India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on a visit to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, showcasing deep ties between the major trade partners.
From the oil-rich capital of Abu Dhabi, Modi offered condolences on the death of the long-ailing late President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He congratulated Sheikh Mohammed on his elevation to power after nearly a decade as de facto leader, the UAE‘s state-run WAM news agency reported, without elaborating on discussions it said sought to “push bilateral relations forward.”
Modi flew to the sheikhdom from the Group of 7 summit in Germany and was set to leave later Tuesday.
The two countries have become mutually dependent over the years. For India, the Gulf Arab state is a significant source of oil and its third-largest export destination after the United States and China, with exports reaching nearly $16 billion for 2020-21. Indian wheat and other food exports are particularly important for the arid desert nation.
The UAE is also home to more than 3 million Indians who send home billions of dollars in remittances every year — outnumbering its local population of 1 million Emiratis. The expat workers help power the federation’s economy, providing services ranging from cab-driving and child care to information technology and construction.
In their meeting, Sheikh Mohammed praised the contributions of the Indian community in developing the UAE.
Earlier this year, the two countries signed a free trade deal that is expected to roughly double bilateral non-oil trade to $100 billion within five years. India is already the UAE’s second-largest trade partner.
The deal aims to add $8.9 billion to the UAE’s gross domestic product and boost its exports by 1.5% in the next decade, Emirati officials say.