Writing today in The National, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, pledge new and enhanced cooperation on defence, trade, investment, food security, renewable energy and space research:
India and the UAE are linked by our common desire to build a resilient modern strategic partnership. This desire has become more manifest in the past two years. In this time, we have personally built a bond of friendship that has allowed us to shed the traditional approach of incremental progress.
Instead, we are using the springboard of our friendship to give our partnership a bold new vision that goes beyond our bilateral relations. We will contribute to a regional order that reflects our shared interest in stability, prosperity and tolerance. That is the promise that we have made to each other.
In this enterprise, we are fortunate to be able to draw on centuries of accumulated goodwill and understanding between our nations. The promise that the late Sheikh Zayed bin Nahyan, Father of the Nation of the UAE, so presciently foresaw in 1970, even before the UAE’s independence, is translating into purposeful action today. He said then: “Our relations go back some 4,000 years when we had flourishing trade and commerce with India; and now that we are about to be independent, we would like these bonds to be restored and strengthened in every possible way – there are boundless possibilities for trade, commerce, even joint projects.”
The Comprehensive Strategic Partnership to which we have committed our countries builds upon the vision of the respected leader. It also builds on our extensive discussions in Abu Dhabi in August, 2015 and in New Delhi in February, 2016. It sets out a clear roadmap to restore and strengthen our historic ties but also looks at several entirely new areas of cooperation.
As nations, the UAE and India have grown to respect each other for our shared values of religious tolerance and the importance of building open, multicultural societies that are respectful of differences related to faith, ethnicity or language. We have been unequivocal in our rejection of religious extremism and the atmosphere of hate and terror that it has produced. We have been equally forthright in condemning terrorism in all its manifestations and in refusing to accept false justifications for terrorism in the name of religious or political objectives. We have denounced and opposed terrorism in all forms, wherever committed and by whoever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice. We believe that this approach is crucial for fostering an environment of peace, stability and prosperity in our region.
We have also strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in Kabul and Kandahar on January 10, and the terrible loss of lives of UAE and Afghan nationals in these attacks.
Our countries have decided to intensify our defence cooperation, expanding the scope of our training programmes, increasing our joint exercises and exploring opportunities for co-production of defence materials. The presence of a contingent from the UAE Air Force in Delhi, marching down Rajpath in step with their Indian counterparts as part of the Republic Day parade, is a powerful visual symbol of cooperation.
We have also made strides in our economic engagement. India is the UAE’s largest trading partner and for India, the UAE ranks third after the United States and China. The entrepreneurship of the Indian business community has long been recognised in the UAE, where they are present on a big scale; a relatively more recent phenomenon is the growing investments from the UAE into the Indian economy in key areas such as infrastructure, energy, health care, retail, hospitality and real estate. These mutual flows are anticipated to increase and will constitute a dynamic pillar of our partnership.
India recognises that rapid development of infrastructure holds the key to meeting India’s development aspirations. Some of the UAE’s largest companies are world leaders in this area and we hope to encourage greater participation by them in India’s ambitious plans to develop highways, ports, airports and logistics hubs. We are also exploring innovative approaches in the equally important area of food security.
As a major exporter of crude oil, the UAE has been a reliable partner in India’s quest for energy security. But we are also looking beyond fossil fuels at the world that we want to bequeath to future generations. The UAE’s decision to establish Masdar was a trend-setter for the world, and India has set up extremely ambitious targets for the share of renewable energy in its own energy mix. The UAE plans to join the Indo-French initiative to establish an International Solar Alliance and India is an ardent advocate and partner of the Abu Dhabi based International Renewable Energy Agency, Irena.
The role of the 2.6 million strong Indian community in the UAE is appreciated in both nations: for India, as a visible testament to the strength and success of our diaspora that enriches us in turn; for the UAE, as a valuable contribution to its development and national life. The bonds of trade, investment, friendship and personal relations that have taken root between the UAE and India represent an especially strong bridge between our countries.
An eye on the future is also manifest in our dialogue on cooperation between the Indian Space Research Organisation and the UAE Space Agency. India is one of just four countries to have successfully sent a mission to Mars. The UAE also has an ambitious programme in this field. By working together, we intend to demonstrate that not even the sky is the limit for our cooperation.
Today, we are moving towards a deeper, stronger and more intense engagement with each other. This rests on a strategic vision shared by us and on the extensive network of people-to-people contacts between us.
We are confident that we have created strong and robust platforms and mechanisms to take our relationship to new heights. India and the UAE are determined to fulfill the promise of our partnership for our people and our region.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed is Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Narendra Modi is prime minister of India