Political Relations
Home › Political Relations

India-UAE Bilateral Relations

India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) established diplomatic relations in 1972; the UAE Embassy in India was opened in 1972 while Indian Embassy in UAE was opened in 1973.

Political Relations

2. India-UAE bilateral relations have received impetus from time-to-time with exchange of high-level visits from both sides. The visit of Prime Minister of India to UAE on 16-17 August 2015 marked the beginning of a new Comprehensive and Strategic partnership. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, visited India from February 10-12, 2016.

3. Crown Prince visited India again on 24-26 January 2017 as the Chief Guest at India’s Republic day celebrations. During this visit our relations were upgraded to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Both sides during the visit also signed MoUs on strengthening cooperation in cyber space, defense, maritime/road transport, SME, agriculture, manpower, human trafficking, entry visa exemption for diplomatic, special and official passport holders, media, energy, etc.

4. UAE is one the very few countries where Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi visited twice. The State visit of the Prime Minister from 10-11 February, 2018 on the invitation of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan helped in sustaining the momentum generated by earlier visits of Crown Prince in 2017 and 2016 and that of PM in 2015. In addition to bilateral meetings with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Ruler of Dubai, PM also delivered the key note address on the theme- "Technology for Development”- at the sixth World Government Summit in Dubai, where India was invited as the Guest of Honour. On the side-lines of the World Government Summit, Prime Minister Modi met with a select group of senior GCC CEOs and Business Leaders. He addressed the Indian community at the iconic Dubai Opera House and unveiled a model of the first Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi. Following MoUs / Agreements were signed during the visit:

  • Agreement between Indian Consortium (OVL, BPRL & IOCL) and ADNOC for acquisition of 10% participating interest in the offshore Lower Zakhum Concession;

  • MoU between Government of India and Government of UAE for cooperation in the field of Manpower;

  • MoU between Ministry of Railways, India and Federal Transport Authority - Land & Maritime of UAE for Technical Cooperation in Rail Sector;

  • MoU between Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX); and

  • MoU between Government of Jammu and Kashmir and DP World FZE for development of Multi modal logistics hub in J&K.

Institutional Mechanism

5. India and UAE have following institutional mechanisms in place for addressing sector-specific issues.

  1. Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) – JCM deals with issues related to trade and commerce. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of United Arab Emirates led a delegation to India for the 11th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting for Technical and Economic Cooperation held on September 2-3, 2015, in New Delhi. He also co-chaired the Meeting of the Joint Commission with Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India. During the Joint Commission Meeting, the two sides discussed Trade & Commerce; Investments; Finance & Banking; Energy, Hydro-carbons, Petrochemicals & Fertilizers; Defence and Space; Transport, Civil Aviation, Ports & Meteorology; Health & Agriculture, Education, Culture & Tourism; Security and Combating Crime; Immigration, Consular and Indian Community related issues.

  1. Foreign Office Consultations - A Memorandum of Understanding on holding annual Political Consultations was signed during the visit of the UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed AI Nahyan to New Delhi in June 2011. Annual Foreign Office Consultations are held at the Secretary-level. Second India-UAE Foreign Office Consultations took place on February 8-9, 2012 in New Delhi. The UAE delegation was led by the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Tariq Ahmed Ibrahim AI Haidan and Indian delegation was headed by Secretary (East) Shri Sanjay Singh. Since then no FOCs have been held.

  1. Joint Defence Coordination Committee - With signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation in 2003, a Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) was established. JDCC provides a platform for a regular exchange of dialogue in defence sector. The latest (9th) round of JDCC was held in New Delhi on 7-8 December, 2017.

  1. India-UAE High-level Task Force (HLTF) on Investment - A High Level Task Force on Investment was established in May 2012. The fifth HLTFI meeting was held in Abu Dhabi on 14 January 2018. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, and Suresh Prabhu, Commerce and Industry Minister, co-chaired the fifth meeting of the India-UAE High Level Task Force on Investments.

