Watching how Modi’s UAE visit translates on ground


Content from the Brookings Institution India Center is now archived. After seven years of an impactful partnership, as of September 11, 2020, Brookings India is now the Centre for Social and Economic Progress, an independent public policy institution based in India.

WPS Sidhu outlines important issues to watch in India-UAE relations, from investments to countering terrorism, Indian workers rights and diplomacy in the Middle East region.

Watch the full interview on CNN-IBN here.

The bottomline is, first, the amount of investment that comes into India. We know the UAE has one of the biggest sovereign funds in the world, and if Prime Minister Narendra Modi can convince them to invest some of that in India, that will be a very important marker. It’ll be critical to see how much comes through there.

There’s also talk of a strategic partnership. We need to see how that translates actually on the ground particularly in the context of counter-terrorism.

We also know that there have been issues related to Indian workers in the region and how those are going to be resolved and addressed. I think that’s also going to be marker for measuring how successful this trip will be.

India has been one of the few extra-regional countries which has had amicable relations with almost all the countries in the Arab world, but also, if you like, in the non-Arab world, particularly Iraq, and increasingly with Israel. It’s really been able to manage that relationship extremely well, evident in the steady flow of oil and also broadly in the safety and security of its citizens there. It would be an endorsement to the fact that the Arab world remains very critical, very important, and even as the Arab world is undergoing fundamental transitions, one message might be that India is now willing to step in more and engage in a different way as these countries are starting to undergo quite significant transformation right across the Arab world.

This is just the start of the foray into the region. There are key other visits that are forthcoming: Iran as well as Israel. And how India manages all of these contested relations would very much be like walking between the raindrops. It’s going to be almost impossible to do because at some point all of these relationships overlap with a lot of concern about these other countries and how India would manage that and create its own space vis a vis each one of them, which is critical for India in its own way, will be an absolute feat of diplomacy.