Modi in Abu Dhabi: To strengthen ties with Gulf countries
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has arrived in the UAE as he tries to strengthen the relationship with the Gulf countries and seek more investment to boost Indian economy.
He arrived in Abu Dhabi just before 3pm on Sunday in the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in the past 34 years. Indira Gandhi came to the UAE in 1981.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received Modi at the airport where an official reception was held after the visiting leader's arrival shortly before 3pm.
Shaikh Mohammad accompanied Modi to the podium as the national anthems of the two countries were played and 21 artillery shots were fired welcoming the country's guest.
Prime Minister Modi inspected a guard of honour and then shook hands with a group of shaikhs, ministers and top officials who had come to greet him. Shaikh Mohammad shook hands with the ministers and senior officials accompanying the Indian prime minister.
Modi will visit Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque and ICAD workers accommodation in Musaffa. He is also likely to hold talks with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in order to attract investments.
The Indian Prime is accompanied by a delegation comprising of National Security Adviser Shri Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, Ministry of External Affairs SecretaryEast Shri Anil Wadhwa, Ambassador Shri T.P. Seetharam, Joint Secretary for External Publicity Shri Vikas Swarup, Joint Secretry- Gulf Shri Thanglura Darlong, Special Protection Group Director Shri Vivek Srivastava, Joint Secretary to the Prime Minister Shri Jawed Ashraf, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Shri Sanjeev Singla and Prime Minister's Office Director Deepak Mittal.
More than 2.6 million Indians live in the UAE and their annual remittance is estimated to be around $14 billion. Bilateral trade between the two countries is around $60 billion, making the UAE India's third-largest trading partner for the year 2014-15, after China and the US.
There is an estimated $8
billion UAE investment in India of which around $3.01 billion is in the form of Foreign Direct Investment.
According to experts this is a significant visit and will have number of issues on the agenda, including trade, investments, energy and security.
"So far, like with other Gulf States, India's relations with UAE have focused almost exclusively on commercial matters. In future, India will need to take a more strategic approach," said Dr Kadira Pethiyagoda, a visiting Fellow in Asia- Middle East Relations at Brookings Doha Centre said.
"Increased instability in Middle East is threatening Indian energy sources and expat workers. Gulf States' strategic location on the Western perimeter of the Indian Ocean, the region India sees as its future sphere of influence."
He said India expat workers are central to the functioning of many Gulf States including the UAE.
"The Emirates hosts 2.6 million Indian workers, around 15-20 per cent of who are white-collar professionals. They constitute 30 per cent of the population and are the largest nationality group. This provides Delhi a strategic advantage in bilateral relations."