Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman attends a virtual session on the opening day of the India Global Forum in Dubai Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC) is a vision for long-term considerations and its success is not just going to depend on any event in the area, said Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Finance Minister while addressing participants on the opening day of the India Global Forum today in Dubai.

India is going to pursue this project because of its “very good relationship” with countries in the Middle East, she added.

“IMEC is not going to be dependent on one or the other major event of concern. So, it's going to face challenges alright, but it rests on its own strength, and countries who are directly or indirectly in connection with this project are absolutely clear that through India, this is going to be critical for global trade partnerships. We are also making sure this corridor will benefit each one of these countries,” she added.

Sitharaman was virtually addressing the inaugural session of IGF annual event in Dubai on November 27, marking the commencement of the third edition of the flagship gathering. Under the banner of “Unleashing Ambitions”, this year’s forum extends its focus to encompass the broader regions of the Middle East and Africa.

On the COP 28 happening in the UAE from later this week, the minister said India would like to see the event showing the direction for transfer of technology and funding, as well as clarity on what constitutes transitional energy. “India will certainly be pushing forward to showcase what it has achieved with its own funds,” she said.

IGF 2023 occurs against the backdrop of an increasingly robust UAE-India partnership, with bilateral trade hitting $85 billion between April 2022-March 2023. Moreover, a mutual goal of reaching $100 billion in non-oil trade by 2030 has been set, alongside collaborative efforts in investing and fostering development projects in Africa.

Satish Sivan, Indian Consul General shares his remarks at the opening day of IGF Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Highlighting the importance of this partnership, Satish Sivan, Consul General of India in Dubai said: “Our comprehensive strategic partnership with UAE synchronises with the national priorities of both countries. The recent bilateral agreements on local currency settlement, digital payment system and CEPA demonstrate that our ambitions in terms of economic engagement between India and UAE are very high.”

Terming IMEC launched during the G20 as “epochal”, the Consul General said it will change the economic landscape of the entire region, including Gulf, Africa and Europe, and has the potential to shape the global geopolitics in the decades ahead.

Speaking at the event’s opening ceremony, Manoj Ladwa, Founder and Chairman of IGF, highlighted reasons for expanding the event’s remit this year to the wider Middle East and Africa. “With India’s growing dependability as a trusted global partner, its expertise in digital innovation and enterprise, the Middle East’s financial might and geographic position as a gateway between the East and the West, and the diversity, scale, and untapped human capital of Africa's markets, there is every reason to work together to achieve our common goals of bringing about sustainable and rapid economic prosperity.”

Manoj Ladwa, Founder and Chairman, IGF Image Credit:

“This is an era defined by ambitions of the young to unlock the power of innovation of nations previously left behind to move forward with dignity and with purpose, and true global partnerships that are defined by fairness, respect and enterprise,” he added.

Over the next two days, the IGF Middle East and Africa 2023 (IGF ME&A) Programme will bring together an ensemble of business tycoons, policymakers, and thought leaders from India, the UAE, and Africa. Their discussions will span trade, investment, innovation, technology, climate change, and sustainability, fostering collaborative opportunities among these regions. Boasting over 150 speakers and more than 1,000 participants, the event will feature a diverse array of discussions and forums, including exclusive dialogues among industry leaders, explorations of untapped collaboration avenues, studio sessions on technology and geopolitics, and forums spotlighting women in leadership and climate action.

The summit will culminate on November 29 with the Climate for Business Summit, a crucial prelude to COP28, featuring India’s Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav, as the Chief Guest.

AI is essential today but regulation key, says Al Olama

Most people today cannot live without artificial intelligence, said Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications at IGF 2023 in Dubai. “All our questions are being answered by AI, a lot of content is being fed to us by AI. Even our shopping today, if you shop digitally, it’s an AI engine that drives that for you,” Al Olama said.

Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

The role of AI in our lives has become so important today that if any country stops or ceases to allow the use of these tools, it is going to have a detrimental impact on the quality of lives. Instead, regulating and developing these technologies in the right way is the way to go, he said. “AI is driving the economy, it is impacting the society, and it is enabling people to go into the 21st century in the right way. Hence, regulating and developing it correctly is the only path ahead,” Al Olama said.