Dubai: Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development lauded the prominent role the UAE’s relationship with India has played in its development.
Speaking at the second India-UAE Conference in Dubai on Monday, Shaikh Nahyan said: “Indians have enriched our economy and have been instrumental in our success. The Indians who live and work in this country have inspired a relationship between our nations that grows closer every year.”
Speaking in an interview with Gulf News at the event, India’s Ambassador to the UAE Navdeep Singh Suri hailed what he called “a golden period in our relationship,” while stressing the importance of growing the two nations’ economic ties.
Suri said this new era was “reflected in the flurry of high level visits, and the commitments on investment.”
It may be noted that in January this year, 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 January 2017 as the chief guest of India’s 68th Republic Day celebrations.
As part of the state visit, the two nations deepened their bilateral engagement, signing a total of 14 wide-ranging agreements including a strategic comprehensive partnership and deals on defence and maritime cooperation.
Commented on the trip in his address, Shaikh Nahyan said: “I am certain these agreements will multiply and flourish, as this relationship progresses.”
Bilateral trade between the two nations currently totals $75 billion (Dh275 billion) a year, and that is expected to rise to $100 billion by 2020. India is currently the UAE’s primary trading partner.
The ambassador also noted that the start-up sector offered “huge opportunities,” calling India “one of the real start-up capitals of the world.”
Suri identified several sectors where there was room for growth, noting that the embassy would continue to facilitate business relationships between India and the UAE.
“Today, you have far greater investment flows from India to UAE than vice versa. So, with the UAE being a capital-surplus country, there is clearly room for them to invest, but we recognised that we have to come up with financially strong projects, and that’s what we’re working on,” he said.
India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but still suffers from one of the highest rates of poverty in the world, with over 20 per cent of the population living on less than $2 (Dh7.35) a day.
Commenting on whether he felt the conference was removed from this reality, Suri said “I wouldn’t stretch things to the point where India is looking for the UAE to improve the villages in India.”
Following a Gulf News’ report in early March that the Indian railways ministry was seeking “tens of billions of dollars” in investment from the UAE, Suri noted it was “too early” to say how talks between his government and Abu Dhabi-based wealth funds such as Mubadala were progressing. He did say that negotiations were “on the right track.”
On Sunday, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) elected controversial Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Adityanath has been accused of making provocative remarks about India’s minority Muslim community, inciting conflict between Hindus and Muslims in the past.
When Suri was asked about the effects these remarks may have on India’s relationship with the UAE, a Muslim country, he said: “I’m not commenting on a political situation. That’s domestic politics in India and it’s not relevant to this conference.”
— Manasi Gaur is an Intern with Gulf News