Political Relations

Embassy of India Abu Dhabi

India-UAE Relations

India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy strong bonds of friendship founded on millennia old cultural, social and economic interaction between the two regions. People-to-people contacts and trade between the two regions have existed for centuries. The relationship has flourished since the creation of the UAE Federation in 1971. In recent years, the relationship has become even more wide ranging, encompassing a number of fields in addition to trade and investment such as Energy including renewable energy,defence, culture and education. The Indian community, comprising around 2.6 million is the largest expatriate community in the UAE.

Political Relations

India-UAE bilateral relations have received impetus from time-to-time with exchange of high-level visits from both sides. Important visits from India at different levels include visits of President Dr. Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed to the UAE (1976); President Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (2003); President Mrs. Pratibha Devisingh Patil (2010) and Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi (1981). Visits at Foreign Minister-level include those of EAM Mr. Pranab Mukherjee (2008); EAM Mr. S. M. Krishna (2012); MOS (EA) Mr. E. Ahmed (2012 & 2013) and EAM Mr. Salman Khurshid (2013). During his transit visit on February 5, 2014 EAM Mr. Salman Khurshid held a telephone conversation with the UAE Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and conveyed best wishes for the speedy recovery of the UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Most recently, EAM Mrs. Sushma Swaraj visited UAE from 11-13 November, 2014 and held talks with her counterpart.

Important visits from the UAE to India include visits of UAE’s former President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1975 & 1992); Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai (2007, 2010 & 2011); Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (2011); Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (2007; 2011, 2012 & 2013); MOS (FA) Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash (2012); Assistant Minister (FA) Mr. Khaled Ghanim Al-Gaith (2011) and Assistant Minister (FA) Mr. Tariq Ahmed Ibrahim Al Haidan (2012).

Other ministerial-level visits from India to the UAE include those of Mr. Vayalar Ravi, Minister for Overseas Indian Minister (2012 & 2013); Mr. Anand Sharma, Minister of Commerce and Industry (2013); Mr. P. Chidambaram, Minister of Finance (twice in 2013); Mr. Ajit Singh, Minister of Civil Aviation (2013); Mr. Jaipal Reddy MOPNG (2012); Mr. Veerappa Moily, MOPNG (2013); and Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy ( 2011, 2012 & 2014). From the UAE side visits include those of Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade (2009 & 2012); Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Managing Director of ADIA and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court (2012 & 2014) and Minister of State for Financial Affairs,Mr. Obaid Humaid Al Tayer (2012); MOS Ministry of Finance accompanying the Foreign Minister (2013); Minister of Energy, Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei (2014) and Minister of Economy, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri (2014).

The two countries have signed a number of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding from time-to-time in different sectors. This include [1] Cultural Cooperation Agreement (1975); [2] Civil Aviation Agreement (1989 and revised in 2014); [3] Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (1992), Protocol to amend the India-UAE Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (2012); [4] Agreement to Combat Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1994); [5] Extradition Treaty (1999); [6] Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in Criminal & Civil Matters (1999); [7] Agreement on Juridical and Judicial Cooperation in Civil and Commercial Matters (1999); [8] Information Cooperation Agreement (2000); [9] Channel Carriage Agreement (2000); [10] MoU on Defence Cooperation (2003); [11] MoU on Manpower Sourcing in (2006), A revised MoU on Manpower Sourcing (2011); [12] MoU on Political Consultations (2011); [13] Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons (2011); [14] Agreement on Security Cooperation (2011); [15] Agreement on Customs Cooperation (2012); [16] Protocol to streamline
admission of Indian contract workers by way of an electronic contract registration and validation system (2012), [17] MoU on establishing a Joint Committee on Consular Affairs (2012); [18] Bilateral Agreement on Promotion and Protection of Investments (2013) and [19] MoU on Cooperation in the field of Renewable Energy (2014).

India and UAE have institutional mechanisms in place for addressing the sector-specific issues. This is in the form of Joint Commission for Economic and Technical Cooperation (JCM); Foreign Office Consultations (FOC); High Level Task Force on Investment (HLTFI); Joint Committee on Security Matters (JCSM); Joint Committee on Consular Matters (JCCM); Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC); Joint Working Group (JWG) on Renewable Energy and Joint Committee on Manpower Resources (JCMR). JCM, FOC and HLTFI are held at the Ministerial/Assistant Ministerial levels. JCSM, JCCM, JDCC and JSMR are held at senior official (Secretary/Additional Secretary) levels. In addition to the above, a Local Coordination and Grievance Redressal Mechanism to redress grievances of the Indian community is also in place in the form of a Local Coordination Committee (LCC). LCC, comprising officers from the Embassy and their UAE counterparts meets on a monthly basis to follow-up on consular, manpower and community related issues.

