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As relations thaw between Israel and its neighboring Arab gulf countries, Oman has announced that it will open its airspace to Israeli airlines for the first time in history.
The announcement comes after Saudia Arabia also opened its airspace to Israeli aircraft, which has been seen as a massive step toward the normalization of relations between the countries based on the 2020 Abraham Accords facilitated by the Trump administration. The opening of Oman's airspace will significantly reduce eastbound travel to destinations like China and India for those traveling from Israel.
The change comes after months of behind-the-scenes work between the Biden administration and the Omani government to improve both diplomatic and economic ties with Israel. The effort included numerous meetings between White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi. The meetings have been ongoing since November.
The previous Omani government, under Sultan Qaboos, had agreed to open its airspace years ago, but it was halted when the current Sultan Haitham bin Tariq canceled the agreement after Sultan Qaboos died.
Israel's new government under leader Benjamin Netanyahu has been working to strengthen military and intelligence ties between Tel Aviv and Saudi Arabia. While Saudi Arabia has never acknowledged the 'Jewish State' the two countries have long cooperated quietly in countries like Yemen and Syria on 'counter-Iran' operations.
Under the Abraham Accords, Israel normalized relations with the UAE and Bahrain in 2020. While Netanyahu's government hopes to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia next, the move is likely to face fierce backlash from the Saudi public.
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