NEW DELHI: India’s energy quest is steering it to deepen its strategic ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the two countries will be signing sixteen agreements with a total value of $75 billion during the visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Supreme Commander of its armed forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zaye Al Nahyan that started on Tuesday.
India’s cozying up to the UAE, a close defence ally of Pakistan, is also part of strategic maneuvering to counter Islamabad’s influence in the region. The two countries will also be building on their fledgling defence ties. India sees Gulf countries as future markets for its defence exports.
"Defence and security is emerging as a new area of cooperation based upon shared views and concerns about common threats. We are hoping that this visit would solidify the same," Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Secretary (Economic Relations) Amar Sinha said here. The Secretary hinted that there will be “substantial” outcome from the second visit of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi in as many years.
Indicating the importance India attaches to the relation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached the airport in the evening to personally receive the dignitary, who will be the guest of honour in the annual Republic Day parade. It was only last year that the Indian Air Force (IAF) conducted the second edition of the ‘Desert Eagle’ exercise with its UAE counterpart after an interval of 8 years. Many private defence firms from India have already entered an understanding with the UAE companies to institutionalize the defence cooperation between the two countries.
A contingent of the UAE Armed Forces will be leading the Republic Day parade and it is only the second country after France to get the honour. The two countries will be sealing their commitment towards each other with a Strategic Cooperation Agreement.
The UAE is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to India and is one of the top contributors to its FDI reserves. Sinha told reporters here that the UAE is poised to invest $ 75 billion in India in the coming years. "During the visit, we are hoping to sign an MoU between their investment fund and our National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), which will put in place a framework as to how the fund will be administered and which all sectors it can be invested in,” the Secretary said. In the year 2015-16, the two countries had registered a bilateral trade of about $ 50 billion.