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Why Has UAE Become So Important for India Over Last Decade?

© Photo : Twitter/@narendramodiIndian Prime Minister Modi, who is on a two-day visit to the UAE, held delegation-level and one-on-one talks with President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Indian Prime Minister Modi, who is on a two-day visit to the UAE, held delegation-level and one-on-one talks with President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. - Sputnik India, 1920, 14.02.2024
Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said that India's ties with the UAE were one of the "most comprehensive" that New Delhi has with any country and have come to encompass all areas of economic activity.
The "leadership-drive" transformation of India-United Arab Emirates (UAE) relationship in the last 10 years has been one of the highlights of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy since his first visit to the Gulf state in 2015, experts have told Sputnik India.
Modi undertook his seventh Prime Ministerial visit to the UAE this week, the most for any country.
Modi and the UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan witnessed the signing of 10 pacts in the realms of connectivity, energy trade and energy security, financial technological cooperation.
A bilateral investment treaty between the two nations exchanged between the two leaders is expected to boost foreign investments into India from UAE, which already ranks as the fourth biggest foreign investor for New Delhi.

Five Factors Have Brought India and the UAE Closer, Ex-PM Advisor

Sudheendra Kulkarni, a former Indian Prime Ministerial advisor, spelled out "five factors" which have driven New Delhi and Abu Dhabi politically and economically closer in the last 10 years.

He highlighted that the 3.5 million-strong Indian diaspora in the UAE constituted nearly 40 percent of UAE's population.
"They form the largest community of foreigners. They are also the wealthiest, after native UAE Arabs, although a large number of Indians form the working class," Kulkarni said.
The remittances sent back to India by the diaspora in the UAE amount to $20 billion in 2022.
Kulkarni stated the reason the UAE's rulers have been so receptive to Indian workers is for the fact that Indians are known to be "law-abiding citizens".
"They pose no threat to the local government in any way," stated the ex-PM aide.
Talking about the growing security and counter-terrorism cooperation between India and the UAE, Kulkarni remarked that Abu Dhabi and New Delhi both have similar concerns about terrorism.
"Rulers of the UAE, much like other oil-rich Arab countries in West Asia, fear radical ideologies in their countries," he said.
Under Prime Minister Modi, India has sought to project its policy of "zero tolerance towards terrorism".
Contrasting the UAE's approach to club India and Pakistan into a single region before 2014 to its current policy of forging closer relations with New Delhi in the recent past, Kulkarni remarked that the UAE has increasingly recognised the potential of India as a rising power in Asia and a big market, necessitating the need to cultivate stronger ties.
"Lastly, the UAE under President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan has consistently followed a policy of promoting inter-religious dialogue and harmony. Four years ago, he invited Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi. It was the first ever papal visit to an Arab country," the Indian expert pointed out.
The Indian Prime Minister on Tuesday inaugurated the BAPS Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi, the first Hindu stone temple in the entire Middle-East.

UAE Investments Critical for India, Expert Says

Encouraged by the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed between India and the UAE in 2022, bilateral trade surged to $85 billion, making the Gulf state India's third largest trading partner.
In terms of Emirati investments in India, the oil-rich monarchy has committed to invest nearly $75 billion in India's infrastructure over a period of time, which would help to realise New Delhi's vision of ensuring seamless, last-mile connectivity in line with the ambition of becoming a developed nation by 2047.

Niranjan Marjani, a fellow at Indian think tank Kalinga Institute of Indo-Pacific Studies (KIIPS), said that Emirati investments are becoming increasingly important for India as the two countries seek to diversify the relationship beyond the traditional areas of Emirati energy exports.

The UAE ranks among India's biggest suppliers of crude oil and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
Marjani underlined that cooperation in renewable energy between the two nations was emerging as an increasingly important area of cooperation.
New Delhi has said that the new pacts signed during Modi's visit aims to promote investments in Green Hydrogen.
"Both the countries understand that climate change requires collective action. India and the UAE are expected to play a greater global role in green transition," Marjani reckoned.

'Converging Global Outlooks'

According to Marjani, converging global outlooks of India and the UAE are a major force driving the comprehensive strategic partnership (CSP).
"The UAE has developed an independent and an accommodating foreign policy, much like India's," he said.
The Indian expert noted that both the nations were part of BRICS grouping as well as I2U2 framework.
"For India, string ties with the UAE after the Israel-Arab states rapprochement under the Abraham Accords has made navigating its relationships with the Middle-East much easier than what used to be the case previously," the geopolitical expert suggested.
Marjani added that the China-brokered political reconciliation between Iran and Saudi Arabia further helps India in navigating the Middle-East, which is a crucial source of energy security, foreign investments and remittances for the Indian economy.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan held meeting on the sidelines of Vibrant Gujarat Summit on 10 January. - Sputnik India, 1920, 11.01.2024
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