Abu Dhabi: The UAE will be the first country in the Middle East to witness the launch of RuPay card, "an Indian indigenous equivalent of Mastercard or Visa," during the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi this weekend, a top Indian diplomat told the Emirates News Agency, WAM.
"A Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to establish a technology interface between the payment platforms in India and UAE, would be exchanged between the National Payments Corporation of India and UAE's Mercury Payments Services. This will enable the RuPay card to be used at point-of-sale terminals across the UAE," Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
"The UAE is the largest and most vibrant business hub in the region. It hosts the largest Indian community, receives the largest number of Indian tourists and has the largest trade with India. By becoming the first country in the region to introduce the RuPay card, we expect that each of these elements of tourism, trade and the Indian diaspora will benefit," he explained. India had already launched RuPay card in only two foreign countries - Singapore and Bhutan, the envoy said.
"We will have substantive bilateral discussions to further deepen our relationship across multiple sectors during the Prime Minister's visit," Suri said.
Ahead of Modi's visit, the Indian Embassy has completed establishing the system to issue India's newly introduced 5-year multiple entry tourism and business visa for Emiratis. "We are required under our regulations to obtain biometric data of the Emirati applicants on the first occasion and I am happy to say that we have now established these systems across the BLS Service Centres in UAE [the Indian Embassy's outsourced centres for passport and visa services]," the envoy revealed.
Commemorative stamp of Mahatma Gandhi
A commemorative stamp of Mahatma Gandhi that would be released on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary during the Prime Minister's visit, is another exceptional gesture by the UAE Government to acknowledge the role of Mahatma Gandhi in India's freedom struggle and the power of his ideas globally, he explained.
Modi will receive the Zayed Medal, the UAE's highest civilian award, during the visit. "We deeply appreciate the decision of the sagacious leadership of UAE [in this regard]," the ambassador said.
The India-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership developed during the past four years is expanding into areas like trade and investment, energy, defence and security, and connections between the youth. "We have witnessed a rapid increase in high-level exchanges and the establishment of a relationship of genuine trust and confidence. The close personal bond between Prime Minister Modi and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is not only an embodiment of this relationship but also its key driver," the envoy explained.
In the economic front, the bilateral trade touched almost $60 billion last year with a fairly balanced profile of about $30 billion of exports and $30 billion of imports, he said. "On the investment side, we have already seen sizable inflows from India to UAE in free zones like Jebel Ali, Hamriyah Free Zone Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone and also in sectors ranging from manufacturing and real estate to trade and services. We have now started to observe a strong flow of investments from the UAE to India. These are particularly significant in areas such as energy, infrastructure, housing, highways, airports, logistics, food processing and the defence sector," the diplomat said.
About the deep-rooted people-to-people links that go back many a century, the ambassador pointed out that an established Indian business community for almost 100 years in the UAE, blue-collar workers, and recent steady influx of highly trained and experienced Indian professionals have made huge contributions. "However, we cannot afford to be complacent. It is important that the historical people-to-people ties are nurtured amongst the younger generation in both our countries and I am pleased to say that youth exchanges have also been identified by the leadership of the UAE as a priority area," he concluded.