Hamad Buamim, President and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Dubai - The chamber's total membership increased from 3,611 in 1981 to 194,089 by the end of last year.
Indian members in the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the end of 2014 have increased by 50 times compared to 1981, according to Chamber data.
In 1981, Indian members at the Chamber totalled 802. Their membership have increased 50-fold to 40,900 as on December 31, 2014. Till last December, Indians contributed more than 20 per cent of the chamber's total members. The chamber's total membership increased from 3,611 in 1981 to 194,089 by the end of last year.
In 1981, late Indira Gandhi was the last Indian prime minister to visit the UAE. On Monday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is concluding his two-day trip to the UAE as the first Indian Prime Minister to visit after 34 years.
This visit is being seen as an opportunity to boost India-UAE ties in key areas of trade, energy, investment and security among others. It's Modi's first visit to any Gulf country after taking the helm as Indian prime minister in May 2014.
"Dubai's economic relations with India have a very strong historical foundation of trade and commerce. India has been Dubai's most important trading partner for decades, with non-oil trade reaching Dh109 billion in 2014," Hamad Buamim, president and chief exective officer (CEO), Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Khaleej Times.
"This relationship has been supported by a rise in the number of Indian businesses setting up base in Dubai, which is reflected in the 5,000 per cent increase in Indian membership at the Dubai Chamber," Buamim said.
"India is also the top source country for professionals in the UAE. This reiterates India's strong connection with not only Dubai, but also the UAE, which is home to more than 2.6 million Indians - a number which will only go up," he added.
Ahead of his visit, Modi described the UAE as a "valued partner". This fact was reflected in India being the UAE's third largest trading partner, the Prime Minister said.
India-UAE trade, valued at $180 million per annum in the 1970s, is around $60 billion, making the UAE India's third largest trading partner for the year 2014-'15 after China and the US.
The UAE is India's second largest export destination with an amount of over $33 billion for the year 2014-'15. For the UAE, India is the largest trading partner for 2014 with an amount of over $28 billion in non-oil trade.
Modi also lauded the contributions of the 2.6 million Indian diaspora and said he was looking forward to meeting them.
"India and the UAE have everything to be a top priority for each other. This is the way I look at the UAE. The Gulf region is vital for India's economic, energy and security interests. I have begun my regional engagement with the UAE. This tells .. the importance that I attach to the UAE. We have resolved to sustain regular high-level engagement and build a strong and comprehensive strategic partnership," the prime minister told Khaleej Times in New Delhi ahead of his visit.