Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

The UAE has announced its plan to invest in India’s food parks. What does it mean for the UAE-India trade ties?

A new quadrilateral forum I2U2 comprising India, Israel, the UAE and the US was announced with a shared vision for contributions to energy and food security and economic growth on a global scale. It has identified six areas of cooperation — water, energy, transportation, space, health and food security.

In line with our robust bilateral engagements and the signing of the milestone Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), under the I2U2 framework, the UAE will invest $2 billion (Dh7.3 billion) to develop a series of integrated food parks incorporating state-of-the-art climate-smart technologies to reduce food waste, conserve fresh water and employ renewable energy sources across India. US and Israeli private sectors will be invited to lend their expertise and offer innovative solutions that contribute to the overall sustainability of the project.

The food parks will bring farmers, processors and retailers together. Using advanced climate technology to minimise waste, conserve water and maximise crop yields, these will focus at first on crops including potatoes, rice and onions.

How do you assess UAE-India bilateral relations?

The historical people-to-people contacts between India and the UAE laid the strong foundation for special and friendly relations. The 3.5-million Indians residing in the UAE have been the pillar of our friendship. The UAE has been an important partner of India for over five decades and continues to be an integral strategic partner.

Today, the bilateral relations are at the most exciting phase with the signing of CEPA that will bring in quantum jump in the bilateral merchandise trade as well as two-way investment flows.

Our partnership across sectors such as energy, food security, defence, cultural, advanced technologies and space are forward-looking under the visionary leadership of both the countries.

What initiatives has the consulate taken to further promote trade relations between the UAE and India?

Being a global trade hub and hosting the vibrant Indian business community, Dubai offers innumerable opportunities for bilateral trade.

The consulate has been actively interacting with the government authorities, chambers of commerce and all other stakeholders to promote trade and investments.

India’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai has been instrumental in forging partnerships across sectors with participation of many Indian states, central ministries and young Indian entrepreneurs. India Innovation Hub and Elevate pitching sessions for start-ups at the India pavilion displayed innovations of more than 730 start-ups during Expo 2020 Dubai.

We are taking forward the positive outcomes of these interactions for mutual growth in both the Indian and UAE start-up ecosystems. The consulate recently organised the 22nd edition of Elevate XXII at the consulate auditorium.

The consulate regularly organises Buyer Seller Meet focused on specific sectors that enable our Export Promotion Councils and agencies to have face-to-face interactions and better understand the dynamics of the UAE market and its re-export potential.

The consulate facilitates the robust participation of Indian delegations in trade exhibitions and events in Dubai. It also organises workshops that brings together all stakeholders in leveraging the best available opportunities created by both governments.

How does the consulate reach out to the Indian community in Dubai and the northern emirates and connect with them?

The Indian diaspora in the UAE is among the largest expatriate group in the world. The consulate closely works with the community in its efforts to make its services friendly and offer them in a timely manner. Since August 2020, the consulate has been open all the days of the year.

Passport services are now being delivered in a fast and transparent manner. Visa applications are getting processed on the same day and delivered to applicants the next day. Consulate officers visit various locations in northern emirates on weekends to provide services .

Pravasi Bhartiya Sahayata Kendra serves 365 days a year. It functions from the consulate premises with provisions for daily walk-ins and legal, financial and psychological counselling sessions.

Community outreach programmes for blue-collar workers disseminating various welfare schemes, as well as sessions on health and financial literacy are regularly organised.

Upskilling and training sessions for Indian blue-collar workers have also been organised in Dubai and the northern emirates.

During Expo 2020 Dubai, community organisations were instrumental in making India’s participation successful, bringing forward unique flavours of Indian culture.

Indian schools, institutes and cultural groups have been closely working with the consulate in celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, marking 75 years of India’s independence.