Old-Fashioned Trust and Credibility Bind India-UAE Ties

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Old-Fashioned Trust and Credibility Bind India-UAE Ties Blog Image

Why in News?

  • In a global diplomatic landscape often characterised by transactional relationships, the bond between the Indian PM and President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stands out.
  • It has become a testament to the enduring power of personal connections in international affairs.
  • Therefore, it becomes crucial to examine the multifaceted aspects of the Indian PM’s recent visit to the UAE, highlighting the depth and significance of the bilateral relationship.

Foundations of the Robust Relationship Between PM Modi and President Sheikh Zayed

  • Trust and Mutual Respect
    • At the heart of their relationship is a profound level of trust and mutual respect.
    • This trust has been cultivated over time through consistent personal interactions and a demonstrated commitment to each other's interests.
    • The leaders have shown a willingness to engage in open and candid discussions, fostering an environment where strategic decisions can be made with confidence.
  • Personal Connections and Regular Interactions
    • The personal connections between the two have played a pivotal role in shaping the nature of their diplomatic ties.
    • Regular interactions, both formal and informal, have allowed them to understand each other on a deeper level.
    • These interactions contribute to the development of a relationship that is not solely based on official engagements but is enriched by shared experiences and personal understanding.
  • Convergence of Strategic Interests
    • Beyond trust and credibility, the relationship thrives on a convergence of strategic interests.
    • Modi and Sheikh Mohamed recognise the mutual benefits of a strong alliance and actively work towards aligning their countries' interests.
    • This shared vision for the future underpins the long-term sustainability and dynamism of their bilateral relationship.
  • Old-World Construct in Modern Diplomacy
    • The nature of Modi and Sheikh Mohamed's relationship is reminiscent of an old-world construct in modern diplomacy.
    • It reflects an era where personal connections and deep-rooted trust were essential components of international alliances.
    • In an age of rapidly changing geopolitical dynamics, their approach stands out as a model that values enduring relationships and shared values over transient diplomatic gains.
  • Chronicle of Visits
    • PM Modi's frequent visits underscore the strategic importance of the relationship.
    • Notable events include bilateral visits, addressing COP28, and special invitations to global summits.
    • President Sheikh Mohamed reciprocates by participating in major Indian summits, indicating a high level of mutual engagement.

Significance of PM Modi’s Visit Amidst India-UAE Special Partnership

  • Religious and Cultural Ties
    • The timing of PM Modi's visit aligns with the religious calendar for the inauguration of a grand Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi.
    • The temple, initiated during Modi's first visit in 2015, symbolises the acknowledgment of the UAE's large Hindu community.
    • The cultural significance of the temple inauguration generates excitement among the 3.5 million-strong Indian community in the UAE.
  • Economic Collaboration
    • PM Modi's visit extends beyond symbolic gestures, with a focus on economic ties.
    • The Bharat Mart initiative, in collaboration with DP World, aims to boost exports of Indian SMEs through retail, warehousing, and logistics facilities in Dubai.
    • DP World will build around 800 showrooms and 18 warehouses over the next 24 months on a 1.3 million square feet plot to allow Indian manufacturers of machinery, electrical and electronics products, etc., to showcase their products.
    • It will also help Indian manufacturers to access buyers and markets in Iran, Central Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
    • The Bharat Mart project comes on the heels of the ambitious India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which completed its first year in 2023 and has already seen India’s trade with the UAE grow by 16% to $85 billion.
    • UAE's investments, making it India's fourth-highest source of FDI, underline growing economic ties.
  • Strategic Agreements and Collaborations
    • Collaborations in education, such as the IIT Delhi's master's program in Abu Dhabi, showcase strides in academic partnerships.
    • Agreements on energy security, defence cooperation, and the opening of an Abu Dhabi Investment Authority office in GIFT City further solidify the relationship.
  • PM’s address as guest of honour at the 11th World Government Summit
    • Often billed as Dubai’s version of Davos, this is a major annual conference that attracts government leaders, heads of international organisations, captains of industry from around the world.
    • The focus of this year’s summit is on ‘Shaping Future Governments’ giving India a platform to put forth its own views before an influential global audience.
  • A Discussion on Regional Issues
    • The talks between Mr. Modi and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed also provided an opportunity to review the deteriorating situation in the region in the context of the ongoing war in Gaza.
    • Talks also included the attacks by Houthis on shipping in the Red Sea, and the clear and present danger of an escalation.
    • Longer shipping times, higher freight costs and a possible hike in oil prices can pose a significant risk to India’s economic growth.
    • Therefore, it is important that the government coordinates closely with a key regional player such as the UAE, along with countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt to make sure that India’s interests are protected.

Potential Challenges in India-UAE Strategic Partnership

  • Labour Related Issues
    • The large Indian expatriate community in the UAE, particularly in sectors like construction and domestic work, may face challenges related to labour rights, working conditions, or issues of exploitation.
    • This could potentially strain diplomatic ties if not addressed adequately.
  • Economic Diversification
    • The UAE has been working towards diversifying its economy away from oil dependence.
    • As India and the UAE deepen economic ties, there may be challenges in aligning interests and finding new avenues for cooperation amid changes in the UAE's economic landscape.
  • Regional Dynamics
    • The geopolitical situation in the Middle East can impact the India-UAE relationship.
    • Regional conflicts, tensions, or alliances may influence the diplomatic ties between the two countries.
  • Security Concerns
    • Given the global security environment, both India and the UAE face common security challenges such as terrorism and maritime security.
    • Coordinating efforts to address these concerns while respecting each other's sovereignty could be a complex task.


  • Prime Minister Modi's visit to the UAE exemplifies the strength of a relationship built on trust, personal connection, and shared strategic interests.
  • Beyond the symbolic temple inauguration, the visit encompasses economic collaborations, educational partnerships, and discussions on regional stability.
  • The multifaceted nature of India's diplomatic ties with the UAE has the potential for further growth in this strategic alliance.

Q1) What is the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)?

The India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is a bilateral trade and investment agreement between India and the United Arab Emirates. It aims to enhance economic cooperation by reducing trade barriers, promoting investments, and fostering closer ties between the two nations. The CEPA covers various sectors, including goods, services, and intellectual property, facilitating a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic relationship.

Q2) How does the India-UAE CEPA benefit both countries?

The India-UAE CEPA benefits both countries by creating a more favourable environment for trade and investment. It fosters economic growth by reducing or eliminating tariffs on a wide range of goods and services. The agreement also encourages bilateral investments, technology transfer, and cooperation in areas like healthcare, tourism, and infrastructure. By enhancing market access and promoting collaboration, the CEPA aims to strengthen the economic ties between India and the UAE, ultimately contributing to the prosperity of both nations.

Source: The Hindu