The visit of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to India this week has successfully established one more milestone in the historical bilateral journey of the two countries. The visit reinforced the long-standing shared vision of the two countries to tackle one of the most pressing issues of modern times — terrorism. Prince Mohammad’s assurance to help India fight extremism reiterates Saudi Arabia’s own resolve and commitment to combat this scourge and underscores the commitment of the two countries on this imperative.
This understanding has been a defining characteristic of Saudi-India ties that have their antecedents in the Delhi Declaration, signed between the two countries in 2006, and the Riyadh Declaration in 2010, which got a further boost with the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia in 2016. This concurrence on fighting extremism, along with other trade and mutual-interest agreements between the two countries over the decades has deepened and matured the ties between the two into a strategic partnership.
Prince Mohammad’s visit has also helped expand the Saudi-India trade and investment portfolio and Riyadh sees the potential for a $100 billion (Dh367.8 billion) investment in energy, agriculture, technology, culture and social services. A key energy partner of India, Saudi Arabia provides about 17 per cent of India’s crude oil requirements and about a third of its liquefied natural gas needs, with bilateral trade posted at $27.5 billion for 2018.
With their vast knowledge economies, Saudi Arabia and India are poised to forge an increasingly transformative alliance that will mutually enhance the goals and objectives of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 and India’s Make in India initiative.
These strong numbers underscore not just the robust economic partnership, but they also uphold the long-nourished cultural and people-to-people ties between the two countries. The increase in India’s Haj pilgrims quota to 200,000 a year, from the existing 175,000, and the release of 850 Indian prisoners from Saudi jails are examples of mutual socio-cultural warmth. The proposal to hold annual cultural weeks in each other’s country as a means to expand awareness of their histories and traditions will go a long way in enriching people-to-people understanding.
Saudi-India ties have steadily strengthened decade after decade and together, the two powerful nations with their shared vision for a common good can make transformative contributions not just bilaterally but also globally.