Trade, terror high on PM’s Gulf agenda

Ahead of visit, FS Jaishankar, Ram Madhav in UAE to prepare for bilateral meetings, and address to NRIs

Updated - November 28, 2021 12:45 pm IST

Published - August 10, 2015 01:00 am IST - New Delhi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will make his first visit to the Gulf region and West Asia this weekend, with a trip to the United Arab Emirates, marking the first time an Indian PM will land in the UAE in more than three decades.

Ahead of the visit, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar met with General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces on Sunday, and handed over a letter from the Prime Minister. Mr. Modi is expected to fly to Abu Dhabi on August 16 to discuss investment and trade opportunities as well as cooperation on terrorism with the UAE leadership, and then to Dubai on August 17, where he will address the Indian community at the Dubai sports city cricket stadium.

While the MEA has not made an official announcement about the visit, a website , has already been set up to announce details of the big event, which will be on the lines of the PM’s earlier addresses in U.S., Australia, China and Canada.

Sources confirmed to The Hindu , that BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav, who had organised all those previous events, travelled to the UAE this week to finalise arrangements for it. Dubai is home to more than 2 million Indians, and sources said PM Modi is likely to attract about 40,000 Indians at the public meeting.

According to PTI, official UAE sources said Mr. Modi's visit would give a “fillip to bilateral cooperation in key areas and boost trade and investment ties, which are the cornerstone of the UAE-India partnership.” In 2014-2015, trade between India and the UAE crossed $59 billion with the balance of trade in favour of India, making the UAE one of India’s biggest trading partners.

According to the Dubai-based Khaleej Times , Mr. Modi was also keen to discuss more investment in India, as well as a revival of the India-GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) free trade agreement.

Mr. Modi will also push for greater cooperation on terrorism with Dubai, which has in the past assisted India with information on criminals and terrorists who had operations based out of the emirates, especially after the two countries signed two bilateral security agreements in 2011, on the transfer of sentenced persons and on combating terrorism.

In the past few months, the MHA has been particularly keen on working with the UAE and other Gulf countries on the spread of terror finance networks as well as curbing Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN), and those will come up in the discussion.

Finally, Mr. Modi's visit will be seen as part of a “balancing act” in the region, given his proposed plans to visit both Israel and Iran in the upcoming year.

The last time an Indian PM visited UAE was Indira Gandhi in 1981, while President Pratibha Patil made a 5-day state visit in 2010.

( With additional reporting by Nistula Hebbar )

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