New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday left for the UAE on a two-day visit packed with a string of engagements high on substance and symbolism, including talks with the country's leadership and an address to the Indian diaspora.
During his visit, first by an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years, Modi will seek to enhance cooperation in energy and trade and reach out to investors to hardsell India as an attractive business destination.
Given that late Indira Gandhi was the last Indian Prime Minister to have visited United Arab Emirates in 1981, Modi's trip is being seen as an opportunity to boost India-UAE ties in key areas of trade and security.
Modi, ahead of his visit, described UAE as a "valued partner". This fact, he said, was reflected in India being UAE's second largest trading partner, while the Arabian nation comprising seven Sheikhdoms was the third largest trading partner for the country.
The Prime Minister also lauded the immense contribution made by over 2.5 million Indians, who have made UAE their home, and said he was looking forward to meeting the large diaspora.
They remit more than USD 13 billion annually. The 2.6 million-strong Indian community constitutes nearly 30 per cent of UAE's population.
Abu Dhabi will be the first port of call for the Prime Minister, who will hold extensive talks tomorrow with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
UAE, with a sovereign wealth fund of more than USD 800 billion, is very important from the investment point of view and the Prime Minister is expected to impress upon the country to invest in the infrastructure sector in India.
Security is another potential area of cooperation between India and the UAE, which have treaties and agreements on extradition, mutual legal assistance in criminal and civil matters, combating trafficking in narcotics, and information cooperation apart from maritime interaction.
The two are expected to discuss ways to further enhance cooperation in these areas.