Sania Mirza

Born to a sports journalist, Imran Mirza, Sania was introduced to the game by her mother Nasima Mirza. Touted as one of the finest doubles players in the world and without doubt the finest women’s tennis player to have ever represented India, Sania Mirza’s achievements also include laurels like Arjuna Award, WTA Newcomer of the Year, Padma Shri, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and the Padma Bhushan to name a few. She has won 13 medals for the country. Sania is the highest ever ranked singles player in the men and women category in the last 30 years and has been ranked as 27th in singles and the world number 1 in doubles.

MAKING A MARK

Her remarkable journey is replete with memorable singles wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova, Marion Bartoli, and Vera Zvonareva. The world number one tennis doubles player acquired this position by recording notable triumphs over the existing toppers of the sport, which included Martina Hingis, Victoria Azarenka, and Dinara Safina. Her powerful strokes and effective style of playing made Sania one of the highest paid and extremely successful high-profile public figures not only in India but internationally as well. As the first Indian woman to win six Grand Slam titles, she has set really high benchmarks for numerous other sportspersons who wish to join her league.

TENNIS – HER CHILDHOOD PASSION

Born and brought up in Hyderabad, Sania’s journey began at the age of six at Nizam Club Hyderabad. She received her initial training in tennis by C.K. Bhupathi, father of another tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi, for the initial training. After obtaining professional tennis training from Sinnet Tennis Academy, Secunderabad, Sania joined the Ace Tennis Academy in the United States.

As a junior tennis player, she won 10 singles and 13 doubles titles, which proved that she was meant to make it big in realm of tennis. Since then, there has been no looking back for the champion. In February 2005, she defeated the ninth-seeded Alona Bondarenko in the A.P. Tourism Hyderabad Open finals. This enabled her to grab a WTA title, making her the first Indian woman to have achieved this feat.

THE UNDAUNTED TRAILBLAZER

Despite financial pressures and infrastructural constraints, she chartered her distinct course to success owing to her determination and passion for the sport. While 2007 was the golden year for the tennis player as she was ranked the highest in her career as 27th singles player in the world; the year 2008 brought a brief halt to the professional player’s career while she represented India in the Summer Olympics. She got eliminated from the singles tournament at the event because of a severe wrist injury. The injury led to her withdrawal from the famed tournaments, including the French Open and the US Open Grand Slams. Although it was a major injury, she didn’t stop and continued with the doubles championships.

GARNERING GLORY

The ‘Pride of the Nation’, Sania Mirza has been featured by various national and international publications. An international magazine has named her as one of the ‘50 Heroes of Asia’. She was also listed among the ET’s ‘33 women who made India proud’. She was appointed as the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador at the ‘International Day to End Violence Against Women’ awareness event in November 2013. Time magazine listed her as one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2016.

Having played the singles, doubles and mixed doubles formats, Sania Mirza has chosen to share her wealth of knowledge and will join broadcasters Star Sports as an expert to analyze the day-to-day action of the ongoing Wimbledon for fans across the country.

Mr. Andres Pira

A BOOK THAT CHANGED HIS LIFE

The development of the most beautiful residential, recreational, and commercial structures in Thailand and South East Asia marks the experiential journey of the man whose life changed all of a sudden when he came across a book, “The Secret: Law of Attraction.”

Mr. Pira’s personal life has been a great struggle. After the demise of his grandfather, Mr. Pira’s financial condition turned completely disastrous, post which he decided to moved to Thailand from Stockholm, Sweden, on the recommendation of a booking agent. With a one-way ticket, he decided to start life afresh with no clue of where he would land up.

FROM BEING HOMELESS TO PROVIDING SHELTER

In his 20s, Mr. Pira was homeless and had to spend nights at a beach in Phuket; that was the turning point of his life. One of his friends offered him the book ‘The Secret: Law of Attraction’ while he asked to borrow some money from him; this was the book that became a savior and converted the 20-year-old homeless boy into a 30-year-old real estate tycoon. Reading through the book, he realised that nothing comes to you until you work towards your goals and start manifesting what you desire.

With complete determination, Mr. Andres Pira started focusing on how to be skilled enough to attract wealth, as it is not something that comes easy or given out of charity. As a marketing executive to a real estate developer in Thailand, the ace learned the respective skills and became a shelter provider himself.

