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The importance of Saudi Arabia to India

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Bilateral Relationship


Source: IE

 Context: The article discusses the growing importance of Saudi Arabia to India in terms of their strategic partnership and cooperation.


Historical TiesIndia and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed friendly relations dating back to 1947, reflecting socio-cultural and economic connections. Saudi King Abdullah’s visit to India in 2006, elevated their ties to a strategic partnership
Economic corridorIndia-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor: This project aims to connect India to Europe through West Asia, potentially rivalling China’s Belt and Road Initiative
Strategic Partnership CouncilSaudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman co-chaired the first meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council with PM Modi, recently. Both countries are trying to expand their energy partnership, discussing the possibility of trading in local currencies, and negotiating a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Oil & GasSaudi Arabia is India’s second-largest supplier of crude oil. Joint efforts to set up the world’s largest greenfield refinery at Raigarh, Maharashtra.
 India is Saudi Arabia’s second-largest trade partner and vice versa
India has a trade deficit of about USD 25 billion with Saudi Arabia
Indian DiasporaSaudi Arabia hosts an over 2.6 million-strong Indian community, the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom, known for their expertise, discipline, and law-abiding nature.
Cultural LinkagesHaj pilgrimage holds significance in bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia.
Naval ExerciseAl-Mohed Al-Hindi Exercise


Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) Leadership and Vision 2030: Crown Prince MBS has initiated reforms in Saudi Arabia, such as granting women the right to drive, opening cinemas, and welcoming foreign tourists. However, he faces criticism for his handling of dissent and alleged involvement in events like the Khashoggi case.


Recent Rapprochement between Saudi and Iran and its significance for India 

The recent reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, brokered by China after years of hostility, indicates a shift towards peace and diplomatic engagement. This shift has the potential to reshape the regional landscape and impact various dimensions of global politics.


Significance of the Saudi-Iran Deal for India:

Energy Securityo   Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are major oil producers. Improved relations may help stabilize global oil prices, benefiting India’s energy security.

o   Ensures a consistent supply of oil to India.

Trade Opportunitieso   Both nations are important trading partners for India. Normalized ties could open up new avenues for trade and investment, boosting economic opportunities for India.

o   Enhanced economic engagement.

Regional Stabilityo   India has strong economic and strategic interests in the Middle East, including the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

o   Improved relations contribute to regional stability, reducing the risk of conflict and terrorism.

o   Protects India’s interests in the region.

Geopolitical Implicationso   India maintains cordial relations with both Saudi Arabia and Iran. Improved ties between these nations can aid India in its efforts to promote peace and security in the region.

o   Aligns with India’s regional diplomacy.

o   Challenges posed by increasing Chinese mediation and influence.



India seeks to utilize its friendly relations with Saudi Arabia to influence Pakistan in controlling the Taliban in Afghanistan


About India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council:

It was established in October 2019 and consists of two main committees: one focusing on political, security, social, and cultural aspects, and the other on the economy and investments. This council reflects a significant strategic partnership, with India being the fourth country to establish such ties with Saudi Arabia, following the UK, France, and China.


Mains Links:

The question of India’s Energy Security constitutes the most important part of India’s economic progress. Analyse India’s energy policy cooperation with West Asian countries. (UPSC 2017)


Prelims Links:

Which of the following is not a member of ‘Gulf Cooperation Council’? (UPSC 2016)


(a) Iran
(b) Saudi Arabia
(c) Oman
(d) Kuwait



Ans: A