Reality Check: Modi in Dubai

Here is a fun fact to begin with. UAE has more Indians than the Emirati. In fact, Indians form the largest demographic group in the UAE making up nearly a third of its population (India PM in UAE to boost trade and security ties).

Prime Minister Modi has been making strategic foreign trips for a while now. (See my previous answer for a background: Are prime minister Narendra Modi’s foreign trips a drain on the Indian economy?)

UAE would fit in with India’s strategic interests in the following ways:

  1. Now that the gas prices are low, it is best to cut better deals with the Middle East. Modi has been shopping for energy of all forms (hydro, gas, nuclear, solar) as his primary focus.
  2. UAE has lots of money to invest (through its $800 billion sovereign fund) and India is hungry for investments for rapid growth. It is a good idea for a businessman to pay a visit to the bank. (PM Modi urges UAE to invest in India and PM visits Emirates- Modi invites UAE: Invest  $1 tn in infra, energy sectors)
  3. Modi wants to keep pushing the world to get serious on terrorism, especially the one sponsored by Pakistan (Signal to Pak? India gets UAE’s backing in fighting terror)
  4. Modi will visit Israel in the next few months and it is best to tell our old friends in the middle east that they have nothing to fear.
  5. UAE has a large population of Indian expats (NRIs) and it is no secret that Modi has been courting NRIs as one of the drivers of India’s growth.  (Modi Reaches Out to Indian Workers and Courts Investment With U.A.E. Visit)
  6. There are a lot of key things happening in the Middle East (Yemen crisis, ISIS, Iran deal) and as a major power near the region, India’s absence is striking. It is time India puts its stake in the ground.
  7. As for domestic politics (that PM Modi is not afraid to bring up abroad) Modi wants to show that he is no enemy of Islam. (Modi in UAE: PM takes selfie at mosque, visits Indian labour camp)
  1. As for domestic politics (that PM Modi is not afraid to bring up abroad) Modi wants to show that he is no enemy of Islam. (Modi in UAE: PM takes selfie at mosque, visits Indian labour camp)

For a mere 2 day trip, the merits were quite good.

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