OWNS A DISCERNING EYE

Being a struggler throughout his life, Mr. Pira has managed to develop a keen eye for detail. He never fails to focus even on the minutest things that he comes across. From the quality of the structure that is being developed to hunting for the right people to trust on with the business, he emphasizes on every important aspect that makes his team nothing but the best. He is ever-ready to identify and address the shortcomings, as and when they come into the notice.

His clarity is what makes the principles he shares with the people across the globe so much more relatable. The leader has gone through so many unanticipated losses that he is no more scared of taking risks. However, he always recommends taking calculated risks to survive, even if the worst situations occur.

A READER-CUM-WRITER

Today, he is not only the man behind the attractive and luxury recreational centres across the world’s best beaches but also an influencer who inspires the youth by sharing his wealth-attraction principles around the world. In this way, he has been helping the younger generation with high aspirations to proceed towards the achievement of their goals.

He has authored a book titled “Homeless to Billionaire – The 18 Principles of Wealth Attraction and Creating Unlimited Opportunity” in which he offers practical tips to handle successes and failures. His strategies to attract positive vibrations have been universally appreciated and have been found quite effective. Through his book, he has succeeded in inculcating the feeling of optimism in readers across the globe.

After capturing the real estate sector in Thailand and Southeast Asian nations, he is all set to expand his group of companies to other beach locations beyond Phuket. According to his latest revelation, the next destinations that Blue Horizon Developments is planning to target include Bangkok, Krabi, and Samui.

UAE launched Golden Card PR Scheme

The United Arab Emirates recently launched the “Golden Card” Permanent Residency Scheme for expatriates. The scheme, launched by the UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, is meant to pursue and attract wealthy individuals and exceptional talents such as doctors, engineers, scientists, students and artists from all over the world.

Dubai’s ruler took to social media and stated, “We want them to be permanent partners in our journey. Residents are an indispensable part of our country. The first batch of 6,800 investors with Dh100 billion worth of investments will be granted the “Golden Card.”

According to General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, Director General of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai (GDRFA), the department has started issuing permanent residency to the first batch of qualified individuals from over 70 countries.

The scheme of “Golden Card” comes after the last year’s announcement that the country would grant five or ten year residency visas to investors, entrepreneurs, doctors, scientists, and outstanding students to facilitate business and investment environment. The scheme offers a permanent residency with a slew of unprecedented benefits.

Chatri Sityodtong

DOING WHAT HE LOVES

Raised in Thailand, Chatri Sityodtong has written his own script of success that has inspired thousands of people around the world. An entrepreneur and martial artist, Sityodtong has an extraordinary story of building up an empire from nothing but scratch. Chatri, who is currently riding on the chariot of success, was once homeless and survived on one meal per day. Without the support of his father, his family struggled to meet the daily expenses and lived in dire poverty. His perseverance and strong will made him overcome all the obstacles and achieve something as big as reaching the position of the CEO of ONE Championship. He firmly believes that a man is not what he owns but what he loves and he loved martial arts since his childhood. He associated himself with martial arts during his childhood when he started learning Muay Thai boxing under Kru Yodtong Senanan of Sityodtong Camp in Pattaya, Thailand. He has over 30 years of martial arts experience as a student, a fighter, a teacher, and a coach and is a certified senior Muay Thai instructor under the legendary Kru Yodtong Senanan of the world-renowned Sityodtong Gym in Thailand.

IGNITING THE DESIRE TO SUCCEED

Sityodtong incepted the idea of ONE Championship with a mission to unravel the stories of real life superheroes who inspire the world with hope, dreams, inspiration and strength, as he wants to celebrate the deep-rooted Asian values of integrity, humility, honour, respect, courage, discipline and compassion. He wants to unleash greatness in the world through the power of martial arts and hopes to eliminate social evils of poverty and inequality. He believes that the champions who fight against all odds in order to achieve their dreams should be introduced to the world so that they can inspire others to dream more, do more and be more in life. His foresightedness and adept leadership skills have made the brand Asia’s largest sports media property with a global broadcast to over 2 billion viewers in more than 140 countries. Chatri who himself has proved to be a warrior now wants to introduce several ther fighters who can prove to be the role models for thousands of people by igniting their desire to succeed. Since Asia has been the home to martial arts for 5000 years, so he conceptualised the concept of ONE Championship to carry forward this traditional art form. This concept is totally unique and developed after adept planning as he has taken an unprecedented step by introducing weight classes that are unlike any other martial arts organization in the world.

