Know the reasons why UAE and India are closer than ever before

Just yesterday UAE snubbed Pakistan saying Kashmir is not Muslim ummah issue. it is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Scenario was not always like this. In the 80’s UAE was a hot spot for plotting terrorism, extortion, drug dealings against India. But now more than a Diplomatic tie, a friendship has formed between UAE and India. And experts in UAE say, it is all due to the efforts of PM Modi and his cabinet.

When Narendra Modi visited the UAE in August 2015, it was after 34 years an Indian prime minister last visited the country. The last Indian prime minister who visited the country before Modi was Indira Gandhi in 1981.

Since Modi’s visit, there have been more high-level visits by the leadership of the UAE and India. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited India in February 2016 and January 2017 — first on a state visit and the second as the chief guest of Indian Republic Day celebrations. While warm relations between the UAE and India go back to centuries, diplomats and top officials say the current momentum is unprecedented, scoring high on both symbolism and substance.

Here are the factors that have contributed to the changing dynamics of the relationship:

Diversification of UAE economy:

Foreign trade and the oil and gas sectors were the main reason for the  bilateral relations for the decades. The focus of bilateral relations have now diversified to include many new sectors after the official visits of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed and PM Modi — such as IT, space tech, tourism, defence manufacturing and renewable energy.

country profile and priorities:

The recent upsurge in relations is a reminder that both the UAE and India have achieved tremendously in terms of global reputation and foreign policy.

India now is not only a growing economic power, but also an aspirational power. In the 1980s, India was seen as aligned with the Soviet Union, now we have multidimensional relations with almost all countries. Now India is being seen as a country which has a vision for peace, security and stability.

With a very proactive, mature and confident foreign policy, both India and UAE has rapidly moved to embrace the opportunities. The era of passive bilateral relations is over, both nations have demonstrated that with the same resources as before, there is so much more that can be achieved.

Key partners in combating terrorism:

The UAE and India share a deeply common goal, fighting terrorism, and ideologies of hatred.

The UAE has been deporting Indian-origin sympathisers of the Islamic State (IS). While UAE has worked with India to hand over terrorists and terror masterminds in the past decade, the counter-terror partnership gathered steam with the UAE choosing India as a key pillar of its Look East Policy amid growing tensions with traditional ally Pakistan. Over the past few years, Abu Dhabi has voluntarily shared information with Delhi on terror operatives and their networks.

This has been well proven by the recent events, when Pakistan approached UAE seeking support for its protest against Abolishment of Article 370, UAE snubbed pakistan and said the issue doesn’t concern them it has to be dealt bilaterally.

Common economic goals:

The growing opportunities for jobs in India, along with the appreciating rupee, booming stock market, structural reforms such as GST, ease of doing business have all helped prepare a solid foundation for its growth. That’s why the IMF has forecast India as the fastest growing economy. Air travel has grown by 100 per cent. So better connectivity leading to better relations.

Rigorous followup meetings:

Following the elevation of the UAE and India’s relation to a comprehensive strategic partnership, there are several high-level committees which are working in parallel to advance the bilateral agenda.

With such diverse committees in place, the pace of progress in sorting out any bilateral issues has increased substantially. the frequency and depth of interaction with existing trade and business associations of these two countries have intensified.

Currency swap pact

India and UAE signed currency swap agreement in December last year to boost trade and economic relations between the two countries. The agreement is expected to reduce the dependency on hard currencies like US dollar and give a push to the local currencies of the two nations. It will also reduce the impact of volatility in exchange rate arising from the dependency on a third currency. India and the UAE bilateral trade stands at $52 billion in 2017, with non-oil trade accounting for $34 billion. India’s FDI into the UAE last year was $6.6 billion while the UAE’s investment in India stood at $5.8 billion.

Agri investment

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have decided to make India as a base for food security for the countries and plan to invest in both organic and food processing industries.

Many may Prime Minister Narendra Modi being awarded the Zayed Medal, the highest civil honour of United Arab Emirates (UAE), as a political stunt. But the honour is the result of a long and concrete efforts by the Modi government to forge strong ties with the Gulf countries India had ignored for long. The award, which was conferred upon PM Modi for boosting relations between the Emirates and India, was given for his outreach in the Gulf country.

India’s deeper demographic and geographic connections to the UAE and also contrasting closeness to Iran give PM Modi the platform to situate India as an ideal partner for stabilising the entire Gulf.

Dr Sindhu Prashanth