Transcript of Media Briefing by Official Spokesperson in Abu Dhabi

Official Spokesperson (Shri Vikas Swarup): Good afternoon friends. We thought we will just give you a quick update on what the Prime Minister has been doing since his arrival in Abu Dhabi last afternoon. I have with me Mr. T.P. Seetharam, our Ambassador to the UAE.

Yesterday, as you very well know, soon after his arrival Prime Minister the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which was an occasion for him to pay tribute to the founder of the UAE, the man whose legacy we see every day. After that he visited the ICAD Residential City where he had an opportunity of interacting with a large group of Indian workers. There were four or five groups of people there and he met each one of them and enquired about their welfare.

Later that evening, there was a private dinner hosted by His Highness Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority. That was a very important occasion for the Prime Minister to brief his UAE interlocutors on his vision of development for India, on his economic vision in particular. He told them about the changes that were under way in India, the Make in India Initiative which will make India into a manufacturing hub, the changes that he wanted to bring to India’s infrastructure which requires a lot of investment, the energy implications of establishing 100 smart cities, of upgrading the railway infrastructure, of mainstreaming the industrial corridors.

His main message to the UAE side was that they should look at India as long-term investors especially because India has a lot of investment needs. In fact the Prime Minister said today that India needs probably one trillion dollars worth of investment and UAE, in particular the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority with their Sovereign Wealth Fund which has more than 800 billion dollars worth of capital can be a very important source for us to plug that gap.

This morning the Prime Minister visited Masdar city which, as you know, is a zero carbon city. It is a world leader in environmental technologies, in clean energy, again in the context of Prime Minister’s drive to build 100 smart cities and our push to have more renewables. As you know, India has an ambitious programme of having 175 gigawatts of renewable energy, solar and wind, by 2022. So it was an important occasion for the Prime Minister to see what world-class technologies in this field are all about and how they can be scaled up to meet the requirements in India.

He also took advantage of his visit to Masdar city to have an interaction with business investors. It was a very high-powered meeting with a lot of UAE businesspersons representing virtually all sectors of the UAE economy. You had the Chairman of Etisalat, you had the Chairman of Emaar Properties, Dubai Holding, Mubadala, MPCC, Juma Al Majid Group, Etihad Airways, Aldar, Ascorp Holdings, Etihad Rail, Mashreq Bank, DP World, ADNOC Group, Emirate Investment Authority, Daman Investments, Noor Islamic Bank, Emirates Airlines, Dnata and the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry was there. And of course the Hon. Minister of UAE, His Excellency Sultan Al Mansouri was personally present to sort of shepherd the discussions.

There were a lot of prominent Indian businessmen as well, those who have made the UAE their home. Mr. Yousuf Ali, the MD of EMKE Lulu Group, there was the MD of NMC Healthcare, Mr. Menon the Chairman of the Sobha Group, Chairman of Regal Towers, the ITL Group, KEF Holdings, Lama Desert Tours & Cruises, VPS Healthcare and Azad Moopen. So, basically Indian businessmen who have made UAE their home and who are engaged in diverse sectors of the UAE economy, how they could partner India’s development, how they could invest in India, and in particular of course the UAE businesspersons who the Prime Minister urged to look at India as a long-term investment destination.

So, there was a very interesting discussion. All of them briefed Prime Minister on their plans and what India could offer them. Prime Minister outlined his vision of what is happening in India, which are the sectors in particular where investment from the UAE would have a significant edge. In this context he mentioned real estate and India’s need to build 50 million homes that offers a very significant opportunity for businesses here.

He also mentioned the agricultural sector and our need for cold chain networks, cold storage as well as warehousing facilities. And of course he mentioned port and port-led development, which is another area where the UAE with its own maritime history and its own particular advantages in that field would be a compelling partner for India.

I think all in all it was a very focused interaction both last night and today which I think will provide a fresh impetus to trade and investment relations between India and the UAE. Shortly, now the Prime Minister will go into bilateral meeting with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at whose invitation, as you know, he is visiting the UAE.

This is the first Prime Ministerial visit in 34 years. Prime Minister referred to that in fact. He said, it is very ironic that there are 700 flights between India and the UAE every week but it took 34 years for an Indian Prime Minister to visit this country. And he promised his UAE host that this will not be allowed to happen again.

I think I will stop here. Ambassador can add something and then he will come in the Q&A session.

Indian Ambassador to UAE (Shri T.P. Seetharam): Very briefly, the interaction was with literally the who’s who of investors of UAE. The Prime Minister summed up the discussions by saying that the cooperation between UAE and India in the economic field should be targeted at benefiting the common people. That was really the point that whatever we do in terms of cooperation and the potential is very high, the opportunities are very high but it should all focus on what will benefit the common man.

I would like to just mention that some of the coverage which has come out has wrongly named the Culture Minister who was at the Mosque yesterday, with whom he had taken a selfie. It is Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. Some of your publications have referred to him as Sheikh Hamdan. There is another Sheikh by that name. I just wish to clarify that.

Official Spokesperson: And finally, I think one of the most important developments which happened last night was the announcement by the UAE Government that a longstanding wish of the Indian community to have a temple in Abu Dhabi, as you know there are two temples in Dubai but there is no Indian temple in Abu Dhabi, has been fulfilled. On the occasion of the Prime Minister’s visit they have announced that land will be given to the Indian community to construct a temple. I think this has been very warmly welcomed across both India and the UAE by the communities on both sides.

Indian Ambassador to UAE: It is again an extremely significant development since the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has never had a temple. This was conveyed to the Hon. Prime Minister by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, who has played a special role in making that possible.

Question: Foreign Minister in the article that he wrote on the eve of Prime Minister’s arrival here mentioned about the strategic dimension of this relationship. Can we get some glimpse of what it is specifically about some reports about the Indian side asking for some specific help from UAE in connection with the Pakistan for example, and more specifically about seizure of properties of Dawood Ibrahim in the Emirates?

Official Spokesperson: The bilateral talks between the Prime Minister and His Highness the Crown Prince are just about to begin. We would not like to preempt anything. After the talks we expect a Joint Statement to be issued. Thereafter the Prime Minister will travel to Dubai where he will meet the Prime Minister and the Ruler of Dubai also. All I can just say to you is that we expect the unveiling of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between India and the UAE following the talks at the highest political levels.

Question: Can we get a list of the businessmen who are …(Inaudible)…?

Official Spokesperson: I have already tweeted that. You can go to my Twitter account and you will see the list of Indian businesspersons as well as the UAE businesspersons.

Okay. Then I think the next briefing will be at 5:30 today in Dubai after the Joint Statement would have already been issued by them. Foreign Secretary will take that briefing. So, I think then you can ask those questions that you are wanting to ask. Thank you.


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