ONE leads the global martial arts industry by banning weight-cutting by dehydration, choosing instead to implement a revolutionary system that ensures athletes are fully hydrated, fit, and healthy ahead of their bouts. The new program, which is the first of its kind for combat sports, is focused on athlete safety by introducing walkingweight competition via multiple weigh-ins and tests before and during fight week, including 3 hours before an event begins.

Chatri is a hardworking & multifaceted person as apart from being the head honcho at ONE Championship, he is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and guest lecturer at INSEAD which is one of the world’s leading business schools. He is also an advisor and mentor to the NUS’ Entrepreneurship Centre and a regular guest speaker at the SMU.

Siddharth Ladsariya

Out-of-the-Box Ideas

Mentoring and helping start-ups to reach the next level through his ingenious angles to traditional processes such as corporate governance, accountability, hiring key people, Siddharth has been making regular waves in the pool of startups. He conducts monthly reviews, tracks the company’s progress, connects the founders to relevant people and evaluates the company’s positioning and strategies from time to time.

As a result, he is not only a favourite on the boards of various angel networks such as Mumbai Angels and Venture Catalyst, but is also popular among his team members at Everest Flavours Ltd., where he is a Director and has professionalized the way his family business runs by hiring relevant people, using various stateof- the-art facilities and research in the manufacturing processes.

His insightful ways have not only helped in improving the overall efficiency in his organization, but have propelled the company to achieve a record revenue growth. Evidences of his ideas bringing exceptional success are many. For instance, he initiated purchasing of raw material needed for his products, directly from 1.25 lakh farmer families, eliminating middlemen, and then employing a robust supply chain and advanced technological measures. When Siddharth founded Everest Travels in 2016, he aggressively expanded the company fleet and achieved instant and remarkable success through the use of technology to monitor the operations, collect metrics and increase the on-road time of drivers.

He not only decentralised the sales process in his family business and hired professionals for managing sales, thus promptly empowering his company to sell to newer international territories, but also implemented changes in policies related to long-term contracts and white labelling of goods.

He has also created a group of 15 most aggressive investors below the age of 40 years, by the name Young Funders Group, who get together once a month to brainstorm various initiatives, policy changes and investments in the start-up ecosystem.

Empowering Employees

Siddharth has the unique combination of being not only a man of ideas, but also a man of action, where he works and gets the work done by entrusting responsibilities on people, empowering them and then, powerfully guiding them. Firmly believing in the concept of Laissez Faire, he chooses the best people for the task and then trusts them to execute it in the best manner possible, without being intrusive in their work, but always leads by example and is invariably found with his team during difficult times. He knows that letting people grow with him, is actually making his growth possible, which leads to a circular mechanism of everyone’s mutual prosperity.

A fan of Mr Buffett, he lives simple, incessantly creates great ideas and greater wealth, and contributes in nation building by investing for the long run. He even tracks his investments only monthly/quarterly, and does not intrude with the day-to-day functioning of his start-ups and remains available for them whenever they need his help. His principles, ideas and traits are much ahead of his time, and they have magnetized a lot of likeminded people, who are ready to share his passion to create the extraordinary out of the ordinary through out-of-the-box ideas, consistent efforts and fresher perceptions.

Boenjamin Setiawan

From Garage to Globe

Boenjamin started his pharmaceutical business in his garage back in 1966 and has turned it not only into a major force in the regional pharmaceutical industry but has also branched out into consumer goods, where it competes head-on-head with industry giants, and in hospitals, under the Mitra Keluarga brand.

Boenjamin’s main interest is stem-cell research and he has set up the Indonesia International Institute of Life Science (i3L) in collaboration with Swedish institutions and offering programs in healthcare, marine science and forestry. The institute’s mission is to be a leading and globally connected interdisciplinary institution that impacts society through science and innovation.

Creating A Giant

There are almost no Indonesians that don’t use products from PT Kalbe Farma, the Indonesian pharmacy giant that produces a lot of popular medicines and nutrition products. The person behind this company is Boenjamin Setiawan, a pharmacy graduate from Universitas Indonesia and University of California who developed PT Kalbe Farma from a small pharmacy store in a small garage in Jakarta to a multinational pharmacy company.

After graduating from the University of California with a pharmacy degree, Boenjamin Setiawan started with a stable, decent job as a pharmacy lecturer. However, his business instincts urged him to open his own pharmacy business. Together with six partners, he started a pharmacy business startup in a small garage in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, and Kalbe Farma was launched on September 10, 1966 as a small pharmacy business.