  1. Joint Committee for Consular Affairs (JCCA) - The MoU for establishing a Joint Committee on Consular Affairs was signed on April 16, 2012. The second round of JCCA was held in Abu Dhabi on 14 December 2016. Assistant Under-Secretary for Consular Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ahmed Al Dhaheri chaired the meeting. During the 2nd India-UAE Strategic Dialogue it was decided to hold the next meeting soon.

  1. Joint Security Committee (JSC) - The JSC addresses issues being dealt with under various security related agreements signed between the two countries. The JSC will also be mandated to look into expeditious processing of these pending cases. The first meeting of the India-UAE JSC was held on March 18, 2013 in Abu Dhabi. Second meeting of the India-UAE JSC was held in New Delhi on 11 December 2014. Since then no meeting has been held.

  1. Joint Business Council - A Joint Business Council consisting of Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FUCCI) and FICCI is in place. However, after the first meeting of the JBC in Abu Dhabi on 8 March 2004, with the availability of other specific platforms, there has not been any meetings subsequently. FUCCI of UAE hosted the India Arab Economic Conclave in Abu Dhabi in May 2012.

  1. Joint Committee on Manpower issues - Second Joint Committee Meeting between the two sides was held in New Delhi in September 2011 (1st meeting was held in Dubai in May, 2007). In the 2nd Strategic Dialogue, we urged the UAE side to hold of an early meeting of India-UAE Joint Committee on Man Power issues. A meeting was held on 31 January, 2018 at UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, Dubai where bilateral issues regarding manpower and labor were discussed.

  1. Joint Working Group on Skill Development - Under the provisions of the MoU for Cooperation in Skill Development and Recognition of Qualifications signed with UAE in February 2016, a JWG was formed to establish and implement framework of activities. The JWG held its first meeting in New Delhi on 29 April 2016, which was co-chaired by Secretary, MSDE and DG of National Qualifications Authority, UAE.

  1. India-UAE Strategic Dialogue - In pursuant to the Joint Statement issued during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to India in February 2016, this dialogue at the level of MoS has been institutionalized. First meeting of the Strategic Dialogue was co-chaired by MoS (MJA) with his UAE counterpart Dr. Anwar Gargash in New Delhi on 20 January 2017. The 2nd Strategic Dialogue was held in Abu Dhabi on 29 October 2017. The 3rd one is expected to be held in September, 2018.

  1. Consultations between our National Security Council Secretariat and their UAE counterpart - As a follow up to the Joint Statement issued at the conclusion of PM's visit to UAE in August 2015, regular consultations between our National Security Council Secretariat and their UAE counterpart have been institutionalized. There have been regular exchanges of visits to further cooperation in identified security related areas of common interest.

Defence and Security cooperation

6. Defence cooperation between India and UAE is steered through a Joint Defence Co-operation Committee (JDCC) at the Ministry level. The agreement between India and UAE on Defence Cooperation was signed in July 2003 and implemented with effect from April 2004. It has been extended every five years with the latest extension done on 28 April 2014. The 9th JDCC was held in New Delhi on December 07-08, 2017. Potential areas of interest to UAE in the defence field are: production and development of defence equipment; joint exercises of armed forces; sharing of information on strategy and doctrines; technical cooperation in respect of Intermediate Jet Trainer, utilization of Indian Medical Hospitals by UAE armed forces personnel and language courses by UAE military personnel.

7. There is a big potential in supply of defence inventory to UAE from our Defence Industries. A contract was signed in October 2017 to supply 40,000 rounds of 155 mm shells to UAE Armed forces by Indian Ordinance Factory, which was successfully executed. UAE has further submitted another list of arms and ammunition that they want to source from Indian Ordinance Factory, discussions on same are underway.

