The Big Picture – Significance of India and UAE relations and Bilateral Ties
On 26th January 2017, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited India as the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade. The relations between both the countries are on a new high at present. The two countries share bonds of cultural affinity and have strong commercial linkages. India’s relationship with UAE was enhanced further in August 2015 with the visit by Narendra Modi to Abu Dhabi who became the first Indian Prime Minister to do so in more than three decades. This was followed by the visit of Shaikh Mohammad to India in February 2016.
Benefits for India:
India has a host of reasons at present to involve with UAE such as :
- Trade ties (approximately $50 billion)
- Energy and oil supplies as UAE is the 5th largest exporter of these resources.
- Several Indians working in UAE remit a huge sum of money on an annual basis.
- Defence and security.
- The UAE is the second biggest destination for India’s exports after the US.
Some of the major Agreements/ MoUs exchanged during the visit:
- Agreement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which will include joint military exercises, joint manufacturing and purchase of equipment and spare parts from India.
- Cooperation in areas of armaments, defence industries and transfer of technology.
- Enhancing bilateral maritime trade ties through facilitating maritime transport.
- Enhancing bilateral cooperation on the issue of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking, especially of women and children.
- Agreement allowing holders of diplomatic, special and official passports visa free travel between the two countries.
- Establishing a framework for the storage of crude oil by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in India and to further strengthen the strategic relationship between the two countries in the field of energy.
- Cooperation in energy efficiency services, technology development and cooperation in cyberspace.
Reasons for UAE’s tilt towards India:
- Geopolitical conditions as Iran is threatening continuously to close the Strait of Hormuz in case there is a conflict with Saudi Arabia or US. This will adversely affect UAE as well.
- UAE saw Pakistan as a partner and incorporated a deep economic and security relationship with it. But in the present day, Pakistan does not seem to be of much help to UAE. Already facing internal issues, Pakistan failed to come to the aid of Saudi Arabia in its war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen and has been unable to curb jihadists operating from its land across West Asia.
- India is an important destination for oil and energy purchase as the US is on the way of becoming hydrocarbon independent. UAE’s massive sovereign wealth funds can act as a great resource in the development of infrastructure in India.
- There has been a rising convergence between India and UAE on the terror issue and both the countries talked of the need to combat terror groups without any discrimination given the fact that five UAE diplomats were killed in an attack in Kandahar in Afghanistan.
- Countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are suffering from violent conflicts. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has not produced expected results. The ongoing fight against the Islamic State (IS), President Donald Trump assuming office in the United States and the Brexit are some issues the UAE is particularly worried about.
Based on shared values and objectives, the two countries have a strong ground to take their relationship to the next level. The success might be in the areas of greater regional security and stability, partnership in clean energy and advanced technology and greater economic prosperity with a range of possibilities.