Transforming & Expanding

The company enjoyed small profits and grew gradually, until the monetary crisis in year 1998 sent many companies in Indonesia to bankruptcy. Even after applying for loan from foreign banks, Boenjamin was unable to keep the company running as well as before, so he decided to sell many of the company assets except those that were related to pharmacy, and started new business branches while also keeping Kalbe Farma as a pharmacy company. During the difficult times, Boenjamin kept his company from crumbling by expanding the company’s business to other fields like property and logistic, but still strengthening the main business in pharmacy.

Finally, he managed to keep PT Kalbe Farma from bankruptcy, and later even managed to increase its business expansions and profits. In 2012, Kalbe Farma even managed to acquire a health beverage company, Hale International. In the same year, the company also went into joint venture with Milko Beverage and built Kalbe Milko Indonesia. This company later made popular health beverages in Indonesia such as Sakatonik, Extra Joss and Fatigon.

The key of Kalbe Farma’s success is strong business base, which focuses on pharmacy despite various business branches expanded by the company. Currently, about 17.4% of its profits come from medicine products, and 20% come from nutritional or health products such as baby and toddler milk, pregnant mother supplement and extra calcium milk.

Boenjamin, who is now 80 years old, has now retired and decided to move his business to younger generation. Currently, his niece Bernadette Ruth Setiady holds the position as Director.

Mochtar Riady

A LIFE TIME OF SUCCESS

Through hard work, determination and an unwavering spirit of an entrepreneur, Mochtar Riady grew his company into one of Asia’s leading diversified conglomerates. Riady also transformed Indonesia’s banking landscape and became widely acknowledged as a master in turning around the fortunes of financial institutions, making his mark in creating the country’s top banks – Bank Buana, Bank Panin, Bank Central Asia and then Lippo Bank.

As one of Asia’s largest and most diversified conglomerates, Lippo Group’s investments in real estate, retail, hospitality and leisure, healthcare, education, media and news, telecommunications, digital technologies and financial services have been driven by his responsibility to the community. Lippo Group is now the largest listed property company in Indonesia by total assets and revenue, with a unique and integrated business model.

Riady operates Indonesia’s premier private hospital group, the only one achieving world class standards, and is an undisputed retail property industry leader, and his vision is to impact lives, particularly through environment friendly, high quality and sustainable business activities. The Group builds the foundation through the implementation of Corporate Governance (CG) in all aspects of the business as well as at every level of the organization. By implementing the Corporate Governance Principles expectedly, it enables more transparency and the most recent development information regarding the performance and the prospects of the Group. Riady always prioritizes environmental sustainability on property development.

TOWERING ACHIEVEMENTS

Riady likes to integrate eco-friendly concepts, and align green space with the best amenities. His CSR activities focus on three main pillars, namely education, public health, and environmental awareness, with special focus on critical situations that arise in the country, such as natural disasters that impact many lives. These pillars are interrelated with the objective to improve the quality of life and prosperity of the nation in general. Understanding that people are increasingly looking for potential areas for property investment, the Lippo Group’s commitment continues to develop five pillars of development, namely Innovative Infrastructure & Transportation, High Tech CBD & Research Hub, Business & Commercial Hub, Green Sustainable Living and Center of Art, Culture & Education.

Riady recalls that he started from what he calls sandang, pangan, papan, jalan, which respectively means clothing, food, housing, roads, but today his business empire permeates every corner of life in Indonesia.

With a mix of listed and private entities both at home and abroad, Mr Riady’s empire is difficult to value, but the value he has created in the lives of Indonesians is unparalleled.

He is committed towards actively participating in sustainable economic development to improve the quality of life and environment for the collective benefit of the company, local community, and society at large. Riady’s main focus now is the next big shift: moving more business online, as is evident from the launch of MatahariMall.com ecommerce platform.

