The deep and abiding relationship between India and the United Arab Emirates received a further boost this week, with visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces to attend India’s 68th Republic Day celebrations as Chief Guest.
Sheikh Mohammad Al Nahyan who arrived in India on Tuesday at the head of a high-level delegation was received by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The invitation to the UAE leader to attend this year’s Republic Day celebrations underlines how close ties between the two neighborly nations and their leaders have become in recent years, especially since the visit to UAE in 2015 by Prime Minister Modi, and the reciprocal visit in February 2016 by Sheikh Mohammad to New Delhi.
Over the nearly five decades since the two countries began diplomatic relations, and even much earlier when the seafaring traders began the enduring commercial and cultural ties between the two regions, the people of India and the UAE have enjoyed strong and cordial relations. Today, India is the largest trading partner of the UAE, and the UAE is the third largest trade partner of India, following China and the United States. The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries in 2015 was to the tune of US$50 billion. In addition, the UAE is also the biggest Arab investor in India, accounting for more than 80 percent of investments from Arab countries in India.
In recent years, bilateral relations between the two countries has transformed from commercial and diplomatic ties to take on the shape of what has been referred to as a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’. One of the aims of this new partnership is on the security front to confront the security threats that afflict multiple states in the region.
On Wednesday, Sheikh Mohammad and Prime Minister Modi issued a joint statement reiterating that India and the UAE are committed to building a modern strategic partnership based on the two countries' shared values of religious tolerance and the importance of building open, multi-cultural societies that are respectful of differences related to faith.
The communiqué continued, "Our countries have decided to intensify our defense cooperation, expanding the scope of our training programs, increasing our joint exercises and exploring opportunities for co-production of defense materials. The presence of a contingent from the UAE Air Force in Delhi, marching down Rajpath in step with their Indian counterparts as part of the Republic Day parade, is a powerful visual symbol of cooperation.”
The statement noted, "As a major exporter of crude oil, the UAE has been a reliable partner in India's quest for energy security. But we are also looking beyond fossil fuels at the world that we want to bequeath to future generations. The UAE's decision to establish MASDAR was a trend-setter for the world, and India has set up extremely ambitious targets for the share of renewable energy in its own energy-mix. The UAE plans to join the Indo-French initiative to establish an International Solar Alliance and India is an ardent advocate and partner of the Abu Dhabi based International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA.
Today, we are moving towards a deeper, stronger and more intense engagement with each other. This rests on a strategic vision shared by us and on the extensive network of personal and people to people contacts between us.
"We are confident that we have created strong and robust platforms and mechanisms to take our relationship to new heights. India and the UAE are determined to fulfill the promise of our partnership for our people and our region," concluded the joint statement.