UAE- India relations
This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.
India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy strong bonds of friendship based on age-old cultural, religious and economic ties between the two nations. The relationship flourished after the accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and subsequently with the creation of the UAE Federation in 1971. Both countries soon established diplomatic relations in 1972 with UAE Embassy in India opening in 1972 and Indian Embassy in UAE opening in 1973. Since then, both sides have made sincere efforts to improve relations in all fields.
An umbrella agreement on elevating bilateral ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership is among 14 agreements signed by India and the UAE following delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for January 16, 2017 on Republic Day as the Chief Guest.
"New vistas for futuristic partnership! #IndiaUAE sign 14 agreements in varied fields for enhancing bilateral cooperation," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
Though it was already agreed that the relationship between the two countries would be elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Wednesday's agreement is a general framework agreement which highlights the areas of bilateral cooperation identified under the comprehensive strategic partnership as agreed upon in the high level joint statements issued in August 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and in February 2016 during Sheikh Mohamed's visit to India, according to information released by the External Affairs Ministry.
A second agreement was signed between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) on storage and management of oil at strategic facilities in India. This agreement aims to establish a framework for the storage of crude oil by ADNOC in India and to further strengthen the strategic relationship between the two countries in the field of energy.
These apart, both sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of defence industry.
This MoU aims to establish cooperation in the identified fields of defence manufacturing and technology, including through studies, research, development, innovation and cooperation between public and private sector institutions of the two countries. The two sides will cooperate in areas of armaments, defence industries and transfer of technology.
Another MoU was signed on institutional cooperation on maritime transport which provides a framework for enhancing bilateral maritime trade ties through facilitating maritime transport, free transfer of monies between contracting parties and reciprocal recognition of ships' documents.
A third MoU on mutual recognition of certificates of competency aims to deepen the maritime economic activities in general by establishing a framework for Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency of marine officers, engineers and crews.
Other MoUs signed are on bilateral cooperation in road transport and highways sector, cooperation in preventing and combating human trafficking, cooperation in the field of small and medium enterprises and innovation, agriculture and allied sectors, mutual exemption of entry visa requirements to the holders of diplomatic, special and official passports, trade remedial measures to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest, cooperation in energy efficiency services, cooperation on programme exchange between Prasar Bharati and Emirates News Agency (WAM), and on technology development and cooperation in cyberspace.
6 reasons why UAE and India grew closer
It is a reminder that both countries have leapfrogged in terms of global reputation and foreign policy
When Narendra Modi visited the UAE in August 2015, it was after 34 years an Indian prime minister last visited the country. The last Indian prime minister who visited the country before Modi was Indira Gandhi in 1981.
Since Modi’s visit, in the past three years, there have been three more high-level visits by the leadership of the UAE and India, including Modi’s upcoming two-day visit to the UAE beginning on February 10. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited India in February 2016 and January 2017 — first on a state visit and the second as the chief guest of Indian Republic Day celebrations. While warm relations between the UAE and India go back to centuries, diplomats and top officials say the current momentum is unprecedented, scoring high on both symbolism and substance.
Here are six factors that have contributed to the changing dynamics of the relationship:
1. Diversification of UAE economy:
Foreign trade and the oil and gas sectors were the fulcrum of bilateral relations in the decades preceding the end of the oil era boom. But since then, the UAE has pursued an aggressive strategy of diversifying its economy, and its relations with India have benefited as a result.
“If we go back to 1982, foreign trade figures between the UAE and India were at $182 million. In 2016-17, those numbers stood at $53 billion,” said Ahmed Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India.
“The focus of bilateral relations have now diversified to include many new sectors after the official visits of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed and Modi — such as IT, space tech, tourism, defence manufacturing and renewable energy,” he said.
2. Evolving country profile and priorities:
The recent upsurge in relations is a reminder that both the UAE and India have leapfrogged in terms of global reputation and foreign policy since 1981, says Dr A.K. Pasha, director of Gulf Studies Programme at the School of International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
“India now is not only a growing economic power, but also an aspirational power. In the 1980s, India was seen as aligned with the Soviet Union — now we have multidimensional relations with almost all countries. That certainly helps recalibrate our relations with the UAE,” he said.
“We are seen as a country which will not interfere in domestic or regional disputes but has a vision for peace, security and stability,” he said.
According to him, the recent high-level visits of UAE and Indian leaders also demonstrate the proactive nature of decision-making between the two countries. “There is a paradigm shift in what India was in 1982 and what it is now — the context of the India of 1982 is irrelevant now. It is devoid of the past binaries which used to define India’s relation with the Arab world and the UAE. With a very proactive, mature and confident foreign policy, the UAE has also rapidly moved to embrace the opportunities. The era of passive bilateral relations is over — both nations have demonstrated that with the same resources as before, there is so much more that can be achieved,” Dr Pasha said.
