Gulf Time Zone UTC+04:00
Capital City Muscat
Currency Omani rial OMR
National Day 18 November
Biography: His Excellency Shaikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah bin Zahir Al-Hinai was thrown straight into his first duty when he arrived in London in November last year, with the State Opening of Parliament. He returns to London after a time here as Chargé d’Affaires (1988-90). He may be in a new embassy on Queen’s Gate, but he is happy to have found some familiar faces working there. As for London, he finds it to be more cosmopolitan than ever. This time he brings his wife, Maryam, and their five children with him, explaining that he and his family are ‘happy to be in this great and beautiful country.’
After graduating from the University of Jordan with a degree in Political Science and History, Mr Al-Hinai pursued his childhood dream of combining a career with travel. Diplomacy was the right job for him, and in 1983 he was appointed Second Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – the first of many such postings. A career diplomat, he has now spent more than half his life outside Oman. ‘I do love my country, but I am proud of all 22 years of my diplomatic career,’ he says.
Mr Al-Hinai’s career so far has been defined by three major ambassadorial postings, in the Netherlands, Russia and most recently Egypt – countries he describes as ‘very different and with very different roles.’ He is clearly still fond of the Netherlands – indeed, as Oman’s first Ambassador there he views the Mission as his ‘own baby’. He explains that Oman and the Netherlands, both small and concentrated countries, have much in common, especially with respect to the oil business (many Dutch work for Shell in Oman). In the Netherlands he forged great friendships and attracted numerous supporters; significantly, it was during this time that Oman initiated a relationship with the EU that has since blossomed.
He describes his years as Oman’s Ambassador in Russia (1994-2000) as ‘a crucial and difficult time’ when the country was moving from Soviet rule to democratic government. Though the political and security situation during this period was highly volatile, the outcome was positive: ‘By the time I ended my posting in Moscow,’ he reflects, ‘I left a completely different country from when I arrived.’
Mr Al-Hinai subsequently spent nine years in Egypt, a country he describes as ‘like another home – a brother country.’ Aside from being the Ambassador in Cairo, he was also Oman’s Ambassador to the Arab League, a role which brought him into daily contact with Arab nations. ‘To be a member of the Arab group is something so important to Oman because we are part of that region, we are influenced by them and influence them,’ he enthuses.
Regarding his current posting, he explains that ‘The UK is a major partner and friend to Oman. Our main priority is to maintain that momentum and strength between the two countries. It is a mutually beneficial relationship based on respect.’ He also goes on to express the Sultanate of Oman’s message to the world of ‘Peace, prosperity and development.’ He states: ‘My country considers itself a peacemaker in the Middle East. We hope to see our surrounding nations living in harmony, respect, peace and justice to allow them to develop and prosper and live in democracy.’ Given his extensive diplomatic career so far, Oman’s Ambassador in London will undoubtedly set the example in achieving this laudable aim.