1st Indian PM to visit UAE in 34 years

Narendra Modi’s UAE visit on August 16-17 all set to create history with the Indian community gearing up to give him a momentous reception that is expected to draw more than 40,000 people.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s UAE visit on August 16-17, the first by an Indian premier in 34 years, is all set to create history with the Indian community gearing up to give him a momentous reception that is expected to draw more than 40,000 people.

Amid sky high expectations about the outcome of the long-awaited visit by an Indian prime minister after Indira Gandhi’s UAE visit in 1981, the Indian community is pulling out all stops to make the public event at the Dubai Cricket Stadium at 6.00pm on August 17 a spectacular tribute to the charismatic leader of the second most populous nation on the planet.

The Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC), which is spearheading preparations for the reception, said it is making arrangements to transport thousands of community members to the stadium from the nearest Metro stations as well as from other landmark points, including The Dubai Mall and Dubai Internet City.

The ICWC has already set up an organising committee to oversee the preparations although the Government of India has yet to officially declare details of the visit.

Dr B.R. Shetty, a member of the organising committee, told Khaleej Times that the reception is expected to attract at least some 40,000 members of the nearly 2.6 million strong Indian community in the UAE.

Dr Shetty said according to initial plans, the Indian leader is scheduled to arrive in Abu Dhabi on August 16 and depart for Dubai 17th morning for the public reception and other meetings in the afternoon.

The ICWC said in a statement that it has set up a website to facilitate registration of community members for the meeting.

“The details of the programme and registration form for the participants are available on the website www.namoindubai.ae. Registration is compulsory for participation so that sufficient arrangements can be done,” said the statement undersigned by Committee convenor K. Kumar and Dr Shetty.

“The Indian community members in the UAE are invited to attend and welcome PM Modi in large numbers,” it said.

Indian expats have been expecting a visit by their prime minister for more than three decades. Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh was expected to visit the UAE after the historic visits made by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to New Delhi in 2007 and 2010. In return, Indian president Pratibha Patil paid a five-day state visit to the UAE in November 2010.

A report from India said ever since India announced that Modi would become the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel, officials have been discussing possible visits to the Gulf nations ahead of the Tel Aviv trip as a balancing act.

Modi’s visit assumes great significance in the bilateral relations of the two countries and is anticipated to further boost the strong economic, cultural and social ties that exist between the third Asian economic powerhouse and the second largest Arab economy.

Despite a stronger desire for increased cooperation, the two countries have been fostering in the wake of the visits to New Delhi by Shaikh Mohammed, analysts believe there has been very little progress seen in implementing several agreements the two sides have taken, particularly in security cooperation on countering terrorism and enhancing maritime security, prisoner swap, cooperation in agriculture and food security.

The Indian leader’s visit is expected to give a fillip to such bilateral initiatives and help stimulate trade and investment ties, which are the cornerstone of the UAE-India partnership.

Although the two-way trade recorded a significant boost since Patil’s visit, cross-border investment scenario remains almost downbeat due to the lack of proper rules to safeguard investments. Apart from the bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement, which was signed last year, Modi’s discussions with the UAE leaders will help galvanise more investments out flow from the UAE and other Gulf countries to India.

Other topics likely to figure prominently in the summit include new initiatives to build on the growth momentum in bilateral trade ties and steps both sides need to undertake to further diversify trade and boost the two-way investments.

While in Abu Dhabi, the premier’s talks are also expected to focus on new initiatives to lure sovereign wealth funds and UAE-based companies to invest in India’s infrastructure sector, especially in aviation, telecom, ports and road transport.

Source: Kheljee Times


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