DUBAI, United Arab Emirates Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday for his seventh trip to the country, preparing to be feted by tens of thousands of his compatriots ahead of his country's elections in the coming months .
Modi was greeted upon landing in Abu Dhabi by Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a man he called his brother as he worked to strengthen ties between the Arabian Peninsula nation that is home to millions of Indians. The two leaders walked past an honor guard before sitting down for their meeting, during which bilateral agreements were signed between the nations.
Over the past nine years, our cooperation with the UAE in various sectors such as trade and investment, defense and security, food and energy security, and education has multiplied, said a statement from the office of Modi. Our cultural and interpersonal bonds are stronger than ever.
The United Arab Emirates offered no immediate information about the trip or discussions between the two men.
On Tuesday evening, tens of thousands of Indians are expected to gather at the Zayed Sports City stadium to see Modi. Only Indian nationals were allowed to attend the event in Abu Dhabi, organizers said.
Modi's arrival came as Indian police on Tuesday used tear gas and arrested some farmers who clashed with them and tried to break barricades. blocking their way to New Delhi to demand guaranteed prices for crops. In 2021, farmers camped out for months in Indian capital after Modi withdrew controversial farm laws which had triggered previous events.
The protests could pose a significant challenge to Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of upcoming elections in India, the world's largest democracy. However, Modi is expected to win a third term.
Of the more than 9 million people living in the UAE, India estimates that more than 3.5 million are Indian expatriates, making them the largest national group in the country, surpassing even Emirati citizens. Although many are low-paid workers, there are a growing number of white-collar workers and several generations of Indian families.
Modis' visit highlights the long-standing economic and historical ties between the two countries, from spice trading and gold smuggling in the UAE's formative years to tens of billions of dollars in annual bilateral trade today.
The countries signed a free trade agreement in 2022 aimed at doubling their bilateral trade to $100 billion. India remains a key buyer of Emirati oil, while the UAE hopes to boost its local industries. The countries agreed to allow India to settle certain payments in rupees rather than dollars, thereby reducing transaction costs.
This relationship also highlights the UAE's realpolitik foreign policy. UAE increasingly embraces Modi as Muslims in India to be attacked by Hindu nationalist groups. Modi received UAE's highest civilian honor in 2019 even though he stripped statehood from the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.
Modi's first visit to the Emirates in 2015 was the first by an Indian prime minister in 34 years.
Modi will also address the World Government Summit in Dubai and inaugurate a new stone-carved Hindu temple near Abu Dhabi Wednesday while I was in the United Arab Emirates. He will then travel to Qatar.
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