Relations between the two nations are stronger than ever before as India celebrates 75th Independence Day and UAE marks its Golden Jubilee.
For the 3.3-million-strong Indian expatriate community in the UAE, it was a proud moment over the weekend when iconic landmarks in the country lit up to celebrate India's 75th Independence Day.
The glorious pageantry also marked the long journey that the two countries have traversed together to create development opportunities in several key sectors - such as energy, space, technology, education, healthcare, investments and infrastructure.
"India and the UAE... continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic for a safer and healthier world. In these difficult times, the peoples of both countries have many reasons to cheer for the future," said Pavan Kapoor, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE. "While India has begun celebrations for its 75th anniversary of independence, the UAE too has set plans in motion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its foundation. In the coming year, India and the UAE will also celebrate 50 years of their diplomatic relations. While it was not planned this way, it is only fitting that Expo 2020 Dubai is being held during this momentous period. While the milestones fall within the span of a year, the foundation was laid much before the formation of both the UAE on December 2, 1971, and India’s independence on August 15, 1947," Ambassador Kapoor wrote in a tribute for the occasion.
Indeed, the centuries-old ties between the peoples of India and the UAE are rooted in trade and commerce and began around the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation - when the two regions had a flourishing maritime trade - to the early 20th century, when Bombay (now Mumbai) used to be the biggest hub for pearl trade in the region. Even the currency of the two countries remained the same until 1973, when the Dirham replaced the Gulf Rupee in the UAE. And India was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the UAE, in 1972, before opening its mission the following year.
But the centuries-old relations between the UAE and India have been growing stronger than ever over the past few years, particularly since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE in 2015. The deep-rooted relationship has received new momentum under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
“The two countries enjoy special relations, which have become stronger with the passage of time. In the last five years, the two sides have exchanged visits at the highest levels, which indicates the importance both countries attach to these relations. The ties have become more mature and multi-dimensional,” said Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Saqr Al Qasimi, chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation and Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) Airport, speaking to the Indian diaspora at the 75th India Independence Day celebrations organised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Dubai Chapter.
During the past six years, Prime Minister Modi has visited the UAE three times, while Sheikh Mohamed visited India twice, including in January 2017, when bilateral relations were formally upgraded to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”.
"While our peoples remain the backbone of this relationship, trade and commerce have been the engines of growth. Bilateral trade, which was limited to spices, dates, pearls and fisheries until the 1960s, has undergone a sea change. It has grown to $59 billion in 2019-20 from around $180 million in the 1970s," said Ambassador Kapoor. "Trade is well diversified and includes petroleum products, precious metals, stones, minerals for jewellery, food items, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals. While trade has taken a hit during the past year due to pandemic-related lockdowns, bilateral cooperation has deepened in sectors as diverse as health care, agriculture products and investments," he wrote.
A major proof of that close synergy is the India Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai. A $68-million project, the pavilion will present an emerging India that is committed to the philosophy of “Together, We Prosper” when the Expo opens its doors in October.
“I salute the resilience of the UAE in making sure that an event such as Expo 2020 Dubai, which is slated to be the world’s greatest show, is being organised in the backdrop of this global challenge. India is poised for an emphatic participation at the Expo 2020 with one of the largest pavilions,” said Dr Aman Puri, Consul-General of India in Dubai - conveying the community’s gratitude to the UAE leadership for taking “exceptionally good care” of all residents, including the large Indian community.
The tag line for the Indian pavilion – ”Openness, Growth, Opportunity” – is reflective of the country’s vision as noted by Prime Minister Modi: “The world's economic revival is invariably linked to the growth of India. The country is ready to do whatever it takes to further global good and prosperity. This is an India that is reforming, performing and transforming.”
With that end in view, the Indian pavilion will present to the world India’s diverse and composite cultural heritage, its rich history, technological prowess, space achievements and the strong India-UAE ties, alongside showcasing India's achievements over the past 75 years.
"With fast-paced reforms across sectors such as mining, space, banking and atomic energy, India has proved to be a nation that is adaptable and agile, even in the midst of the pandemic. And the people of India, whether living in their own country or abroad, are the true sources of strength and the beacons of hope to guide India towards becoming a stronger and more prosperous country in the post-pandemic era," said Ambassador Kapoor.
The Covid-19 pandemic is the latest instance of the two countries withstanding the test of time with resolve and resilience. During the second wave of COVID-19 in India, the UAE Government sent cryogenic containers for transporting much needed Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) and hundreds of Oxygen concentrators, to India to bolster India’s medical response. Emirates Airlines set up a humanitarian air-bridge between Dubai and India as well to transport urgent medical and relief items, to support India in its fight against the pandemic.
In the early days of the pandemic, India supplied 5.5 million tablets of HCQ to the UAE, on a priority basis, in the first shipment followed by more afterwards. In May 2020, the UAE sent a plane containing 7 metric tons of medical supplies to India to boost its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, and it was estimated that the equipment sent by the UAE ensured that almost 7,000 medical professionals in India were better prepared to combat the pandemic.
Built over decades of mutual understanding, respect and strong people-to-people relations, the blossoming relations between India and the UAE are therefore set to take off on an even higher trajectory of growth and milestone achievements.