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PM Modi’s 7th visit to UAE from February 13 seeks to strengthen bilateral relations, regional cooperation

03:26 AM Feb 11, 2024 IST | SURINDER SINGH OBEROI
pm modi’s 7th visit to uae from february 13 seeks to strengthen bilateral relations  regional cooperation
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New Delhi, Feb 10: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to undertake an official visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from February 13 to 14. This marks the Prime Minister's third visit to the UAE in the past eight months and the fifth since 2015.

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During his visit, The Prime Minister will engage in bilateral discussions with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the UAE. The agenda will focus on fortifying the strategic partnership between the two nations and exchanging perspectives on pertinent regional and global matters of mutual concern.

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Additionally, Prime Minister Modi will convene with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister, and Defence Minister of the UAE. Invited as a Guest of Honour, he will address the World Government Summit 2024 in Dubai, delivering a significant keynote address.

Prime Minister Modi is set to inaugurate the BAPS Mandir, the inaugural Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. In another engagement, he will address the Indian community at an event hosted in Zayed Sports City, Abu Dhabi.

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Enhanced Relations Between India and UAE

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India and the UAE share robust relations across political, cultural, and economic domains. Since Prime Minister Modi visited the UAE in August 2015, bilateral ties have been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, agreements including the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February 2022 and the Local Currency Settlement (LCS) System in July 2023.

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Political Relations

Since July 2023, the diplomatic ties between India and the UAE have witnessed significant momentum through a series of high-level engagements. In July 2023, Prime Minister Modi held discussions with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, marking the beginning of a string of exchanges strengthening bilateral cooperation.

Later in the year, Modi participated in the COP28 summit held in Dubai from November 30 to December 1, 2023. During the event, he again met with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, reinforcing and deepening bilateral relations.

In September 2023, UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed visited India to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit. On this occasion, he also participated in the joint launch of the International Maritime Environment and Energy Cooperation Initiative (IMEEC) and the Global Biofuel Alliance.

Recently, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's visit to Gujarat, in January 2024, as the Chief Guest for the 10th Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit, highlighted the growing partnership between the two countries.

UAE's participation as a Special Invitee at the G20 summit during India’s Presidency in February 2023 and India's backing, UAE's accession as a Dialogue Partner to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in May 2023 and its membership in the BRICS bloc from January 1, 2024, demonstrated the fostering regional stability and economic cooperation.

 

Trade and Investment

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and the UAE marked its one-year completion on April 30, 2023, contributing to a 16% surge in trade volume, which reached USD 85 million during the fiscal year 2022-23. In the same period, the UAE emerged as the fourth-largest source of Foreign Direct Investment for India, with an investment totalling $3.5 billion.

During Prime Minister Modi's visit to Abu Dhabi on July 15, 2023, Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were inked, including agreements for establishing a Local Currency Settlement System to promote cross-border transactions in INR and Dirham. In March 2023, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Central Bank of UAE signed an MoU on Digital Currencies, further enhancing financial collaboration. Investments were made by UAE entities, including ADIA's USD 500 million investment in Lenkstart and Mubadala's USD 300 million investment in Cube Highways.

In January 2024, during UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's visit to Gujarat, MoUs were signed to foster investment cooperation in the development of food complexes, renewable energy, and innovative healthcare. The 11th meeting of the High-Level Task Force on Investments (HLTFI), co-chaired by Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal and ADIA MD Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, convened in October 2023, highlighting the commitment to deepen economic ties.

 

In the energy sector:

An agreement was reached between Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) for the purchase of 1.2 million metric tons of LNG over 14 years, commencing from 2026-39. Additionally, in January 2024, ADNOC Gas signed a 10-year agreement to supply 0.5 million metric tons per annum of LNG to GAIL India. Both nations also agreed to promote cooperation and investments in Green Hydrogen through a signed MoU in January 2023.

 

Education

During Prime Minister Modi's visit to Abu Dhabi on July 15, 2023, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to establish the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi – Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The interim campus of IIT-D in Abu Dhabi was established, with the inaugural Master's course in Energy Transition and Sustainability commencing on January 29, 2024. Plans are underway to introduce Bachelor's and other programs starting from September 2024.

In November 2023, Education Minister Dharmendra inked several MoUs during the visit to UAE encompassing various aspects of education and skill development and a knowledgeable workforce equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

 

Defence Partnership

In November 2023, the Indian Air Force delegation showcased India's advanced defence capabilities at the Dubai Air Show. The exhibition featured the Advanced Light Helicopter team SARANG and Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS, which also performed aerobatics displays. Additionally, India's leading defence production companies, including DRDO, HAL, BDL, and Mishra Dhatu Nigam, showcased their flagship products such as Brahmos and Astra.

In January 2024, bilateral and trilateral military exercises were conducted. The inaugural India-UAE bilateral army exercise, Desert Cyclone, took place in Rajasthan. Concurrently, the first trilateral exercise named Desert Knight Exercise, involving the Air Forces of India, UAE, and France, was conducted at the Al Dhafra air base in the UAE. An MOU was signed between EDGE and HAL to explore joint design and development of missile systems and unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, another MOU was inked between BDL and UAE Edge subsidiary Al Tariq, aiming to jointly produce Indian variants of AL TARIQ's all-weather long-range precision-guided munition (LR-PGM) kits in India.

 

Multilateral

During the Prime Minister's visit to Dubai from November 30 to December 1 to attend the COP28 Summit, he received the unique honour of being the sole Head of State/Government to address the ceremonial opening of the COP-28 Plenary for national statements. In the presence of UAE President His Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Prime Minister launched the Global Green Credit Initiative, signalling a commitment to environmental sustainability.

India and the UAE, alongside other nations, announced the launch of the India-Middle East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC) and the Global Biofuel Alliance during the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September 2023. In 2023, India also became a member of the AIM for Climate initiative (AIM4C), spearheaded by the UAE and the US during COP26 in Glasgow.

The Indian community in the UAE, numbering around 3.5 million, constitutes the largest expatriate group, contributing significantly to the nation's development. Their positive contributions serve as a cornerstone for the enduring bilateral relationship between India and the UAE. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE signifies a significant step towards deepening bilateral relations and fostering cooperation across various sectors.

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