At a time when Pakistan is virtually begging for support from the Muslim world against India for Kashmir, it faces a huge rebuff from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the key Islamic nation set to host Prime Minister Narendra Modi and honour him with the countrys highest civilian award.
This comes days after UAE’s ambassador to India, Ahmad Al Banna, said his country found nothing wrong in the Modi government’s decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir and that it was purely an internal matter of India.
The UAE does not see the decision to end special status of Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation as some unique incident and views it as a measure aimed at reducing regional disparities.
Against this backdrop, Modi will be in UAE for two days from Friday and will meet Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to discuss bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest.
A major highlight of the visit will be the presentation of ‘Order of Zayed’, the highest civilian honour of the UAE, to Modi. The UAE had announced the honour for Modi in April this year for giving a boost to the bilateral relations.
The award is instituted in the name of the country’s founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and is being presented to Modi in the year of his birth centenary, which adds even greater significance to it.
This is the third visit by Modi to UAE in four years and has added importance considering the fact that it is taking place at a time when Pakistan is trying to garner support, particularly from the Muslim countries, against India over abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state.
In that context, it marks a major setback for Pakistan and highlights the extent of isolation it has been subjected to, even in the Islamic world.
The UAE, which is the largest business hub in the Gulf region, hosts a big Indian diaspora and is a destination for a huge number of Indian tourists.
India-UAE ties were elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2015. In February 2018, Modi visited the UAE as Chief Guest at the World Government Summit. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi was the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2017.
India-UAE bilateral trade stands at $60 billion, and the UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner. The UAE is also the fourth-largest exporter of crude oil for India and is home to a 3.3 million-strong Indian community.
The Prime Minister’s visit will be marked by the launch of RuPay card, “an Indian indigenous equivalent of Mastercard or Visa”, making the UAE the first country in the Middle East to have it, Indian Ambassador Navdeep Singh Suri said in an interview to Emirates News Agency.
"A Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to establish a technology interface between the payment platforms in India and UAE, would be exchanged between the National Payments Corporation of India and UAE’s Mercury Payments Services.
This will enable the RuPay card to be used at point-of-sale terminals across the UAE," Suri said in the interview on Wednesday.
He said introduction of RuPay card is expected to benefit the Indian diaspora as also tourism and trade.