Robert Kuok

AN INSPIRING STORY

Robert Kuok’s story is one of immense motivation, as his up-hill climb started as an office-boy, after which he became the clerk of a rice trading department in Singapore. He started from a humble beginning in Johore Baru and over the years with the right attitude and sweat, blood and tears, he moved ahead as he was a quick learner. Three years in the rice trading department helped him learn the trading business. He founded the Malayan Sugar Manufacturing Co., which quickly gained popularity. It went on to become a monopoly in sugar production space of Malaysia producing 80% of Malaysia’s sugar and 10% of world’s sugar. That’s precisely how Kuok got his nick name, ‘the sugar king of Asia’, and became the richest man of Malaysia. As a young man, he believed that there was no substitute for hard work and thinking up good, honest business plans and, without respite, he pushing along. With so many businesses in so many countries, this incredible business man always believed that he is the “little string that ties the rings together”. Experts would often say that his speed and cleverness led to that nearimpossible success. Also, he was never afraid to collaborate with the rest of the world unlike the eastern businessmen of the early 20th century and that was one more thing that led to him being one of the most successful businessmen of the east. Believing that there will always be business on earth, he makes relentless endeavours to maintain and practice the values of integrity and honesty, and eschew and reject greed and arrogance. He always advises to be humble, be straight, don’t be crooked, and don’t take advantage of people.

EXECUTING CHALLENGES

Kuok Group is one of Asia’s most diversified and dynamic multi-national conglomerates with investments in commodities, hospitality, logistics, real estate and shipping & shipping related businesses, amongst others. Kuok (Singapore) Limited shares common heritage with two other holding companies, namely Kerry Holdings Limited in Hong Kong and Kuok Brothers in Malaysia, in that they were all founded by the Kuok family. Together, the collective group of companies is commonly referred to as the “Kuok Group” in Southeast Asia and “Kerry Group” in Northeast Asia.

Behind its success is a commitment to serving its customers and a determination to evolve with the times. The Kuok Group believes that success is measured not only by profits, but also by the contributions made to people’s lives and to society as a whole. As it grows, the Kuok Group’s attitudes and actions continue to be guided by the core values of loyalty, integrity and unity.

Today, the Kuok Group has diverse operations in all five continents, with specialisations in Properties, Hospitality, Logistics, Media, Maritime, Commodities, Environment and Philanthropy.

Robert Kuok always believed that a good leader will lead the organization to a better future and also provide benefits to society, and the characteristic of a leader is also important because it may affect the society when the leader becomes the role model of the world, and people will practice what the leader has done to achieve extraordinary success. His talent in business is unparalleled and his story continues to awe and inspire a lot of businessmen throughout the globe.

Dr. Mohammad Salem Omaid

AN INSPIRING AND TRUE BANKING PROFESSIONAL

Under the strategic direction and leadership of Dr. Mohammad Salem Omaid, Azizi Bank, Afghanistan’s largest commercial bank headquartered in Zanbaq Square in Kabul has expanded its presence across 30 provinces and is the upshot of the specialized and entrepreneurial commitment of its founder Mirwais Azizi and his team to establish a high-quality, customercentered, and a service-oriented private Afghan bank catering to foster the businesses of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

LEADING THE WAY

Established in 2006, Azizi Bank is progressively growing as the den of expert economists who work to realise the long-standing mission of “building the finest quality bank of the world in Afghanistan” by 2022. Azizi’s zeal to succeed and inventiveness led him to introduce banking services such as retail & corporate banking, treasury, payment & settlement, remittance services through Western Union, credit, and different delivery channels for diverse business segments

He is a doctorate in Financial Management from a leading Indian university, a post-graduate and also holds an MBA in Banking, Risk Management, and Finance. Playing an instrumental role Bank, Dr. Omaid has mandated his team to follow the globally best banking practices, premier standards of service quality, and operational brilliance at all stages of business. This has made Azizi Bank the largest bank in the Afghanistan, with over 140 branches and more than 100 ATMs, along with its 100% subsidiary bank, the Islamic Bank of Afghanistan.

Dr. Omaid has served the bank in various capacities and carries immense experience in the diverse areas of strategic policies, financial regulation, foreign exchange management, and banking operations. He has played a crucial and central role in maintaining international business relations with key corporate figures, banks, and stakeholders.

A highly distinguished banking professional, Dr. Omaid is a great manager and has been leading the bank to excellence despite acute political and economic uncertainty. Being a resultoriented businessperson who believes in upholding ethics, Dr. Omaid has established a transparent corporate governance structure at Azizi Bank to ensure accountability and make discipline, independence, and fairness key values to be followed by the management and the employees. Taking delegation and empowerment as important parameters to drive growth, he has been highly successful in mentoring employees and helps them grow as competent professionals. Along with continuing to work on expanding the presence of the bank and the scope of its services, Dr. Omaid supervises compliance, risk management skills, systems and processes for further enhancement.

AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

Time and again, Dr. Omaid has been recognised by the government of Afghanistan and other international firms for his relentless efforts in strengthening the banking structure in Afghanistan. The government of Afghanistan awarded him for playing an effective role in the development of the national banking sector. Simultaneously, he has also been felicitated by the Ministry of Defence for the establishment of a proper and transparent salary payment system for the Afghan soldiers. International honours to his credit include the Promising Young Banker Award by the Asian Banker, Singapore; Queen Victoria Badge by the Europe Business Assembly, UK; Best Private Banking CEO, Afghanistan by the South Asian Partnership Summit.

Other than being the Chairman of the Afghanistan Banking Association, he is an active member of the Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce, UK; World Confederation of Business, USA; and is the Chairman of the banking commission, The International Chamber of Commerce, Afghanistan wing.

India & The UAE Relations: Supporting Stability & Strength in Mutual Economic Corridors

Though Indo–UAE cultural, religious and economic relations are age-old, new paths were paved after the accession of H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966. When UAE Federation was created in 1971, formal diplomatic relations between the two countries were initiated, as the UAE Embassy opened in India in 1972 and the Indian Embassy in the UAE in 1973.

Understanding the political and economic importance of each other, both countries sincerely and consistently worked on improving relations & business, and occasionally gave momentum with visits of top leaders from both sides.

NEW COMPREHENSIVE & STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

The initiation of the current golden era took place in 2015 with the historic visit of PM Narendra Modi to the UAE. This led to consolidation of the existing relationship in the old sectors, and exploration of newer areas for taking the bilateral relations to an altogether new level.

Acknowledging each other’s growing importance in the world economy and to create more win–win situations, H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, visited India in 2016. This took the discussions and agreements to the next level, and the following wide-ranging and far-reaching agreements/MoUs were made/signed carefully considering the bilateral, regional and multilateral concerns: Facilitation of Institutional Investors in Infrastructure, Cooperation in Renewable Energy, Cooperation in Combating Cyber-Crimes, Cultural Exchange, Space, Skill Development, Insurance and Currency swaps.

H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited India soon again in 2017 as the Chief Guest for India’s Republic day celebrations. These two visits created an unprecedented momentum, and both countries held several Ministerial-level visits and established institutional mechanisms for sustained action on sector-specific opportunities. Such institutional mechanisms include Joint Commission for Economic and Technical Cooperation (JCM), Strategic Dialogue, Foreign Office Consultations (FOC), High Level Task Force on Investment (HLTFI), Joint Committee on Security Matters (JCSM), Joint Committee on Consular Matters (JCCM), Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC), Joint Working Group (JWG) on Renewable Energy and Joint Committee on Manpower Resources (JCMR).

In addition to the above mechanisms, a local coordination and grievance redressal mechanism, in the form of a Local Coordination Committee (LCC), has also been put into place, which redresses grievances of the Indian community in the UAE. LCC comprises officers from the Embassy and their UAE counterparts, meets regularly and resolves consular, manpower and community-related issues.

The significance and enhancement of bilateral relations between India and the UAE may be understood by observing that ministerial visits between the two countries have become a regular phenomenon to initiate, get the ball rolling and to finally implement: Mr. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines, visited the UAE in January 2017; Dr. Subhash Bhamre, Minister of State for Defense, visited the UAE in February 2017; Mr. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Railways, visited the UAE in March 2017; Mr. M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, visited the UAE in April 2017; Ms. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Minister of State for Food Processing, visited the UAE in August 2017; Mr. M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, visited the UAE again in October 2017; Mr. N. Chandrababu Naidu visited the UAE in October 2017; and Mr. M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, visited the UAE a third time in November 2017.

IMPROVING COMMERCIAL RELATIONS

India is the largest trading partner of the UAE, and the UAE is the third-largest – after China and the US – trading partner of India. UAE is also the second-largest export destination of India, and the tenth-biggest investor in India in terms of FDI.

The huge business community from India has played a major role in the economic development of the UAE, and it makes an annual remittance of several billion USD. The contribution of the Indian community in the development and prosperity of the UAE has been duly acknowledged by the UAE Government, and it has also taken steps for developing efficient grievance-redressal mechanisms for the Indian workers in the UAE. The Indian Embassy has developed Guidelines for Indians in the UAE so they avail maximum benefits, a comprehensive online web-based NRI registration system has been developed for Indians resident in the UAE, and an online web-based portal called E-migrate system has also been established for recruitment of Indian workers in the UAE.

