India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) enjoy strong bonds of friendship based on age-old cultural, religious and economic ties between the two nations


Bilateral Relations:

Around 3 million Indians are living harmoniously in the UAE. As India seeks to enhance economic engagement and deepen security cooperation with the Gulf, it finds a willing partner in the UAE. As UAE ‘Look[s] East’ to find partners for its economic growth and with security concerns emanating from turmoil in West Asia and growing threat from terrorism, it finds a natural partner in India.


UAE has a special place due to its business-friendly atmosphere, willingness to invest in the Indian economy and its important role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.


Establishing an Enduring Link:

  • The UAE occupies a key place in India’s West Asia policy.
  • The high-level visit from both sides has given a new impetus to this partnership.
  • In 2017 the two sides signed the agreement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP).


Reasons for UAE’s tilt towards India:

  • Geopolitical conditions as Iran is threatening continuously to close the Strait of Hormuz in case there is a conflict with Saudi Arabia or US. This will adversely affect UAE as well.
  • UAE saw Pakistan as a partner and incorporated a deep economic and security relationship with it. But in the present day, Pakistan does not seem to be of much help to UAE. Already facing internal issues, Pakistan failed to come to the aid of Saudi Arabia in its war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen and has been unable to curb jihadists operating from its land across West Asia.
  • India is an important destination for oil and energy purchase as the US is on the way of becoming hydrocarbon independent. UAE’s massive sovereign wealth funds can act as a great resource in the development of infrastructure in India.
  • There has been a rising convergence between India and UAE on the terror issue and both the countries talked of the need to combat terror groups without any discrimination given the fact that five UAE diplomats were killed in an attack in Kandahar in Afghanistan.
  • Countries like Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen are suffering from violent conflicts. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has not produced expected results.


Economic Relations:

  • Trade and commerce forms the backbone of the bilateral relations.
  • UAE has been one of India’s leading sources of FDIs.
  • UAE is India’s third largest trade partner after China and the United States.
  • The UAE accounts for 8 percent of India’s oil imports and was fifth largest supplier of crude oil to India.


Security and Defence Cooperation:

  • Another significant pillar of India-UAE ties is reflected in their growing cooperation in security and defense sector.
  • With the spread of radicalism in Gulf and South Asia, India looks to enhance security cooperation with UAE to counter terrorist threats and combat radicalization.
  • ‘Desert Eagle II’, a ten day air combat exercise, was held between the air forces of India and UAE.


Recent Agreements signed

ONGC Videsh, Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOC) and a unit of Bharat Petro Resources Ltd (BPCL) paid $600 million for a 10% stake in the UAE’s offshore oil and gas field Zakum.

This is the first Indian Investment in upstream oil sector of UAE, transforming the traditional buyerseller relationship to a long-term investor relationship. Prime Minister Narednra Modi laid the foundation stone for the BAPS Swaminarayan temple in Abu Dhabi.

Both sides signed a MoU that aims to institutionalise the collaborative administration of contractual employment of Indian workers in the Gulf country.

Under the MoU, both the sides will work for ending the existing malpractices, combat trafficking and organise collaborative programmes for education and awareness of contractual workers. A MoU for technical cooperation in railways was also signed. This aims at cooperation in infrastructure sector especially railways. It will facilitate development of joint projects, knowledge sharing, joint research and technology transfer. A MoU between Bombay Stock Exchange and Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange was also signed.

It aims at enhancing cooperation between both the countries in financial services industry. It would facilitate investment in financial markets by investors from both the countries. A MoU to establish multi-modal logistics park and hub in Jammu & Kashmir comprising warehouses and specialised storage solutions



  • As far as investments are concerned, slow implementation from Indian side is a major obstacle.
  • The bilateral trade has come down significantly in the past years.
  • It has been noticed that workers from other nationalities including Filipinos and Bangladeshis are replacing Indian workers.


Way Forward:

  • India needs to ensure the execution of the investment projects with required expertise.
  • Potential areas to enhance bilateral trade include defense trade, food and agricultural products as well as automobiles.
  • Medical tourism can be an important area where India can attract Emiratis.
  • Indian companies with expertise in renewable energy sector can invest in UAE.
  • In defense sector, there is a need to further enhance cooperation through joint training programmes.



  • India-UAE relations has become a pivot of India’s Extended Neighborhood and Look West Policy in the region.
  • Shared economic visions and geopolitical outlooks have spurred the two sides to seek to expand cooperation across multiple domains, notably in investment, technology and the knowledge economy, and defense and security.
  • The recent signing of The Abraham Accords have created a fresh opportunity for even greater India-UAE coordination and cooperation.
  • During his recent visit to the UAE, Dr. S. Jaishankar stated that the Accords would enhance the Emirates’ position as a logistics hub for Asian economies, including that of India— another promising sign that the India-UAE is poised to climb to new heights.


UAE’s Golden Visa:

  • Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt recently received his Golden visa from the UAE government.

What is it?

  • In 2019, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) implemented a new system for long-term residence visas, thereby enabling foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100 per cent ownership of their business.

So, what does the Golden Visa offer?

  • The Golden Visa system essentially offers long-term residency (5 and 10 years) to people belonging to the following groups:
  • investors, entrepreneurs, individuals with outstanding talents the likes of researchers, medical professionals and those within the scientific and knowledge fields, and remarkable students.

Eligibility requirements (Have a brief overview; need not mug up):

For investors:

  • A deposit of at least AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham) 10 million worth of public investment, either in the form of an investment fund or a company.
  • 60% of the total investment must not be in the form of real estate.
  • The invested amount must not be loaned, or in case of assets, investors must assume full ownership.
  • The investor must be able to retain the investment for a minimum of three years.
  • May be extended to include business partners, providing that each partner contributes AED 10 million.
  • Can also include the holder’s spouse and children, as well as one executive director and one advisor.


For individuals with specialized talents:

  • The category includes doctors, researchers, scientists, investors and artists. These individuals may be granted a 10-year visa following accreditations granted by their respective departments and fields. The visa also extends to their spouses and children.


Eligibility for a 5-year visa:

  • The investor must invest in a property of a gross value of not less than AED 5 million.
  • The amount invested in real estate must not be on a loan basis.
  • The property must be retained for at least three years.


Outstanding students:

  • Outstanding students with a minimum grade of 95% in public and private secondary schools.
  • University students within and outside the country having a distinction GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation.


Reasons Behind the Move:

  • The UAE’s economy has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and low oil prices, prompting many expatriates to leave.
  • The move intends to bring them back now and keep the “talented people and great minds” in

the Gulf country and help in nation-building.

  • It will attract talented professionals from various fields of expertise and further encourage innovation, creativity and applied research, adding to the appeal of a career in the UAE for the world’s brightest minds.


Significance for India:

  • It would attract more Indian professionals and businessmen to the Gulf nation and strengthen the India-UAE Relations.
  • It will also facilitate the return of Indians who want to resume work after the relaxation of Covid-19-related restrictions, for which India had requested the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in early November 2020.

India-UAE Relations