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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 the relations were upgraded to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Both sides 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 during the visit.

4.       UAE is one the very few countries where Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi visited twice. The State visit of the Prime Minister to UAE on 10-11 February, 2018 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 also addressed the Indian community at 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.

5.       Parliamentary Cooperation: An Indian Parliamentary delegation led by Honorable Member of Parliament Shri Bhartruhari Mehtab for the Asian Parliamentary Assembly Standing Committee Meeting in Abu Dhabi in May 2017 met Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of Federal National Council (FNC). During the meeting, Indian delegation invited the Speaker to visit India.

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

  • Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) – JCM deals with issues related to trade and commerce. EAM Ms. Sushma Swaraj visited UAE in 3-5 December 2018 for the 12th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting for Technical and Economic Cooperation held in Abu Dhabi. The meeting was co-chaired by UAE Foreign Minister and during the meeting both sides discussed issues related to Bilateral Cooperation; Consular Field; Economic, Trade, Investments and Banking & Finance  Cooperation; Civil Aviation; Space; Education; Agriculture & Livestock and Humanitarian Aid , Development &  Triangular Cooperation.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • India-UAE High-level Task Force on Investment (HLTFI) - A High Level Task Force on Investment was established in May 2012. The sixth HLTFI meeting was held in Mumbai on 15 October 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 meeting. The fifth HLFTI meeting was also held in 2018 at Abu Dhabi on 14 January 2018.  
  • 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. The third round of JCCA was held in New Delhi in October 2018.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 near future.
  • 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.

 

Commercial Relations
7.       India-UAE commercial relations are anchored by energy cooperation, trade, investments by UAE in India and investments & businesses driven by Indian expatriates in UAE. In the energy sector, UAE accounts for 8 percent of India’s oil imports and is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to India. Both the countries have speeded up the relationship to transform from what used to be a buyer-seller relationship into strategic partnership. An MoU between Indian Consortium (OVL, BPRL & IOCL) and ADNOC was signed for acquisition of 10 percent participating interest in the offshore Lower Zakum Concession during the visit of Prime Minister to UAE in February 2018 making it the first Indian Investment in upstream oil sector of UAE.

8.       Deepening energy cooperation, the Minister of of Petroleum & Natural Gas (MoPN&G) and Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (SD&E) Shri Dharmendra Pradhan visited UAE in May 2018 and flagged off first consignment of ADNOC crude oil for Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) along with Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Group CEO of ADNOC. ADNOC supplied two million barrels of crude oil for India's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in Mangalore. The ADNOC and ISPRL are actively discussing cooperation in second SPR at Padur facility and an agreement to explore the possibility of storing ADNOC crude oil at Padur SPR was signed between both the countries during the visit of Shri Dharmendra Pradhan to UAE in November 2018 for attending Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition  & Conference (ADIPEC 2018).

9.       In his landmark visit to India in June 2018, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation (MoFA& IC), oversaw a trilateral energy cooperation framework agreement signed by ADNOC and Saudi Aramco to invest in the development of $44 billion Ratnagiri refinery and petrochemicals complex (RRPCL) that is coming up in the western Indian state of Maharashtra. ADNOC and Aramco will use their own oil for the refinery and will jointly own 50% stake in the new joint venture.

10.     The bilateral energy cooperation is not just limited to petroleum. Spearheading climate change mitigation efforts as part of International Solar Alliance (ISA), India and UAE pledged commitment to historical Paris Agreement. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, participated in the ISA conference held in New Delhi in March 2018.

11.     India-UAE trade which was valued at US$ 180 million per annum in the 1970s, is today around US$ 50 billion (exports from India US$ 28 billion and imports to India US$ 22 billion in the year 2017) making India the second 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. 
12.     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.
13.     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%).

14.     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$3 billion fund that will invest in ports and logistics sector in India. UAE also evinced interest in forging joint cooperation with India in Africa and Afghanistan. During the visit of EAM in December 2018 both the countries signed an MoU for developmental cooperation in Africa.
15.     Several prominent private and public sector Indian companies and banks are also operating in the UAE. Major Indian companies such as L&T, ESSAR, Dodsal, Punj Lloyd, Engineers India Ltd., TCIL etc. have been able to obtain significant number of contracts in UAE. Data released by UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority indicates that at the end of 2015, total FDI from India to UAE amounted to AED 23 billion (US$ 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.
16.     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.

17.     The 6th HLTFI meeting was held in Mumbai on 15th October 2018 which was co-chaired by Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, and Shri Suresh Prabhu. Senior officials from both countries also took part in the meeting. Both sides discussed a number of potential investment projects in India in various sectors and also deliberated on India-UAE agro exports potential and projects in food processing. The two sides also explored opportunities in India’s logistics sector during 6th HLTFI meeting. To facilitate investments and resolve issues relating to UAE Investments in India, a special UAE desk ‘UAE PLUS’ is being established in Invest India. Also a Fast Track Mechanism at the level of Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Government of India and Ambassador of UAE to India to continuously monitor and resolve issues has been set up.

Cultural Relations:

18.     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.

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 right after the visit of PM in February.

20.     4th  International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 21 June 2018 in Abu Dhabi in which more 5000 people including prominent members of Indian community and diplomats participated with great enthusiasm. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance graced the event as chief guest and gave keynote address quoting several ancient Indian scriptures. International Day of Yoga was celebrated in all Northern Emirates of UAE also, as the Indian Consulate, Dubai organized various events with support of community association across various locations in Dubai and Northern Emirates.

21.     Second National Tolerance Festival was organized in the month of November 2018, by UAE Ministry of Tolerance, in which India also participated. India and UAE announced to set up a digital museum in Abu Dhabi on the life and message of love, tolerance & humanity of Mahatma Gandhi and Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former President & founding father of UAE, during the visit of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation to India in June 2018. EAM Ms. Sushma Swaraj and Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed jointly inaugurated the Zayed-Gandhi digital museum during EAM’s visit to UAE in December 2018. The museum is expected to be open to public in March 2019 and there are plans to take the exhibition to all the emirates in UAE.

22.     The Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT), Abu Dhabi designated India as the Guest of Honour for the 29th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair (ADIBF) which will be held under the patronage of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi from 24-30 April 2019. There are plans to celebrate India, its culture, languages and publishing industry during ADBIF.

Indian Community

23.     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. 

24.     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.

25.     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.