India and the United Arab Emirates share a vision for peace and prosperity. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed al Nahyan, the two countries have invested considerably in enhancing bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, defence, security, science & technology, education and culture. The two sides have worked to elevate ties to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership through bilateral mechanisms such as the Joint Commission Meetings.
The 13th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation was held virtually and was co-chaired by India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar and Foreign Minister of the UAE, Abdullah Bin Zayed al Nahyan. This was the first time that the Joint Commission Meeting was held virtually given the disruptions caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic; it underlined the indomitable spirit of the two countries to continue sharing ideas and exchanging views to further bilateral cooperation.
India and the UAE are working together to fight the global pandemic. In April, India dispatched a consignment of 5.5 million pills of hydroxychloroquine to the UAE for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. In May, India sent a batch of 88 Intensive Care Unit nurses to help manage the need for health professional in Emirati hospitals. The UAE, on the other hand, sent 7 metric tons of medical supplies to India to bolster its fight against the COVID-19. The leaders of the two countries, including Prime Minister Modi and Crown Prince Mohamed, have held telephonic conversations to take stock of the fight against the pandemic and exchange ideas to boost cooperation.
During the Joint Commission Meeting, both sides welcomed the close cooperation during the last few months in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and discussed a joint strategy to offset the economic and social impact of the pandemic on both countries. This acquires significance as the two countries and the world look to find innovative solutions to revive the economic and commercial activities disrupted by the pandemic.
The meeting expressed satisfaction over the continued momentum in taking bilateral cooperation forward in all areas identified under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The two sides agreed to strengthen cooperation in existing areas and also explore the possibilities for cooperation in newer areas. Notably, under the purview of the Joint Commission Meetings, the two sides have developed five sub-committees on high-level exchanges; economy, trade and investment; consular and community affairs; defence and security; and education, culture and youth. The members of the sub-committees from India and the UAE had held virtual meetings in preparation of the Joint Commission Meeting leading to wide-ranging, frank and friendly discussions.
The Joint Commission Meeting also discussed regional developments in South and West Asia as well as the ways to enhance India-UAE “cooperation at the United Nations and other multilateral fora.” It is worth noting that India welcomed the US-Israel-UAE joint statement announcing normalisation of the ties between the UAE and Israel, two of India’s closest strategic partners in West Asia.
During the meeting, External Affairs MinisterDr. Jaishankar noted the UAE’s continued support and understanding of India’s security and strategic concerns, especially in forums such as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that have often been hijacked by Pakistan for trying to malign India. The Minister further acknowledged the care and assistance provided by the authorities to Indian nationals stranded in the UAE due to the pandemic.
The India-UAE bilateral cooperation has witnessed unprecedented growth in recent years in a wide range of areas including trade, commerce, investments as well as defence, security, science & technology and education. The UAE is India’s third largest trading partner in the world and the leading investor from the Gulf in India. Indians are the largest expatriate workforce and leading business professionals in the UAE. The two countries have continued to cooperate with each other in fighting the pandemic together and in the post-CVOID-19 world, both will continue to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership.
Script: Dr.Mohammad Muddassir Quamar, Strategic Analyst on West Asia