Oman can bank on British support, says UK ambassador

The Sultanate can count on the support of the United Kingdom to ensure that its students receive the right teaching as Oman prepares to ramp up the quality of education for the next generation to meet the job market’s needs.

Speaking at a reception organised to commemorate educational ties between the two nations, Jonathan Wilks, the British ambassador to Oman said: “It’s clear that the next stage of Oman’s development will rely more on the development of human capital than its natural resources.

“Young Omanis are the nation’s greatest resource to secure the long-term future stability and prosperity of the country and we want them to see the UK as a natural and trusted partner. The UK is already Oman’s leading partner in education and training. British trainers are helping develop Oman’s military and security forces, helping coach and mentor the next generation of leaders in private and public sectors, and the British government is funding projects across the Gulf to develop our science and technology relationships in the region.”

2,935 Omani students studied in the UK during the 2015-16 academic year, up from 16 per cent the previous year. Wilks also paid tribute to the partnerships formed between universities in the UK and their counterparts in Oman.

“I visited Sohar university and was excited by their partnership with the University of Sheffield,” he explained.

“They were successful recently in attracting £376,000 of funding from the UK government for research into sustainable agriculture. There were 172 competitive bids submitted from across the GCC and only eight were selected, so my congratulations to them. There are in fact 19 UK-Oman partnerships in the higher education sector.

“We are helping the Omani government deal with the short-term economic and financial pressures due to low oil prices, but we aren’t taking our eye off the promising long-term future of the country,” added Wilks.

Monday evening’s event marked Wilks’ last official function as Britain’s ambassador to the Sultanate. His successor is expected to arrive this September.