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PM Modi Will Be In The UAE On a Two-Day Official Visit Beginning Today

PM Modi will address Indian community in the ‘Ahlan Modi’ program on 13th February. PM’s visit also includes the inauguration of the BAPS mandir and to meet the Vice President, Prime Minister, and Defense Minister of the UAE.

PM Modi arrives at UAE

PM Modi arrives at UAE

This will be his seventh visit to the UAE since 2015 and the third in the last eight months. During the visit, PM Modi will hold bilateral meetings with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan whom he referred to as “my brother” in the post on X. The two leaders will discuss ways to further deepen, expand, and strengthen the strategic partnership between the countries and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

In a post on X, the Prime Minister said, “We are very proud of our diaspora and their efforts to deepen India’s engagement with the world”.

Apart from the President, Prime Minister Modi is also scheduled to meet the Vice President, Prime Minister, and Defense Minister of the UAE. The PM will also attend the World Government Summit in Dubai. After Dubai, the PM’s program is in Abu Dhabi. Here he will inaugurate Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple BAPS and will address the Indian community in the Ahlan Modi Program.

About 3.5 million Indians are living in the UAE. PM Modi will address Indians through the Ahlan Modi program on 13 February. ‘Ahlan Modi’ is Welcome Modi in Arabic. The highly-anticipated event is being dubbed as one of the biggest diaspora events of Prime Minister Modi. It will take place at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

BAPS Mandir inauguration & Ahlan Modi event in UAE

Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) Mandir, the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi.

Director of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi, Pranav Desai says, “It’s the first traditional Hindu Temple in the United Arab Emirates. It’s built on 27 acres of land. It is the land gifted by the leadership of the UAE. So we are really thankful for the graciousness of the leadership of UAE. At the same time, we are thankful to the leadership of India; because of their will and support, we have built this beautiful temple.”

On BAPS Mandir inauguration, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Sunjay Sudhir says, “I think, in the historical perspective, this is something extremely important because this talks about the social, cultural, economic connect between Bharat and the Gulf over the ages…What is special about this temple is the scale at which it is happening…If you go back to the first visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UAE in 2015, it was then that the temple was announced. Today, the temple is a reality…It’s a massive structure; it’s a work of art. If you look at each block of the temple, it’s a work of love. It’s a work of skill by thousands and thousands of Indian artisans.”

On BAPS temple inauguration, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra says, “The inauguration programme of BAPS temple is one the key parts of PM Modi’s UAE visit…as per the information available right now, around 2000-5000 devotees are expected to visit the temple on that day…”

Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi where PM Modi will address the Indian diaspora at ‘Ahlan Modi’ on February 13

Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Sunjay Sudhir says, “The UAE is home to about 3.5 million Indians, which is the largest number of Indian nationals anywhere in the world. Wherever the Indian Diaspora is, they’re always very keen to listen first hand to Prime Minister Modi. We can just see their enthusiasm here because when we opened the registrations for Ahlan Modi, we had to actually close the registration as soon as the mark touched 65,000 because we could not accommodate anymore. So people are so keen to listen to the prime minister’s vision and his vision. There’s a lot of enthusiasm in the Indian community to listen to the leader.”

Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra says, “After completing his UAE visit, on February 14, PM will travel to Doha Qatar on 14th February afternoon. During the visit PM Modi will hold bilateral with Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, the Amir of Qatar and high dignitaries in Qatar. This will be PM’s second visit to Qatar. Strong bilateral trade between India and Qatar currently stands at $20 Billion.”

What issues will be discussed between PM Modi and UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan?

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that there will be brainstorming to increase cooperation between the two countries in the areas of energy, ports, fintech, digital infrastructure, railways and investment flows. There will be talks between PM Modi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. The two countries are expected to sign key agreements to boost cooperation in several key areas.

Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra said that “Some agreement can also be reached between the two countries for cooperation in ports and maritime sector. Digital cooperation between the economies of the two countries is important. In such a situation, the possibilities of agreeing on investment in the field of digital infrastructure will be brainstormed.”

Modi and Al Nahyan will also discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest. PM Modi will address as the guest of honour at the World Government Summit 2024 in Dubai on Wednesday.

India-UAE: Trade and Investment

India-UAE relations are based on political, cultural and economic foundations. The strongest basis of India-UAE proximity is bilateral trade.

If we look at the official figures of 2022-23, then during this period trade between India and UAE was about US $ 85 billion.