Economic and Commercial Relations

The traditionally close and friendly India- UAE bilateral relationship has evolved into a significant partnership in the economic and commercial sphere. India-UAE trade, valued at US$ 180 million per annum in the 1970s, is today around US$60 billion making UAE, India’s third largest trading partner for the year 2013-14 after China and US. The two countries have been the largest trading partners for the last several years except in 2011-12 and 2013-14. Moreover, UAE is the second largest export destination of India with an amount of over US$ 30 billion for the year 2013-14. For UAE, India is the largest trading partner for the year 2013 with an amount of over US$ 36.27 billion (non-oil trade).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 fibre, 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. Total FDI from UAE to India is estimated to be US$ 2.89 billion (November 2014). UAE is the eleventh biggest investor in India in terms of FDI. UAE’s investments in India are concentrated mainly in five sectors: Construction Development (16%), Power (14%), Metallurgical Industries (10%), Services Sector (10%) and Computer Software & Hardware (5%). Prominent UAE companies such as DP Word, EMAAR, RAKIA etc. have invested significantly in various sectors of the Indian economy. 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 the UAE. There are 700 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$379 million in Jet Airways for a 24% stake in the shareholding. At the first meeting of India-UAE High Level Task Force on Investment (HLTFI) held on February 18, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) announced its plans of investing US$ 2 billion in Indian Infrastructure sector. It was decided to establish six sub committees in the areas of infrastructure, trade and investment, aviation, energy, manufacturing & technology; and Information and communications. The second meeting of HLTFI was held in Mumbai on March 3, 2014.

Cultural Relations

Both countries share historical ties and have maintained regular cultural exchanges both at official and popular levels. India and UAE signed a Cultural Agreement in 1975. The ICCR also opened a Culture Centre in Abu Dhabi in 2009 but it was shut down in June 2014. Prominent events organized by the Culture Centre include handicraft bazar – Discover India (February 2011); poetry reading session by Dr. Satchidanandan, an Indian poet and Arabic Translations by Arabic poet Dr Shihab Ghanem; a session on Indo-Arab Relations through the ages in History, Art & Culture, with special emphasis on UAE (November 2011); retrospective of Shyam Benegal’s film (October 2012); Pt. Prahlad Tipania and Group’s renditions on “Kabir Bhajans” (January 2014); talks by Ms Shehnaz Hussain (March 2013) & Dr. Anil Kakodkar (January 2014); photo exhibition on the Islamic monuments of India (March-April 2014) etc. Even after closing of the ICCR’s Culture Centre at Abu Dhabi, the Embassy as well as the Consulate continued to organize various cultural activities on its own as well as by collaborating with Indian Associations/Cultural Organisations based in UAE. Some of the events held were as follows; Padmshree Pt. Satish Vyas’ Santoor Concert (December 2014); Karnataka artists’ musical concert (December 2014); Bihu Dance by Assam – Bihu Group (November-December 2014); launching of books/book chat of Ambassador Talmiz Ahmed (May 2014); Mr Venu Rajamony (June 2014); launch of the book “Applied diplomacy through the prism of mythology by Ambassador T.P. Sreenivasan (December 2014). ICCR’s cotemporary painting exhibition on “Kerala Green” – a compilation of works by artists from SAARC countries and exhibition of group of Indian artists was also organized in September 2014 at Embassy Residence.

During the months of general elections in India, 20-20 IPL Cricket matches were organized in three Emirates of UAE, namely Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah for two weeks in April 2014. These were received by the host government and Indian community both with deep interest and enthusiasm.

Indian Community

UAE is home to Indian expatriate community of more than 2.6 million – the largest expatriate community in the UAE. 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 remainder 65% comprises of 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. The annual remittances made by the large Indian community in UAE amount to over US$8 billion (2012).

With a large number of blue-collared Indian workers, the focus of bilateralrelations is also on developing efficient grievance-redressal mechanisms for the Indian workers in the UAE. The UAE’s Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs are working closely to evolve a new arrangement that would make the system of recruitment and contracting more transparent. 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. A two-day International employers’ conference was organized by the MOIA on October 27-28 in Dubai, which dealt with the situation of Indian workers in the Gulf and steps to be taken to further improve them. The Embassy had 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 theme of the Conference was “Working together: Improving Service Delivery”.

Six State Governments (i.e. Rajasthan, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Telangana and West Bengal) and Protector General of Emigrants from Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs participated in the Conference. Approximately 300 Indians from various parts of UAE representing the various social, cultural, business and professional associations of Indian Community also participated in this Conference.

The Embassy has recently brought out “Guidelines for Indian” for benefits of Indian Community in UAE. This is also available on the website of the Embassy.

Comprehensive on-line web based NRI registration system has been developed for Indians resident in UAE to register themselves on the system by filling in the requested details

The Embassy also has the 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. Regular visits to jails and labour camps by the officers and Open house are held every working day of the week at both the Embassy and the Consulate for the Indian Community members. These mechanisms ensure regular communication and interaction between the Embassy & and the Consulate with the Indian community.

February 09, 2015

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