HISTORICAL CULTURAL RELATIONS

Historical ties between both countries have led to regular cultural exchanges both at official and people-to-people levels. The Indian Embassy regularly organizes various cultural activities at its own as well as by collaborating with Indian Associations/Cultural Organizations based in the UAE, and in addition to business forums, celebrates International Yoga Day, Gandhi Jayanti, and other events such as unveiling stamps on Ramayana.

The Embassy supports cultural events organized by various expatriate Indian Associations, as the Indian Community in the UAE is the largest expatriate community in the UAE, and their involvement makes a positive impact on the public and cultures of both nations.

FOREIGN POLICY

Narendra Modi’s PM-level visit to the UAE in 2015 took place after a gap of 34 years, as the last Prime Minister to visit the UAE was Indira Gandhi in 1981. However, more important are the follow-up visits and subsequent actions that took place after Narendra Modi’s visit, as since 2015, both countries have created unprecedented momentum of discussions and actions, which has not only achieved a lot on the ground, but has also given a message to the world that both India and the UAE are serious about business growth and stand together powerfully on every matter of concern.

India and the UAE have taken several steps in the recent years to build strong bilateral relations. Some of them include:

• The UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and its partner Saudi Aramco have jointly taken a 50 percent stake in the planned $44 billion refinery-cum-petrochemical complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. Aramco and ADNOC will together own 50 percent of the planned project. The remaining 50 per cent stake is held by India’s state-owned Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Hindustan Petroleum.

• India has built 5.33 million tonne of emergency storage that is enough to meet its oil needs for 9.5 days, in underground rock caverns in Mangalore and Padur in Karnataka and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh. It has allowed foreign oil companies to store oil in the storages on condition that the stockpile can be used by New Delhi in case of an emergency.

• India and the UAE have signed a currency swap agreement to boost trade and economic relations. The agreement is expected to reduce the dependency on hard currencies like US dollar and give a push to the local currencies of the two nations. It will also reduce the impact of volatility in exchange rate arising from the dependency on a third currency. India and the UAE bilateral trade stood at $52 billion in 2017, with non-oil trade accounting for $34 billion. India’s FDI into the UAE in 2016-17 was $6.6 billion while the UAE’s investment in India stood at $5.8 billion.

• A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by India and the UAE to explore opportunities for mobilization of up to $75 billion long-term investment in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). The objective of NIIF is to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks. NIIF will solicit equity participation from strategic anchor partners.

• The UAE has actively worked with India to hand over terrorists and terror masterminds in the past decade. The UAE has also shown its seriousness in its partnership with India against terrorism by showing its preference towards India as a key pillar of its Look East Policy amid growing disenchantment with traditional ally Pakistan. The UAE has even deported Indian-origin sympathizers of the Islamic State (IS), and has voluntarily shared information with India on terror operatives and their networks.

• Extradition of Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the INR 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal has been a diplomatic victory for India. Two other accused in the case were also extradited from the UAE later. This shows how close both countries have come on extradition matters as things that did not happen years were done in one day.

• To improve ties further, for the first time Indian firms have been given a stake in Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas field. This happened when an Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC)-led consortium of Indian state oil firms was awarded 10% stake in Abu Dhabi’s offshore Lower Zakum Concession for $600 million. The current production of this field is about 400,000 barrels of oil per day and Indian firms’ annual share shall be about 2 million metric tonnes. The field output is set to plateau at 450,000 barrels per day by 2025. This mutually beneficial partnership will create opportunities for ADNOC to increase its market share in the fast-growing Indian market. By delivering high-quality crude to India’s expanding refining industry, it will help India meet its growing energy demand.

• The UAE and Saudi Arabia have decided to make India as a base for food security for the countries and plan to invest in both organic and food processing industries. The Indian government has identified products to be exported from each district, and has divided them into clusters for better results. For example, Nasik has been identified for grapes, Nagpur for oranges and Ratnagiri for mangoes. The UAE and Saudi Arabia showed interest in investing in Indian agriculture after the new export policy removed restrictions on the export of both organic and horticultural products.

• India has achieved a major diplomatic breakthrough with an invitation as a guest of honour to the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) foreign ministers. This fact is more important in the light that Pakistan is a founding member of the OIC, and it tried blocking India’s attendance at OIC. The UAE was the host, and it stood firm behind India. This was a message to the world that voice of moderation was gaining strength among OIC member states, with the UAE leading from the front.

