New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will commence his two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he will be inaugurating the first Hindu temple ‘BAPS Mandir’ in Abu Dhabi. During his visit, he will address the Indian diaspora filled with thousands of crowds besides meeting the top leadership of one of India’s closest strategic partners in West Asia. He will leave New Delhi by 11.30 am and will land in Abu Dhabi at around 4 pm.
Notably, the Ministry of External Affairs, in its special briefing on Monday, marked the visit as crucial amid the fact the Prime Minister will meet Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ) whom he met in December last year during his visit to Gujarat. During his visit, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said the two sides are likely to ink a number of agreements to shore up cooperation in several key areas following a bilateral meeting with the UAE leader.
Top agenda of PM Modi’s UAE trip
“We are also looking to see if we can arrive at an understanding on investments in the field of digital infrastructure, arrangements for the protection and promotion of capital flows,” said Kwatra during a press briefing on Monday. Kwatra said there may be some understanding of cooperation in the domains of ports and the maritime sphere. “Since the digital cooperation between our two economies is an important element of the partnership, we are also looking to see if we can arrive at an understanding on investments in the field of digital infrastructure,” he said. Kwatra said the two sides are also examining possible cooperation in the areas of maritime heritage as well as on fintech products and railways. “Currently the two sides are busy discussing various agreements that could be finalised during the visit,” Kwatra said, adding he was not in a position to share more details.
The prime minister will also meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president, prime minister and defence minister of the UAE.
Inauguration of BAPS Mandir and ‘Ahlan Modi’ event
At his invitation, the prime minister will participate in the World Government Summit 2024 on Wednesday in Dubai as the guest of honour and deliver a special keynote address at the summit. Modi will also inaugurate the BAPS Mandir, the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. The prime minister is scheduled to address the Indian community in the UAE at an event in Zayed Sports City.
Following the landmark visit of Modi to the UAE in August 2015, bilateral relations between the two countries were elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Both countries signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February 2022 and a Local Currency Settlement (LCS) System in July 2023 to promote the use of Indian Rupee and AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham) for cross-border transactions. The two countries are among each other’s top trading partners with a bilateral trade of about USD 85 billion in 2022-23, according to official data.
India-UAE trade relations
The UAE is also among the top four investors in India in terms of foreign direct investments in 2022-23. About 3.5 million strong and vibrant Indian community forms the largest expatriate group in the UAE. The UAE was invited as special invitee for G20 during India’s Presidency of the grouping. In Feb 2023, the India-UAE-France (UFI) trilateral was formally launched. With India’s active support, the UAE joined SCO as dialogue partner in May 2023.
The UAE also joined BRICS as a member on January 1 with India’s support. The India-UAE defence cooperation is also on an upswing in the last few years. In January 2024, the first India-UAE bilateral army exercise ‘Desert Cyclone’ was held in Rajasthan.
(With inputs from agency)