Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit the UAE and Qatar this week, with the prime minister’s pre-scheduled ‘Ahlan Modi’ event along with the UAE’s first Hindu temple inauguration in Abu Dhabi. The prime minister’s Qatar visit was announced after the release order of eight Indian Navy veterans who had been awaiting capital punishment in Qatar’s jail.
However, when asked if the visit was to acknowledge the release of the navy veterans, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said that the visit was planned months before. The eight former Indian Navy personnel were detained in Qatar since August 2022 and they were facing a death sentence ordered by Qatar’s Court of First Instance for alleged espionage.
India with its visit to the UAE and Qatar this weeks also seeks to reinforce its regional and global south influence. The visit has many economic implications other than the temple inauguration as both countries remain one of the top trading partners with a bilateral trade of about US$ 85 billion in 2022-23. The Gulf nation is also among the top foreign direct investors in India.
On Prime Minister Modi’s visit, UAE’s ambassador to India Abdulnasser Alshaali said, “The UAE prioritizes its bilateral and diplomatic ties with India based upon the two countries’ common political, economic, and diplomatic interests, desire to promote peace and prosperity in the international arena and deep shared history.”
Further, noting the country’s first temple, the ambassador said that the BAPS temple aligns with the values of tolerance, and acceptance that lead both countries’ bilateral relationship. As per sources, the visit will further expand both the strategic partnership while exchanging views on the regional and international issues of mutual interest.
The Ambassador also highlighted the recent Bilateral Investment Treaty between the two countries approved in the recent Indian Cabinet. “This treaty reflects the joint efforts to transform the relationship from a traditional import-export dynamic to a strategic partnership. The emphasis on defence, energy, space, and IT sectors highlights the forward-looking nature of our relationship,” the ambassador said.
Indian prime minister’s itinerary in West Asia could also be due to India’s projected higher demand for petroleum products by the end of 2024. India’s petroleum sales saw a 4 to 5 per cent increase in 2023-24, according to Fitch Ratings.