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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. The following 14 Agreements / MoUs were signed during the visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on 24-26 January 2017 as the Chief Guest at India’s Republic day celebrations:

  • Agreement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the UAE;

  • MoU on technical development and cooperation in cyber space between National Security Council Secretariat and National Electronic Security Authority;

  • MoU between the Ministry of Defence of the Government of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Defence of the Government of UAE on cooperation in the field of Defence Industry;

  • MoU between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of the UAE on Institutional Cooperation on Maritime Transport;

  • MoU between the Directorate General of Shipping, Republic of India and the Federal Transport Authority- Land and Maritime in the UAE on Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency as per the provisions of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping Convention (STCW78) and amendments thereof;

  • MoU between the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of the Republic of India and the Federal Transport Authority, Land and Maritime of the UAE on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport and Highways Sector;

  • MoU between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of UAE on cooperation in prevention and combating of human trafficking;

  • MoU for the Cooperation in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and innovation between the Ministry of Economy of United Arab Emirates and Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises of the Republic of India;

  • MoU between the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Climate Change & Environment of UAE in agriculture and Allied sectors;

  • MoU between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of UAE on mutual exemption of entry visa requirements to the holders of Diplomatic, special and Official Passports;

  • MoU between Prasar Bharati, India and Emirates News Agency (WAM), UAE for cooperation in programme exchange;

  • MoU between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Economy of United Arab Emirates on trade remedial measures to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest;

  • Agreement on Oil Storage and Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company; and

  • MoU between National Productivity Council and Al Etihad Energy Services Co. LLC.

4. Since the beginning of 2017, there has been an intensification of high level visits.

  • MoS (IC) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines Mr. Piyush Goyal visited UAE on 17-18 January for the 7th IRENA Assembly and World Future Energy Summit.

  • MoS for Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre visited UAE on 19-20 February.

  • Then Minister of Railways Mr. Suresh Prabhu visited UAE on 5-7 March and discussed opportunities in Infrastructure development.

  • MoS for External Affairs Mr. MJ Akbar visited UAE on 10-11 April to address the UAE Ambassador’s Forum; the first time a foreign dignitary was invited by UAE to address their Ambassador’s Forum. He also met Dr. Anwar Gargash, MoS for Foreign Affairs, UAE; and Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, UAE.

  • MoS for Food Processing Ms. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti visited UAE on 6-7 August to promote participation of UAE Food Companies in ‘World Food India 2017’, she also met Mr. Thani Al Zeyoudi and discussed promoting cooperation in food processing sector between two countries.

  • MoS for External Affairs Shri MJ Akbar visited UAE on 28-29 October to attend 2nd India-UAE Strategic Dialogue; Dr. Anwar Gargash, MoS for Foreign Affairs, UAE led the UAE delegation. Shri Akbar also met Mr. Mohammed Bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, Cabinet Minister and MoS for Defence Affairs and called on H.H. Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Crown Prince Court and CEO & Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

  • Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh visited UAE on 21-22 October to explore trade and investment cooperation from UAE for Andhra Pradesh.

  • MoS for External Affairs Shri MJ Akbar visited UAE on 8 November to attend the opening ceremony of Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi. During his visit he called on Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

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. 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 Economical Cooperation, held on 02-03 September, 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 subjects areas in Trade & Commerce; Investments; Finance & Banking; Energy, Hydro-carbons, Petrochemicals & Fertilizers; Defence and Space; Transport, Civil Aviation, Ports & Meteorogy; Health & Agriculture, Education, Culture & Tourism; Security and Combating Crime; Immigration, Consular and Indian Community related issues.

  • 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.

  • 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 eighth round of JDCC was held in Abu Dhabi from 19-20 December 2016.

  • India-UAE High-level Task Force (HLTF) on Investment - A High Level Task Force on Investment was established in May 2012. The fourth HLTFI meeting was held in New Delhi on 3 February 2016. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince's Court, and Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, co-chaired the fourth meeting of the India-UAE High Level Joint Task Force on Investments in New Delhi. The Fifth meeting will be held in the year 2018 in Abu Dhabi.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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). In the 2nd Strategic Diologue, India urged the UAE side to hold of an early meeting of India-UAE Joint Committee on Man Power issues.

  • 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 between two foreign Offices - 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.

  • 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.

Defense and Security cooperation

7. Defense cooperation between India and UAE is steered through a Joint Defense Co-operation Committee (JDCC) at the Ministry level. The agreement between India and UAE on Defense 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 8th JDCC was held in Abu Dhabi on 19-20 Dec 2016 and the next meeting was held in December 2017. Potential areas of interest to UAE in the defense field are: production and development of defense 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.

8. There is a big potential in supply of defense 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. UAE has shown strong interest in partnering with Indian Air Force for their future procurements 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.

Commercial Relations:

9. India-UAE trade which was valued at US$ 180 million per annum in the 1970s, is today around US$ 52 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$ 30 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 around US$ 4.70 billion (Mar. 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 (10.33%), Construction Development (9.97%), Power (9.54%), Air Transport (8.44%) and Hotel & Tourism (7.82%). Prominent UAE companies such as DP World, 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 UAE.

12. Data released by UAE Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority indicates that end 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 estimated for total Indian investments in the UAE.

13. 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.

14. 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.

Cultural Relations:

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. The third International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 20 June 2017 and it continues to be very popular as in previous years. H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and H.E. Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance graced the event. The latter lit the traditional lamp and gave keynote address quoting several ancient Indian scriptures. Approximately 4,000 people from all walks of life participated in the event.

18. It was announced in November 2017 that India would be the 'Guest of Honour' country at the UAE's prestigious month-long annual cultural festival in 2018, the Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF). It is the largest classical arts event in the Gulf region and shall provide a platform to showcase diverse cultural wealth of India. ADF shall provide an opportunity to take Indian culture mainstream.

Indian Community:

19. UAE is home to Indian expatriate community of more than 23.5 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 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. The annual remittances made by the large Indian community in UAE amount to over US$ 13.75 billion (2015).

20. 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 1 June 2015.

21. 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.

December 2017