Malta is planning to open a consulate in Oman, as part of its efforts to strengthen diplomatic relations with the Gulf states, Foreign Minister George Vella said this morning.

Other initiatives in the pipeline are the opening of an Arabic cultural institute, a double taxation agreement, and the setting up of a joint business council.

Dr Vella was speaking at the start of talks with an Omani delegation led by representatives of Bank Muscat, the top financial services provider in Oman. The delegation is in Malta for a two-day visit to explore investment and trade opportunities between the two countries.

Led by Abdul- Razak Ali Issa, the bank's chief executive, is to meet Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the governor of the Central Bank and officials from Malta Freeport, the Malta Financial Services Authority, Fimbank and Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation.

The Maltese Foreign Minister remarked that in spite of having established diplomatic relations 40 years ago, little was achieved so far. He said that the visit will be a good opportunity for Oman to learn about Malta’s potential in the financial services sector, as a logistic base for the transhipment industry as well as en energy hub.

On his part, the bank’s chief executive said that his country was looking forward to receive a Maltese business delegation in Oman, in the near future.

Meanwhile the Muscat Daily reported that the findings of the delegation could open possible avenues for investment and trade, and identify an appropriate strategy for initiating potential trade and business relations between both counties

AbdulRazak Ali Issa said Oman was exploring new opportunities for mutual economic benefits and strengthening of friendly ties.

"Bank Muscat looks forward to embarking on a new frontier of mutually beneficial association with counterparts in Malta, thereby contributing to strengthening of relations between Oman and Malta.”

Bank Muscat has already invested in Asia and parts of Africa.

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