The United Arab Emirates (UAE), India’s third largest trading partner and an economic powerhouse in the Gulf, is set to play a big role in the transformation of India’s infrastructure by stepping up investments through its sovereign wealth fund.
Business is high on the agenda of ‘Crown Prince’ of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed Al Nahyan began a three-day visit to India on February 10. Underlining special warmth in relations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi received Sheikh Nahyan at the airport. This is the first ever visit by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to India, and will be watched closely in the region.
The visit of Mr Modi to the UAE in August 2015 transformed relations between India and the UAE and upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership. The two countries are determined to raise the bar for this partnership since then with regular high level ministerial visits between the two countries.
The two countries will be signing a slew of new MoUs and agreements, said Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Anil Wadhwa, hours before the visit. “This list is still being updated. So, I won’t be able to give you the exact number right now, but as we speak some negotiations are still going on,” he said.
Focus on infrastructure
UAE has been seeking to invest in India from its Sovereign Wealth Fund of nearly $800 billion. India has invited the UAE to participate in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), which has been set up with an initial corpus of Rs 40,000 crore ($6.5 billion approx). With Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) expressing interest in investing in India’s infrastructure, the crown prince’s visit is expected to lead to some visible progress in this area.
The UAE, which is known to have one of the best infrastructure in the ‘Middle East,’ could play a significant role in upgrading India’s infrastructure, which is badly in need of funds and expertise. UAE is home to a 2.6 million strong Indian diaspora out of the 7 million Indians in the Gulf region. The community has played a key role in bringing the two countries closer. India and UAE aim to reach a target of $75 billion in investments
Defence and counter-terrorism
In the backdrop of rising extremist groups like Islamic State (IS) in the ‘Middle East’ and its growing presence in South Asia, India and UAE are set to bolster their cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism through intelligence-sharing. During Mr Modi’s visit to the UAE, the two countries had signed a host of agreements pertaining to strengthening defence and security cooperation.
Focusing on counter-terrorism Mr Wadhwa said that there is “complete meeting of minds” on this issue between both the countries and stressed that officials of both sides meet regularly to appraise terror threats. The two countries have enhanced their cooperation in counter-terrorism in recent times. When asked to elaborate on counter-terror cooperation Mr Wadhwa said: “We are talking about collaboration in information exchange, the steps that India has taken to make sure that the youth don’t get radicalized, also de-radicalisation of those who come back, monitoring of the cyberspace etc. and what steps are being taken in both countries.”
India-UAE relations: In Numbers
|India-UAE bilateral trade||$60 billion (2015)|
|Investments: FDI from UAE to India||$3.01 billion (2015)|
|Indian Diaspora in UAE||2.6 million|
|Bilateral Investment target||$75 billion|
(Sridhar Ramaswamy contributed inputs for this article)
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