Why SA, UAE ignored Pakistan to build strong ties with India?

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have talked about setting up a refinery plant worth at least $ 70 billion in India. The giant oil and petrochemicals refinery project will be built jointly by Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. (ADNOC) in Maharashtra’s Raigad.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman of Saudi Arabia is on a visit to the UAE. According to the news agency AP, there was a discussion between Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. A statement has been issued after the two princes met. Earlier, there was talk of building refinery and petrochemical complex in India between these two countries in 2018.

There is a plan to supply six lakh barrels of oil from this plant to the Indian market every day. The plant to be built in India will be a joint venture between Saudi company Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. In the last week of October, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Saudi Arabia. This was Modi’s third visit in the last three years. This tour was also important in terms of warmth and symbolism of both the countries.

PM Modi had gone to join the High Profile Future Investment Initiative held in Riyadh. But Modi’s visit was not just about attending any summit. Modi kept the Middle East at the centre in India’s foreign policy and took a completely different approach from the previous governments. Since coming to power in 2014, PM Modi has shown a lot of aggression about Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Israel. Modi further boosted economic relations with Saudi and UAE, while on the other hand strengthened security relations with Israel.

At the same time, PM Modi did not pay attention to Iran in the same way as in the previous governments. Modi has almost left behind the legacy of Cold War foreign policy. Many analysts believe that they are keeping a balance between Nehru’s foreign policy and current needs. Since 2014, Modi has visited the Middle East countries eight times. India’s oil needs are met from the Middle East itself. In February this year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman came on his first official visit to India.

The Crown Prince said that he wants to invest 100 billion dollars in India in the next two years. It is being said that by 2024, India will overtake China in terms of oil purchase from the Middle East. India is also investing in energy projects as ONGC Videsh has invested in the energy sector of Abu Dhabi. Since Modi came to power, India’s relations with Saudi and UAE leaders have improved drastically.

When India abolished the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan tried to unite Muslim countries around the world, but it was most disappointed with Saudi Arabia and the UAE. On August 5, the Modi government ended the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and on August 24, the UAE gave Modi the highest civilian honour. Objections were raised from Pakistan but the UAE paid little attention.

Later, on the whole dispute, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that India and UAE have deep trade relations and both countries have interests in each other. He said that therefore the whole matter should not be looked at emotionally. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia did not say anything against India even after pressure from Pakistan on ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Even India is increasing security relations with these two countries.

However, at present Pakistan shares stronger defence ties with Saudi Arabia but that did not stop New Delhi from building close defence ties with other Middle East nations. In 2018, India signed an agreement with Oman in which the Indian Navy can use the strategic Duqm Port. Indian continues to work closely with Saudi Arabia and when Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman visited India, there was an agreement on intelligence sharing between the two countries.

India’s Reliance Industries has decided to sell 20% of its oil-to-chemicals shares from Saudi Arabia’s Aramco. The total value of this company of Mukesh Ambani is 75 billion dollars. This deal between Aramco and Reliance is the largest foreign investment. The Prime Minister said in an interview with Arab News during his visit to Saudi Arabia last month, “India imports 18% crude oil from Saudi Arabia. The second major source of our oil is Saudi Arabia. We are moving from a pure buyer-seller relationship to a strategic partnership. This includes Saudi Arabia’s investment in oil and gas projects.

Millions of Indians live in Saudi Arabia. PM Modi also linked this to good relations between the two countries. Modi had said in an interview to Arab News on this, “About 26 lakh Indians have made Saudi Arabia their second home. They are also contributing to the progress here. A large number of Indians come here every year on Haj pilgrimage and business. My message to them is that India is proud of the place you have made in Saudi.” “Their hard work and commitment has increased India’s respect for Saudi and has helped in strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.” We are confident that your relationship with Saudi will continue in this way. “India is Saudi’s fourth largest partner in bilateral trade. Trade between the two countries was $ 27.48 billion in 2017-18.

In 2016, Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi and the Supreme Deputy Commander of the UAE Armed Forces visited India in February 2016. In 2017, Al Nahyan came as the chief guest on India’s Republic Day. Though the relationship between UAE and India is very old, but the relationship has become more cosy under PM Modi. When PM Modi visited UAE in August 2015, it was an Indian Prime Minister’s visit to UAE after 34 years. Indira Gandhi visited the UAE in 1981 before him.

UAE Ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna told Gulf News in February last year, “If you go to 1982, the trade between UAE and India was just $ 182 million. It reached $ 53 billion in 2016-17. Bilateral relations between the two countries are at a new height and it has increased between many sectors. The relationship between IT, space tech, tourism, defence manufacturing and renewable energy has increased. India is considered as the world’s sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity. India’s growth rate should stabilise at 8% during the next decades, ranking the country as the world’s fastest-growing economy.

Its GDP could overtake that of the US before 2050, turning India into the strongest economy worldwide and countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with a massive sovereign funds, are keen to be part of the Indian success story.

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