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India-UAE Bilateral Relations

India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy strong bonds of friendship based on age-old cultural, religious and economic ties between the two nations. The relationship flourished after the accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and subsequently with the creation of the UAE Federation in 1971. Since then, both sides have made sincere efforts to improve relations in all fields.

Political Relations

2. India-UAE bilateral relations have received impetus from time-to-time with exchange of high-level visits from both sides. The historic visit of Hon’ble Prime Minister of India to UAE on 16-17 August 2015 marked the beginning of a new and comprehensive and strategic partnership. In the Joint Statement issued after the visit, both leaders agreed to work together not only to consolidate achievements in the existing domains but also to explore newer areas of cooperation. H.H. 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 on a State visit and had wide-ranging discussions on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest and reached a broad consensus and signed MoUs/agreements.

3. Highlights of India- UAE Joint Statement during the State Visit of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi on February 12, 2021 are as follows:

  • i) India and UAE look forward to the early signing of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement.
  • ii) They reaffirmed their resolve to work together to substantially increase trade by 60 percent over the next five years.
  • iii)        UAE is invited to be a partner in India’s growth story, and to participate in projects creating mega industrial manufacturing corridors, including the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor as well as the Digital India and Start up India programs.
  • iv) UAE noted its interest in investing in infrastructure development in India, especially in priority areas such as railways, roads, ports, and shipping. They reiterated USD 75 billion target for UAE investments in India’s infrastructure development plans.
  • v) The two sides agreed to further business-to-business cooperation in Information Technology (IT), Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES), and Electronics System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM). Both sides agreed to cooperate for investment opportunities in the health care industry, including in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology sectors and resolved to urge its private sector to explore early participation in these sectors.
  • vi) The two sides agreed to enhance cooperation in space science and space technology.
  • vii)       The two sides agreed to cooperate in establishing joint investment projects in the UAE and India, as well as joint investment projects in third countries.
  • viii)      Both sides agreed to cooperate to sign an MOU on establishment of Establishment of a Strategic Petroleum Reserve in India. Both sides also agreed to increase cooperation in the crude oil sector, including through training, and human resources development.
  • ix) They agreed to expand their collaboration in renewable energy and in international negotiations on climate change. They acknowledged the importance of ensuring synergies between the ISA and IRENA.
  • x) They agreed to work closely together on a range of security issues, particularly on counter-terrorism, maritime security, and cyber-security.
  • xi) In the area of defence cooperation, the two sides renewed their commitment to strengthening the existing cooperation in training, joint exercises, and participation in defence exhibitions, as well as in identifying opportunities to cooperate on the production of defence equipment in India.
  • xii)       They strongly condemned extremism and terrorism in all of their forms and manifestations, irrespective of who the perpetrators are and of their motivations. UAE condemned the terrorist attack on the Indian Air Force Base in Pathankot.
  • xiii)      The two leaders also agreed to establish an annual Policy Dialogue to discuss issues related to peace in security in their region, and to strengthen their dialogue on regional security issues of mutual interest.

4. Key Commitments of the Joint Statement issued during PM’s visit in August 2015 are as follows:

  • i) Both sides to coordinate efforts to counter radicalization and misuse of religion by groups and countries. The two sides will facilitate regular exchanges of religious scholars and intellectuals and organize conferences and seminars to promote the values of peace, tolerance, Inclusiveness and welfare that is inherent in all religions.
  • ii) Both sides to denounce and oppose terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Enhance cooperation in counter terrorism, intelligence sharing and capacity building.
  • iii) Promote cooperation in cyber security.
  • iv) Establish a dialogue between the national Security Advisors and the national Security councils.
  • v) Cooperate in maritime security and strengthen defence relations
  • vi) Establish a strategic security dialogue
  • vii) Further promote trade between the two countries, with the target of increasing trade by 60% in the next five years.
  • viii) Agreed to the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of USD 75 billion to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.
  • ix) Promote strategic partnership in the energy sector, including through UAE’s participation in India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and collaboration in third countries.
  • x) Promote cooperation in Space, including in joint development and launch of satellites, ground-based infrastructure and space application. Hon’ble PM welcomed UAE’s plan to set up the West Asia’s first Space Research Centre at AI Ain and plans to launch a Mars Mission in 2021.
  • xi) Cooperate in peaceful uses of nuclear energy including in areas like safety, health, agriculture and science and technology.
  • xii) Cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India.

8. Important visits that have taken place so far are as follows;

Presidential visits:

  • Indian President visited UAE in November 1976, October 2003 and November 2010.
  • UAE’s President, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, visited India in 1975 and 1992.