A critical role was also played by changing regional dynamics and perceptions. “In the aftermath of 9/11 and then the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2014 by US president Barack Obama, there was a feeling of abandonment across the Arab world — which also led to them looking at stable and emerging partners in the region. India, which has always been a friend of the UAE, fulfilled those requirements,” Pasha said.
3. Key partners in combating extremism:
The UAE and India share a deeply common goal — fighting terrorism, combating extremism and ideologies of hatred. “We cooperate very closely with Indian authorities in fighting extremists and terrorists — both individuals and organisations,” said Al Banna.
Both India and the UAE are two moderate nations which have been victims of terror, says Mahesh Sachdev, a former Indian ambassador to Algeria, Norway and Nigeria. “Both countries lie in a rather turbulent part of the world often in news for wrong reasons. It is thus critical for the two sides to intensify their security and defence cooperation to ensure peace and stability,” he said.
4. Common economic goals:
The growing opportunities for jobs in India, along with the appreciating rupee, booming stock market, structural reforms such as GST, ease of doing business have all helped prepare a solid foundation for its growth. “That’s why the IMF has forecast India as the fastest growing economy,” said Shobana Kamineni, president of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and executive chairperson of Apollo Hospitals. “More than 100 million aspirational Indians are a great commercial opportunity. Air travel has grown by 100 per cent. So better connectivity leads to better relations,” she said.
In addition, there are massive possibilities from the $75-billion fund announced by Modi and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed.
“India has now become the world’s fastest growing major economy and the third largest consumer of oil. On the other hand, the UAE has sovereign funds with a corpus of over a trillion dollars,” said Sachdev. So it is natural that they will complement each other, he said.
5. Rigorous follow up to strategic partnership:
Another reason for the greater depth in relations is the rigorous structure of various committees that have been set up following the high-level visits. “Following the elevation of the UAE and India’s relation to a comprehensive strategic partnership, there are several high-level committees which are working in parallel to advance the bilateral agenda,” says Al Banna.
“A committee on strategic dialogue committee has been set up during the last visit of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, which meets twice a year and looks into all matters relating to bilateral trade. We also have two existing committees — one is a Joint Committee presided by the foreign ministers of both countries, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Sushma Swaraj and then we have the Joint Investment Task Force chaired by Shaikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court, from the UAE and Suresh Prabhu, the minister of commerce from India. That committee meets annually to look at investment opportunities in both countries and how foreign direct investments between both nations can be increased,” Al Banna said. With such diverse committees in place, the pace of progress in sorting out any bilateral issues has increased substantially.
There are also a greater number of highly active fora and advocacy platforms which have been set up in the past three years, such as the UAE-India Economic Forum, while the frequency and depth of interaction with existing trade and business associations have intensified.
6. Greater mobility of people:
With a 3.3-million-strong population, the Indian diaspora in the UAE is the largest in the world, and growing. And with a record 1,076 flights every week between the UAE and India, there has also been a surge of tourists and visitors between the two countries. The UAE has significantly eased visit visa norms for Indians — those carrying US visas or Green Cards as well as UK or EU visas or residency now get visas on arrival in the UAE. India set up an e-visa scheme for Emiratis and others in 2015, where UAE nationals get almost instantaneous visas at 16 airports across India.
A further proposal to grant all Emirati passport holders visa-free entry to India is being raised with appropriate authorities, Al Banna said. The result is greater people-to-people interaction between the two countries — whether it is Indian tourists seeking a glimpse of the sea, sands and Burj Khalifa in the UAE, or Emiratis travelling to India for education, investments, medical treatment or simply on a vacation.
2018: Runaway Princess Latifa’s repatriation to the UAE
Christian Michel's extradition could be linked to India's assistance in tracking Dubai's runaway Princess Latifa
The deepened strategic relationship that has grown between the UAE and India may be another reason
Christian James Michel, a European middleman at the heart of the UPA-era AgustaWestland chopper scam, was brought to India [in Dec 2018]. His extradition from the UAE follows an adverse order of a Dubai court. But Indian intelligence sources claimed "the development could also be seen as linked to India's assistance in tracking Dubai's runaway Princess Latifa".
RUNAWAY PRINCESS: Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, who is Dubai's ruler and the prime minister of the UAE, fled Dubai earlier this year(after planning the escape for 7 years). She boarded a boat belonging to French-American Herve Jaubert and headed to Goa. But just about 30 miles from the coast the boat was intercepted (by the Indian Coast Guard it is alleged) and she was forcibly returned home. She has not been seen or heard since. In a video she recorded before her escape, she says "if you are watching this, either I'm dead or in a very bad situation".
Lawyers representing her have asked the UN to intervene to help secure her release and blamed 'both UAE and India' for her disappearance. Amnesty alleged that Indian commandos "threatened everyone aboard with guns, and dragged Sheikha away as she screamed that she was claiming political asylum".
PRINCE TOO: While India's 'help' with the princess may have helped the process it wouldn't have been the key or the only reason. India had requested Michel's extradition 19 months ago, and the UAE completed all its legal formalities this week before agreeing to extradite him to India. An Interpol red notice was issued against Michel in November 2015.
