February 23, 2023 | Flash Brief

Oman Joins Saudi Arabia in Opening Airspace to Israel

February 23, 2023 | Flash Brief

Oman Joins Saudi Arabia in Opening Airspace to Israel

Latest Developments

Oman announced today that it would open its civilian airspace to all countries, a de facto granting of overflight rights to Israeli carriers by the Gulf sultanate, which has no formal ties with Jerusalem. The decision by Muscat creates a Saudi-Omani air corridor for Israel that would shorten flights by El Al and other carriers from Ben Gurion Airport to destinations in Asia by around two hours.

Expert Analysis

“While Oman — like Saudi Arabia — may not yet be ready to join the Abraham Accords, it is signaling that it is prepared for more discreet accommodation of Israel. This is a welcome development after parliament in Muscat in December reportedly moved forward on a bill that would expand bans on contacts with Israel.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“By fulfilling its obligations under the Chicago Convention of 1944, Oman is signaling that — like Saudi Arabia — its new leadership prioritizes Omani national interests, away from politicking and populist sloganeering. Like Saudi First, an Omani First policy is incumbent on growing its knowledge and services economy, which, in turn, requires building strong bilateral relations with countries with vibrant economies, especially Israel.” Hussain Abdul-Hussain, FDD Research Fellow

Warming Ties

The opening of Omani airspace suggested a potential warming toward the Jewish state by the current sultan, Haitham bin Tariq, who had, up to now, not evinced the enthusiasm of his late predecessor, Qaboos bin Said, for the idea of normalization.

Since 2020, Saudi Arabia has signaled its tactical support for the Abraham Accords by allowing Israeli airlines to overfly its territory to signatories United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Last July, President Joe Biden announced that Riyadh would extend this overflight permission so that Israeli airlines could overfly Saudi territory to other eastward destinations. But as that corridor also extended over Oman, it could not be implemented without Muscat’s consent.

Related Analysis

Oman in the Middle: Muscat’s Balancing Act Between Iran and America,” by Jonathan Schanzer and Nicole Salter

Is Bibi’s Oman Visit an Omen?,” by David May and Nicole Salter


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