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RSTV : India and West Asia

1.India and Saudi Arabia  inked over a dozen agreements in several key sectors including oil and gas, defence and civil aviation to bolster their ties as Prime Minister Narendra Modi held extensive talks with the Kingdom’s top leadership during which a Strategic Partnership Council was established to coordinate on important issues.

2.There was a first-ever visit by any Saudi king to India was in 1955. In 1971 war, Saudi’s came out in support of Pakistan heavily. Mrs.Indira Gandhi visited in 1982.  After that it was after 51 years when a second visit was marked by the Saudi kingdom to India, in 2006. So,there was this long communication gap between the two countries.But After 2006, relations have substantially improved– Firstly, because of 9/11 and Secondly, due to a shift on the issue of terrorism(and change in stand on Pakistan and Kashmir).India has succeeded in getting the Saudis and other gulf countries from de-hyphenate Pakistan to a large extent. Pakistan is no longer a factor influencing Indo-Saudi relation.

3.India is a major market with 80% of our supplies coming from Saudi Arabia. Therefore, energy security is a major factor determining the relations. Trade Relations have also improved with almost 3 Million Indian workers presently in Saudi. The trade partnership is  nearly 32 billion dollar  between India and Saudi Arabia. Nearly 150 Indian Companies(Both in Public and Private sector) are there in Saudi. The Cooperation in Defence sector, Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism has picked up in the past 6-7 years. Hence, India and Saudi Arabia see eye to eye on a number of issues so much so that now the Joint Strategic Partnership Council has been formed.

4.Saudi Arabia is looking for an alternate economic model and the primary growth is coming from the east and not the west. Their  Vision 2030 mentions 8 countries and most of these are Asian Countries.This list mentions both India and China. It is trying to modernise it’s economy beyond Oil. They are looking for Small and Medium scale industries particularly software her India plays a role.

5.UAE was lying low for the last 50 years.In the past few years it is trying to emerge out of it’s shell and here is where India comes in.The UAE is India’s third largest trade partner with about USD 60 billion bilateral trade in 2018-19. There are about 2.5 million Indian workers in UAE. India-UAE Cooperate on a variety of issues such as Counter-Terrorism, Defence, Frequent Millitary exercises,etc, And now as the Indian Ocean Rim Association is going to be headed by the UAE, it is going to play an important role.

6.Israel: The bilateral relations between India and Israel hinge on three pegs – economic, defence and people to people contacts and are achieving new heights. India is Israel’s 10th largest trading partner. After the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1992, civilian bilateral trade has grown to about $5 billion per year.Rainwater harvesting and agriculture are the fields where the Israeli expertise and technology efficiency is something that India has to learn from.

7.Iran: The economic sanctions of the US certainly impact India’s relationship with Iran. Even the relations of Iran with Saudi and UAE are not good. As regards Turkey, India has begun to re-evaluate its relationship because Turkey has not taken a very helpful position in the context of Pakistan and so naturally India will re-evaluate its own thinking in this regard.

The major players in West Asia at the moment are Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israeland India has flourishing relations with all these three. Along with Saudi and UAE, Iraq is also extremely important for India because of its petroleum exports. So, India’s relationship naturally is of considerable importance in this context with these countries.

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