ANALYSIS

The growing relations have been very ambitious, and have a distinct pattern, as analyzed below:

• Bilateral relations between India and the UAE were traditionally based on oil and general import & export of commodities. However, as the UAE decided to aggressively diversify its economy, it reached out to the world. Indians, who comprise the largest expatriate community in the UAE (at over 3.3 million people, it is also one of the largest Indian expatriate community in the world), were quick to reap the benefits of this outreach, and at a balance of trade figure of USD 57 billion, have become the largest trading partner of the UAE.

• Back in 1982 (Indira Gandhi was the last Indian Prime Minister before Narendra Modi who visited the UAE), foreign trade between India and the UAE stood at USD 182 million. By 2016–17, it had reached USD 53 billion. Today, we have explored fresher sectors for trade, such as IT, space technology, tourism, defence manufacturing and renewable energy.

• India’s foreign policy, economy and global reputation have exceptionally improved since 1981, as India has become the fastest-growing major economy in the world. During Indira Gandhi’s time, the world knew India as the friend of Soviet Union. Currently, we have friendly relations with all the countries of the world. This offers us an opportunity to create multidimensional beneficial relations with the UAE.

• India’s image before the world is that of a non-interfering, peaceful country that wants security and stability with its neighbours and all over the world. In addition, India has projected an image that it is willing to take actions and decisions on mutually beneficially opportunities. Its foreign policy appears mature, proactive and dynamic. This sure has attracted the UAE to match the willingness to embrace and explore newer avenues. The two countries are not simply good to each other; they have started acting and implementing together.

• Fight against terrorism has brought both countries together. Defence cooperation and combating extremism and ideologies of hatred have encouraged them to work together and find mutual solutions.

• The growing opportunities and population in India have also increased a demand for jobs. Indians have been seeking job opportunities in the UAE very actively, and this gives an additional commercial opportunity to both the countries, as these Indians are not only helping in the development of the UAE, but these more than 3.3 million people are the largest source of remittances to India – close to USD 15 billion.

• India is the fastest-growing major economy in the world; its markets need investments; it’s the third-largest consumer of oil; on the other hand, the UAE has sovereign funds with a corpus of over a trillion dollars. It makes complete sense that their relations are improving.

• Very different from earlier actions taken to improve bilateral relations, high-level visits from both sides have been followed by a formation of a rigorous structure of committees. This has transformed the relations into a comprehensive strategic partnership, as these committees are working full time for definite results and improvements in relations. These committees meet once or twice a year, and explore how investment opportunities and foreign direct investments between both nations can be increased.

• Increase in investment platforms such as the UAE–India Economic Forum or the Asian Business & Social Forum has helped increase the interactions between various stakeholders, and has also helped take the relations at the next level.

• The Indian diaspora of more than 3.3 million is not passive. With a record 1,000-plus flights a week between India and the UAE, tourism between the two countries has risen immensely. The UAE has significantly eased visiting visa norms for Indians, as anyone carrying a US visa or a Green Card or a UK or EU visa or holding a residency gets a visa on arrival in the UAE. Reciprocating vision and intention, India has set up an e-visa scheme for Emiratis, under which UAE nationals get almost instantaneous visas at 16 airports across India.

• Such visits have also helped both countries offer opportunities in the fields of education, investments, medical treatments, or vacation tourism.

• Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been awarded the Zayed Medal, the highest civil honour of United Arab Emirates (UAE). Though because of the timing, many considered it a pre-poll move to boost his image, it must be understood that the UAE always wanted to recognize PM Modi’s long and concerted efforts towards developing strong ties with the Gulf countries. The award also reflected PM Modi’s special efforts towards boosting relations between the Emiratis and Indians.

• PM Modi’s efforts are more than conspicuous as he has visited 10 West Asian countries since 2014, more than his four predecessors combined. His efforts definitely yielded results as despite large volumes of trade, and several million Indians remitting several billion dollars back home each year from Gulf States, investments didn’t improve for decades.

Matter of factly, things started changing under PM Modi, Indo-UAE relations improved immensely, and gradually but strategically the UAE emerged as a partner in fields such as defence and counter-terrorism.

Because PM Modi has adopted a bold approach in foreign policy not only with our neighbours, but throughout the world, his efforts have also generally improved India’s stance in the Arab world.

India’s strategic demographic and geographic connections with the entire world give it power to amicably resolve several global and international issues.

The growing closeness with the UAE and powerful trade relations with Iran would definitely help India continue its stable relations with the entire Gulf.