Prime Ministerial visits:

  • Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi visited UAE on 16-17 August, 2015.
  • Prime Minister of India, Smt. Indira Gandhi, visited UAE in May 1981.
  • UAE’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, visited India in March 2007 and Mach 2010.
  • UAE’s Deputy Prime Minister, Sheikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited India in November 2011.

Foreign Ministers’ visits:

  • UAE FM Sheikh Abdullah visited India on 2-3 September 2015 for the 11th session of the Joint Commission meeting. He had earlier visited India June 2007, June 2011, May 2012 and December 2013.
  • Minister of External Affairs & Overseas Indian Affairs, Smt Sushma Swaraj, visited UAE on 10-13 Nov, 2014.
  • EAM Shri Salman Khurshid visited UAE on March 13, 2021 and held a telephonic conversation with the UAE Foreign Minister on February 5, 2021 on his transit visit. MoS Shri E. Ahmad visited UAE from 30 April to 03 May, 2014.

Other important Ministerial level visits in the Recent past:

From the Indian side, visits include

  • Shri Manohar Parrikar, Hon’ble Minister of Defence, visited UAE on 22-23 May 2016. He had meetings with Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, Foreign Minister and Minister of State for Defence and discussed bilateral defence cooperation and regional and international issues of mutual interest.
  • Shri Kalraj Mishra, Hon’ble Minister of  Small & Medium Enterprises visited UAE from 11th to 13th April, 2016 to attend the Second Ministerial Economic and Business Conference (EBC) of the Indian Ocean Rim Association held in Dubai.
  • Minister of State (Independent charge) for Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri. Dharmendra Pradhan visited UAE from 10th to 13th April, 2016
  • Minister of State for External Affairs of India, General (Retd.) V.K. Singh visited UAE on March 11, 2021
  • Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore visited UAE on 8-10 February 2016.

From the UAE side, visits include

  • Minister of Economy led the UAE delegation to the Partnership Summit 2014 held in Bengaluru in January, 2014.
  • Minister of Energy attended Petrotech 2014 held in Noida (NCR) on January, 2014

9. 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). In addition to 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).

Commercial Relations:

10. 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$50 billion making UAE, India’s third largest trading partner for the year 2015-16 after China and US. Moreover, UAE is the second largest export destination of India with an amount of over US$ 30 billion for the year 2015-16. For UAE, India is the largest trading partner for the year 2015 with an amount of over US$ 28 billion (non-oil trade).

11. There is an estimated US$8 billion UAE investment in India of which around US$4.03 billion (Mar. 2016) is in the form of foreign direct investment, while the remaining is portfolio investment. UAE is the tenth biggest investor in India in terms of FDI. UAE’s investments in India are concentrated mainly in five sectors: Construction Development (12%), Power (11%), Air Transport (9%), Hotel & Tourism (9%), Metallurgical Industries (8%). Prominent UAE companies such as DP Word, EMAAR, RAKIA etc. have invested significantly in various sectors of the Indian economy. Major Indian companies such as L&T;, ESSAR, Dodsal, Punj Lloyd, Engineers India Ltd., TCIL etc. have been able to obtain significant number of contracts in UAE. At the first meeting of India-UAE High Level Task Force on Investment (HLTFI) held on February 18, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) announced its plans of investing US$ 2 billion in Indian Infrastructure sector. The second meeting of HLTFI was held in Mumbai on March 3, 2021 and the third meeting was held on October 12-13, 2015 in Abu Dhabi. The fourth meeting of HLTFI was held on February 2-3, 2016 in New Delhi. The discussions focused on enhancing bilateral investment relations and further exploring ways of increasing trade between the two countries.

Cultural Relations:

12. The two nations share historical ties and have maintained regular cultural exchanges both at official and popular levels.  India and UAE signed a Cultural Agreement in 1975. Some of the events organized in the recent past were:

(a).      An ICCR sponsored Qawali Group led by Mr. Imran Khan performed in UAE on 4 – 5 March, 2016. A book on Art and Paintings by renowned Artist and Painter Mr. P. Gnana was launched at the Auditorium of Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi on 8 April 2016.  Ms. Vidhya Gnana Gouresan, a curator and a writer spoke of her experiences about this book.   Art work by Mr Gnana was also display at the India House.

(b).      The second International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 21st June, 2016. His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Minister of State for Tolerance graced the event in which about 4,000 people from all walks of life participated.

Indian Community:

13. 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 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$15 billion (2013).

14. The Embassy 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 to register themselves on the system by filling in the requested details. 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.

15. 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. Regular visits to jails and labour 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 some of other mechanisms to ensure regular communication between the Embassy & and Consulate with the Indian community.

Last Updated: September 07, 2020