Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday expressed gratitude to President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan "for taking great care of 3.5 million Indian community in the UAE" during the pandemic. Mr. Modi met with the Gulf country's ruler during a stopover at Abu Dhabi while returning from Munich, where he had participated in special sessions of the G7 summit.
This was the first meeting between Mr. Modi and the UAE ruler since the Gulf country joined others in the region to condemn the derogatory comments made by now-sacked two BJP functionaries on the Prophet.
"Both leaders reviewed various aspects of India-UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which they have carefully nurtured over the past few years," said the Ministry of External Affairs in an official release. Mr. Modi's meeting with Sheikh Mohamed was attended by other members of the ruling family of the UAE, including National Security Adviser Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Prime Minister Modi congratulated Sheikh Mohamed on his election as the third President of the UAE. The political transition took place last month with the passing away of the patriarch of Abu Dhabi's ruling family Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Mr. Modi condoled the passing away of Sheikh Khalifa. “Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was a widely respected statesman who worked tirelessly for the people. In Abu Dhabi, expressed condolences on his demise to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan,” said the Prime Minister in a social media message.
Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan also attended the meeting with Mr. Modi.
Third largest trade partner
Mr. Modi and Sheikh Mohamed met virtually on February 18 when India and the UAE signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which came into force on May 1. The UAE is India's third largest trade partner and second largest export destination.
The official statement recorded that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from the UAE to India has "continuously increased over the past few years and currently stands at over $12 billion." The last physical meeting between the two leaders took place in August 2019 when Mr. Modi visited Abu Dhabi before the pandemic began in December that year. India had reached out to the UAE seeking job security for the Indian workers who faced pandemic-related employment uncertainties at that time.
The Indian leader extended an invite to Sheikh Mohamed to visit New Delhi.