Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed and Narendra Modi after the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s arrival at the air force station in New Delhi on Tuesday. Image Credit: WAM

New Delhi/Dubai: A high-level UAE delegation led by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will meet top Indian leaders here on Wednesday.

Shaikh Mohammad arrived in the Indian capital on a three-day state visit on Tuesday. He is accompanied by Shaikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs; Shaikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court; Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Shaikh Khalid Bin Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy National Security Adviser; Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.

On Wednesday, after a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Shaikh Mohammad will meet President Pranab Mukherjee.

Visit a recognition of Indian workforce in UAE

Later, he will hold one-on-one talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence before a delegation-level meeting at Hyderabad House.

The two sides are expected to sign over a dozen pacts to boost investments ties, enhancement of co-operation in strategic areas of energy, defence and security.

The two sides are likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on an investment fund during the visit, a senior Indian official said on Tuesday in New Delhi.

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“The UAE, of course, also has the largest sovereign wealth fund (SWF),” Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, said at a media briefing.

“There is an agreement that they will invest nearly $75 billion in India over the next couple of years,” he said.

“During the visit, we are hoping that there will be an MoU signed between their investment fund and our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).”

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Following Modi’s historic visit to the UAE in August 2015, the two sides agreed to set up UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks. 

This was reiterated during Shaikh Mohammad’s visit to India in February last year.

New opportunities to open up for UAE investments in India

The two countries are also working on visa-free travel for diplomats and special passport holders, Sinha said.

According to Sinha, bilateral trade and commerce will figure prominently during the talks between the two sides.

Stating that bilateral trade last year stood at an “impressive” $50 billion, he said that that the UAE “is the gateway for our exports to Africa and Central Asia”.

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Another key area in which the two sides hope to reach an agreement is petroleum reserves, according to Sinha.

The UAE is a significant contributor to India’s energy security and was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil in 2015-16.

“We are adding a new element to this relationship of just being a buyer that UAE has decided to become a strategic partner in the energy sector,” Sinha said.

He said that both sides would be investing and filling up a key petroleum reserve facility in Mangalore.

Other areas of cooperation in which India and UAE are looking at include defence and security, space, civil nuclear, and counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing.

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— With inputs from agencies