• Narendra Modi is the first Indian prime minister to make a state visit to the UAE in 34 years
  • Trip a chance to improve strategic thinking towards the Middle East
  • 2.6 million Indians living in the UAE remit $14bn every year

The UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi will be receiving India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 16 August. It is the first state visit of an Indian prime minister to the UAE since Indira Ghandi’s visit in 1981.

Local media reported that Modi will be meeting Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

As well as meeting with the top government officials, Modi’s two-day itinerary includes meeting with top business leaders, a visit to the Sheikh Zayed mosque in Abu Dhabi, and a visit to a labour accommodation in Mussafah, also in Abu Dhabi.

On 17 August, Modi is scheduled to visit Masdar City in the morning and hold an audience later in the day with 40,000 Indian community members at the Dubai Cricket Stadium.

There are more than 2.6 million Indians living in the UAE whose collective annual remittance is estimated at $14bn.

With annual trade between the two countries hovering around $60bn, the UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner next to China and the US.

A visiting fellow in Asia-Middle East relations at the Brookings Doha Centre, Kadira Pethiyagoda, told a local publication that Modi’s visit is a chance to reverse India’s lack of strategic thinking regarding the region, especially in light of recent global developments that make the Gulf region more strategically important to India.

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