The bond between the UAE and India is timeless

Narendra Modi's launching of RuPay during his visit to the UAE is a reminder of the close human and economic ties that bring the two nations together

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - February 10, 2018: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (R), receives HE Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India (L), at the Presidential Airport.

( Omar Al Askaar for the Crown Prince Court)
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The visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UAE is a celebration of a vibrant political, cultural and commercial friendship between the two countries that also marks a milestone moment in a unique relationship that dates back to antiquity.

On Saturday Mr Modi will receive the Order of Zayed, the UAE’s highest civilian decoration, in recognition of the role he has played in reinforcing the ties between the two nations.

Those ties are deep-rooted. They can be seen in the vibrant contribution to life and commerce in the UAE of the 3.5 million Indians who constitute their nation’s largest expat community and in the innumerable golden threads of trade and cultural exchange that link the two neighbours.

Today, India is the UAE’s second largest trading partner, with annual trade between the two worth in excess of US$50 billion.

Yet perhaps the special relationship between the UAE and India is reflected most vividly in the vast remittance system which sees billions of dirhams sent back to India every year by expatriate workers in the UAE.

While in the UAE Mr Modi will be promoting RuPay, a domestic credit card and electronic payment system designed by India's central bank to compete with the expensive services of global financial institutions.

By reducing costs RuPay will allow hard-working Indians who have contributed so much to the development of the UAE to send home even more of the money they have worked so hard to earn for the distant families that rely upon them.

It says much about the resilience and openness of the UAE economy that it can happily accommodate such a bold innovation.

But in addition to being an acknowledgement of the economic ties between India and the Emirates, the adoption by the UAE of RuPay is a testament to the strong human bonds that connect the two nations.

The histories of India and the UAE are entwined and will continue to thrive.

It’s a narrative that ran through the years when the interests of the Trucial States were managed from Calcutta and New Delhi by the bureaucrats of the British Raj.

It can be traced through the centuries of the pearling trade, driven by Indian merchants and centred on Mumbai, which first connected the Gulf states to the global economy.

Today, it is most visible in the great cities of the UAE, which the Indian diaspora has contribute to shape, and that attest to a relationship that will continue to stand the test of time.