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India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (left) speaking at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. Image Credit: Samihah Zaman, Senior Reporter

Abu Dhabi: The UAE and India cherish a historical association, and the two economies’ shared sense of modernism creates multiple opportunities and benefits, India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said in the capital on Thursday.

Addressing a packed hall at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy (AGDA), the minister commended the UAE’s forward-thinking commitments.

“I find it truly fascinating that the UAE has truly become a global crossroads…The UAE as a country, and Dubai as a city, would definitely feature [as the top five global places in the world],” Dr Jaishankar said.

Shared drive for progress

“There is also a sense of modernism and progressiveness. The relationships that [the UAE and India share] do not focus on the problems of the present and the past only. It is a polity that is trying to address the over-the-horizon opportunities and challenges. [For instance], for a big oil producer [like the UAE] to have such a big commitment to renewables is very impressive. For [India], the association has been very beneficial because it shapes and influences our thinking, and gives us an opportunity to work with another modernistic society, which is also why it is always a pleasure to come here,” he added.

High-level visit

The minister made the comment during a fireside discussion with AGDA director, Nickolay Mladenov, in which he also discussed the future state of world economies and governments, along with India’s future prospects.

Dr Jaishankar is on a three-day visit to the UAE to review the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. The review will be conducted in collaboration with UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the two officials will attend the 14th India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting, as well as the third India-UAE Strategic Dialogue.

‘Natural relationship’

The Indian minister spoke at length about India and the UAE’s ‘natural relationship’ and understanding, and called for multilateral relations that preserve peace and stability.

“This part of the world is connected to us historically,” he said, pointing out the history of trade that was “one of the earliest activities in our parts of the world.”

Given that the world is uncertain and turbulent, it makes sense, where there are comfortable relationships, and an intuitive ability to understand and work with each other, to foster [those relations] and create these factors of stability and collaboration,” Dr Jaishankar said.

“During the COVID-19 lockdown for instance – we went through one of the strictest responses [in India]. One route that was kept open was the food supply to the Gulf. We did not just look at it as a contractual commitment. There was a sense that this is a societal understanding and empathy. To my mind, this is a natural relationship for us. Given this region’s importance to the rest of the world – and energy is only one factor in it – if we can contribute to stability, we are doing the world a favour,” he said.

Broaden globalisation benefits

He also addressed questions about a changing world order, including the end of colonialism, globalisation, a United States that is reinventing itself, and the increasing but inevitable global engagement of countries like India. Advocating for equity and fairness in a globalised world, Dr Jaishankar said the real problem with globalisation is overconcentration [of resources within societies].

“Globalisation is a reality, [and you cannot choose whether or not you want to be globalised] because [we] are all already too far gone in this process. The issue is really the fairness of the process: does it yield enough benefits to enough participants, so that there is a buy-in rather than an alienation. [We need to look at] how to diversify production, [get more people involved]. The solution to globalisation [and its problems] has to come by correcting globalisation, and broadening the ownership base and benefits,” Dr Jaishankar advised.

Having arrived in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Dr Jaishankar has already visited the site of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, the BAPS Hindu Mandir, and met with the UAE Minsiter for Tolerance and Coexistence, Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. He will conclude his UAE visit on Friday, September 2.