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After popular protests, Oman starts to pursue graft

By Sami Aboudi MUSCAT (Reuters) - Young Omanis who took to the streets in 2011 to demand jobs and better economic prospects failed to trigger the mass protests that transformed other parts of the Arab world in their own Gulf state. But they may have had an impact all the same, as authorities are making a start on a task that, even if coincidentally, meets one of the protesters' key demands - fighting corruption.

Oman to privatise airline, telecoms company

Oman plans to privatise its loss-making national carrier Oman Air and continue selling chunks of telecoms company Omantel to local investors, Finance Minister Darwish al-Balushi said Thursday. Both operations would come be part of a broader plan of privatising some 60 companies in which the state holds an interest, he said. As a first step, Oman Air will be broken up into three companies -- one for freight, one for ground services and one for passengers.

Iran's Rouhani visits ally Oman to boost trade, Gulf ties

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday held talks with Oman's leaders in Muscat during a visit aimed at boosting ties and easing tension with other Gulf states, including regional heavyweight Saudi. Kicking off the two-day visit to Oman, Iran's longtime ally in the Gulf, Rouhani went staright into a meeting at Alam palace with Sultan Qaboos, who has acted as an intermediary between Western countries and the Islamic republic. The two leaders discussed "bilateral cooperation" and "building good relations", Oman's official ONA news agency said of the meeting.

Oman, Iran agree to build submarine gas pipeline

Oman signed an initial agreement with Iran Wednesday to build a $1 billion submarine pipeline to import gas from the Islamic republic, Oman's oil and gas minister said. The agreement was reached on the first day of a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, aimed at boosting ties between Tehran and its Gulf ally, and easing tension with other Gulf states. It follows a memorandum of understanding signed in 2009 to build a 200-kilometre (124-mile) undersea pipeline.

Iran's Rouhani in Oman to boost ties with longtime Gulf ally

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held talks in Muscat with Sultan Qaboos Wednesday as he kicked off a two-day Oman visit aimed at boosting economic ties between the longtime allies. Rouhani went into the meeting with Sultan Qaboos, who has acted as an intermediary between Western countries and the Islamic republic, soon after he arrived in Muscat accompanied by a delegation of Iranian leaders. The two leaders discussed "bilateral cooperation" and "building good relations" between their countries, Oman's official ONA news agency reported.

Bilateral ties on agenda as Iran's Rouhani to visit Oman

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is expected in Muscat for a two-day visit starting Wednesday during which he will discuss bilateral cooperation and regional tensions with Oman's leader, Tehran's envoy announced. Tehran enjoys good relations with Muscat but is locked in a decades-long rivalry with Saudi Arabia while other Gulf states are wary of the ambitions of their neighbour across the water.

Oman court jails businessman to 15 years over bribes

MUSCAT (Reuters) - A court in Oman on Sunday sentenced a former executive of an engineering firm to a total of 15 years in jail for five counts of bribery in exchange for contracts from a state-owned oil company. The trial, part of a crackdown by the government on corruption in the Western-allied country, was the second against former managing director of Galfar Engineering and Contracting, Mohammed Ali, who was sentenced to three years in jail in January over bribes made to Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).

Omani CEO jailed for 23 years in graft case: court

MUSCAT (Reuters) - A court sentenced the CEO of state-owned Oman Oil Company to a total of 23 years in jail on Thursday for accepting bribes, abuse of office and money laundering, the most severe punishment meted out in a series of corruption trials that began last year.

Japan, Oman to enhance cooperation on energy, investment

Japan and Oman are expected to agree Thursday to strengthen economic relations, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting the Persian Gulf state to discuss ways to secure a stable supply of energy resources and enhance mutual investments. On the first leg of his weeklong trip to the Middle East and Africa, Abe will meet with Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Muscat. The leaders are also likely to confirm maritime security cooperation between the countries such as antipiracy measures, Japanese officials said.

Abe to leave for Oman, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Mozambique on Thurs.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit the Gulf state of Oman and three African countries for talks with their leaders during a weeklong trip from Thursday, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said. Abe plans to give a policy speech on Japan's Africa diplomacy in Ethiopia, while in Oman he is scheduled to hold talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said and likely to reach a basic agreement with him on an investment pact between the two countries. He will also visit Ivory Coast and Mozambique in Africa.
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