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PM Modi begins UAE visit extending India’s West Asia outreach

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, receiving Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (Image courtesy: Abu Dhabi government)

India, one of the major economies and a leader of the Global South, continues to enhance its robust engagement with the Arab world as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at Abu Dhabi Saturday morning, straight from Paris after concluding a highly-successful visit to France.

In a special gesture, reflecting New Delhi’s strong ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Prime Minister was warmly welcomed by Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the airport, followed by a ceremonial welcome and guard of honour.

Last month, after wrapping up a momentous visit to the United States, PM Modi travelled to Cairo for his first State visit to Egypt – the most populous Arab state.

Egypt, UAE and Oman are the three League of Arab States (LAS) which have been invited as Guest countries by India as it hosts the much-awaited G20 Summit under its ongoing presidency in September.

abu dhabi palace
PM Narendra Modi being warmly welcomed by UAE President and Ruler of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the iconic Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace on Saturday (Image courtesy: MEA)

The Prime Minister’s arrival in Abu Dhabi less than 12 hours after holding extensive discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris is also significant as India, France and UAE are already involved in a trilateral institutional exchange.

Launched in September 2022, the India-France-UAE Trilateral Dialogue focuses on extending cooperation in the fields of defence, energy and environment, innovation and people-to-people exchanges, by synergising the strong bilateral partnerships between the three countries.

Both India and the UAE are also part of the I2U2 grouping that includes Israel and the United States and is focused on driving tangible economic cooperation between its members across a range of sectors, including food security, water, energy, space, transportation, health, and technology.

“Our two countries are engaged across a wide range of sectors such as trade, investments, energy, food security, science and technology, education, fintech, defence, security, and robust people-to-people ties. Last year, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and I agreed on a Roadmap on the future of our partnership, and I look forward to discussing with him how to further deepen our ties,” said PM Modi in his departure statement before leaving for the two-nation visit.

Only last month, India and UAE successfully held the first meeting of the Joint Committee of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which was signed in February last year during the India-UAE Virtual Summit held between PM Modi and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Labelled as “path breaking” by both sides, the agreement has significantly transformed the India-UAE partnership by providing renewed impetus and momentum to an already close and strong relationship.

As India’s exports to the UAE recorded a remarkable growth of 12% reaching USD 31.6 billion in 2022-2023, the two countries also announced last month their agreement to set a target of USD 100 billion of trade in non-petroleum products by 2030 from the USD 48 billion at present.

“His Highness welcomed the Prime Minister of India and his accompanying delegation. They engaged in warm conversation about the historical ties between the two countries and their people, and praised the level of joint strategic cooperation between the two nations across multiple vital sectors,” mentioned a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi government after the Crown Prince received PM Modi on Saturday.

With UAE hosting the 28th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC (COP-28) later this year, PM Modi will also exchange views on strengthening global cooperation towards accelerating climate action to facilitate the energy transition and implementation of the Paris Agreement.

PM Modi Abu Dhabi
PM Narendra Modi with Sultan Al Jaber, the President-designate of COP-28, in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (Image courtesy: PMO)

Both leaders last met in June 2022 when PM Modi visited Abu Dhabi while on his way home after attending the G7 summit held in Germany’s Schloss Elmau to personally convey his condolences to UAE President and other royal family members on the passing of former President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

This was PM Modi’s first meeting with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan since his election as the new President of the UAE and the Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

Before that, the Indian PM last visited UAE in August 2019 while Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s last visit to India took place in January 2017 when he was also the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations.