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Wg Cdr Dinesh Mathur, VSM (Retd)




The Background:

This year on India’s 68th Republic Day Parade, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was invited as the Chief Guest. While the UAE and India’s soldiers marched together on Rajpath, the presence of the Crown Prince indicated the growing close relationship between the two countries. The Indian PM also received his guest at the airport as a special gesture of goodwill to show the growing cooperation between the two countries in numerous areas of common interest.

Historically speaking goodwill and understanding has existed between UAE & India for centuries now. Commercial and trade relations between the two countries are now almost 4000 years old. Even prior to independence in 1970, UAE’s Father of Nation H H Sultan Zahed Bin Al Nahyan, had expressed his keen desire to expand friendly relations with India. However, in the recent past, consequent to efforts by leaders of both nations, a new comprehensive ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­strategic partnership has emerged, which is much beyond the traditional bilateral relations between India and UAE.

Indians in UAE: According to present estimates, more than 2.6 million Indians currently stay in UAE. Indians staying in UAE are involved in various kinds of businesses and jobs and are making valuable contribution towards faster development and national life of UAE. A strong bond of friendship and personal relations exists between the people of two countries and this bond has considerable potential to grow in the years to come.

Strategic Partnership: Consequent to extensive discussions between the two governments in August 2015 in Abu Dhabi, and in New Delhi in February 2016, a clear road map has been set-out to improve historic relations and define new areas of strategic cooperation. Both countries have expressed their strong commitment to build open and multicultural societies to assist reshaping a new regional order. Both countries have shown mutual respect for values of religious tolerance and faith. Both nations have categorically rejected religious extremism and the atmosphere of hate and terror that it has developed currently. Both have clearly rejected the theory of using terrorism as an instrument to achieve political or religious objectives and have spoken in favor of peace, stability and prosperity in our region. Terrorist attacks that took place in Kabul and Kandahar on 10 January 2017 have been forefully condemned by both India and UAE. Significantly both nations agreed to increase defence cooperation, and specifically, start co-production of defence materials. They also agreed to increase joint exercises and training programs for the mutual benefit of defence personnel of both nations.

Commerce and Trade – Presently, India has emerged as the UAE’s largest trading partner and for India, UAE ranks third after US and China. UAE has shown considerable interest in investing money towards development of India’s infrastructure. For a long time now, Indian businessmen have shown tremendous entrepreneurship in UAE, which is highly appreciated by UAE. In addition, UAE has shown their keenness to invest towards development projects in India pertaining to health care, energy, hospitality and also real estate. In fact, some of the large companies of UAE are also world leaders in infrastructural projects such as developing airports, highways, ports and logistic hubs, etc., which India needs so desperately. Therefore, there is tremendous scope of participation by such companies of UAE in pushing forward India’s developmental projects.

Economic Partnership – for a long time now, UAE has been India’s partner in supplying crude oil to India and become India’s reliable partner in energy security. India is keen to join hands with UAE in developing renewable energy as well. Interestingly, UAE also wishes to join the Indo-French initiative to establish an International Solar Alliance. Recently, UAE has also shown very keen interest in increasing scientific and technical cooperation between Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the UAE Space Agency.

Conclusion – In view of the above, it is apparent that India and UAE have tremendous potential to develop close and mutually beneficial relationship for the benefit of people of both countries and region. This partnership is needed for strategic and economic cooperation not only for the present but also for future generations.

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