Strengthening India-UAE relationship
Vipul, Consul General of India, Dubai
Vipul, Consul General of India, Dubai, speaks on India-UAE ties and several issues concerning Indian expatriates in the UAE
The bilateral ties between India and the UAE are at an all-time high, says Vipul, the Consul General of India to Dubai and the Northern Emirates, in an interview with Khaleej Times. "The exchange of visits at the highest level in the past four successive years shows the importance that both sides attach to this relationship. Today, with each passing day our relations are getting strengthened in a range of areas including trade and investment, energy, culture and people-to-people ties," says Vipul.
According to Vipul, the momentum of high-level visits between the two countries has not only continued but intensified in 2018. The most important was Prime Minister Modi's very successful visit to the UAE in February. India's presence as the Guest of Honour country at the World Government Summit was reflective of our close relations. Prime Minister's speech on Technology for Development and his sharing of India's experience in this context was widely appreciated. A number of important agreements were signed during the visit especially in the field of energy. The laying of the foundation stone of the temple in Abu Dhabi during the visit was truly a millennium moment. Indians present at the Opera House as well as those outside were proud and delighted with the visit of Prime Minister.
From the Indian side, there have also been visits of our Minister of Petroleum and Skill Development, MOS for Youth Affairs, Sports & I&B as well as Chief Ministers of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh this year. From the UAE side, I would particularly like to mention the recent visits of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of Artificial Intelligence, to India.
There have also been several exchanges between the two sides in preparation for India's participation in Expo 2020. "In keeping with our comprehensive strategic partnership, we are also taking our cooperation to new and high technology areas such as artificial intelligence and space. I consider myself very lucky that I am the Consul General of India in Dubai during these exciting times in our bilateral relationship," he adds.
The CG feels that Indians are very well integrated in the UAE, and enjoy a good life and rapport here. At times people do get into problems due to various reasons such as loss of jobs, overstay and legal issues, and the Consulate does try to help resolve such issues within the legal framework of the UAE. "Of course, currently, a major issue is the Amnesty. I am happy that a large number of Indians are coming forward to avail of this humanitarian gesture of the UAE leadership. I would encourage all Indians who do not have a regular and legal stay in the UAE to use the Amnesty period to either return to India or to regularise their stay. They can take guidance from the Consulate's help desks in Al Aweer or the Consulate. We are prepared to help people in every manner possible, including financially if they do not have the means to support themselves," he notes.
The CG continues, "We try and resolve various issues that Indians might face while being in the UAE. One of the major ways to do it is by guiding them about local rules, laws and procedures. We also extend legal and psychological counselling through our outsourcing agency, Indian Workers Resources Centre. In deserving cases, we also help people financially from the Indian Community Welfare Fund by paying for their return ticket to India or by giving them sustenance help for few days."
Since January this year, the Consulate has also been holding an Open House for any Indian on the last Friday of every month in the Consulate. A number of people have benefited from the Open House in which all senior officers are always present. The Consulate has also enhanced its engagement with the community with an open meeting with community leaders after the Open House.
"I must say that we see a lot of Indians coming to the UAE looking for a job on visit visas and falling into trouble as they may not be able to find a job. This should not be done, especially workers should come only through registered agents in India and through Government of India's e-migrate system," the CG advises.
New cultural activities
The Consulate continues to organise various cultural programmes in association with the community. Vipul explains, "We also celebrate all our festivals together with Indian Associations and other organisations. In the past year, under India@70 we celebrated the 70th anniversary year of India's independence with 70 programmes under the Consulate's aegis. These focused on diverse facets of India including culture, trade and investment, sports, education, etc. We also organise monthly meetings and programmes involving the differently abled children under our Prerna-Manthan series."
Marital counselling sessions
Vipul notes, "We do get a number of cases of marital disputes for intervention. We do marital counselling and try our best to resolve family issues though this is very difficult. In a number of cases, we have been successful in reducing tensions. We also support NRI women facing marital issues by way of legal counselling. The Government of India has taken several steps to safeguard women who may be very vulnerable away from India."
Referring to the fourth International Day of Yoga celebrations at Zabeel Park, Vipul says, "I was very happy with the large number of Yoga enthusiasts turning up for the International Yoga Day this year. The Day has now become an integral part of Dubai's calendar. I was also happy that we were able to organise large programmes around Yoga Day in all other Northern Emirates. It was heartening to see the support given by the UAE authorities, and I sincerely thank them.
Message to the community
I would like to congratulate all Indians in Dubai and Northern Emirates on India's Independence Day. This is the day when we remember the sacrifices of the leaders of our freedom struggle and commit to working for the progress and development of our country. We should work towards the goal set by the prime minister of building a New India by 2022. On our Independence Day, we should also commit to doing our best for the UAE which is our karmabhoomi and whose leaders have given us a great atmosphere to live and work here. Happy Independence Day! Jai Hind!
'Year of Zayed'
The Indian community continues to pay tribute under "Year of Zayed" through various programmes and activities. As the largest community in the UAE, I think Indians have been the biggest beneficiaries of the UAE that late Sheikh Zayed built. All Indians readily associate with the values of peaceful coexistence, tolerance and progress that he professed. We are prepared to help the people in every manner possible, including financially if they do not have the means to support themselves.