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Updated January 9th, 2024 at 08:08 IST

Ahead of Vibrant Gujarat Summit, A Look at How PM Modi Took India-UAE Ties to New Heights

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Ahmedabad on Monday to take part in the grand celebration of the 10th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.

Reported by: Bhagyasree Sengupta
 President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, receives the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the Presidential Airport, in Abu Dhabi
President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, right, receives the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi at the Presidential Airport, in Abu Dhabi | Image:AP/ File Photo
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Ahmedabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Ahmedabad on Monday to take part in the grand celebration of the 10th edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. The summit that will be held from January 10 to 12 will commence from the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. According to ANI, the main theme of the two-day summit is “Gateway to the Future” which aims to celebrate the “20 years of Vibrant Gujarat at the Summit of Success”. However one of the main highlights of the event will be Prime Minister Narendra Modi and United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s roadshow. The roadshow is scheduled to take place today (January 9) from outside the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport.

In the span of one year, the leaders of both nations have made multiple visits to each other’s country with an aim to bolster the unique bilateral ties between India and the UAE.  While Nahyan visited India multiple times as the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, he made a trip to New Delhi as the president of the country in September 2023. The purpose of the visit was to attend the Grand G20 summit which was being held at the Bharat Mandapam in New Delhi. Prime Minister Modi reciprocated that gesture by taking part in the COP28 summit which took place in UAE in December. During these visits, the two leaders sat for bilateral talks and discussed their vision of a booming India-UAE tie. The frequent visits reflected how the ties between the two nations evolved over the years.

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The Evolution of the India-UAE Ties

Both nations enjoyed strong ties with each other for decades, ever since the accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 and subsequently with the creation of the UAE Federation in 1971. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was the first Indian premier to visit the Middle Eastern Nation in 1981. Meanwhile, the first President of UAE Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, visited India in 1975 and 1992, indicating how the two nations managed to bolster ties with each other in early decades.

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi meets then-UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1981, Image: X - @shatweeted

It is important to note that Economic and Commercial cooperation with the UAE is a key aspect of the overall bilateral relationship between the two nations. According to the figures released by the MEA, India-UAE trade rose to USD 85 billion in 2022, making the UAE India’s third-largest trading partner for the year 2022-23 and India's second-largest export destination. Not only this, India is the UAE’s second-largest trading partner and in 2022, India became the first country with which the UAE signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

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How PM Modi took the India-UAE ties a step further

In the year 2015, Prime Minister Modi became the first Indian premier to visit the Middle Eastern Nation in 35 years. Avoiding a similar kind of gap, the Prime Minister has managed to make six visits to the UAE in the past eight years. The gesture has been reciprocated with the UAE President visiting India thrice in eight years. In 2017, Sheikh Nahyan graced India’s Republic Day Celebrations attending the event as the Chief Guest. While visiting UAE in July last year, the Prime Minister called the country “his second home”. “ I feel like I am at my second home. I thank you for the cordial welcome you gave to me and my delegation," PM Modi told the UAE President while conducting bilateral talks at the Qasr Al Watan Presidential Palace. "Our bilateral trade has grown by 20 per cent. For the first time, we have achieved USD 85 billion in trade and soon we will achieve the target of USD 100 billion. If we decide, we can cross this milestone before the G20," he furthered.

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The Grand Roadshow in Gujarat

The 3 km-long roadshow scheduled to take place today will start in the evening after the PM receives the UAE President at the airport. "The roadshow will culminate at Indira Bridge, which connects Ahmedabad with Gandhinagar. From the bridge circle, both dignitaries will head to their respective destinations in Gandhinagar," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-East), Ahmedabad city, Safin Hasan told PTI on Monday. During the two-day summit, PM Modi is expected to hold bilateral talks with not only Nahyan but other world leaders and CEOs of top global corporations.

‘Ahlan Modi’: The power of Indian diaspora in UAE

It is important to note that India makes up the largest ethnic group in the UAE, making up roughly 38% of the UAE's total residents. In light of this, Prime Minister Modi is scheduled to address the Indian diaspora at a reception titled 'Ahlan Modi' (which translates to “Hello Modi” on February 13. The event is expected to be held at the  Sheikh Zayed Sports Stadium in Abu Dhabi and will take place on the sidelines of the Prime Minister’s formal visit to the country. During his visit, PM Modi will inaugurate the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi on February 14, ANI reported. Hence it is safe to say that as a result of each visit, the Indo-UAE relations have reached great heights of mutual understanding, strong economic ties and friendship that benefits both the nations in innumerable ways.

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Published January 9th, 2024 at 08:08 IST

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