The crown prince of UAE and the Deputy Commander of UAE’s Armed forces was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations of the year 2017. An army contingent will also take part in the Republic Day parade.
The presence of military in the Republic Day parade is indeed an indicator of the country’s growing relationship with India. A contingent of French Army participated in 2016 Republic Day celebrations.
India and UAE have deepened the bilateral relationship on several fronts. Several initiatives and areas of cooperation are as follows:
1. The relationship has been elevated to a strategic partnership.
2. UAE is India’s third largest trading partner and second largest export destination, with a trade of $50 billion.
3. Indians form nearly 30% of UAE’s population at 2.6 million; and largest expat community. Labour welfare agreements, E-migrate visa system, and agreements to handle rescue, recovery and repatriation of victims of trafficking have been signed.
4. UAE has invested $8 billion in India so far. Further, $75 billion UAE-India Infrastructure Fund will provide the requisite capital for infrastructural investments in India. UAE’s sovereign wealth fund is contemplating long-term investments in India.
5. Cooperation in defence technology, manufacturing and research.
6. Cooperation in multilateral forums. India has shared interests with the Gulf Cooperation Council, of which UAE is an important member.
7. Energy security: UAE and India have signed agreements for oil storages in India. The reserves will come up at Padur, Vishakapatnam, and are expected to hold reserves equivalent to two months of crude oil demand when filled to full capacity.
8. Recently signed an agreement on logistics and maritime transport.
9. India is an important member for UAE’s Look East policy, as a counterbalance to the West. Likewise, UAE occupies an important part in India’s Look West policy.
10. UAE is vocal about, and supports India’s fight against terror. It can support India in the OIC, where Pakistan is spreading propaganda by internationalizing the Kashmir issue.
Challenges such as the presence of India’s absconding criminals (such as Dawood Ibrahim) in Dubai, OIC’s pressurization against a pro-India stance, and adequately skilling Indian labour to work in UAE remain. However, both the nations are making progress in solving these difficulties and further enhancing bilateral cooperation.