Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Intensifying and Strengthening the Constructive India-UAE Bilateral Engagement

By Siddharth Singh

In recent decades, UAE’s economic progress has been one of the global success stories, transforming UAE into a regional leader and a thriving international centre that attracts people and business from across the world. On the other hand, India has also emerged as one of the major power at the global level, contributing to the advancement of global peace and stability. India’s rapid growth and modernization, along with its talented human resources and large markets, make it one of the anchors of the global economy. The dynamism of the two countries have translated into a rapidly expanding economic partnership, making India UAE’s second largest trading partner; and UAE not only India’s third largest trading partner, but also India’s gateway to the Gulf region and beyond.

India and UAE share centuries-old ties of commerce, culture and kinship. Today, the Indian community of over 2.5 million is a major part of UAE’s vibrant society and its economic success. It also makes a significant economic contribution to India and constitutes an indelible human bond of friendship between the two nations. Today, as India accelerates economic reforms and improves its investment and business environment, and UAE becomes an increasingly advanced and diversified economy, the two countries have the potential to build a transformative economic partnership, not only for sustained prosperity of their two countries, but to also advance progress in the region and help realise the vision of an Asian Century.

The strong bonds of friendship between UAE and India have found clear expression in the series of high-level bilateral visits between the two countries in the past two years. In his visit to India as Chief Guest on Republic day, His Highness Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed AI Nahyan and Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi agreed to seize this historic moment of opportunity and shared responsibility to chart a new course in their partnership for the 21st century. The Comprehensive strategic partnership is a shining example of this intensifying relations between two countries. Both the countries will now further deepen their coordination efforts to counter radicalization and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism. Both sides will now strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking, other transnational crimes, extradition arrangements, as well as police training. India and UAE will now promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalization and disturbing social harmony. Another area of cooperation is to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries. In the maritime domain, both nations will now promote collaboration and interoperability for humanitarian assistance and evacuation in natural disasters and conflict situations.

In the energy sector, India and UAE will now promote strategic partnership including through UAE’s participation in India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and collaboration in third countries. One of the highlights of the visit of Crown Prince was the signing of the strategic oil deal, which is seen as a sign of deepening bond between the UAE and India. The deal will allow state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) access to India’s new strategic oil reserves storage facility to store 6 million barrels of crude.

In his visit, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed reaffirmed his strong confidence in India’s vibrant economy and expressed appreciation for Prime Minister Modi’s inspiring vision for the future of India. He also showed keen interest in investing on a range of key initiatives, including “Start Up India”, “Make in India”, “Smart City”, “Digital India” and “Clean India” which has the strong potential to provide Indian economy a positive thrust for a robust and sustained growth.

With regard to countering terrorism, both nations acknowledged the common threat posed by terrorism to peace and security and thus reiterated their strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and declared that there could be no justification for terrorism anywhere.

Beyond the strategic and diplomatic courtesies, there are deeper ties that bind the two peoples. Indian expats comprise around 30 per cent of the total population of the UAE. More than 50 per cent of remittances to India comes from the Arabian Gulf. Over the years, these funds have hugely aided in India’s economic resurgence. Be that as it may, the UAE will continue to look at India for its human talent and skill-set to develop sectors like information technology, construction, transportation and services. From its energy needs to the shared history of trade between South Asia and Middle East, both India and the UAE stand upon an excellent foundation from which to make this alliance durable, effective and long-lasting.

  • Agreements signed between India & UAE during Crown Prince Visit to India as Chief Guest of Republic Day, are as follows:
  • Comprehensive strategic partnership between the UAE and India.
  • Technology development and cooperation in cyberspace.
  • Cooperation in defence industry.
  • Agreement on strategic oil storage and management.
  • Institutional cooperation on maritime transport.
  • Mutual recognition of certificates of competency as per Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers (STCW) provisions.
  • Bilateral cooperation in road transport and highways.
  • MoU on prevention and combating of human trafficking.
  • MoU on cooperation in small and medium industries and innovation.
  • Partnership in agriculture and allied sectors.
  • Mutual exemption of visa for diplomatic, special and official passport holders.
  • Agreement on trade remedial measures.
  • Cooperation on energy efficiency services.
  • MoU on cooperation in programme exchange.

Clearly Modi Government is keen on pushing forward the strategic nature of bilateral relations between these two traditional friends as they work to forge an overarching and deepening engagement that’s being described as role model of a strategic Government-to-Government as well as People to People partnership.

(Siddharth Singh is a student of International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)