The extradition is all the more significant as Michel is a British citizen and the UAE had earlier dismissed requests that as a British national, he could not be sent to India. The deepened strategic relationship that has grown between the UAE and India, helmed by Prime Narendra Modi Modi and the UAE's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed also played a big role.
As in 2017
UAE is home to 2.8 million Indian expatriates, the largest expatriate community in the UAE. Professionally qualified personnel constitute about 15 & 20 percent of the community, followed by 20 percent white-collar non-professionals (clerical staff, shop assistants, sales men, accountants, etc) and the remainder 65% comprises blue-collar workers. There is a significant business community from India. The Indian community has played a major role in the economic development of the UAE. The annual remittances made by the large Indian community in UAE amount to over US$ 13.75 billion (2015). The contribution of Indian community in development and prosperity of UAE was also acknowledged by UAE Government during the discussions in recently concluded 2nd India-UAE Strategic Dialogue.
With a large number of blue-collar Indian workers, focus of bilateral relations is also on developing efficient grievance-redressal mechanisms for the Indian workers in the UAE. The Embassy brought out “Guidelines for Indian” for benefits of Indian Community in UAE. A comprehensive online web-based ‘NRI registration system’ has been developed for Indians resident in UAE to register themselves on the system by filling in the requested details. An online web based portal called E-migrate system has been put in place for recruitment of Indian workers including Indian nurses from 1 June 2015. 4 The Embassy has Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) for providing short-term economic assistance (food, shelter, passage expenses etc.) to destitute workers/housemaids in distress. Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) with a 24- hour helpline is operating in Dubai since November 2010. Recently another IWRC was opened in Sharjah in the September 2017. Regular visits to jails and labor camps by the officers of the Embassy and Consulate and Open house held every working day of the week at the Embassy and Consulate for the Indian Community members, are some of other mechanisms to ensure regular communication between the Embassy & and Consulate with the Indian community.
Comparing India with Pakistan
Head of General Security's tweets
Dhahi Khalfan, Head of General Security in Dubai, posted these tweets after authorities arrested a gang of Pakistanis for smuggling
He wondered why it was that Indians are disciplined but Pakistanis aren't
The official then went on to say that that no one in Dubai should hire Pakistanis
A senior Dubai police official has in a series of tweets praised Indians and lambasted Pakistanis, saying the former are "disciplined" while the community of the latter is rife with "disruption, crime, and smuggling", reported UAEviral.com.
Dhahi Khalfan, Lieutenant General and Head of General Security in Dubai, posted these tweets after Dubai authorities arrested a gang of Pakistanis for smuggling drugs. The Pakistani press said he's known to make controversial statements. Perhaps because of that, he has a whopping 2.66 million followers.
Khalfan tweeted posting a picture of the arrested Pakistanis, with a comment below it that said, as translated by UAEviral: "Pakistanis pose a dangerous threat to gulf societies because of the drugs they bring in to our countries. We must impose strict procedures at the entrances [of our countries]."
Then he wondered why it was that Indians are disciplined but Pakistanis aren't. "How come Indians are disciplined while disruption, crime, and smuggling are prevalent in the Pakistani community?", he tweeted.
The official then went on to say that that no one in Dubai should hire Pakistanis. "I invite our citizens to not employ Pakistanis...It is now a national duty to stop hiring Pakistanis," tweeted the Dubai official.
He added that Pakistanis were a "danger" to the Gulf region. "Pakistanis pose a dangerous threat to Gulf societies because of the drugs they bring in to our countries. We must impose strict procedures at the entrances [of our countries]," tweeted Khalfan.
India, UAE join hands to work in Africa
India and UAE agreed to work together in third countries, particularly in Africa, in what signals a deepening relationship that has been stewarded by PM Narendra Modi.
The discussions between Modi and the visiting UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan saw the Indian leader commit to take ties to new heights. Al Nahyan, who arrived here on Sunday, held talks with external affairs minister S Jaishankar on Monday.
Al Nahyan’s visit comes just after the new Modi government has taken office. UAE has grown to become India’s close ally in the Gulf and, along with Saudi Arabia, has been a breakthrough for Indian diplomacy.
With increasing defence and security relations India and UAE may find avenues for greater cooperation in the current situation. With India having to turn off the tap for Iranian oil, UAE and Saudi Arabia have been increasing oil supplies to India. Increasingly, Indian warships are patrolling the Gulf of Oman and Strait of Hormuz to provide security to Indian ships. Al Nahyan would have also briefed the Indian government about the UAE’s withdrawal from the war in Yemen, which has caused them enormous reputational damage.
According to an official readout, the two foreign ministers discussed bilateral and regional matters. The two countries “agreed to build on these growing strategic links as well as further their trilateral cooperation initiatives, especially in Africa.”
Modi told the UAE minister that India and UAE would work together in trade and economy, energy, tourism and people-topeople contacts.