Defence Secretary ‘strengthens ties’ between UK and Oman

Michael Fallon’s visit to Oman reinforced the strong relationship between the UK and Oman, and reaffirmed plans for the multi-million pound joint venture at Duqm Port.

During the visit, Fallon met with the Minister Responsible for Defence Affairs, Sayyid Badar bin Saud bin Harub Al Busaidi, signing a Memorandum of Understanding and Services Agreement in Muscat.

The agreement secures UK use of facilities at Duqm, ahead of the completion of the UK Joint Logistics Support Base at the port, giving Britain an important and permanent maritime base east of Suez, but outside the Gulf.

The booming Duqm Port complex provides significant opportunity to the defence, security and prosperity agendas for both the UK and Oman. It has dry dock capability able to accommodate submarines and the UK’s HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is the largest and most powerful warship ever built for the Royal Navy.

From Duqm, HMS Queen Elizabeth will be able to project influence across an important region. She will fulfil multiple roles from providing air power anywhere at any time, to supporting allies or delivering humanitarian aid and the port itself provides Britain with a hub from which to tackle issues such as the fight against so-called Islamic State.

Through ensuring a permanent UK presence at Duqm, the UK will be able to shape the development of the Naval facility to support its carrier capability and wider British security needs in the region. Alongside at Duqm was HMS Monmouth, who has recently completed a five month deployment to the Gulf where she was involved in drugs busts worth £400 million.

Once completed, the UK Joint Logistics Support Base, a multi-million pound joint venture between British defence company Babcock International and the Oman Drydock Company, will provide the UK a permanent training facility as well as a key military logistics centre in the Gulf. It will also be connected to other Gulf countries by the Gulf Rail Project.

Michael Fallon, Defence Secretary, said: “This agreement ensures British engineering expertise will be involved in developing Duqm as a strategic port for the Middle East, benefiting the Royal Navy and others.

“Oman is a longstanding British ally and we work closely across diplomatic, economic and security matters. Our commitment to the Duqm port project highlights the strength of our relationship.”

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