8. UAE has shown interest in partnering with Indian Air Force for their future procurement and upgrades as the two Air Forces have a lot of common platforms. The Indian Navy (IN) is focused on exploring possible areas of co-operation with the UAE Navy in the field of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and anti-piracy operations. It is also looking to increase interaction at sea while the UAE Navy has expressed a desire for more frequent port calls and bilateral exercises between the two Navies. The first bilateral Naval exercise between two Navies was held from 17-22 March 2018, off the coast of UAE.

Commercial Relations

9. India-UAE trade which was valued at US$ 180 million per annum in the 1970s, is today around US$ 53 billion (2016-17) making India the largest trading partner of UAE, while UAE is India’s third largest trading partner (after China and US). Moreover, UAE is the second largest export destination of India of over US$ 31 billion for the year 2016-17.

10. India’s exports to the UAE are well diversified with a large basket. India’s major export items to the UAE are: Petroleum Products, Precious Metals, Stones, Gems & Jewellery, Minerals, Food Items (Cereals, Sugar, Fruits & Vegetables, Tea, Meat, and Seafood), Textiles (Garments, Apparel, Synthetic fiber, Cotton, Yarn) and Engineering & Machinery Products and Chemicals. India’s major import items from the UAE are: Petroleum and Petroleum Products, Precious Metals, Stones, Gems & Jewellery, Minerals, Chemicals, Wood & Wood Products.

11. There is an estimated US$ 8 billion UAE investments in India of which US$5.33 billion (Dec. 2017) is in the form of Foreign Direct Investment, while the remaining is portfolio investment. UAE is the tenth biggest investor in India in terms of FDI. UAE’s investments in India are concentrated mainly in five sectors: Services Sector (9.44%), Power (8.97%), Construction Development: Townships, Housing, Built-Up Infrastructure and Construction-Development Projects (8.81%), Air Transport (Including Air Freight) (7.42%), Hotel & Tourism (7.29%).

12. Prominent UAE companies such as DP World, EMAAR, RAKIA etc. have invested significantly in various sectors of the Indian economy. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) announced US$ 1 billion investment in NIIF's Master Fund, that will invest in Infrastructure sector in India. ADIA has also committed to invest US$ 1 billion in India focused affordable housing fund launched by HDFC and US$ 500 million into renewable energy and other investment into highways. In the private sector DP World and NIIF have set up a US$3 billion fund that will invest in ports and logistics sector in India. Several prominent private and public sector Indian companies and banks are also operating in the UAE. Major Indian companies such as L&T, ESSAR, Dodsal, Punj Lloyd, Engineers India Ltd., TCIL etc. have been able to obtain significant number of contracts in UAE.

13. Data released by UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority indicates that at the end of 2015, total FDI from India to UAE amounted to AED 23 billion (US$ 6.5 billion approx.) (third largest source of FDI into UAE after UK and US). In addition, the NRIs in UAE have significant portfolio investment and have investments in real estate sector. Data released by Dubai Land Development Department indicated that Indians were the largest foreign investor in Dubai real estate with investment of AED 20.4 billion in 2016-17 (US$ 5.5 billion approx., 13% of total). Taking all these into consideration, a ballpark figure of US$ 55 billion is mentioned for total Indian investments in the UAE.

14. There are more than 1000 direct flights per week between various destinations of India and the UAE. On April 23, 2013 Jet and Etihad Airways signed an US$ 8 billion agreement. Etihad airlines agreed to invest US$379 million in Jet Airways for a 24% stake in the shareholding.

15. A high-level delegation led by Shri Suresh Prabhu, then Minister of Railways visited UAE on 5-8 March 2017 and met with senior officials of ADIA and Mubadala and discussed possibilities of investment in Indian Railway Infrastructure Projects. The first Startup India Summit in Middle East was held at Dubai and Abu Dhabi during 23-24 May 2017. The summit highlighted several Indian Startups in the field of Software-as-a-Service, Education Technology, Financial Technology, Healthcare Technology, Video Analytics, Space Technology, Logistics etc. World Skills Competition was held in Abu Dhabi during 15-18 October 2017. Competitors from eleven states of India participated in 26 different trade skills. Indian delegation also included representatives from National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), FICCI, CII and Indian Corporates like TATA, Mahindra, Maruti etc. A conference was also organized by CII in partnership with Indian Business and Professional Group (IBPG) on skill development. In the 2nd India-UAE Strategic Dialogue held in Abu Dhabi on 29 October 2017, it was decided to create Industry specific teams having members from both the countries. It was suggested that these teams should focus on 10 areas where there is maximum potential for increasing bilateral trade.

