UAE to open new consular offices in India
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Boosting bilateral engagement with India, the United Arab Emirates will open several new consular centres in India and invest $75 billion of its sovereign wealth fund in the country, its envoy said on Tuesday.
The announcement on expanding consular footprint of UAE came even as diplomatic sources confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Abu Dhabi in February 2018.
“Under the present circumstances, if people from Chandigarh, Chennai and Hyderabad want a visa to the UAE, they have to travel to either Mumbai or Delhi or Kerala. So to prevent hardship for the people, we are soon going to open our consular and visa centres in these cities,” said Dr Ahmed Albanna, ambassador of UAE told the media here. Expansion of consular services of UAE will help the Indians in the country who constitute one of the largest overseas Indian populations.
Apart from renewed focus on diplomatic and consular contacts, the envoy said that his country stands with India on counter-terror cooperation firmed up with Mr. Modi’s visit to the UAE in August 2015. “We denounce extremism, terrorism, and work closely with other countries to counter-attack organisations and individuals that have been listed or proscribed,” he said highlighting cooperation with India on that front.
The envoy also said that UAE has put in place a mechanism to oversee investment of $75 billion of its sovereign wealth fund into the Indian economy over the next decade.
“$ 1 billion has already been invested in India,” said Dr Albanna, explaining that the fund will be utilised for infrastructure projects in India. The UAE sovereign wealth fund, known as Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), has been a major issue that both sides have been trying to harness. The affirmation of continued investment followed a day after ADIA bought stakes in KKR India Financial Services Pvt Ltd, a major non-banking financial company in India.
Tuesday’s announcements came even as diplomatic sources indicated that Mr. Modi is likely to travel to Abu Dhabi in February 2018 to attend a major summit event.
UAE and India have held two rounds of strategic dialogue, said the envoy. Significantly, terrorism is also a criterion on which the country has been trying to corner neighbour Qatar, which is facing isolation within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which began its summit meeting in Kuwait on Tuesday. GCC, host of more than seven million Indian workers and professionals, is a key source of foreign remittances to India, and stability of the region is in India’s interest.
“We hope Qatar will realise its mistake and come on the right track,” said Dr. Albanna. UAE and Saudi Arabia have formed a separate security alliance away from GCC on Tuesday, hinting at an emerging division within the GCC.