Explaining the Role of Geopolitical Factors in Oman's Foreign Policy

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Faculty Member of Khatam Al-anbia University of the Army

2 Faculty Member of the Army Command and Staff University


The political relations and actions of governments in the foreign arena are a function of their geopolitical position. Oman, despite its presence in the Middle East crisis zone, has a different foreign policy. Its foreign policy is a successful model for a country with a turbulent presence. Similar to Middle East, which has avoided entering the region's sectarian strife and tension in the international system, the country has been effective in reducing tensions between Arab and non-Arab countries in a positive neutrality policy by maintaining good relations with influential regional and international powers. In its interactions it has been able to balance the conflicting interests of its neighbors and regional and trans-regional powers. The main purpose of this article is to find out what geopolitical factors affect Oman's foreign policy. In response to this question, the author assumes that geographical location, Abbasid religion, border geopolitics, weak military forces, lack of population and energy resources, and the need for foreign investment affect Oman's foreign policy. The present study is descriptive-analytical, based on library resources and the "positive neutrality" theory is used to explain Oman's foreign policy.
The research is descriptive-analytical, having a geo-political approach to geography. Data collection and analysis in accordance with the type of research, are based on library and documentary method, using written and important internal and external authoritative works (e.g. books, articles, reports, etc.) as well as electronic sources (websites and electronic articles).
Result and Discussion
In response to the research question, the findings show that the geopolitics of Oman’s borders with Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and especially the United Arab Emirates play a very important role in its behavioral pattern. Oman's territorial disruption has created the need to establish and expand relationships with regional and trans-regional poles in terms of territorial security, military operations, and control of the Strait of Hormuz. Oman's followers have mostly built on their interactions with other religions and are advocates of Muslim unity. Oman has religiously sought to keep its foreign policy away from religious currents while still maintaining good relations with all countries in the Arab and Islamic world. When facing most of sectarian tensions and fundamentalism in the region, it preferred to adopt neutrality and call for a peaceful way. The army in Oman is very weak and despite great powers like Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, its aggressive and deterrent power is not noticeable. Like other countries in the region, Oman has been extremely cautious in moderating its political relations with regional and international powers by handing over military bases to world powers and recruiting military advisers. In addition, the country’s very small population, more than one-third of which are immigrants, is the most significant security-economic threat that will change Oman's demographic structure. The low population has led to moderation in its foreign policy and ultimately synergize with the region's top and most influential neighbors and powers. Limited and expiring oil resources, high costs of extraction, and its need for gas, as well as pursuing policies to reduce oil dependency and launching macroeconomic projects has led to Oman's need for regional countries and foreign investment.
Oman’s main goal for its domestic and foreign policy is to provide stability, security, and economic recovery, based on the security in the region and peaceful resolution of events. Ensuring the national interest has made neutrality and diversification of foreign communications an integral part of its foreign policy. The basic premise of this type of behavior is based on numerous geopolitical factors that have so far shown Oman as a calm and stable country. The results show that the geopolitical boundaries of Oman's borders with its neighboring countries especially the UAE, the geographical location of the Strait of Hormuz, its long coasts, the religion of ibadiyyah and other regional religions, the weakness of military forces, population’s small size which is significantly comprised of immigrants and non-natives, lack of energy resources, pursuit of a policy of reducing oil dependency, and the need for foreign investment, affect Oman's foreign policy towards positive neutrality. The amount of investment and current economic situation indicate some stability, based on a policy of positive neutrality, which has been achieved over the past five decades.


Main Subjects

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Volume 53, Issue 1
April 2021
Pages 283-305
  • Receive Date: 08 September 2019
  • Revise Date: 20 January 2020
  • Accept Date: 20 January 2020
  • First Publish Date: 21 March 2021