategy.
The official and business delegation that came with me to Muscat showed how important Oman is in our political and economic agenda. In fact, the businessmen that were here represented renowned Spanish companies with a solid international reputation and expertise in the sectors of infrastructure, energy, oil and gas, and defense. They wish to continue their involvement in the ambitious development projects foreseen by the Sultanate in the framework of its successive five-year plans and Vision 2020.
We aim at the creation of a solid network of relations between policy makers and companies of both countries. Having undergone a period of economic crisis with a painful loss of jobs, Spain is now returning to the path of economic growth, and foreign capital is strongly returning to our country. That is the result of a strict policy of fiscal consolidation, ambitious structural reforms, and a deep reform of the financial sector.
Today, our main imbalances are being corrected. At the same time, Oman is facing the challenges of modernity with visionary projects deeply rooted in its rich history as a trade hub and cultural bridge between Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Oman and Spain signed an agreement aimed at avoiding double taxation and tax evasion in income tax. This agreement will regulate the imposition of taxes by the Spanish or Oman's government on individuals and companies residing in each other countries, and it will facilitate economic and trade liaison for investors and businessmen in the two countries.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of transport implies an exchange of expertise and assessment of transport development, and it will support project planning. It also includes the formation of a joint committee to take the responsibility of coordinating the programs and activities implemented by Oman and Spain. Another important highlight is the MoU in the tourism field: it aims at enhancing tourism cooperation between the two countries, including investment and exchange visits.
I hope that my visit marked a turning point in deepening a mutual knowledge and relations, not only because of the agreements that we signed, but also because of the bright prospects for cooperation between our two countries.