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Duqm Port: Strategic Significance for India

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News: Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s visit to India, marking his first international trip as the Sultan of Oman after the passing of his predecessor, Qaboos bin Said Al Said, has focused attention on the strategic partnership between India and Oman. Of particular interest are Oman’s infrastructure developments at Duqm Port and the Indian Navy’s access to this crucial maritime facility.

Duqm Port: A Strategic Hub

This topic of “Duqm Port: Strategic Significance for India” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

What

  • Location: Duqm Port is situated in Oman and offers strategic access to the Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea.
  • Access Routes: It provides a gateway to the Red Sea through the Gulf of Aden.
  • SEZAD Project: Duqm Port is an integral part of the Special Economic Zone Authority of Duqm (SEZAD) project.
  • Greenfield Project: It is a dynamic, greenfield development and a thriving hub of economic activity.

Strategic Importance

  • For India’s Maritime Strategy: Duqm Port holds significant importance in India’s maritime strategy, offering an alternative to the Strait of Hormuz.
  • Countering China’s Influence: It plays a pivotal role in countering China’s “String of Pearls” strategy, which involves a network of coastal facilities in the Indian Ocean.

Why

  • Expanding India’s Maritime Reach: India, in conjunction with allies like the US, UK, Australia, and Japan, seeks to extend its influence in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Geopolitical Positioning: Duqm Port aligns with the Quadrilateral Initiative and the Free and Open Indo-Pacific concept, enhancing India’s geopolitical positioning.

Where

  • Key Locations Connected to Duqm: Duqm Port connects strategically with locations like Chabahar in Iran, Assumption Island in Seychelles, Agalega in Mauritius, and India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Other Strategic Locations: Additionally, the presence of the US Navy facility at Diego Garcia and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the US further bolster the region’s significance.

When

  • Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s visit to India is scheduled for later this month, emphasizing the ongoing collaboration.
  • Indian Navy’s access to Duqm Port was granted in 2018, following PM Narendra Modi’s visit.
  • The Defence Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was renewed in 2021, strengthening defense ties.
  • A Maritime Transport Agreement was signed in 2019 to enhance maritime cooperation.

Who

  • Key Figures and Entities: The key players in this partnership include Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian Navy, and the Royal Navy of Oman.
  • Participating Countries in Maritime Cooperation: India collaborates with the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Japan in maritime endeavors.

How

  • Bilateral Exercises: Joint exercises like Naseem Al Bahr enhance mutual capabilities and cooperation.
  • Information Sharing: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on white shipping information sharing exists between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy of Oman.
  • Joint Ventures: Both nations have invested $1.2 billion in a Sebacic acid plant, promoting economic cooperation.
  • Combating Drug Trafficking: Collaborative efforts target drug trafficking in the North Arabian Sea, contributing to regional security.

Other Aspects

  • Economic Benefits: Duqm Port offers access to Indian and African markets, providing a business-friendly environment for investment.
  • Investments and Projects: Special Economic Zones in Sohar and Salalah have invited Indian investments, fostering economic growth.
  • Defence Cooperation: Regular bilateral exercises, staff talks, and anti-piracy missions support demonstrate robust defense ties.
  • Security Cooperation: Efforts to combat drug trafficking and operational support for the Indian Navy underscore security cooperation.
  • Industrial and Economic Investment: The Government of Oman’s focus on Duqm as an investment hub opens avenues for economic growth.
  • Maritime Security: Duqm Port is critical for Indian naval deployments and supports anti-piracy missions.
  • Regional Influence: Collaboration with other Gulf countries and expanding military presence in the Indian Ocean further enhances regional influence.

In summary, the partnership between Duqm Port and India signifies a strengthening of maritime cooperation with far-reaching implications for regional stability and economic growth. This strategic collaboration underlines the shared commitment to security and prosperity in the Indian Ocean Region.

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