Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

What are your focus areas when it comes to consolidating India’s relationships with the UAE?

India and the UAE have always enjoyed a close bilateral relationship, which has now taken the shape of a comprehensive strategic partnership, underlining the importance of brotherly ties and cooperation across sectors. This age-old civilisational relationship is primarily based on people-to-people connect at all levels. It has been my endeavour to strengthen this people-to-people engagement, and make efforts to identify areas where there exist huge potential of bilateral trade and investments. We also share a common cultural connect, and I would like to see more engagement in this aspect in days to come.

The UAE and India are moving closer than ever in securing collaborations in the food and agritech sectors. Could you throw some light on the recently concluded food security summit in Dubai?

The recently concluded UAE-India Food Security Summit 2020 highlighted the importance of collaboration between the two countries, and how it can be mutually beneficial. The summit emphasised the need to fast-track the joint food corridor project between the two nations. It was heartening to note that the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir drew attention among major food importers of the UAE. The highlight was some major announcements by Lulu Group, including the plan to set up an agri-processing and procurement centre in Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiri saffron, which recently received the geographical indication (GI) tag, was also launched in the UAE.

The summit also highlighted various incentives available in different states in the area of food processing.

What are the latest developments in India’s participation at Dubai Expo this year?

Construction of India pavilion is in full swing at Expo 2020 site, and we expect it to be ready by the middle of this year. I am sure that the pavilion will showcase the country’s achievements in all fields, and its technological prowess besides highlighting some of the finest cultural elements of our rich heritage. We expect a large number of Indian companies and the UAE-based businesses, run by Indian entrepreneurs, to participate in the event.

What kind of activities are you planning to organise in 2021 to improve bilateral relations?

In October last year, the consulate organised the UAE-India Healthcare Conference, an initiative to explore the opportunities for further collaboration between the UAE and India, and I am glad that several engagements are already in the pipeline. National Health Authority (NHA) in India and Dubai Health Authority (DHA) are continuing to explore the possibility of signing an MoU to further their partnership.

India recently formally joined the UAE’s Waterfall Initiative as both Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Apollo Hospital Group confirmed their participation. This would further enhance opportunities for continued medical education for healthcare professionals.

Consulate is contemplating a series of events and seminars in 2021.

Do you have anything outlined for the Indian community this year?

For the Indian community, we have recently launched the Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK) in the Indian Consulate which is functioning very well. “Breakfast with CG” programme, in which my colleagues and I will visit different workers camps to spend time with our fellow Indian brothers and sisters, has been launched on January 1. This is to convey to our workers that we do care and appreciate their hard work and dedication. They make a significant contribution in terms of remittances to India, which is not only a source of sustenance for their families, but it is a valued support in keeping our forex reserves strong.

I will also be interacting with my fellow citizens through TV and radio with my live show “Your CG Speaking CG”, very shortly.

Consulate of India in Dubai is perhaps one of the very few diplomatic missions in the world, which provides 365 days of service. This is because we serve the largest numbers of Indian citizens, about 2.6 million, and we take immense pride in this.