India–United Arab Emirates relations

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India – United Arab Emirates relations
Map indicating locations of India and United Arab Emirates


United Arab Emirates

India–United Arab Emirates relations refers to the bilateral relations that exist between Republic of India and United Arab Emirates.


Since 3000 BCE, relations between India and the seven emirates which now makes up the United Arab Emirates were traditionally close and brotherly. Modis visit to UAE has made a difference.

The UAE and India had enjoyed close and friendly ties based on historic and cultural ties but have suffered many setbacks due to the UAE support for Pakistan.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.[1] People-to-people contacts and barter trade for clothes and spices from India in exchange for dates and pearls from the region have existed for centuries.[2] After the creation of the Federation in 1971, India-UAE relations flourished. Today UAE and India share political, economical and cultural links. There are over a million Indians in the United Arab Emirates, being by far the largest migrant group in the country.[2] 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 region and beyond. A large Indian expatriate community resides and engages in the UAE in economically productive activities and has played a significant role in the evolution of the UAE. However, many incidents concerning India's expatriate workforce in the UAE, have caused friction in Indo-Emirati relations including UAE ongoing support for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.[3] Besides, the UAE, which is India's top trading partner in the entire West Asia North Africa (WANA) region, as it alone represents 25% of India's export to GCC nations, has seriously taken forward the relations with India. Leading Indian journalist and an expert on India's relations with the Middle-East, Ravi S Jha says, Indian exports to the UAE account for 5% of India's global exports.

Commercial and Economic Relations[edit]

In 2008-13, India emerged as one of the biggest trade partner of the UAE with bilateral trade between the two countries exceeding US$75 billion. UAE and India are one of each other's largest trading partners. The trade totals over $75 billion.[4]

An extensive framework of agreements, including economic, defence, security, law enforcement, culture, consular and people-to-people contacts constitute solid bedrock for elevating bilateral cooperation across the full spectrum of our relationship.

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.

Yet, their common vision of progress and prosperity faces challenges from many shared threats to peace, stability and security in the region. A shared endeavour to address these challenges, based on common ideals and convergent interests, is vital for the future of the two countries and their region.

UAE is at the heart of the Gulf and West Asia region and its major economic hub. India, with seven million citizens in the Gulf, also has major energy, trade and investment interests in the region. The two nations also share a commitment to openness, peaceful coexistence and social harmony that are based on their cultural traditions, spiritual values and shared heritage. UAE is a shining example of a multi-cultural society. India is a nation of unparalleled diversity, religious pluralism and a composite culture.

The two nations reject extremism and any link between religion and terrorism. They condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries. They also deplore efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and disputes, including in West and South Asia, and use terrorism to pursue their aims.

Proximity, history, cultural affinity, strong links between people, natural synergies, shared aspirations and common challenges create boundless potential for a natural strategic partnership between India and UAE. Yet, in the past, relations between the two governments have not kept pace with the exponential growth in relations between their people or the promise of this partnership. However, the need for a close strategic partnership between UAE and India has never been stronger or more urgent, and its prospects more rewarding, than in these uncertain times.

Prime Minister Modi's 2015 visit[edit]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan; 21 August 2015
Prime Minister Modi takes a selfie with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and Dr. Anwar Gargash at Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi; 21 August 2015
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to audience at the "Marhaba NaMo" event at Dubai International Cricket Stadium; 21 August 2015
Col. Abdullah, Deputy Fleet Commander UAE Navy, being received on board INS Delhi at Port Rashid, Dubai; 5 September 2015
INS Tabar and INS Trishul alongside at Port Rashid, Dubai; 5 September 2015

On 16 August 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a two-day visit to the UAE, the first state visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the country in 34 years.Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi visited the United Arab Emirates from 16–17 August 2015 at the invitation of His Highness Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed AI Nahyan.[5] In a break from protocol which would have seen only Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah receive dignitaries, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, along with his five brothers, was also present to receive Modi.[6] The aim of the visit was to increase bilateral cooperation in energy and trade, and market India as an attractive business destination.[7] In Abu Dhabi, 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 leaders agreed on the following:

— Elevate the India-UAE relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

— Coordinate efforts to counter radicalization and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism or pursuing political aims. The two sides will facilitate regular exchanges of religious scholars and intellectuals and organise conferences and seminars to promote the values of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness and welfare that is inherent in all religions.

