Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for attracting investment in India on the second day of his visit to the United Arab Emirates.
At a meeting in Masdar City, a zero carbon city run on renewable energy and smart technology, the Prime Minister addressed nearly 40 top businessmen in the Emirate and the economic affairs minister Sultan Al Mansouri to make the pitch, telling his audience that India had the potential of absorbing $1 trillion of investment.
The list included representatives of companies like Etihad air and rail, the Mashreq Bank, telecom giant Etisalat, Emirates Air and Indian businessmen in UAE like Mr B R Shetty of UAE Exchange, and Mr Yusuf Ali of the Lulu Group, one of the largest chains of supermarkets in the country.
“There are 700 flights a week between India and the UAE, yet it took an Indian Prime Minister 34 years to make a trip here. I promise you this will not happen again,” the Prime Minister said at the meeting. He admitted that there were legacy issues “of lethargy, and inability to take decisions” but that his government was working on it. “I shall be sending the commerce minister of India (Nirmala Sitharaman) soon to the UAE to work on these issues,” he said to the assembled businessmen.
“I see potential in the fields of real estate, as the Indian government is committed to providing 50 million homes in the next few years, cold storage and warehousing, and infrastructure projects where UAE companies have real advantages,” he said. He added that the expertise of UAE in the field of renewable energy as exemplified by Masdar City was another sector where economic cooperation could take place keeping in mind the target of producing at least 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2022.
Abu Dhabi has an $800 billion sovereign fund administered by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), whose chief Sheikh Hamid Bin Zayed Al Nahayan hosted the Prime Minister for dinner on Sunday night. India has been eyeing this fund but red tape and other obstacles have come in the way of leveraging it.