Abu Dhabi/Thiruvanthapuram, August 12: Thousands of Indian expatriates in the UAE have registered for a mega event in Dubai on Monday to be addressed by Prime Minister rendra Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit the Gulf country in 34 years. Organisers of the event to be held at the Dubai Cricket Stadium are expecting a crowd of around 50,000. Modi, the first Indian prime minister to visit the United Arabe Emirates (UAE) after Indira Gandhi in 1981, is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi on August 16 and will visit Dubai the next day.
Modi is paying an official visit to the UAE at the invitation of General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al hyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Modi will also meet Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, during the visit. The talks are set to focus on trade, investment and security cooperation and also the large Indian diaspora, said sources.
Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh had planned to visit the UAE twice but had to cancel it due to domestic engagements. The public reception is expected to be a grand event similar to the community events Modi addressed in the US, Cada, Australia and other countries which he has travelled to since elected to office in May last year.
Meanwhile, preparations are in full speed for Monday’s mega event with food courts being set up and canopies erected at the Dubai Cricket Stadium. A meeting of the Indian Community Welfare Committee (ICWC) was held at the consulate on August 10 to prepare for Modi’s visit and public reception. Keeping in mind the rising temperature, the organisers are to install mist fans and water dispensers at the venue. The Indian business community has volunteered to meet its expenses. Organisers are also trying to arrange shuttle bus service from the Global Village, where car-parking facility is planned for the event.
The ICWC has set up a dedicated website www.moindubai.ae for people who wish to attend the Modi’s public reception. K.V. Shamsudheen, chairman, Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, an organisation acting as a forum to help and guide the needy expatriates in various areas, said that the 2.6 million Indian expatriates are “expecting a lot” from the vibrant Indian prime minister. “Indian expatriates have been demanding for several decades to stop exploitation of airlines by jacking up the airfares during peak season, but nothing has happened,” said Shamsudheen. “We wish that the prime minister will utilise the skills of Indian skilled workers in the Middle East for the Skill Development Programmes of the Indian government,” he added. “India needs huge sums for infrastructure development in India and if the rules are simplified for non-resident Indians then there will be a huge flow of investments from the Indian expatriates,” he said.
Shamsudheen said they have already written to the Indian prime minister that the present investment scheme, Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Suraksha Yoja for expatriates be simplified so that all Indian expatriates can participate. “These schemes must be available in all banks where any Indian expatriate can open a NRE (non-resident rupee) account. Also, we wish that the State Bank of India Asset Magement Company should introduce a SBI Shariah Mutual Fund,” he said. He also pointed out that the UAE is known for its ‘interest free ethical banking system’ and an Indo-UAE venture in this sector would be mutually beneficial.
The India-UAE trade crossed $59 billion in 2014-15, making the country India’s third largest trading partner after Chi and the US. India was the UAE’s largest non-oil trading partner in 2014. Both countries signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA) in 2013.
Indians in the UAE are the largest remitters globally, and remitted $12.64 billion to their home country in 2014. India is also the third largest source of tourists travelling to the UAE. The UAE’s sovereign wealth funds estimated at over $800 billion is also an attractive proposition waiting to be tapped. Long pending agreements on joint security cooperation to fight extremism, maritime and food security are likely to get a fil touch, the high-level talks between leader of two countries will lead to the swift implementation of certain pacts that have already been inked. These include prisoner swap and bilateral investment protection agreement, according to Khaleej Times. India’s ongoing talks with the Gulf countries on filising Free Trade Agreement are also expected to get a new boost with Modi’s visit. (IANS)