Bin Zayed in New Delhi on a three-day state visit

A high-level delegation led by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, arrived on Tuesday in New Delhi on a three-day state visit.

He was received at the airport by Indian Prime Minister Modi.

Shaikh Mohammad will be the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations and a 200-member strong UAE military contingent will lead the ceremonial parade on January 26.

On Wednesday, Shaikh Mohammad will meet President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and hold talks with Prime Minister Modi.

The two sides are likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on an investment fund during the visit, a senior Indian official said on Tuesday in New Delhi

“The UAE, of course, also has the largest sovereign wealth fund (SWF),” Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, said at a media briefing.

“There is an agreement that they will invest nearly $75 billion in India over the next couple of years,” he said.

“During the visit, we are hoping that there will be an MoU signed between their investment fund and our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).”

Historical trip

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the UAE in August 2015, the two sides agreed to set up UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of $75 billion to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.

This was reiterated during Shaikh Mohammad’s visit to India in February last year.

According to Sinha, bilateral trade and commerce will figure prominently during the talks between the two sides.

Stating that bilateral trade last year stood at an “impressive” $50 billion, he said that that the UAE “is the gateway for our exports to Africa and Central Asia”.

Another key area in which the two sides hope to reach an agreement is petroleum reserves, according to Sinha.

The UAE is a significant contributor to India’s energy security and was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil in 2015-16.

“We are adding a new element to this relationship of just being a buyer that UAE has decided to become a strategic partner in the energy sector,” Sinha said.

He said that both sides would be investing and filling up a key petroleum reserve facility in Mangalore.

Other areas of cooperation in which India and UAE are looking at include defence and security, space, civil nuclear, and counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing.

 Excerpts from Modi’s speech:

“We regard UAE as an important partner in India’s growth story. His Highness and I discussed ways to transform our energy ties in a strategic direction through specific projects and proposals.

We have agreed to expand our useful cooperation in the field of defence to new areas including in the maritime domain.

We also feel that our growing engagement in countering violence and extremism is necessary for securing our societies.

His Highness and I believe that our closer ties are of importance, not just to both our countries, but to the entire neighbourhood.

Our energy partnership, is an important bridge in our linkages. It contributes to our energy security.

Moving forward, our cooperation stands poised for a major take off, its future marked by depth, drive & diversification of our partnership.”