The UAE is exploring investments in defence equipment manufactured in India, the country's defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said last week.
Speaking to journalists in New Delhi, she said the relationship between the two countries has developed from a commercial one to a strategic partnership in critical areas.
She did not, however, confirm reports from Indian media of contracts between the two countries through which India would help the UAE develop its air defence system, repair defence equipment, supply ammunition for artillery guns and offshore patrol vehicles.
“I cannot disclose the details,” she said.
“It’s a very important strategic partnership with the UAE. The relationship has grown from a commercial and friendly nature and has acquired a lot of strategic depth. The relationship has in scope widened to cover many interesting and critical areas.”
Elaborating on India’s plans to increase manufacture of defence equipment, export material and components, she said there was scope for defence co-operation via investment from the UAE.
Ms Sitharaman said that during his visit last year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, had shown a keen interest in the defence industry.
“The office of the Crown Prince with other senior leaders had come here to see possibilities of investment in defence related industries. We welcome, appreciate and respect the keenness in wanting to understand how the industry works in India.”
Regarding potential areas, Ms Sitharaman outlined the country’s strength in ship building from war ships to submarines, building of missiles including surface to air, air to land or land to sea missiles and production of heavy vehicles and small arms in ordnance factories.
Earlier, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had agreed to strengthen the partnership by working on a range of security issues, such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, and cybersecurity in a joint statement issued at the end of the Crown Prince’s visit to India last year, when he presided as chief guest of the country’s Republic Day parade.
Both countries had renewed their commitment to strengthen cooperation in training, joint exercises and identify opportunities to cooperate on production of defence equipment in India.
Maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region have also been addressed during meetings between Sheikh Zayed and Mr Modi over the past three years with plans drawn up for meetings of joint defence cooperation committees.
The location of the UAE was of key importance in maritime security and that increased the need for close ties.
“The Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean are the waters through which most of the cargo goes towards the East. The Arabian Sea links to the Gulf and to Suez and has a significant importance and therefore the positive connect we can have with the UAE will be of great significance to India,” Ms Sitharaman said.