UAE has truly become global crossroads of region, says Indian minister
This part of the world is connected to India historically, says External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar
The UAE has emerged as a modernist and progressive country, which is shaping and influencing India’s thinking, a visiting Indian minister said in Abu Dhabi.
“The UAE has truly become the global crossroads of this region. Say 20 years ago, if you said, ‘give me top five global cities in the world’, I think you will get a different list than you would get today. Certainly, today the UAE as a country and Dubai as a city would feature out there,” Indian External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said during a discussion held at Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy (AGDA) along with its director general Nickolay Mladenov.
Jaishankar, the career diplomat who is now a federal minister in the Narendra Modi government, noted that India has immensely benefited from its close ties with the UAE.
“The relationships we have here, are not only looking at the problems of the present and past but it is a polity, which is actually trying to address the opportunities as well as the challenges. For a big oil producer (like the UAE) to actually have such a big commitment to renewables and hydrogen is itself a major statement. For us, the association with the UAE has been very beneficial. It shapes and influences our thinking. It gives us opportunities to work with another modernistic and progressive society,” said the minister, who is on a three-day official visit.
He noted that India and the UAE are natural partners, who are in a “comfortable relationship”.
“This part of the world is connected to us historically. Probably ever since people got on a boat on this side of the Indian Ocean or that side, I am sure the waves took them from one to another. So, if anybody could actually chronicle the history of trade, I suspect, the earliest activities will be in our part of the world.”
The minister said that the Gulf region is an “extended neighbour” for India. The Middle East region, he said, is “important for the rest of the world”, and India wished to “contribute to its stability”.
“During Covid-19, there was a period when we had a complete lockdown in India. But through that period, one thing which was kept open, was actually the food supply chain to the Gulf.”
Jaishankar is “very confident” that the new grouping of I2U2, which includes India, Israel, the UAE and the US, will boost economic cooperation among the countries.
“I2U2 has just started off. We already had one virtual summit,” he told an audience of diplomats, students, entrepreneurs and community groups.
He counted two announced projects: $2 billion investment in India to develop a series of integrated agriculture parks across the country and advancing a hybrid renewable energy project in Gujarat state consisting of 300 megawatts of wind and solar capacity complemented by a battery energy storage system.
“There are a lot of interesting ideas in business, innovation and technology.”
World becoming multipolar
During the discussion on the global order and its challenges and opportunities, Jaishankar advocated for a multi-polar world than a bipolar or unipolar one for better stability. He hoped for “a more multi-polar world, a more diversified world, one where the supply chains are more resilient and reliable.”
“The economics of the world, politics and demographics is making the world more multipolar,” he underlined.
In a globalised world, Jaishankar pointed out that there is an “attraction among countries” to cooperate and find solutions to challenges and situations.
“Countries in a globalised world, who may not be contiguous, yet have shared interests. So, the idea that we have to live on the same street to work together, no longer applies. We can live at the opposite ends of the town and still have similar interests.”
Optimism despite headwinds
The minister said that with a large reservoir of skills and talent working abroad, the world has “become a global workplace” for Indians.
Despite fears of recession, impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the economy and geo-political uncertainties, he said that India is expecting a 7-8 per cent growth.
“This is not the India of the past. The Indian leadership is willing to address the old problems with new instruments. But also trying to foresee what is coming ahead and prepare for that,” he said and pointed out the Indian government’s focus on digital revolution.