— Denounce and oppose terrorism in all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice.

— Enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence sharing and capacity building.

— Work together for the adoption of India’s proposed Comprehensive convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.

— Work together to control, regulate and share information on flow of funds that could have a bearing on radicalization activities and cooperate in interdicting illegal flows and take action against concerned individuals and organizations.

— Strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking, other trans-national crimes, extradition arrangements, as well as police training.

— Promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalization and disturbing social harmony.

— Establish a dialogue between their National Security Advisors and National Security Councils. The National Security Advisors, together with other high level representatives for security from both nations, will meet every six months. The two sides will also establish points of contact between their security agencies to further improve operational cooperation.

— Cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.

— Promote collaboration and inter-operability for humanitarian assistance and evacuation in natural disasters and conflict situations.

— Strengthen defence relations, including through regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and Special Forces, and in coastal defence. India warmly welcomed UAE's decision to participate in International Fleet Review in India in February 2016.

— Cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India.

— Work together to promote peace, reconciliation, stability, inclusiveness and cooperation in the wider South Asia, Gulf and West Asia region.

— Support efforts for peaceful resolution of conflicts and promote adherence to the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the conduct of relations between nations and settlement of disputes.

— Call on all nations to fully respect and sincerely implement their commitments to resolve disputes bilaterally and peacefully, without resorting to violence and terrorism.

— Establish a Strategic Security Dialogue between the two governments.

— Recognising that India is emerging as the new frontier of investment opportunities, especially with the new initiatives by the Government to facilitate trade and investment, encourage the investment institutions of UAE to raise their investments in India, including through the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of USD 75 billion to support investment in India's plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.

— Facilitate participation of Indian companies in infrastructure development in UAE.

— Promote strategic partnership in the energy sector, including through UAE's participation in India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and collaboration in third countries.

— Further promote trade between the two countries, and use their respective locations and infrastructure for expanding trade in the region and beyond; and, with the target of increasing trade by 60% in the next five years.

— Tap India's expertise in Small and Medium Enterprises to create a vibrant industrial base in UAE, which could also be of benefit to Indian enterprises.

— Strengthen cooperation between UAE's increasingly sophisticated educational institutions and India's universities and higher research institutions. Promote scientific collaboration, including in the areas of renewable energy, sustainable development, arid agriculture, desert ecology, urban development and advanced healthcare.

— Promote cooperation in Space, including in joint development and launch of satellites, ground-based infrastructure and space application. Prime Minister Modi welcomed UAE's plan to set up the West Asia's first Space Research Centre at AI Ain and plans to launch a Mars Mission in 2021.

— Cooperate in peaceful uses of nuclear energy including in areas like safety, health, agriculture and science and technology.

— The 70th anniversary of the United Nations is an occasion to press for early reforms of the United Nations, and that the Inter-Governmental Negotiations on the reforms of the UN Security Council should be concluded expeditiously. Prime Minister thanked UAE for its support for India's candidature for permanent membership of a reformed United Nations Security Council.

— The finalization of the post-2015 Development Agenda with elimination of poverty by 2030 as its core objective was a welcome development.

— The International Conference on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015 should produce an effective agreement, which includes provision of means and technologies to developing countries to transition to clean energy.

— The overwhelming global response to the International Day of Yoga was a reflection of global community's ability to come together to seek a peaceful, more balanced, healthier and sustainable future for the world. Prime Minister thanked UAE for its strong support to the International Day of Yoga on June 21 this year.

— India and UAE were shining examples of open and multicultural societies, which should work together to promote these values for a peaceful and inclusive global community. India and UAE will also enhance cultural and sports exchanges in each other's countries.

— People-to-people were at the heart of India-UAE relations and both governments will continue to nurture these relations and ensure the welfare of their citizens, especially the workers, in each other's country, as also work together to prevent human trafficking.

Prime Minister thanked His Highness the Crown Prince for his decision to allot land for construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi.

His Highness the Crown Prince and the Prime Minister resolved to maintain regular summits, high level ministerial dialogue and meetings of bilateral mechanisms to realize their vision of a strong comprehensive strategic partnership. They are confident that it would play a defining role in securing a future of sustained prosperity for their people and shaping the course of their region, and also contribute to a peaceful, stable, sustainable and prosperous Asia and the world.