Viewpoint: Narendra Modi

The UAE is among our most valued allies and a close friend in an important region. The UAE is an important partner in our growth story, and we welcome the UAE’s interest in investing in our infrastructure. We are working to connect institutional investors in the UAE with the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, and we have become a key partner in infrastructure projects for Expo 2020 in Dubai.

India and the UAE can jointly tap opportunities associated with building a digital economy, developing human capital and encouraging smart urbanisation in India. We are also facilitating the increased quality and quantity of bilateral trade. Indeed, the two countries signed an agreement on trade remedies that will strengthen our partnership further.

Our cooperation in energy greatly enhances our energy security. India and the UAE are discussing ways to strategically transform our energy ties through projects and proposals. In this regard, longterm supply contracts and the establishment of joint ventures can be beneficial avenues for collaboration.

Our bilateral relations have grown stronger in the last four years, and this is reflected in the fact that the UAE is now one of our top-three trading partners and the fourth-largest supplier of crude. The UAE’s commitment to invest $75bn in our infrastructure will boost our already close ties, and support our relationships in energy, defence, food and security.

Security and defence cooperation has added a new dimension to our relationship. Our two nations have agreed to expand this collaboration into new areas, including the maritime domain. Our memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation will help steer our defence engagements in the right direction. What is more, India recognises that our growing engagement in countering violence and extremism is necessary for mutually securing our societies.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and I both believe that developing closer ties is important not just to our individual countries but to the entire region, which stands to be stabilised by our convergence. We have exchanged views on developments in west Asia and the Gulf, areas where we have an interest in peace and stability. Furthermore, our shared concern about the growing threat of radicalism and terrorism is shaping our cooperation in this space.

I say this with full confidence – this is the best time to be in India. Our country received $286bn in foreign direct investment (FDI) over the last five years, an amount that makes up about half of total FDI in India in the last 20 years. Around 90% of this investment was from automatic approvals, and about 40% was greenfield investment. This shows that investors are taking a long-term call on India.

Our growth trajectory has been reflected in several ratings. We were among the top-10 FDI destinations, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development, and moved up 24 places in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s “Global Innovation Index” over five years. Importantly, India jumped 79 places in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, from 142 out of 190 countries in 2014 to 63 in 2019. This is a significant achievement.

The UAE is home to around 2.6m Indians. Their contributions are deeply valued both in India and the UAE. I express gratitude to Sheikh Mohamed for looking after the welfare of Indian nationals in his country and for allotting land for a temple for the Indian diaspora in Abu Dhabi.

The success of our partnership owes greatly to the personal interest taken by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE and the ruler of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Mohamed. Moving forward, our cooperation is poised to expand, and I am confident that India and Abu Dhabi will continue on the path towards stronger relations within a framework characterised by depth, drive and diversification.