Muscat: Visa-free travel and the multimodal Ashgabat Agreement promise to take the Sultanate's strong ties to Kazakhstan to even greater heights according to the Central Asian giant's Ambassador to Oman Yerzhan Mukash.
“One of the major challenges facing the economic ties between Kazakhstan and Oman has been geographical distance and lack of direct transport links”, he said during an exclusive interview with the Times of Oman.
“In this regard, Kazakhstan is planning to join the international transport multimodal corridor established between Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran and Oman as part of the 2011 Ashgabat Agreement. This step will enhance and increase the volume of cargo transportation from Kazakhstan to Oman and bring lots of benefits including preferential customs tariff regimes.”
The Ashgabat Agreement envisages facilitation of transit and transportation of goods between Central Asia and the Gulf region. Accession to the Agreement is helping to diversify Oman's links with Central Asia and provides it with access to the massive emerging markets of the region.
The agreement has also connected Kazakhstan with the GCC countries and subsequently boosted trade. India has joined the Ashgabat agreement, Russia is interested in this transport corridor.
Ambassador Mukash also highlighted the important role that visa-free travel will play in boosting bilateral ties and people-to-people links.
At the invitation of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, President Nursultan Nazarbayev paid his second official visit to the Sultanate of Oman in 2008. Following the results of the visit, it was agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation.
Currently, the parties are ready to sign an agreement exempting holders of diplomatic and service passports from visa requirements.
In the future, the ambassador added, there are hopes a bilateral visa-free agreement for citizens travelling either direction will be signed.
Such a move would have a significant impact on tourism and would follow the recent visa-free Agreement between Kazakhstan and the UAE that has recently come into effect.
“Kazakhstan offers visitors from Oman a wealth of opportunities to experience a rich and unique culture that has earned a reputation for legendary hospitality since the days of the original Silk Road. In my nation, guests are more than welcome and are given a seat at the place of honor and are offered the best dishes of the home. I believe this characteristic is also very common for the Omanis and ourselves.”
“Our country is also well-known for adventure and nature tourism.”
“Additionally, when it is warm in Oman during the summer, the climate in Kazakhstan is nice and cool. And during our strong winter season, the climate in the Sultanate is more mild. It opens a unique opportunity for bilateral travel.”