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14 Feb, 2024 07:41

India and UAE ink deals on digital payments and infrastructure

During his two-day visit to the country, Modi will also unveil Abu Dhabi’s first Hindu temple, built at a cost of $84 million
India and UAE ink deals on digital payments and infrastructure

India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed several agreements covering digital payment infrastructure, logistics and other areas. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the country in a bid to promote new areas of collaboration, with a special emphasis on energy security and hydrocarbons trade. 

After closed talks between PM Modi and UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday, the two sides announced that they were sealing a bilateral investment treaty to further bolster trade ties, India’s foreign minister said in a statement. This follows the signing of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2022, which led to a 14% increase in non-oil trade between the two countries year-on-year. Bilateral trade between India and the UAE reached $85 billion in the 2022-23 financial year.

New Delhi and Abu Dhabi also inked an intergovernmental framework agreement on the proposed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC), a project unveiled by the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and several European countries during the G20 summit in New Delhi last year. The fate of the proposed transport corridor, however, hangs in the balance given tensions in the region, with the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza spilling into the Red Sea and beyond. 

India and the UAE have also signed new pacts on digital infrastructure projects and payment platforms, and vowed to cooperate in “the field of heritage and museums,” New Delhi’s readout stated. Ahead of the PM’s visit, the Indian firm RITES Limited had signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Gujarat Maritime Board signed a deal with Abu Dhabi Ports Company, noted the release.

In a move to boost India’s public diplomacy and outreach to its diasporas overseas, Modi will on Wednesday inaugurate the BAPS Mandir in Abu Dhabi – the first such Hindu shrine in the UAE capital. The $84 million temple is being built on 27 acres of land given to the temple authority by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Indian media outlets have reported. More than 20,000 metric tons of stone and marble were used to build the temple. They were shipped in more than 700 containers to Abu Dhabi over the past three years, according to Business Standard newspaper. The temple’s expansive complex will include prayer halls, exhibitions, learning areas, sports areas for children, thematic gardens, food courts, books, and a gift shop.

The two countries see the inauguration of the temple as “a celebration of UAE-India friendship, deep-rooted cultural bonds and an embodiment of the UAE’s global commitment to harmony, tolerance and peaceful coexistence,” read an official statement. After concluding a two-day visit to the UAE, the Indian leader will fly to Qatar; the trip is aimed at discussing ways to further “strengthen overall ties.” Notably, Qatar earlier this week released eight Indian navy veterans who were sentenced to death in the Middle Eastern nation, allegedly on espionage charges. The release came days after India signed a $78 billion deal to extend LNG imports from Qatar, a key energy supplier.

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