India and the UAE will sign an agreement sealing a “comprehensive strategic partnership” between the two countries when Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visits this week as chief guest for Republic Day.
“It will be one of 10 agreements that we will be signing,” said Anwar Gargash, state minister for foreign affairs, who has just returned from India after holding the first strategic dialogue with his counterpart, MJ Akbar. This dialogue will serve also as an oversight mechanism for the relationship going forward. “We plan to keep the mechanism nimble, and will meet twice a year,” Gargash said.
As reported by TOI, a military contingent from UAE will also march in the Republic Day parade, which will be a first of sorts. Sheikh Mohammed is expected to arrive on the 24th, hold official talks on the 25th and attend the parade on 26th. He will be coming in with a large delegation including the minister of economy, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, who will also visit Andhra Pradesh to scout for economic opportunities.
“We now have strategic direction. Prime minister Modi did something remarkable by investing in this relationship,” Gargash said. “Private sector ties were always strong but governments were behind the curve. Now governments are in the driving seat, and that is important.”
In February, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, will be sending four of its executive directors to India to identify investment opportunities, particularly in the infrastructure sector, working closely with the newly established infrastructure fund in India.
A study by the UAE government had decided several years ago, Gargash said, that India should be a focus of their diplomacy. But It needed India to take the lead in pushing the bilateral relationship to a different level.
Indian officials say the strategic partnership framework would substantially change the nature of the India-UAE relationship. For instance, it now gives Indian and UAE officials access to the highest levels of government on both ends, something that was missing a few years ago.