India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar (right) and Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor at India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on Saturday Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: India is moving towards the resumption of scheduled flights, India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar said on Saturday at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“We are moving towards resumption of scheduled flights… The move to normalcy is progressing,” he said while addressing the media at India Pavilion at Expo.

The minister highlighted that India already has travel agreements with 97 ‘Category-A’ countries that permit travel without or with limited quarantine requirements for doubly vaccinated passengers.

Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor said the UAE is among those countries and now recognises India’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin that was recently approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“The UAE had clearly said that they recognise all the WHO-approved vaccines,” he pointed out, adding that Covaxin has now been added to the list of approved vaccines for travel to the UAE.

Request to remove rapid RT-PCR

The Ambassador added that India has requested the UAE to remove the requirement for a rapid RT-PCR test at the airports in India. “We have formally taken it up with the UAE government…They have promised to take it up with NCEMA, which is the national health authority to take a final call on this. So, we are hopeful that there will be serious consideration for our request in this regard.”

The move follows the low numbers of COVID-19 cases and an extensive vaccination drive in India.

The UAE had made the rapid RT-PCR test from the departing airports mandatory for passengers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Uganda.

Dr Jaishankar said India has also been relaxing travel restrictions and has issued a new set of guidelines for international passengers.

India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar ( right) tours the India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai along with the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor on Monday.
India’s External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar (right) tours the India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai along with the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor Image Credit: Supplied

Latest advisory

According to the latest advisory, children under five years of age are exempted from both pre-departure and post-arrival RT-PCR tests unless symptomatic.

The minister said India has crossed more 1.1 billion shots of vaccines and he is confident that most of the eligible people will get their jabs in the next few months.

He said the country is well-poised to recover from the pandemic due to the efforts in building capacities in the healthcare sector including on the vaccination front as well due to the prudence and foresight with which the country responded to the pandemic.

He praised the efforts of the India Pavilion to encapsulate the diverse culture, rich heritage and centuries-old history of India and in promoting the Indian economy.

Earlier, Dr Jaishankar visited the pavilions of the UAE, Israel and India Pavilion.

The minister is on a visit to the UAE to attend the 12th edition of the Sir Bani Yas Forum. The event brings together senior decision-makers from across the Middle East and around the world to discuss some of the most crucial issues facing the region.

300,000 visitors

Meanwhile, India Pavilion has emerged as one of the most-visited pavilions at Expo with the number of visitors crossing 300,000 in just 43 days on November 12.

The pavilion was inaugurated on October 1 by Piyush Goyal, India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food and Public Distribution and Textiles.

Promoting business

Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai and Deputy Commissioner General of India at Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “The huge interest of visitors in India Pavilion is a sign of confidence on India’s resilience and opportunities, besides the vibrant culture of the country, which is in full display in different state weeks being held in the pavilion.”

He added that the pavilion has been visited by 31 country delegations and 175 high-profile visitors have also graced it with their visit. With this, 199 G2B and B2B meetings have taken place at the pavilion along with the start-up pitching sessions. “It is a matter of great satisfaction that 15 FIIs [Foreign Institutional Investors] have already committed to fund start-ups.”

Several business sessions and conferences pertaining to the investment opportunities were organised by the states of Gujarat, Karnataka and Ladakh in October. Apart from these, the India Pavilion also witnessed an array of cultural activities during the festive season, especially associated with Dusshera, Navratri and Diwali celebrations.

November events

In November, India Pavilion is hosting a series of business and cultural activities from Telangana, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. These state-specific weeks are holding many activities displaying their culture, tradition and business opportunities.

While renewable energy, space and housing and urban affairs sectors have already seen policymakers and business leaders participating in the interactive sessions at the pavilion, oil and gas and textiles are two sectors to showcase India’s capabilities during this month.

Bilateral conferences including the India-GCC Business conference, which was held this week, are also one of the major attractions of the India Pavilion engagements.

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December events

The month of December will see participation from states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala and key sectors like Electronics and Information Technology, Energy Conservation, Environment and Sustainability, Higher Education and Skills, Tribal Affairs, Spices and Tourism.

Dr Puri said: “Rajasthan Week is currently on at the pavilion and will be followed by the Maharashtra week. Along with the cultural diversity and vibrancy, India’s innovative capability is also in full display with special focus on start-ups — Karnataka and Telangana startups have received immense attention of the investors already. It is a blend of culture and business opportunities that is attracting the visitors to the India Pavilion.”

Visits by officials, celebrities

Several government dignitaries, celebrities, businessmen and bankers including Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan; Rishad Premji, chairman, Wipro Ltd; Dinesh Kumar Khara Chairman, State Bank of India, as well as some of the big names from the Bollywood such as Deepika Padukone, Janhvi Kapoor and her sister Khushi Kapoor; Kanika Kapoor, Shaan, Jaaved Jaaferi and Manish Paul have also visited the India Pavilion recently.