India’s relations with the UAE touched a new high this year after the Emirates came out in strong support for New Delhi’s quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. The pledge came during the maiden visit of President Pratibha Patil to the Emirates, home to 1.75 million Indians. The visit came at a time when UAE has emerged as India’s largest trading partner in terms of total trade exchange in the first half of 2010, with USD 43 billion bilateral trade, and oil imports by India accounting for USD five billion. Indian and UAE trade exchange has multiplied 13 times over the past 10 years with non oil sectors slowly gaining a predominant share. President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan stated that UAE would certainly support India, which had the right to be a permanent member of a reformed UN Security Council.
The two sides also agreed on regional security as an area of enhanced cooperation and to address issues relating to counter terrorism and maritime security. India has invited UAE’s Interior Minister to New Delhi for the signing an agreement on the issue. India and the UAE agreed to enhance the strategic relationship by focusing on areas such as education, science and technology, regional security and many other areas where there is a potential for cooperation. India and the UAE politically share common perceptions on major international issues which became more evident during the visit of the President, said M K Lokesh, India’s ambassador to the UAE.
During her visit, President Patil also launched a 24 hour helpline and counselling service dedicated to help Indian workers in distress in the UAE.
A striking display of India’s growing soft power footprint in the Gulf region was the launch, on May 24 this year, of the international version of CBSE curriculum in Dubai. Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal had described the CBSE as an “internationally benchmarked curriculum” with 30 Indian schools in nine countries using it from the current academic year. The curriculum’s global format is aimed at attracting schools catering to the large expatriate Indian population as well as non Indian students planning to pursue higher studies in India.
Meanwhile, the fate of 17 Indians sentenced to death for killing a Pakistani man in January, 2009 is to be decided by a Sharjah appeals court on December 30.