UAE and India: Ties that bind

When UAE said 'Marhaba NaMo'

Bernd Debusmann Jr. (Chief Reporter) Filed on January 22, 2017
Narendra Modi addresses the Indian community during the ceremony 'Marhaba NaMo' in Dubai in 2015.

(File photo)

The success of Modi's visit was perhaps best exemplified by the massive outpouring of public support for the "Marhaba NaMo" event at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

The visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to New Delhi as Chief Guest for India's Republic Day celebrations comes less than two years after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic state visit to the UAE.

Amid much fanfare, Modi's August 2015 visit - the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years - saw him meet with the UAE's top leaders including His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed.

In an interview with the Khaleej Times at his official residence at Race Course Road just ahead of the visit, Modi said he considered it an "anomaly" that an Indian PM hadn't visited the UAE in such a long time.

"We have deep historical links and unmatched level of familiarity with each other. We are located close to each other. Religion, culture and commerce provide enduring links between us. We are both multi-cultural and pluralist societies today. We are now among each other's top three trading partners," Modi said. "So India and UAE have everything to be a top priority for each other."

"This is the way I look at the UAE," he added. "The Gulf region is vital for India's economic, energy and security interests. I have begun my regional engagement with the UAE. This tells you the importance that I attach to the UAE. We have resolved to sustain regular high level engagement and build a strong and comprehensive partnership."

Giving his outlook for the next five years of India-UAE relations - of which the upcoming visit by Shaikh Mohammed is an important step - Modi said that would like to see "a truly comprehensive strategic partnership evolve between our two countries" in which the two countries work together in science and technology, cooperate on security challenges, engage with each other's armed forces more, and work together in international forums and to address regional challenges.

"There are no limits to our relationship," he said. "In short, in every walk of life, we should turn to each other as a matter of habit."

Modi's thoughts were echoed by Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed himself, who noted that Modi's interest in visiting the UAE is "a true expression of the bonds of friendship and fruitful bilateral cooperation as well as the common vision towards a wide range of regional and international issues".

"We also share with you this interest, given your country's important role in international politics and global economic growth," Shaikh Mohammed added. "The (visit) has significant importance in the light of the leaderships' keenness to push forward bilateral cooperation to new horizons that both countries and people aspire for."

The success of Modi's visit was perhaps best exemplified by the massive outpouring of public support for the "Marhaba NaMo" event at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, which was attended by over 50,000 people.

In a rousing 75-minute speech to the roaring crowd, Modi thanked the UAE and its leaders for their diplomatic support, praised the hardworking Indian diaspora for their contributions to both nations, and vowed that both countries would work together to combat the scourge of terrorism.

"When India catches a cold, Indians in Dubai sneeze," Modi said. "Indians, specifically in the Gulf region, have always helped in all possible ways."

Results of Modi's visit to UAE

In a joint statement following Modi's visit, the UAE and India noted that the visit "marks the beginning of a new and comprehensive strategic partnership between the UAE and India".

Among the key takeaways of the visit were the following:


- Coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred, perpetrating and justifying terrorism or pursuing political aims. The two sides will facilitate regular exchanges of religious scholars and intellectuals and organise conferences and seminars to promote values of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness and welfare that is inherent in all religions
- Enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence sharing and capacity building
- Work together for the adoption of India's proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations
- Work together to control, regulate and share information on flow of funds that could have a bearing on radicalisation activities and cooperate in interdicting illegal flows and take action against individuals and organisations concerned
- Promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention of use of cyber space for terrorism, radicalisation and disturbing social harmony


- Cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region
- Strengthen defence relations, including through regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and special forces, and in coastal defence
- Cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India
- Support efforts for peaceful resolution of conflicts and promote adherence to principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the conduct of relations between nations and settlement of disputes


- Encourage investment institutions of UAE to raise their investments in India, including through the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund. The aim is to reach a target of $75 billion to support investment in India's plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks
- Promote cooperation in space, including in joint development and launch of satellites, ground-based infrastructure and space application
- Cooperate in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including in areas like safety, health, agriculture and science and technology



Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Originally from Mexico City, I've been in Dubai since January 2015. Before arriving in in the UAE I worked as a general news reporter in TV and print in Mexico City, NYC and Washington DC. I'm interested in defence issues, politics, technology, aviation and history. In my spare time i enjoy traveling and football - I'm a keen fan of Chelsea FC. I developed an interest in the Middle East traveling through Jordan and the West Bank. I have a BA in Political Science from Dickinson College in the USA and an MA in International Journalism from City University London.

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