UAE is also important for India because it was among the top 4 countries to invest FDI in India during 2022-23. UAE is the fourth largest investor and third largest trading partner for India. The aviation sector can prove to be a big turning point in terms of investment. The Indian community is the largest expatriate group in the UAE. A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed between the two countries in February 2022. It was considered a milestone in relations. Both countries have taken major decisions to promote the use of Indian rupee and AED (UAE Dirham) for cross-border transactions

How India-UAE relations have scaled new heights in the last one year

In the last one year, there have been Five high-level visits between the two countries. PM Modi arrived in the UAE on a bilateral visit in July 2023 and met UAE President HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi. Prime Minister Modi also arrived in the UAE on 30 November and 01 December 2023 while attending COP28 in Dubai. During this time also PM Modi met the President of the United Arab Emirates, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Vice President.

UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed visited India in September 2023 to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit. President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also arrived in Gujarat in January 2024 as the chief guest of the 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.

During India’s presidency, the UAE was invited as a special invitee to the G20. With the active support of India, the United Arab Emirates joined BRICS as a member on 01 January 2024.

In the field of trade too, relations between the two countries have seen a boom in recent times. It was agreed between the two countries to promote the use of rupee and dirham for cross border transactions. In India, for the financial year 2022-23, the UAE became the fourth largest country to invest $3.5 billion. Several agreements were agreed upon during the visit of UAE President HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to Gujarat on 10 January 2024.

IOCL and ADNOC have agreements to procure 1.2 MMT LNG under a 14-year long-term deal by 2026-39. This is the first long-term LNG contract between India and the UAE, making the UAE the second country in the region. In January 2024, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) Gas signed a 10-year agreement to supply 0.5 million metric tonnes per annum (mmtpa) of LNG to GAIL India. Agreements have also been signed between the two countries in January 2023 to promote cooperation and investment in the field of green hydrogen.

In the field of defense too, many works have been done between the two countries in the last one year. In January 2024, the first India-UAE bilateral military exercise Desert Cyclone was held in Rajasthan. On 21 January 2024, the first trilateral exercise called Desert Night Exercise in which the air forces of India, UAE and France were involved took place at Al Dhafra Airport in UAE.  Recently, EDGE and HAL signed an MoU wherein both will collaborate in the areas of cooperation including joint design and development of missile systems.

India-UAE friendship necessary to answer China

The United Arab Emirates is like India’s gateway to entry into West Asia. This is also important because China is struggling to increase its status in West Asia and the Middle East. Some time ago China played the role of peacemaker between Iran and Saudi.

In March last year, Iran’s National Security Adviser Ali Shamkhani and Saudi Arabia’s Mussad bin Mohammed Al Aban signed an agreement in Beijing in the presence of China’s most senior diplomat Wang Yi to restore diplomatic relations. This unprecedented development has had a huge impact on the entire region.

China is strategically pursuing relations in West Asia, especially with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which include diplomacy, military cooperation, strategic partnership, technology, energy and health. In such a situation, the growing friendship of India to UAE is a good sign.

India-UAE relations: What are the challenges?

India-UAE ties have strengthened in the last decade, but there are some challenges between the two countries.

-First challenge – China’s growing economic influence in the UAE has always been a threat to India and in recent years, the way China has started the process of giving loans at low interest through its cheque book diplomacy in this entire region, especially in the UAE, it will obviously be a major challenge for India to deal with it.

The second challenge – The UAE’s kafala system is also heavily criticized. This system in the UAE, which is the employer, gives them more power than the workers and employees. Due to this, the UAE has also been accused of serious human rights violations. Since there are a large number of Indian workers there, this concern is also related to Indian to a great extent. Apart from this, balancing the relationship between the UAE’s massive aid to Pakistan and regional conflicts will be very important for India-UAE.

India-UAE relations from Indira Gandhi to Modi

Indira Gandhi went to UAE in May 1981 as Prime Minister. After that, no prime minister visited the UAE for nearly three-and-a-half decades. Mr. Modi is the first Indian PM to visit UAE after 34 years.

India-UAE relations have not always been so good. India’s IC184 aircraft was hijacked and taken to UAE before being towed to Kandahar. The Indian Ambassador was also not allowed to go to the airbase where this aircraft was. India wanted its commandos to operate here, but the UAE refused. Many terrorists and criminals had taken shelter in the UAE, from where they used to target India. But everything has changed today. The UAE has the largest number of expatriate Indians. For Indians, UAE is the new Singapore. Today UAE is one of India’s closest allies.

When PM Modi assumed power in 2014, he increased the focus towards the Gulf countries

PM visited UAE twice in 2015, 2018, 2019, 2022, 2023 and now in early 2024. In this way, in his ten-year tenure, PM Modi has given preference to UAE 7 times. Apart from UAE, PM Modi’s visit will also cover Qatar. Qatar has recently pardoned the death sentences of eight Navy veterans Indians which is being considered huge diplomatic victory.