How do you evaluate the UAE-India economic relationship and how does the future look like?
India and the UAE share a vibrant comprehensive strategic partnership, which is broad-based and rooted in strong cultural and people-to-people relationship.
The relationship has benefited from frequent high-level engagements, especially over the past decade.
As one can imagine, the positive effect of such leadership-level engagements is the robust development of the economic partnership. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed in February 2022, allowing most Indian products duty-free access to the UAE, has definitively been path-breaking in creating limitless opportunities for Indian and UAE businesses and traders. Some numbers speak for themselves. The UAE was India’s third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade in the financial year 2022-23 valued at almost $85 billion (Dh312.2 billion).
The UAE is also India’s second-largest export destination with exports valued at approximately $32 billion for the financial year 2022-23. Direct investments both ways are growing rapidly, and we see each other as a preferred partner.
The essential point is that economic relations are expanding and include a wide range of sectors from logistics, digital technology and artificial intelligence to green energy and healthcare and much more.
Two countries have implemented several measures to facilitate seamless trade including use of Indian rupee and UAE dirham for cross-border transactions and interlinking payment and messaging systems. This will increase the acceptance of RuPay card in the UAE. The recent MoU signed between DP World and the Government of Gujarat for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) development adds further fillip to the economic engagements.
Furthermore, India and the UAE are strengthening this partnership by harnessing plurilateral forums. I2U2, established in 2022, and India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor announced on the sidelines of the G20 Summit last year are new platforms that open new avenues for cooperation.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to leverage these and all possible opportunities for the benefit and growing prosperity of the people of both countries. We have an ambitious target to achieve $100 billion of non-oil trade by 2030. But with these bilateral measures implemented under the guidance of the two leaders, we are well on track to achieve the same.
Are there any programmes planned by the consulate in 2024 for enhancing the economic relationship between the two nations?
The consulate will utilise the major annual trade events to explore possibilities for Indian businesses in the UAE and further boost the economic partnership.
The consulate will also be facilitating visits of various state government delegations and trade promotion bodies from India and plan engagements with all stakeholders in the UAE. We are supported by the Indian Business & Professional Council, CII, FICCI and the UAE-India Business Council in ensuring that these efforts bear the maximum fruit.
What are your priorities in strengthening cultural and people-to-people relationship?
To nurture the cultural connect, we plan to host a major cultural event celebrating the rich and shared heritage between India and the UAE. We plan to release details of the same in due course and hope it will become a regular feature in the cultural calendar of Dubai.
Recently, we held the 2nd Ayush International Conference and Exhibition, showcasing the power of traditional medicine in achieving holistic health and wellness. I see this as an important element to further promote the cultural links between the two countries too.
What are the initiatives the consulate has taken to support, gather feedback and address concerns of the Indian community in Dubai and the northern emirates?
Of all the work done by the consulate, the welfare of Indian nationals in the UAE remains the highest priority.
We are constantly pursuing measures to improve our consular services delivery including passport, visa and various attestation services. Consulate in Dubai renders 24/7 and 365 days a year assistance to Indian nationals. Financial assistance towards repatriation of mortal remains, medical needs, employment issues and distressed women are provided in accordance with the established guidelines. The processing of these cases is taken up on a fast-track mode considering the time sensitivity and humanitarian aspects.
Consular services are taken to Indian nationals in the northern emirates through regular weekend consular camps. We are constantly reviewing the feedback received to improve quality and in the process increasing the frequency of the same.
We maintain an open channel with the community to address their concerns through various mediums including one-to-one meetings, PBSK helpline, and MADAD portal, besides organising regular community interactions with the visiting dignitaries. We host regular interactions with the Indian community organisations, cultural groups, business councils, academic institutions, and our blue-collar brothers to improve our service delivery.
Through the sustained efforts of the Embassy and the Consulate, a long pending demand of the community to have a Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) office has been addressed. During the visit of the Indian Minister for Education last November, the announcement for opening the first overseas office of CBSE in Dubai was made. This will facilitate coordination with CBSE and streamline operations for Indian schools in the GCC countries thereby greatly enhancing efficiency in their functioning.
During the joyous occasion of the 75th Republic Day, I extend my greetings to all Indian nationals residing in the UAE and take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to achieve even higher standards in our service to the community and our nation. ●