Why PM Modi’s visit to UAE matters: Bridging the Gulf

The 27th sojourn by Prime Minister Narendra Modi outside the country to United Arab Emirates August on 16-17 is significant and remarkable not only because he is the first prime minister to go to this country after Indira Gandhi’s visit 34 years ago. Nor also because he is visiting a country which contributes about 15% of the total inward remittances (USD 15.7 billion out of a total of USD 69 billion received by India from all over the world in 2014-15). Nor even for the fact that Indians constitute about 30% of the total population (2.6 million out of a total population that is a shade above 9 million, less than half the population of Delhi). The visit is exceptional because this will be the first visit by Prime Minister Modi to West Asia, to a Muslim country and to a Gulf Arab country. This is one region that Mr Modi has not visited so far, although he has straddled across hemispheres over the last 14 months of his tenure.

PM Modi’s choice of UAE to be the first country of his visit in the energy-rich but troubled region is as compelling and momentous as was his choice of Bhutan to be the country for his first bilateral visit after assuming power. PM Modi is giving the same importance to UAE as he gave to India’s neighbours like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh by making this a single country tour and not combining it with other countries. This also sends out a clear message that UAE occupies the same importance and relevance in India’s foreign policy matrix as its immediate neighbours.

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Charming Dubai: UAE awaits Modi the performer

Barely a day after unfurling the tricolour at the majestic Red Fort in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will fly down to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for his first visit to the energy-rich and enterprising Gulf region, home to the 7-million strong Indian diaspora. Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the two cities Mr Modi will visit on August 16 and 17, are looking to roll out the red carpet for Mr Modi, who will become the first Indian prime minister to visit the country in 34 years after Indira Gandhi.

The focus will be on intensifying economic ties across the spectrum, but the show-stealer will be clearly the grand public event at Dubai International Cricket Stadium, where around 40,000 people, mostly Indians, will be all eyes and ears to see and hear the man who has carved a reputation for himself as a stage performer. In an act reminiscent of Madison Square Avenue panache, PM Modi is expected to enthrall them with his inspiring rhetoric, exhorting them to contribute their bit to the resurgence to the motherland.

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