Vision explores how India and UAE are partnering in areas of business, entrepreneurship and innovation in 2017
As celebrations for Republic Day, a date honouring the origin of the Constitution of India, were held in New Delhi in January amid a blaze of fanfare and colour, so 14 bilateral agreements were signed for cooperation in defense, cyber, space technology, trade and investment, energy, infrastructure, and agriculture, among others, with the UAE.
This new ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership for the 21st century’ and host of wide-ranging agreements including plans for defense and maritime sectors, was signed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The UAE is one of our most valued partners and a close friend in an important region of the world, Modi said following exchange of the MoUs. “We agreed to sustain the momentum of our relations in key areas, including energy and investments.”
Of course, there is also deep social and cultural engagement – Arabic is spoken in Indian trading districts, many Emiratis have a history of studying in Mumbai, poetry and film is often translated between the two languages and a Bollywood Park has even opened in Dubai.
Vision explores how the most pertinent parts of the fledgling partnership, that signifies recognition from each country of similarly rich cultural heritage twinned with a thirst for innovation in its counterpart, and ‘promises new vistas for futuristic partnership’, as tweeted by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup during the event, is taking flight.
Today, the UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner and total trade equals around US$70bn, expected to increase to US$100bn by 2020, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry. But what are the most lucrative areas? Firstly, India is the UAE’s biggest export market and purchases around 15 per cent of exported goods. In addition, energy and in particular crude oil, makes up a large part of trade, in fact India imports 70 per cent from the Gulf.
India triumphed over Saudi Arabia to emerge as the number one international tourist source market for Dubai in 2016, according to statistics shared by Dubai Tourism. Of the 14.9m overseas tourists visiting Dubai in 2016, 1.8m were Indian, an increase of almost 12 per cent over 2015. As there are over 300 flights per week between UAE and Indian cities, it is marketed as the perfect destination for world-class meeting and convention venues. Overall, Dubai registered an increase of 5 per cent in its overall visitor numbers.
India’s Space Agency matched the UAE’s ambitious space exploration plans by launching an unprecedented record of 104 satellites from a single rocket in February. The orbiting nano satellites are from countries including Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, UAE and 96 from the US. Indian Ambassador to UAE, Navdeep Suri, says he saw the historic occasion as “an important milestone in our vibrant relationship”. “Building a satellite within a university campus in Sharjah is testimony of the ingenuity, vision and technical capacity of the young students”, he says. “Its launch along with 103 other satellites today is evidence of India’s growing reputation as a world leader in space technology”.
The ‘Make in India’ campaign, an initiative launched by the government to encourage multi-national companies to manufacture their products in the country, is one innovative example. The Digital India campaign built to ensure government services are made available to citizens electronically by increasing internet connectivity, is another. In addition, US$15bn was awarded for the development of 100 Smart Cities and US$75bn set aside for the National Infrastructure Investment Fund to mirror the prospects offered by Expo 2020 Dubai to Indian companies.