UAE, Kuwait to be Modi's first foreign visit in 2022
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to start his foreign trip in 2022 by visiting the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait early next month. While not much is known about the entire visit yet, reports said Modi may travel in the first ten days of January 2022. Notably, this will be the PM's fourth visit to the UAE since 2015.
Why does it matter?
- The UAE and Kuwait are at the center of India's foreign policy towards the Middle East.
- The visit intends to cement ties with these countries that have a huge Indian diaspora.
- The UAE is India's third-largest trade partner after US and China, with trade volumes touching over $60 billion.
- The countries have also helped India fight the deadly second wave of COVID-19 infections.
Modi to thank UAE, Kuwait for support: Report
The primary purpose of the visit is reportedly to thank both countries for their support as India battled the second wave of COVID-19, Hindustan Times reported. The visit will also show courtesy to these emirates for looking after the Indian diaspora residing there. Notably, the UAE has roughly 40 lakh passports-holding Indians, while Kuwait has an Indian diaspora of around 10 lakh.
Modi to attend Dubai expo
Modi will also attend the Dubai Expo 2020 during his visit in a bid to support the increased India-UAE trade. India and UAE have business engagements in many spheres, from goods to technology, artificial intelligence, space, etc. The Dubai Expo has witnessed high-level ministerial visits from India, including from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri.
India-UAE ties strengthening
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. Apart from being a major defense power in the Middle East region, India also regards Abu Dhabi as a diplomatic hub to bring investments into India, a former foreign sectary told HT.
India's special relationship with Kuwait
Kuwait had notably provided oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment to combat the COVID-19 second wave in India. In June, EAM Jaishankar had personally delivered a letter from Modi to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah thanking Kuwait for its support. The letter had emphasized deepening bilateral ties in the energy, information technology, and manpower sector.