Cultural Relations

16. The two nations share historical ties and have maintained regular cultural exchanges both at official and people to people levels. India and UAE signed a Cultural Agreement in 1975. The Embassy organizes various cultural activities on its own as well as by collaborating with Indian Associations/Cultural Organizations based in UAE.

17. Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development of the UAE, together with the Indian Business and Professional Group, supported by the Embassy launched the India-UAE Cultural Celebrations Initiative on 4 April 2017 in Abu Dhabi.

18. 4th International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 21 June 2018 and it continues to be very popular as in previous years. H.H. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance graced the event as Chief Guest. The latter lit the traditional lamp and addressed the gathering quoting ancient Indian scriptures and said Yoga helps in engaging with diversity & embraces the spirit of tolerance. Approximately 4,000 people from all walks of life and members of Diplomatic Corps based in Abu Dhabi participated in the event.

19. India was the 'Guest of Honour' country at the UAE's prestigious month-long annual cultural festival in March 2018, the Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF), which showcased diverse cultural wealth of India to the World bringing top level performances from India. This helped sustain visibility for India a right after the visit of PM in February. First National Tolerance Festival was organized on 17 November 2017, by UAE Ministry of Tolerance, in collaboration with the Indian Embassy and Indian Community. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Mr. Navdeep Suri, Ambassador of India to UAE, jointly inaugurated the festival.

Indian Community:

20. New data from the International Organization of Migration showed that the Indian population in UAE has grown to 3.3 million, making it the largest concentration of Indian nationals outside India. Professionally qualified personnel constitute about 15 & 20 percent of the community, followed by 20 percent white-collar non-professionals (clerical staff, shop assistants, sales men, accountants etc.) and the remainder 65% comprises blue-collar workers. There is a significant business community from India. The Indian community has played a major role in the economic development of the UAE. Remittances rose to $13.8 billion and major NRI-owned business groups like Lulu, NMC, Aster, Landmark, Sobha and others made significant investments into the healthcare, retail, hospitality, real estate, construction and other sectors of the Indian economy.

21. With a large number of blue-collared Indian workers, focus of bilateral relations is also on developing efficient grievance-redressal mechanisms for the Indian workers in the UAE. India and UAE signed a MoU in the field of Manpower Sourcing in December 2006 and a Protocol to streamline the admission of Indian contract workers by way of an electronic contract registration and validation system was signed on April 4, 2012. The Embassy of India organized a States’ Conference on 13 September 2014 in Abu Dhabi to bring representatives of various State Governments from India in direct interaction with the representatives of Indian community in UAE. The Embassy has brought out “Guidelines for Indian” for benefits of Indian Community in UAE. A comprehensive online web-based ‘NRI registration system’ has been developed for Indians resident in UAE. An online web-based portal called E-migrate system has been put in place for recruitment of Indian workers including Indian nurses from 1st June 2015.

22. The Embassy has Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) for providing short-term economic assistance (food, shelter, passage expenses etc.) to destitute workers/housemaids in distress. Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) with a 24-hour helpline is operating in Dubai since November 2010. A new IWRC has started operating in Sharjah w.e.f. 15 August 2017. Regular visits to jails and labor camps by the officers of the Embassy and Consulate and Open house held every working day of the week at the Embassy and Consulate for the Indian Community members, are other mechanisms to ensure regular communication between the Embassy & and Consulate with the Indian community.