NEW DELHI: Centuries of trade and commerce have cemented the bond between India and the United Arab Emirates, with their history dating back to the Indus Valley Civilisation from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, when the two regions enjoyed a thriving maritime trade.
Fast forward to the early 20th century, Bombay, now known as Mumbai, became the largest hub for pearl trade in the region, coinciding with the rise of the pearl industry in the Trucial States, which were then under the British rule and eventually became the UAE in 1971.
The Trucial States initially consisted of six sheikhdoms on the southern coast of the Arabian Gulf, namely Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain, between 1869 and 1968.
Until 1973, the currency of both the nations remained the same, with Dirham replacing the Gulf Rupee in the UAE. Diplomatic relations between India and the UAE began in 1972, with India being one of the first countries to establish ties with the UAE, opening its mission the following year.
The year 2022 was a momentous one for both nations, as India celebrated its 75th year of Independence while the UAE commemorated the Year of the 50th, marking a golden jubilee since its formation. This occasion was further elevated by the fact that it also marked 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The year was marked by the launch of India-UAE Joint Commemorative Stamp, celebrating 75 Years of India’s Independence, UAE Year of the 50th and 50 Years of India-UAE diplomatic relations.
Largest expat community
According to the United Nations’ Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ International Migrant Stock 2020, the Indian expatriate community in the UAE is estimated to be 3.5 million – the largest ethnic community in the Arabian Gulf country, representing around 30 per cent of its population.
Notably, the Indian diaspora is the largest in the world, with over 18 million Indians living outside their homeland, as per the UN’s latest data. Although Indians have been residing in the UAE before the British colonial rule until 1971, their numbers increased after the formation of the UAE. The real impetus came in the 1990s, when Dubai was becoming a global hub for trade. The massive infrastructure boom in the emirate attracted talent from India, which continues to this day.
As India and the UAE continue to forge ahead, it is evident that their bond will only grow stronger with time.
In February 2022, India and the UAE took a significant step forward in their bilateral trade relations with the signing of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). This historic agreement grants market access to 97 per cent of tariff lines, accounting for 99 per cent of Indian exports.
Notably, the CEPA is the first-ofits-kind signed by India in the Middle East and North Africa region, and the first by the UAE with any country in the world. Negotiations for this landmark agreement were completed in just 88 days, a testimony to the mutual trust and commitment between the two nations. The CEPA has taken India-UAE bilateral relations to the next level, proving that trade deals can be closed much faster than previously anticipated with the right approach.
India and the UAE are exploring the potential of expanding their engagement in the science, technology, and innovation (STI) domain. With the UAE’s efforts to shift from an oildependent economy to a knowledgebased one, the two countries have a unique opportunity to collaborate in critical areas of STI. India’s strong science and technology base in STEM education, space, and nuclear fields can aid in transforming the nature and scale of their relationship.
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