The UAE’s economic, political and cultural links with India, which date back to more than a century ago, are matured and multi-dimensional.
The close relationship between the UAE and India was highlighted during a social event in Dubai on Wednesday, held ahead of the upcoming 68th Republic Day of India, which falls on January 26.
The gala dinner, hosted by the Indian Business and Professional Council Dubai (IBPC) at Hyatt Regency Creek Heights hotel, began with a moment of silence for five Emiratis martyred in last week’s terror attack in Afghanistan, where they were working on a humanitarian mission.
Also honoured were 10 Emiratis who received the IBPC’s Golden Friendship Award for their efforts in strengthening UAE-India community ties.
The event was attended by diplomats, officials, dignitaries, business leaders, and members and guests of IBPC, which hosts Indian Republic Day celebrations every year.
Indians are the UAE’s biggest expat community, numbering more than 2.8 million residents, according to figures cited at the event. Trade and social ties between Indians and Emiratis stretch back more than two centuries, speakers at the event said.
In his address to the gathering, Anurag Bhushan, the consul-general of India in Dubai, expressed his grief for the Emiratis martyrs, adding that it was the “sacrifices and resolve” of people like them “that make a country great”. He also praised Dubai as “a second home of Indians”, saying Emiratis, expats and Indians themselves get to experience the culture of various regions of India in Dubai because of the huge variety of Indians living in Dubai.
Bhushan added that the 68th Indian Republic Day will be especially momentous because of a number of developments, including the visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as the chief guest of the official Republic Day parade in the Indian capital, New Delhi.
He also highlighted the significance of the UAE as the only country to host two recipients of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, India’s highest civilian honour for Indians living outside India, bestowed for significant service to the Indian diaspora.
The two recipients were facilitated on stage at the event. The first recipient was Indian expat Vasu Shroff, who is noted for, among other accomplishments, holding a world record in organising the world’s biggest donation of stationery items in one day.
The second recipient was the Indian Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi, for its exemplary services to the Indian community in the UAE. Bhushan said the development marked the first time an institution, instead of a person, has been awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman.
Mirza Al Sayegh, a prominent Emirati who is the patron of IBPC, said the latest Republic Day would signify “a historical moment for ties between the two countries [UAE and India]”. Al Sayegh added that the upcoming official visit of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed to India — which will be his second one to India — underpinned that close relationship.
“We have a special bond with India, not from now, but since 200 years ago … We believe, truly, that the Indian community is closest to our [Emirati] civilisation,” Al Sayegh said.
Guests also enjoyed a performance by the Dubai Drums group, who invited dozens of them to participate in the gig.
UAE-India bilateral trade has been steadily growing over the years and people-to-people contacts are constantly on the increase. Tourists from both sides are visiting for leisure and pleasure, and more and more UAE nationals are availing of healthcare and tourism facilities in India.