12 MoUs To Be Signed
In an exclusive conversation with Prasar Bharti, Ausaf Sayeed, India’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia said,
“There are 12 agreements being signed. The important ones pertain to the defence procurement industry, renewable energy and then there is one in civil aviation. We look forward that this visit becomes a landmark visit once again after PM Modi’s 2016 visit.”
Both sides will be signing the Strategic Partnership Council MoU, which will be headed by PM Modi and Crown Prince and have two verticals at foreign ministers level and trade ministers level. Under vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has selected 8 countries for forming strategic partnership.
SAUDI ARABIA TO FORM SPC WITH 8 COUNTRIES
(7) South Korea
The SPC was agreed in February this year and aims to monitor the Strategic partnership between both countries.
FOCUS ON ENERGY
Energy remains the key component of the visit with India importing 18% of its crude oil requirement from the West Asian country.
T S Tirumurti, secretary economic relations, ministry of external affairs in a press conference ahead of the visit said, “We also hope to sign an MoU on a joint venture between Indian Oil Middle East with Al-Jeri Company of Saudi Arabia for downstream cooperation for inter-alia setting up retail outlets in Saudi Arabia. Energy security has been the main area of India’s engagement with Saudi Arabia. We are well on our way to transforming the buyer-seller relationship in this sector into a much larger strategic partnership.”
HIGHLIGHTS IN ENERGY SECTOR
(1) Saudi Aramco, UAE’s ADNOC and Indian public sector oil companies are jointly developing $44 billion “west coast refinery” in Raigad, Maharashtra which is the single largest Greenfield refinery in India.
(2) Saudi company Alfanar is currently executing a 300 MW wind power project in Kutch, Gujarat.
(3) Indian company Reliance announced that Saudi Aramco, one of the most valuable and profitable companies in the world, will take over 20% share in RIL Oil and Chemical business at a value of whopping $75 billion.
(4) Saudi is also looking to participate in India’s strategic petroleum reserves.
FUTURE INVESTMENT INITIATIVE (FII) FORUM
The highlight of the visit will be PM Modi’s speech at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) Forum in Riyadh.PM will be attending the third session of the investment meet and will deliver the keynote address. The FII is organised by Kingdom’s Sovereign Wealth Fund – The Public Investment Fund and is organised under Saudi King’s vision 2030 which expects the economic transformation of the country from an oil-based economy to a more diversified economy. It was first organised in 2017.
PEOPLE TO PEOPLE TIES
To help 2.6 million Indian community, India will be launching RuPay card. Saudi Arabia is the 3rd country in West Asia after Bahrain and UAE to get the facility.
“An MoU is likely to be signed during the visit to launch the Rupay card in Saudi Arabia which will be very useful for not only the large Indian community but also Haj and Umrah pilgrims, “T S Tirumurti said.
HIGHLIGHTS OF PEOPLE TO PEOPLE CONNECT
(1) 2.6 million-strong Indian community in SAUDI ARABIA sends $11 billion in remittances
(2) With an increase in Haj quota to 2,00,000 from 1,750,25, the people to people linkages between the two countries are strong.
(3) Around 7,00,000 Indians visit Saudi Arabia for Umrah each year
(4) For the welfare of the Indian workers, PM Modi will launch the integration of e-migrate system which will be aligned with Saudi counterpart to provide safeguard on employment conditions.
(5) India and Saudi Arabia will sign MoU to increase the quota for flights between the two countries.During Crown Prince’s February visit, India had agreed to an increase of 8000 seats per week.
Both countries are increasingly cooperating in defence sector with special focus on maritime security in the Indian ocean.
HIGHLIGHTS OF DEFENCE SECTOR
(1) The first India Saudi Arabia Joint Naval exercises will be held by December end.
(2) India has been training Saudi defence personnel such as Saudi cadet officers at NDA, Pune and Saudi officers in NDC in Delhi and Defence service Staff College in Wellington.
(3) India is also leveraging its expertise in cyberspace with Saudi officers and are being given training in cyber security at the Gujarat Forensic Science University in Gandhinagar.
(4) The Saudi Royal Navy had visited India in August this year and visited the information fusion centre of the Indian Ocean region set up by the Indian navy.
On terror, T S Tirumurti, secretary economic relations, ministry of external affairs has said that”no doubt that both countries are equally concerned about terrorism and you would also recall that India itself had condemned the missile and drone strikes on inter-alia the Saudi oil installations and facilities. So, therefore, terrorism has been an important aspect of our discussions and our cooperation.” Saudi Arabia had also condemned the Pulwama and Uri attacks.
HIGHLIGHTS OF INDIA-SAUDI ARABIA RELATIONS
(1) This will be the 2nd visit of PM Modi to Saudi Arabia since 2016 and comes months after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman visited India.
(2) During the 2016 visit to Saudi Arabia, PM Modi was conferred the highest civilian award of the kingdom, King Abdul Aziz Sash.
(3) Saudi Arabia has announced that it will invest up to $100 billion in India.
(4) Trade in last financial year grew by $24 billion and stands at $34 billion.
(5) There are around 322 Indian companies in the kingdom such as L&T, Wipro, TCS and Startups like PayTM, OYO etc.
(6) Last year India was the guest of honour at the 32nd edition of the Saudi National festival of heritage and culture–Janadriyah in which the then external affairs minister of India Sushma Swaraj participated.
(7) Yoga has been allowed in the country since November 2017 and since then has been gaining popularity.
Thus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia will take relations between two countries to new heights.
By Arun Sharma (@ArunSharmaLive)