How to make the best of global partnerships so that every country reaps the rewards

Oman is well-placed to facilitate allyship between GCC, Asean members and emerging economies

Omani students attend a lecture at the Oman Tourism College, the only college in the Sultanate of Oman specializes Tourism & Hospitality.
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Leaders and investors around the world have been looking towards the GCC and Asean nations to learn from the steady progress they have made in recent decades. Despite global economic setbacks, both groupings project positive growth and their approach can inform blueprints and frameworks for other nations to grow in the same way.

The GCC and Asean countries have formed close partnerships that are crucial to long-term socio-economic progress that emerging markets aspire to themselves. There is room for the Gulf and South-East Asian nations to collaborate further to support other nations while also diversifying their own interests.

While every region and nation has a particular range of hurdles – from political structures to business structures, education systems, industry, international relations, revenue, climate change and so on – it is never too late to start planning and seeking the expertise of countries that have overcome similar challenges.

Oman is particularly well-placed to enable allyship between the GCC, Asean members and emerging economies. Its unique approach to foreign policy promotes mutual benefit, respect and prioritises peace as well as maintaining cordial relations among all stakeholders.

First and foremost, every emerging market must conduct a thorough analysis of their education sector and work towards reform. For example, Oman’s literacy rate grew from 54.7 per cent in 1990 to an impressive 97.3 per cent in 2022 as reported by the World Bank, and there is capacity for other nations to achieve solid growth in coming decades as well.

Literacy and primary schooling are a baseline. Governments must also seek support to expand higher education and skills training. With several online options available, education and training can be far more accessible for more people but barriers to technology and other resources must first be addressed.

There are innumerable case studies on expansion and development of education systems, and there are untapped opportunities for Oman and other nations within the GCC and Asean countries to partner with the right organisations and invest in education sectors to boost literacy, higher studies, skills training and employment in other countries.

Infrastructure projects in emerging countries are excellent investments that can pave the way for more innovation and revenue streams in the future. Nations in the Middle East and Asia that have developed efficient internal systems. They have acquired expertise in areas such as urban planning and transport systems and they have improved the ease of doing business. A similar trajectory can lead other nations to create and fine tune components that will support their own economies.

Over the past few decades, Oman has established itself as a premier tourist destination. It attracts visitors from all parts of the world for business and leisure. The sultanate’s strength lies in understanding a broad range of cultural, political and business landscapes. It can thus facilitate peace, good relations and catalyse initiatives that benefit all parties and lead emerging nations to build frameworks and partnerships – these are required to create flourishing tourism sectors.

The outbreak of Covid-19 reminded people of how connected the world is. We cannot deny the impact of an event such as a pandemic. It is important for nations that fared relatively well through those challenging times to look outwards and offer their resources – from business expertise to education, planning, industry know how, systemic reform plans, etc – to emerging nations, to support them and help them adapt so they too grow and fare better.

Strategic partnerships with strong global allies could be just the push the world needs to fulfil universal socio-economic goals in coming decades. I invite fellow Omani citizens, from industry leaders to the youth, to carry the tradition of entrepreneurship and alliances forward on a scale that stretches beyond national and regional borders.

There is a lot of untapped potential in terms of global partnerships. We can take the best of what the sultanate has achieved, along with the successes of other GCC member states, as well as Asean countries, and engage with them and boost nations that are facing challenges, not unlike those that Oman has faced in previous decades. The creation of industries and empowerment of citizens are no easy feats. Varied perspectives, however, and a desire to collaborate for mutual benefit can go a long way.

Published: February 15, 2024, 7:00 AM