India-UAE engagement: A unique case of growing mutual understanding and bonhomie
The bilateral ties between the two nations came into existence almost 5 decades ago when India and the UAE opened their embassies in Abu Dhabi and New Delhi
India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are at the highest level of their bilateral relationship and the graph ahead only goes up. The almost five decades long bilateral relationship has seen several ups and down, however, it saw more ups than downs in the past five years and a testimonial to it was the 13th meeting of UAE-India Joint Committee recently.
India and the UAE recently held the 13th meeting of the UAE-India Joint Committee through video conference. Both nations cheered their bilateral relationship in the week-long event which saw leaders of both nations showing ‘keenness to enhance mutual cooperation and promote bilateral relations in various sectors of common interest.’
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said, “The UAE sees in the Republic of India, a friend and a strategic partner that joins the UAE in its efforts to establishing pillars of the peace and security at the regional and international levels, as the two countries coordinate and exchange views on the most prominent geopolitical issues and developments in the region and the world, all of which are on the basis of mutual understanding and trust and an appreciation of the expected repercussions on political and economic interests for both sides,” as he co-chaired the meeting.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed chairs 'UAE-India Joint Committee' #OFMUAEhttps://t.co/4eofo9Fh5q pic.twitter.com/ltc6hN6shV— OFM (@OFMUAE) August 17, 2020
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also praised the close relationship and emphasised ‘keenness to develop them in a way that will meet aspirations of the two countries’ leaderships and benefit their peoples.’ He tweeted, “Reviewed the continuing growth of our broad-based cooperation. Their content and expanse are a testimony to our new era of relations.”
Thank FM HH @ABZayed for co-chairing the 13th (Virtual) India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting. Reviewed the continuing growth of our broad-based cooperation. Their content and expanse are a testimony to our new era of relations. pic.twitter.com/r9770JWXhU— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) August 17, 2020
In another tweet he said, “Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership grows by the day.”
Encouraged by our close collaboration in dealing with health, trade and travel challenges due to COVID-19. Discussed major regional and international developments. Our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership grows by the day.— Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) August 17, 2020
Now, the bilateral ties between the two nations came into existence almost 5 decades ago when India and the UAE opened their embassies in Abu Dhabi and New Delhi respectively. The relationship saw many ups and downs during this period however, it has seen more ups than downs in the past five years. So, what did the Modi government do right to enhance this relationship?
The answer is that it changed the game and shifted its focus to involving the UAE in India’s international focus group and attracting major investments from the country. In fact, PM Modi became the first Indian leader to visit UAE in over 40 years of relationship in 2015. On 16 August 2015, when he landed in UAE, a new era of strategic partnership was marked.
The following year, in 2016, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, (MBZ) Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces landed in India. MBZ visited India again in January, 2017 as the Chief Guest at India’s Republic day celebrations. It was during this visit that the bilateral relations were upgraded to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.
The Modi administration also started to see the UAE beyond its oil wells. The annual trade which was around $180 million in the 1970s climbed up to $60 billion in 2018-19 making it India’s third largest trading partner. The UAE became the second largest importer of Indian products with $30 billion in 2018-19. With $36 billion of non-oil trade, it became the third largest trading partner of India, according to the government data. Indian investments in the UAE were estimated at around $ 85 billion. There are 4365 Indian companies, 238 commercial agencies and 4862 trademarks registered in the UAE, the data said.
Apart from that, the UAE also invested in India’s Petroleum sector in South India. India and the UAE are also advancing towards their defence cooperation partnerships. It is also interesting to see how the UAE has been helping India in building ties with Gulf countries with its dominance in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Both countries have welcomed each other’s support in their fight towards the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent summit saw the foreign ministers of both countries agreeing to continue the joint coordination and cooperation to confront the repercussions of the pandemic, especially in sectors like health and medicines.
The story doesn’t end here. India is looking forward to participating in the upcoming Expo-Dubai 2020 which will be held next year due to the pandemic. India is also planning to organise this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), India’s biggest sports event, in the UAE reemphasising the fact that the relationship from here only gets better.