India must give high priority to Gulf states, says Galadari

KOLKATA — It is time for India to stop treating the Gulf region merely as a lucrative destination for its work-force and upgrade relations to a new realistic level, said Mohammed A. R. Galadari, Chairman of the Galadari Group, while addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) Partnership Summit here yesterday.

By From S.n.m. Abdi (Our correspondent)

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Published: Fri 20 Jan 2006, 10:37 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:51 PM

“India cannot afford to give low priority to the Gulf region. For far too many years, India has seen the Gulf as a market for its huge labour force, often ignoring other aspects, perhaps at its own peril”, Galadari, who was invited by the CII to speak on ‘Economic diversification and political reforms in the Arab world and its impact on India’, observed.

The speech was read out in absentia by Kamal Raj Shah, Chief Operating Officer of Khaleej Times, as personal pre-occupations prevented Galadari from being personally present at the key seminar.

Galadari’s speech on what New Delhi must do immediately to take full advantage of the economic diversification and political reforms under way in the Arab world was heard by captains of industry, politicians and bureaucrats in Salt Lake stadium, venue of the high-powered corporate conclave.

Other speakers from the Gulf region included Faysal Abou Zaki, Deputy Editor in Chief, Arab Business Magazine, Lebanon, and Mohamed bin Khalid Al Mana, Chairman, Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry. According to Galadari, it’s high time India and the Gulf forged a vibrant, multi-layered relationship bringing them closer economically, politically and psychologically. “Reforms in the Arab World, and the liberalisation that is shaping up the region will have a significant impact on India as a number of Indians residing and doing businesses in the Arab region will interact more closely with the governance process, depending on the pace of reforms”, he said.

“Arab Gulf states are opening up on an unprecedented scale to foreign investment, and international tourism, for which India is a natural partner.”

“There have been fundamental and irreversible changes in the economy, government policies, business and industry outlook. India, like other major trading partners of the Middle East, has an unbalanced trade relationship with the region, with mainly oil flowing in one direction and manufactured goods in the other.”

Galadari noted that the trade deficit in India’s favour has climbed to a mind-boggling $15 million annually. Lauding the investment plans of Indian cement, engineering and construction companies, he urged corporate India to also invest in real estate, service sectors, financial services and tourism in the Gulf region. He recalled that India has been a traditional ally of the Arab world because of their common non-aligned stand on international issues. Galadari noted that “now with Indian sweat comes Indian brain power, Indian expertise and Indian acumen. In return, India receives remittances in billions of dollars.”

But he added that relations must transcend financial aspects. “India has made valuable contribution to the Arab world in the past. There are huge economic opportunities to be explored, but above all India must be a friend to the Arab region — much more than an economic partner.”

Concluding his speech, Galadari urged that “let friendship grow and bear more fruit on a mutually respectful basis for all years and ages to come.”



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