Dubai: Historic ties between the UAE and India will be strengthened further this week with the state visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to India, officials said.

A number of agreements are expected to be signed during this historic visit and major announcements are expected to be made on the economic front that will further cement the already strong ties.

This is the first state visit by Shaikh Mohammad to India as Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE.

More than 1.3 million Non-Resident Indians see this as a milestone in ties.

"The visit is really historic. He is coming on the invitation extended by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh," said C.M. Bhandari, Indian Ambassador to the UAE.

"It will be Shaikh Mohammad's first state level visit. Shaikh Mohammad is coming to India after a gap of 33 years. The first time he came to India was in 1974 as Minister of Defence.

"Shaikh Mohammad's visit is in keeping with the exchange of high level state visits.

"Between India of 1974 and India today, there is a long and winding road, which Shaikh Mohammad must have looked upon in fondness," he added.

Agreements

Bhandari said the two-day visit, which starts today, will see the formalising of new agreements on various projects on a government to government level as well as between the private sectors of both countries.

"The visit is going to be at the highest government level. Heads of governments will be meeting and discussing future relationship and areas of cooperation. We already have a very strong partnership with the UAE in every area, trade, community, economic relations, culture etc.

"But obviously this visit will add a further dimension to the relationship between both countries," he said.

According to Bhandari, trade between India and the UAE rose from $12 billion (about Dh44 billion) in 2004-05 to about $13 billion in 2005-06.

During the financial year April 2005-March 2006, non-oil Indian exports to the UAE stood at $8.6 billion, while non-oil exports of the UAE to India stood at $4.3 billion.

According to statistics provided by Venu Rajamony, consul general of India, trade between Dubai and India over a period of five years, from 2002 to 2006 increased from $2.5 billion to $10.9 billion, an increase of 336 per cent.

Similarly figures issued by Dubai Customs show that over 80 per cent of the trade between India and the UAE is routed through Dubai. Last year, major imports from India to Dubai were valued at $1.3 billion. There are about 85,000 companies registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, around 11,200 are Indian partnership companies.

"During his visit to India, Shaikh Mohammad is being accompanied by seven ministers in addition to an official delegation, business delegation and a media delegation," said Bhandari.

Labour sector

Nearly 50 per cent of the 1.3 million Indians living in the UAE represent the labour sector. An increase in these figures is expected in the future, keeping in view the diversifying and growing characteristics of the UAE labour market.

On the rise

The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the top three countries in the Gulf followed by Bahrain and Qatar for overseas Indian workers.

According to the latest figures released by the Ministry of Overseas Indians, New Delhi, the annual labour outflow from India to the UAE has grown from 53,673 in 2001 to 194,412 in 2005.

Development

The Indian workforce has not only played a role in the development of the UAE, but has also helped India build large reserves through foreign remittances.

Necessary steps were also taken by India and the UAE towards the welfare and security of the labour sector in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both countries in December last year. As per the MoU, Indian labourers will get the protection of the UAE labour law.

Minister says

“The UAE is keen on the presence of the Indian workforce in the country, but on the basis of the MoU that we have signed,'' said Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, Minister of Labour.

Bridging the trade barrier

UAE companies investing in India
Emaar, Dubai Holdings, DP World, Abu Dhabi Investment Council, Dubai Aluminium.

Some of the major Indian companies that have opened offices in the UAE
TATA projects limited, TATA Interactive Systems, TATA consultancy Services, Infosys Technologies Limited, Tea Board, Dabar India Limited, Reliance Industries Limited, Bajaj Auto Limited, Wipro, Satyam Computers Service Limited, Larson and Tubro, Voltas International, Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Heavy Electrical Limited, Mahendra Group, Ashok Leyland, Dheeraj Group and Penna Cements.

Larsen and Toubro, India's largest construction company has penetrated this market with a number of projects in its orderbook. Besides, Dodsal, one of the largest Indian contractors, has shifted its corporate headquarters to Dubai, with orderbook currently in billions of dollars in projects.

Mumbai-based developers Hiranandani has set up joint venture projects with ETA-Ascon Group, one of the largest Dubai-based companies.

A number of large conglomerates from India are also eyeing the market aggressively.

Source: Indian Business Professional Council

Enhancing bilateral relations

High level visits so far made to India and the UAE

  • The late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan visited India in January 1975 and April 1992.
  • The late Indian President Dr Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad visited the UAE in November 1976.
  • The late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited the UAE in May 1981.
  • His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme
    Council and Ruler of Sharjah, visited India in May 1982.
  • Indian President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam visited the UAE on October 18, 2003.

The delegation

Shaikh Mohammad will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and CEO of the Emirates Group, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Economy, and Dr Mohammad Khalfan Bin Kharbash, Minister of State for Financial and Industrial Affairs. The delegation will also include Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, Minister of Labour, Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Sultan Ahmad Bin Sulayem, CEO of Dubai Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, Mohammad Ali Al Abbar, Director General of Dubai Department of Economic Development, Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director General of Dubai Protocol Department and Abdullah Al Shehi, UAE Ambassador to India, in addition to heads of UAE's chambers of commerce and industry, businessmen and a huge media delegation.

— WAM