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UAE soft power on show amid twin celebrations of golden jubilee and India’s 75 years of independence

Arab Ambassadors’ Wives Association in collaboration with the Embassy of UAE, India; and Consulate General of India, Dubai; put up a colourful show on the historic occasion for both countries



Photos: Neeraj Murali
Photos: Neeraj Murali
by

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Mon 21 Mar 2022, 2:54 PM

Last updated: Mon 21 Mar 2022, 10:47 PM

On Sunday, which coincided with the International Happiness Day (March 20) and a day ahead of the UAE’s Mother’s Day, the Arab Ambassadors’ Wives Association in collaboration with the Embassy of UAE, New Delhi, India; and Consulate General of India, Dubai; celebrated the golden jubilee of the UAE and 75 years of India’s independence — a year-round celebration called Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

In his opening remark, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi hailed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa), which was signed between the UAE and India on February 18, as it promises to be a game-changer in bilateral trade and economic ties. He lavished praise on the UAE’s Ambassador to India Dr Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Banna for his untiring effort to make Cepa a grand success.

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of state for foreign trade addressing the gathering during a gala dinner to mark the partnership of UAE and India
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of state for foreign trade addressing the gathering during a gala dinner to mark the partnership of UAE and India

Dr Al Banna, who assumed his diplomatic responsibilities in India in 2016, took the opportunity to highlight the people-to-people relationship between two nations and the significance of soft power. He said tolerance and acceptance is the cornerstone of the UAE.

He cited the UAE’s top ranking in the Global Soft Power Index last week.

Dr Al Banna quoted His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who said the index surveyed 100,000 people in 120 countries in the world. The UAE was ranked first regionally and 10th globally when it comes to ‘influence’.

It was also ranked 10th globally in diplomatic influence and 11th in media influence.

​​According to the Global Soft Power Index 2022 released by Brand Finance last, the UAE improved its score to 52, thanks to its strong and friendly international relations with other countries, investor-friendly policies, and successful handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sanjay Sudhir, Indian ambassador to the UAE, echoed Dr Al Banna and reminded the audience about the harmonious coexistence of his compatriots in the country. Indians constitute the single-largest expatriate diaspora in the UAE at over 3.3 million.

The Indian diplomat also waxed eloquent on the infinite potential to unlock social, cultural, and economic opportunities and how the Cepa is a paradigm shift to boost trade and investments, reduce tariffs, gain greater market access, and attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs). He singled out sectors such as digital trade, hospitality, retail, civil aviation, real estate that would get further boosted because of the historic pact.

Other speakers in the event included Khadijah Al Banna, the wife of Dr Al Banna and President of Arab Ambassadors’ Wives Association; Faizal Kottikollon, chairman, KEF Holdings; Rola Abu Manneh, chief executive officer (CEO) of Standard Chartered Bank, UAE; Vikramjit Singh Sahney, founder and chairman of Sun Group.

The colourful evening was capped by melodious musical rendition of some of the evergreen and contemporary numbers from Indian films such as from Mughal-e-Azam to Pushpa.

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