Modi's UAE visit in January postponed as Omicron cases rise
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled visit to the United Arab Emirates in January has reportedly been postponed amid concerns over the threat posed by the Omicron variant. Modi was scheduled to visit UAE on January 6, 2022. The visit was rescheduled due to the rising cases of Omicron variant, sources told Hindustan Times. The visit could be held in February, they said.
Why does it matter?
- The whole world is witnessing a massive spike in COVID-19 cases with the emergence of the Omicron variant.
- The variant is also driving cases to record highs in several European countries.
- In the United States, Omicron has reportedly replaced Delta as the dominant variant.
- Meanwhile, India's Omicron tally is rising at an alarming rate. It currently stands at 781.
UAE visit was going to be Modi's first in 2022
The UAE visit would have been PM Modi's first foreign visit in 2022 and fourth visit to the UAE since 2015. However, this is not the first time PM's foreign visit has been postponed due to the virus. Earlier this year, Modi's scheduled visit to Portugal, France, and the UK had to be postponed due to the peak of the second wave.
UAE tightens entry restrictions
The UAE—a federation of seven emirates—has tightened the requirement to enter the country after witnessing a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases. Thursday onwards, vaccinated individuals would require a green status on their mobile-phone health app to enter the country. The unvaccinated travelers will require to provide a negative RT-PCR test for the same. The UAE on Monday reported 1,732 new COVID-19 cases.
UAE's active caseload stands at 10K
Notably, COVID-19 cases in the UAE skyrocketed by a multiple of 37 in the last three weeks with the emergence of Omicron. Currently, the active cases in UAE stand at 10,186. So far, the country has reported 7,55,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,160 deaths.
Visit was planned to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic ties
The UAE visit was reportedly planned to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations. During the visit, Modi was also scheduled to visit the Indian Pavilion of the ongoing Dubai Expo to support the increased India-UAE trade. Another key focus of the visit was reportedly to sign the India-UAE Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to further boost economic ties.
Why was the visit important?
The UAE is India's third-largest trade partner after US and China, with trade volumes touching over $60 billion. The country also houses the largest Indian diaspora. The UAE is at the center of India's foreign policy toward the Middle East. India also regards the UAE as a major defense power in the Middle East.
India-UAE engagement in different fields
India and UAE have intense cooperation in the fields of cybersecurity, counter-radicalization, defense, and intelligence sharing. The UAE has also taken measures against anti-India criminal and economic activity. India and UAE have business engagements in many spheres, from goods to technology, artificial intelligence, space, etc.