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India-UAE relationship: How it has grown in the last decade

Mon 13 May 2024    
| 2 min read

Dubai: The historical ties between India and the UAE stretch back to ancient times when dhows and boats plied the Arabian Sea, carrying more than just goods between the two lands. These vessels, driven by the trade winds, embodied a connection founded on exchange and mutual benefit, transcending mere commerce to symbolize a profound bond.

From the bustling ports of the Indian subcontinent to the vibrant markets of the Arabian Peninsula, these vessels ferried the essence of commerce, culture, and camaraderie, shaping the destinies of both regions. Today, propelled by even stronger trade winds, the robust economies of both countries thrive. Geographical proximity and a shared openness to cultural exchange fuel this dynamic relationship, which extends beyond mere economic interests.

Over the past decade, these bonds have visibly strengthened, notably marked by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the UAE in 2015—the first by an Indian Prime Minister in over three decades. Subsequent visits by Modi have further solidified ties, resulting in numerous treaties and agreements between the two nations. Notable milestones include the Common Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2022, the Local Currency Settlement System in 2023, and the UAE’s inclusion in the BRICS group, along with the announcement of the India-Middle East Economic Corridor during the G20 Summit in 2023.

Statistical evidence highlights the deepening bond, with a vibrant Indian diaspora of around 3.3 million contributing approximately 18% of India’s global remittances. Since July 2023 alone, there have been five high-level visits between India and the UAE. Trade between the two nations has skyrocketed from $180 million annually in the 1970s to $85 billion in 2022-23, positioning the UAE as India’s third-largest trading partner after China and the US.

This decade alone has seen significant milestones in the ties between the two countries. For one, the central banks’ decision to permit the use of local currencies (Rupees and Dirhams) for cross-border transactions, facilitating trade and investment flows. The strategic partnership extends to defense and security cooperation, with joint military exercises and intelligence sharing addressing common security challenges.

 As the UAE transitions into a knowledge economy, it has embraced the contributions of Indian professionals, clearly visible in the number of people who have benefitted from initiatives like the Golden Visa scheme.

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Moreover, the UAE’s embrace of Indian professionals has enhanced collaboration, particularly in fields such as tourism, investment, healthcare, science, and the arts. Cultural exchanges have flourished, with Bollywood and Indian television content finding a significant audience in the UAE, complemented by Emirati appreciation for Indian culture, evident in recent prestigious events like the Abu Dhabi Festival and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair where India was designated as Guest of Honour Country’.

The BAPS Temple in Abu Dhabi that threw open its doors to devotees earlier this year, stands as a poignant symbol of the enduring friendship between the UAE and India, reflecting deep-rooted cultural ties and the UAE’s commitment to harmony and tolerance.

As both nations look towards the future, their partnership is poised for further growth and collaboration in the years ahead.

  • This article is contributed by Rudra Prasad is a Dubai-based freelance writer who enjoys crafting features on people, lifestyle issues, travel, and society.
  • Disclaimer:All views and opinions expressed in The Brew Opinion – our opinion section – are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the company, or any of its members.

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