Sunday, May 19, 2024

A Diplomatic Perspective on Netherlands-Oman Relations

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A Diplomatic Perspective on Netherlands-Oman Relations

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Stella Kloth
Ambassador of The Netherlands

Since 2021, I am serving as the Ambassador in Muscat, Oman, representing the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Prior to this role, I was Head of Department for Crisis Management and Peace Operations. My diplomatic journey has taken me to diverse regions, including Afghanistan and Sudan, and I’ve also worked at our Permanent Mission to the European Union in Brussels. My career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs began in 2001, where I held various roles focusing on Latin America and the Horn of Africa.

What inspired you to pursue a career in diplomacy and international relations?

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Stella Kloth: Since childhood, I’ve been captivated by diverse cultures and languages, a fascination nurtured by my upbringing near the German border. Living in this region exposed me to the profound influence of diplomacy, especially with the formation of the European Union. Witnessing diplomacy’s power firsthand, I saw how it dismantled barriers, fostered cooperation, and encouraged dialogue. This experience ignited my desire to pursue a career in diplomacy, recognizing its potential to effect positive change on a grand scale.

Having held diverse positions across different countries and continents, can you discuss the challenges you’ve faced and the opportunities you’ve embraced as a diplomat? And what lessons have you learned that you believe are crucial for young diplomats navigating the complexities of international diplomacy in today’s world?

Stella Kloth: Throughout my diplomatic career spanning various countries and continents, I’ve encountered a myriad of challenges and opportunities. These experiences have served as catalysts for personal growth, expanding my perspective, and honing essential skills like adaptability while fostering a robust global network.

To aspiring diplomats, I emphasize the importance of open dialogue, continuous learning, and flexibility. It’s crucial to acknowledge the trailblazers who have paved the way for meaningful engagement on the global stage. As a woman in diplomacy, I draw inspiration from remarkable figures in Afghanistan, Sudan, and across the EU. Their leadership not only motivates me but also offers invaluable guidance in overcoming obstacles and advancing in my career.

How do you perceive the current state of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Oman, and what initiatives do you believe are crucial for further strengthening these ties?

Stella Kloth: As the Ambassador to Oman, I perceive the current state of diplomatic relations between the Netherlands and Oman as deeply entrenched in our historical ties, particularly as monarchies with rich maritime legacies. Our shared history provides a robust groundwork for our bilateral partnership, with the upcoming celebration of 400 years of maritime relations in 2025 signifying a remarkable milestone in our enduring friendship and collaboration.

Our shared history provides a robust groundwork for our bilateral partnership

Stella Kloth

Annual political consultations, a tradition upheld for nearly three decades, stand as a testament to our enduring alliance, showcasing our unwavering dedication to fostering transparent and productive dialogue on crucial matters. Through these consultations, we address common challenges and unearth opportunities for mutual cooperation. Notably, this was exemplified by the recent visit of our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Hanke Bruins Slot, to Oman during the EU-GCC meeting, further solidifying our diplomatic ties.

Our diplomatic relations are further strengthened by a longstanding economic relationship. Initially centered around our mutual interests in oil and gas, our collaboration has evolved to strong connections in the logistics sector, water management and more recently towards supporting each other’s transition towards sustainable energy solutions. This transition underscores our shared commitment to addressing climate change and promoting the SDGs (UN sustainable development goals).

By leveraging our historical ties, annual political consultations, economic partnership, and shared commitment to addressing global challenges, I am confident that we can continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between the Netherlands and Oman.

Could you provide some insights into the economic partnership between the Netherlands and Oman? What are the key areas of mutual interest where the Netherlands and Oman can deepen their cooperation? Additionally, could you share any plans for future collaboration between the two countries?

Stella Kloth:The economic collaboration between the Netherlands and Oman is increasingly shaped by the pressing imperative to tackle climate change and its repercussions on our respective nations. Committed to international accords like COP, we actively pursue sustainable energy sources, with a notable focus on green hydrogen as a clean alternative. During COP27, our Prime Minister Mark Rutte signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Green Hydrogen with Omani Minister of Energy and Minerals Salim al Aufi, reaffirming our shared commitment to establishing import-export corridors for hydrogen, fostering knowledge exchange, and jointly developing technologies and standards.

In addition to our energy transition efforts, our partnership spans critical domains such as water management, safeguarding vital infrastructure, and promoting sustainable mobility and logistics. With a longstanding collaboration in logistics, exemplified by ventures like the Port of Rotterdam’s partnership with Sohar Industrial Port and Freezone, and APM terminals in the Port of Salalah, we recognize the imperative of jointly striving for net zero emissions in these sectors. We are dedicated to fostering innovation and finding solutions to shared challenges.

By prioritizing cooperation in these pivotal areas, our aim is not only to address the urgent issue of climate change but also to foster sustainable economic growth and development for both our nations. Additionally, I am delighted with the progress in governance cooperation, such as the partnership between the Royal Academy of Management and the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG-I). These initiatives, alongside other exchange-driven projects, serve to strengthen bonds between our peoples, thereby enhancing cooperation in all fields.

In the week of the 28th of April Oman will organize the annual Oman Sustainability Week. The Netherlands is participating with a pavilion. Why is this an important event for your Embassy?

Stella Kloth: Given the key priorities of our work, it’s clear why the annual Oman Sustainability Week holds significant importance for our Embassy. It offers a substantial platform for the Netherlands to showcase its expertise and innovation in sustainability and green technologies. The participation of Dutch businesses in the pavilion presents an excellent opportunity to highlight sustainable solutions and foster collaboration between Dutch and Omani companies.

The participation of Dutch businesses in the pavilion presents an excellent opportunity to highlight sustainable solutions and foster collaboration between Dutch and Omani companies.

Stella Kloth

Moreover, the event closely aligns with key areas of cooperation between our countries, particularly in renewable energy, water management, and sustainable infrastructure. Additionally, Dutch companies have established two strategic consortiums: one on green hydrogen and one on climate-neutral real estate. The consortiums, comprising approximately 20 companies each spanning the full value chain in hydrogen and climate-neutral real estate, crafted strategic programs to concentrate on Oman and explore cooperation opportunities. These two clusters will visit Oman regularly in the coming three years as well as organize visitors programs to the Netherlands to showcase innovations and technologies in the hydrogen and climate-neutral real estate sectors. 

What advice would you give to young professionals aspiring to pursue a career in diplomacy and international relations, based on your own journey and experiences?

Stella Kloth: My advice to young professionals aspiring to work in the field of diplomacy and international relations is to prioritize curiosity, open-mindedness, and flexibility. Curiosity fuels a continuous desire for learning and understanding diverse perspectives, essential for navigating complex diplomatic endeavors. Remaining open-minded enables engagement with diverse cultures and viewpoints, thereby fostering dialogue and collaboration. This flexibility allows you to adapt to the dynamic nature of international relations. I believe these qualities will help aspiring diplomats to create impactful contributions to diplomacy and global cooperation.

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