UAE-India Friendship Achieves Remarkable Growth

This relationship is deeply rooted in a long history of shared experiences, with a strong emphasis on the exchange of people, trade, and cultural expressions

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Sunjay Sudhir, India Ambassador to the UAE
Sunjay Sudhir, India Ambassador to the UAE

Published: Fri 26 Jan 2024, 3:23 PM

India's history reaches a milestone today as we celebrate 75 years of being a Republic. The celebration of the 75th Republic Day by India and Indians worldwide is a testament to India's enduring spirit — a nation that persistently achieves the impossible, embodies a tapestry of immense diversity, and yet united by the Tricolour. This occasion is not merely an opportunity to reflect on India's progress, including becoming the world's 3rd largest economy on PPP basis, but also to accomplish the country's potential for an even more promising future.

Looking back at the achievements of India from the 74th Republic Day till date, the year gone by was as momentous as it can get. India’s G20 Presidency was the most successful among all previous editions of the G20 in terms of outcomes and was topped off by an unprecedented New Delhi Declaration based on complete consensus. India demonstrated its commitment to the developing world by not just organising the Voice of the Global South Summit but also playing a pivotal role in the acceptance of the African Union in the G20 fold. While Indian diplomats were hard at work, Chandrayaan – 3 became the first lander–rover mission to ever land on the South pole of the Moon and it did so in its first attempt, a testimony to the growing prowess of cutting-edge technology of India. India supported its diaspora by evacuating them via Operation Ganga and Kaveri, and assisted the international community in times of crisis. Whether it was emergency relief operations in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey with Operation Dost or the cyclone relief works in Myanmar with Operation Karuna, India lived up to its ideals of Vasudhavia Kutumbakam: The world is one family.

The friendship between India and the UAE has achieved remarkable growth and strength in a relatively short period. This relationship is deeply rooted in a long history of shared experiences, with a strong emphasis on the exchange of people, trade, and cultural expressions.

In 2015, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi's visit to the UAE marked a significant milestone, as he became the first Indian Prime Minister to do so since 1981. Since then, the bond between the two countries has flourished, driven by the close connection between their leaders and citizens. The commitment of both leaders to this special relationship is evident through the frequent high-level exchanges. Prime Minister Modi has already visited the UAE six times, while President of the UAE, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, has visited India four times since 2016. The most recent visit took place earlier this month, when Sheikh Mohamed attended the Vibrant Gujarat Summit 2024 as the chief guest. The roadshow of about 50,000 greeters in Ahmedabad for his arrival motorcade showcased immense affection and support from the people, highlighting the strong bond between our nations. These exchanges symbolize the significance that both leaders place on the strategic partnership between India and the UAE, driven by a shared purpose to achieve mutual prosperity.

In February 2022, Prime Minister Modi and President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed unveiled a forward-thinking vision for the partnership between India and the UAE. This vision, outlined in the India-UAE Vision Document, encompasses various aspects of human endeavor, ranging from culture and commerce to diaspora and defense, education and economy, health and hi-tech, and more. Since then, both countries have been dedicated to transforming this vision into reality, not only benefiting themselves but also fostering shared prosperity for partners in Africa and beyond. While it is impossible to enumerate all the achievements in this relationship, it is worth mentioning certain transformative projects and agreements that have been recently initiated or concluded. One such significant milestone is the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and the UAE, which came into effect in May 2022. The importance of CEPA is underscored by the fact that it is the UAE's first CEPA with any country worldwide, India's first CEPA with any country in the Middle East region, and the first of its kind in over a decade. What makes it even more remarkable is that this comprehensive and ambitious agreement was negotiated and finalised within a mere 88 days, showcasing the deep trust and collaborative spirit between these two great nations.

The economic and commercial relationship between India and the UAE has undergone a significant transformation due to the CEPA, leading to a surge in bilateral trade by over 16 per cent from April 2022 to March 2023. Moreover, the success of the CEPA has also attracted increased investments, positioning the UAE as the fourth largest investor in India during 2022-23. This partnership has been further strengthened by ambitious agreements such as the adoption of local currencies for trade settlement, the development of the UAE's domestic card system based on the RuPay stack, and the integration of instant payment platforms for seamless cross-border transactions.

Another noteworthy achievement in this relationship is the establishment of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) campus in Abu Dhabi, marking the first-ever IIT campus in the Middle East region. This exemplifies the perfect alignment of strategies between both countries, with the UAE's aspiration to become a global education hub coinciding with India's IITs' global expansion. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish the IIT-D Abu Dhabi campus, signed in July 2023, has been swiftly implemented, with the commencement of the first masters degree programme on Sustainability and Energy Transition in January 2024. Subsequently, bachelor's degree programmes will be introduced in September 2024.

The establishment of the BAPS Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi stands as one of the most notable embodiment of the bilateral relationship. The warm exchanges between the people, which have been ongoing for centuries since the arrival of Indian traders on the shores of the UAE, have been a defining characteristic and a crucial foundation of this special bond. This relationship has always been given special attention and care by the leaders of both nations. The temple, set to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi in February 2024, will serve as a spiritual sanctuary promoting global harmony. Positioned on a hill on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the temple is a tribute to the enduring values of peace and tolerance advocated by Mahatma Gandhi and Sheikh Zayed, the founding fathers of the two nations. It will also honor the millions of Indians who have made the UAE their second home, serving as a lasting testament to our leadership's efforts in bringing the people of both countries closer together.

Our people are our greatest asset. The contribution of the Indian diaspora to India's progress is unparalleled. The vibrant and highly engaged Indian community in the UAE, consisting of over 3.5 million individuals, is widely acknowledged as one of the most active, conscientious, and hardworking communities worldwide. Their presence greatly contributes to the strength of the friendship between India and the UAE.

Furthermore, the philanthropic endeavors undertaken by the Indian community in the UAE for their fellow Indians in India hold significant importance.

Once again, I wish a very happy 75th Republic Day of India to my fellow countrymen and friends of India in the UAE and around the world.

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