New Delhi: India will seek to boost cooperation in energy, trade and people-to-people ties during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 16-17 UAE visit during which he will seek to tap more investments into India.
Modi, who will be the first Indian prime minister to visit the United Arab Emirates after Indira Gandhi in 1981, will reach Abu Dhabi on August 16 and go to Dubai the next day.
Modi’s official visit is at the invitation of General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Terrorism will be high on the talks agenda.
On the first day, Modi will hold official talks with the leadership of Abu Dhabi and later visit Masdar City, a city project in Abu Dhabi where he is expected to spend time watching presentatios, the external affairs ministry said.
Later, he will meet business people and focus on investments.
The following day, he will first visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and then travel to Dubai where, after meeting Dubai’s ruler, he will attend a grand public reception hosted for him at the Dubai Cricket Grounds.
The public reception, which begins at 7.30 p.m., is expected to draw 50,000 Indian expatriates.
Ahead of the visit, Modi on Thursday said in a statement that the UAE was “a valued partner and the extent of our ties indicate the vibrant relations India and the UAE enjoy.
“India is UAE’s second largest trading partner and the UAE is India’s third largest trade partner.”
He said the over 2.5 million Indians who had made the UAE their home had “contributed immensely to the progress of the UAE and also given back to India at every occasion.
“India and the UAE are fantastically connected, be it via air or through the sea.”
He praised the economic progress made by the UAE.
Modi said during his visit, he will seek to enhance cooperation in energy and trade and talk to investors on why India is an attractive destination to invest.
“I am certain my visit will boost people-to-people ties between our nations. I specially look forward to meeting the large community of Indian workers based in the UAE.
“No words will be enough to appreciate their hard work and sweat over the last many years,” he said.
He said he will hold extensive talks with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE.
Dubai Police are coordinating with Indian authorities vis-a-vis the security arrangements for Modi’s visit.
Major General Abdulla Ali Al Ghaithi, director of the Department of Protective Security and Emergency, told the Khaleej Times that they had put in place a comprehensive security plan for the visit.
The department has formed three teams which include officers for the VIP protection unit and an emergency unit.
Meanwhile, organisers of the Indian community event have arranged 200 buses to ferry passengers from nearby metro stations.
More than 45,000 people have registered so far for the event, despite the limited seating capacity at the stadium and the oppressive heat, to hear Modi.
Members of the Indian organising committee said they were making maximum efforts to ensure that the event is held smoothly.
A focus area in the bilateral talks is likely to be the Gulf country’s estimated $800 billion sovereign wealth fund that India will seek to tap for infrastructure projects.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) sovereign wealth fund is said to be the world’s second largest sovereign wealth fund.
The India-UAE trade crossed $59 billion in 2014-15, making the country India’s third largest trading partner after China and the US.
India was the UAE’s largest non-oil trading partner in 2014.
Both countries signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement in 2013.
Indians in the UAE are the largest remitters globally, and sent $12.64 billion to their country in 2014. India is also the third largest source of tourists travelling to the UAE.