India & UAE: Cultural ties reaching new horizons
UAE -The United Arab Emirates and India are intertwined with strong bilateral relations that are engraved with strong friendship bond. The ties are based on age old connections across arenas like religion, culture and economy. The relations between two nations flourished after accession of His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan as ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966. This was further bolstered in 1971 with the creation of the UAE Federation.
The esteemed leadership of UAE and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government taking these relations to a new level. The common vision of strengthening economic ties and shared outlooks towards geopolitics have laid the foundation for a more promising and robust partnership between India and the UAE.
UAE and India share strong cultural ties and exchanges since decades. India and UAE had signed a Cultural Agreement in 1975. The ICCR had opened a Culture Centre in Abu Dhabi in 2009 but it was later closed in 2014. Prominent events organized by the Culture Centre include handicraft bazar – Discover India (February 2011); poetry reading session by Dr. Satchidanandan, an Indian poet and Arabic Translations by Arabic poet Dr Shihab Ghanem; a session on Indo-Arab Relations through the ages in History, Art & Culture, with special emphasis on UAE (November 2011); and many such events highlighting cultures of both countries were organized over the years. The cultural events around Indian festivals and culture exhibit the excellent co-existence of people from both the nations – a manifestation of tolerance.
The bond between the UAE and India has emerged from a long and colourful relationship from times when both countries hadn’t even dreamt of becoming modern states. At least five millennia ago they were engaged with trade and exchanges of culture, goods and ideas, thus forming the foundation of strong relationship that we now are a witness of.
Over years UAE has grown to be home to a large Indian expatriate community. With over 2.6 million Indians living in UAE, it is the largest expatriate community in the Emirates. Data suggests that professionally qualified Indian citizens constitute about 15 to 20 per cent of the community, followed by 20 per cent white-collar non-professionals (such as clerical staff, shop assistants, sales men, accountants) and the remaining 65 per cent are blue-collar workers. Keeping this into account, Indian community plays a major role in UAE’s economic development.
Bolstering the relations and co-existence of both cultures has led to the formation of India – UAE Cultural Council. This council, that was formed after the historic CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) between both countries, will aim to enable plethora of cross-cultural exchanges between the two countries.
The agreement to form this cultural council is a part of many other partnerships between India and UAE shared in a joint Vision Statement by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The council has been tasked to promote and facilitate cross-cultural exchanges, cultural projects and exhibitions. Through the establishment of India – UAE Cultural Council, both countries are also prepared to explore the shared cultural heritage and pave journey ahead for shared future collaborations.