India’s elite IIT to open first overseas campus in Abu Dhabi next year

Indian ambassador Sunjay Sudhir said this is a ‘landmark project’ of academic excellence

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India’s prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, better known as IIT, will begin courses in Abu Dhabi next year, the country's envoy to the UAE has said.

Sunjay Sudhir, Indian ambassador to the UAE, outlined details about the IIT’s first campus outside India.

There are 23 IITs in India and the institute is famous for producing graduates ranked among the world’s most successful innovators, engineers and entrepreneurs.

Alumni include Sundar Pichai, Google's chief executive and Narayana Murthy, founder of software giant Infosys.

“We can expect the commencement of courses at IIT Abu Dhabi within a year’s time,” Mr Sudhir told The National in an interview on milestones reached since the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UAE and India on February 18 last year.

“It would be an independent IIT so initially it would offer a few academic programmes but eventually it will have all the academic programmes like undergraduate, post-graduate and PhD courses.”

IITs are premier educational institutes in India, known for a rigorous curriculum in engineering and technology.

Often called the MIT and Harvard of India, the acceptance rate is only about 1.7 per cent, with more than 900,000 students vying for about 16,600 places last year.

Truly global campus

The IIT Delhi, one of the oldest and most respected, will mentor IIT Abu Dhabi.

“The idea behind setting up of IIT Abu Dhabi is to bring the academic excellence of IITs to the wide international community. Therefore, IIT Abu Dhabi will also aspire to be a truly global campus having good mix of Indian, Emirati and other nationalities,” Mr Sudhir said

“IIT Abu Dhabi is a landmark project which reflects the vision of our leaders and it will be a tribute to the people of India and the UAE who are the backbone of our historic relationship.”

A joint working group will identify the location for the temporary and permanent campuses in Abu Dhabi, finalise the start date and qualification criteria.

The group with experts from IIT Delhi and the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) has held regular meetings and an agreement is close to being finalised to chart out specific roles and responsibilities.

The first official reference to the UAE being home to an IIT was made last February when President Sheikh Mohamed, at the time Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a joint vision statement.

Huge job opportunities

The historic trade agreement that came into force on May 1 last year has sparked job creation opening up opportunities in both countries.

Mr Sudhir said the agreement resulted in notable 27.5 per cent growth in bilateral trade.

Early gains are apparent with bilateral trade rising to $57.8 billion from April to November 2022 from $45.3 billion in the same period the year before.

“There has been impressive growth in all major sectors like gems and jewellery, mineral products, engineering goods, electronics, plastic and rubber,” Mr Sudhir said.

“Cepa will create huge job opportunities in India as India’s exports are poised to grow.

“The impressive growth of $12.5 billion in bilateral trade would have resulted in many new job opportunities in both countries.”

India’s exports over eight months registered about 19 per cent growth, reaching $20.8 billion from $17.45 billion in labour-intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, food and agricultural sectors.

Wider market access

The business community in both countries has benefitted from duty waivers and better market access.

“Cepa is particularly beneficial for small and medium enterprises in both countries,” Mr Sudhir said.

“The agreement enables them to use the duty waivers to boost their standing and scale up.”

The agreement is also critical for access to affordable medicines.

“Both nations have agreed to facilitate quick market access of finished pharmaceutical products to improve the health of their populations,” Mr Sudhir said.

The UAE and India have decided to grant fast-track approval for the registration of medicines that are cleared by at least one regulatory authority in countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, the US, the UK or the EU.

Committees are being finalised to oversee implementation.

The pact covers all economic interactions with the UAE, including jewellery, trade, investment, healthcare and digital trade.

“The gems and jewellery sector is among the industries which are poised to gain considerably from Cepa,” the ambassador said.

“The agreement has come at an opportune time when both countries are looking to rebound from the Covid-19 setback and realign their common business interests.”

India’s jewellery exports to the UAE, in a negative trajectory during the pandemic, have rebounded.

From April to November, India’s gems and jewellery exports to the UAE reached $3,761 million from $3,105 million over the same period the year before, registering an increase of 21 per cent.

Cultural dialogue

Education co-operation is key with progress made on exchanging information on qualifications issued by educational institutions so training and certificates are mutually recognised.

Plans are moving ahead for an India-UAE Cultural Council Forum for more dialogue and visits between artists, poets and authors.

Mr Sudhir said the new council would draw two creative communities closer, and “promote a common cultural heritage and strong ties that lie deeply rooted in history.”

Updated: February 18, 2023, 4:00 AM