BAPS Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi marks the dawn of a new era in India and UAE partnership

The significance of this event goes beyond the mere establishment of a place of worship for the Hindu community in the UAE.

By Omer Ghazi

The inauguration of the BAPS Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi signifies a profound milestone in the ever-evolving relationship between India and the UAE, encapsulating the essence of our shared aspirations for peace, prosperity, and mutual respect.

As an Indian researcher deeply invested in fostering stronger ties between our two nations, I find this moment to be profoundly significant, resonating with the rich tapestry of history and culture that binds India and the UAE together.

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The significance of this event goes beyond the mere establishment of a place of worship for the Hindu community in the UAE. It represents a beacon of hope for pluralism and inclusivity, echoing the values that both our nations hold dear. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s presence at the inauguration underscores the importance India places on its relationship with the UAE, recognizing the strides we have made in bridging cultural divides and fostering understanding.

Furthermore, the UAE’s commitment to religious tolerance, exemplified by initiatives such as the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence and the Abrahamic Family House, is commendable and sets a shining example for the world. Under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to creating a society where people of all faiths can live and thrive harmoniously.

In the grand tapestry of India-UAE relations, the BAPS Hindu temple stands as a testament to our shared journey towards a brighter future. It serves as a reminder of the deep-rooted cultural bonds that unite us and the limitless potential that lies ahead as we continue to work hand in hand towards our common goals. I am optimistic about the prospects of further collaboration and cooperation between our two nations, guided by the principles of friendship, understanding, and mutual respect.

The trajectory of India-UAE relations is a saga of friendship, cooperation, and shared aspirations, rooted in a history of diplomatic engagements and strengthened by the visionary leaderships of both nations. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1972, the bond between India and the UAE has evolved significantly, reaching new heights of strategic partnership and mutual respect.

The turning point came in 2015 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a historic visit to the UAE, becoming the first Indian prime minister to do so in over three decades. This visit marked a new chapter in bilateral relations, setting the stage for a period of unprecedented growth and collaboration. Subsequent high-level exchanges, including Prime Minister Modi’s seven visits to the UAE and President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed’s four visits to India since 2016, underscore the commitment of both leaders to nurturing this special relationship.

In February 2022, Prime Minister Modi and President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed unveiled the India-UAE Vision Document, outlining a futurist vision for cooperation across various sectors. This comprehensive framework covers a wide spectrum of areas, from culture to commerce, diaspora to defense, education to economy, and health to hi-tech, reflecting the depth and breadth of the partnership between the two countries.

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A key milestone in this journey was the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and the UAE, which came into force in May 2022. This groundbreaking agreement, negotiated and concluded in just 88 days, represents the UAE’s first CEPA with any country, India’s first CEPA with any Middle Eastern nation, and the first in over a decade. The CEPA has catalyzed a paradigm shift in bilateral trade, leading to a significant increase of more than 16% in trade volume over the past year.

Moreover, the success of the CEPA has paved the way for further collaboration, including agreements on trade settlement in local currencies and the integration of instant payment platforms. These initiatives not only deepen economic ties but also reinforce the commitment of both nations to fostering an environment of trust, innovation, and shared prosperity.

As India and the UAE continue to embark on this journey of partnership and cooperation, guided by the principles of mutual respect and shared values, the possibilities for collaboration are limitless. From infrastructure development to renewable energy, from technology to tourism, the future holds immense promise for both nations and their people. Through sustained efforts and unwavering commitment, India and the UAE are poised to realize their shared vision of a prosperous and interconnected future. India recently embarked on the ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), a large-scale infrastructure project designed to connect India, the Middle East, and Europe through various transportation modes, including shipping and rail networks.

The establishment of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) campus in Abu Dhabi represents yet another significant milestone in the burgeoning relationship between India and the UAE. As the first-ever IIT campus in the Middle East, this initiative epitomizes the perfect alignment of the strategic objectives of both nations. On one hand, the UAE seeks to solidify its position as a global hub for education, while on the other hand, India aims to expand the reach of its prestigious IITs on the international stage.

Beyond its immediate academic significance, this project heralds a new era of collaboration between India and the UAE in the realm of education and human resource development. It underscores the shared commitment of both nations to foster a robust knowledge partnership and exchange, with a focus on nurturing the technology leaders of tomorrow. The successful establishment of the IIT-D campus in Abu Dhabi not only demonstrates the efficacy of this collaboration but also paves the way for the introduction of more esteemed Indian institutions in the UAE.

By leveraging each other’s strengths and expertise, India and the UAE are poised to address the evolving challenges of the 21st century and capitalize on emerging opportunities. The establishment of the IIT-D campus in Abu Dhabi further exemplifies the transformative potential of bilateral cooperation, laying the foundation for a future characterized by innovation, excellence, and shared prosperity. As this partnership continues to evolve, it holds the promise of unlocking new avenues of collaboration and shaping the educational landscape of the region for generations to come.

The economic relations between India and the UAE have evolved significantly over the years, shaping the bilateral ties into a robust partnership anchored by trade and investment. Traditionally, trade between the two nations revolved around items such as pearls, fish, and dates until the discovery of oil transformed the economic landscape of the region. Since the unification of the UAE in 1971, export from India to the region has steadily increased, with the UAE emerging as India’s third-largest trading partner and the second-largest export destination, surpassed only by the United States. Reciprocally, India stands as the Emirates’ second-largest trading partner. The UAE’s foreign direct investment (FDI) in India has soared, surpassing $12 billion, with significant investments in prominent Indian companies such as Jio platform, Adani, Tata Motors, and Tata Power, totaling over $6 billion from Abu Dhabi alone. The establishment of a comprehensive free trade agreement in 2022 has further bolstered economic ties, granting duty-free access to a variety of goods and loosening regulations to encourage investment. Energy cooperation stands as a cornerstone of the relationship, with the UAE ranking among the top five largest suppliers of crude oil to India. Furthermore, the UAE has pledged collaboration with India on renewable energy projects and has entered into agreements with Indian states like Karnataka for strategic crude oil storage, highlighting the depth and breadth of economic collaboration between the two nations.

As an Indian deeply invested in the potential of collaboration between India and the Middle East, I firmly believe that the 21st century belongs to us as torchbearers of modernity and peaceful coexistence. Our partnership presents a compelling narrative of independent, progressive, and futuristic collaboration emerging from the East. India and the Middle East, both revered as spiritual centers of the world, with the birth of numerous world religions in these regions, are poised to rekindle their historical significance by coming together in solidarity. This alliance signifies a powerful convergence of cultures, traditions, and aspirations, with a shared commitment to fostering harmony, innovation, and inclusive growth. Together, we have the opportunity to redefine global narratives and demonstrate the transformative potential of unity in diversity. It is time for India and the Middle East to once again illuminate the path forward, inspiring the world with our vision of a future founded on mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation.

Contributing Author: Omer Ghazi is a proponent of religious reform and identifies himself as “an Indic Muslim exploring Vedic knowledge and cultural heritage through music”. He extensively writes on geo-politics, history and culture and his book “The Cosmic Dance” is a collection of his poems. When he is not writing columns, he enjoys playing drums and performing raps.

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