A delegation of Indian government officials and business leaders from India visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on Tuesday. The visit was arranged to celebrate historic ties between the two nations and to explore lucrative investment opportunities in the Kingdom arising from its ambitious national transformation plan, Vision 2030.
The delegation’s visit coincided with the ‘Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-India Day’ and underscores the historic and close ties between the two nations. It followed the recent India-GCC Business Conference, hosted by the India Pavilion, where discussions focused on building business technology corridors between India and the GCC in addition to identifying opportunities for entrepreneurship.
During a tour of the Saudi Pavilion, which showcases each of the Kingdom’s 13 regions through immersive and interactive exhibits on economy and investment, arts and culture, nature and energy, the Indian delegation gained a glimpse of the myriad investment opportunities in the Kingdom. The group was introduced to giga projects initiated under Vision 2030 including NEOM, Qiddiya and the Red Sea Project, which are set to support the creation of new industries that will shape the Kingdom’s future beyond oil.
The Indian government was represented by Dr. Srikar Reddy, Joint Secretary of Foreign Trade WANA; Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai and Deputy Commissioner General for India at Expo 2020 Dubai; Siddharth Barielly, Head of Chancery, CGI Dubai, GOI; and K. Kalimuthu, Consul Commerce, CGI Dubai, GOI.
The delegation of Indian business leaders included senior executives from leading companies including V.S. Sahney, Chair, FICCI-India Arab Business Council, and Chairman, Sun Group; Mani Kishore Vajipeyajula, CEO, Banyan Nation Recycling; Kamendra Kumar, Director Technical, Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd, and Rajiv K. Luthra, Founder & Managing Partner, L&L Partners Law Offices.
The guests were greeted at the Saudi Pavilion by H.E. Turki Aldakhil, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates, and officials from the Saudi Ministry of Investment, including Faisal Hamza, Undersecretary for Investment Attraction and Development at the Ministry of Investment, and Hussain Hanbazazah, Commissioner General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council
In his welcoming remarks, Hussain Hanbazazah, Commissioner General of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, said the gathering celebrates the long-standing close relations of the two nations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of India fostered close ties for many generations prior to the establishment of official relations in 1948, he added.
The Saudi-Indian Strategic Partnership Council agreement was signed by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the Kingdom in October 2019.
The Strategic Partnership Council aims to boost strategic cooperation between the two countries, focusing on crucial areas of interest to fulfill the strategic goals, ambitions, and economic reforms, thereby increasing the prosperity of the two nations, he said.
“Consequently, strategic sectors were identified as potential areas of collaboration, such as Agriculture & Food Security, Energy, Technology & Information Technology, and Industry,” Hanbazazah added.
“As a result of our leaders’ efforts and directions, we have recently seen development in bilateral trade as India became our second largest trading partner for the second quarter of 2021, in terms of Saudi exports, by approximately of $5.8 billion, and the fifth in terms of imports, in addition to the bilateral investments between the two countries.”
He said despite the significant challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic the Kingdom and India have shown a great example to the world how partners can support each other by helping each other during critical times.
““An event like today on the global stage of Expo 2020 Dubai in the spirit of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ will deepen our strategic partnership and help us to pursue mutually-beneficial ventures serving our nations’ goals for a brighter future ahead,” Commissioner General Hanbazazah said, adding that the Pavilion tour “allows the visitors to explore and discover the potential of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the opportunities that represent and serve our partners here in India.”
‘One of the Best Pavilions’
In his speech, Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, said: “ “I must congratulate the Saudi Arabia team for their magnificent and innovative country pavilion at the Expo 2020, painting an interesting depiction of its past, present and future truly, reflective of its Vision 2030. .. This is one of the best pavilions amongst the 200 pavilions at the Expo 2020 Dubai.”
Both the Indian and Saudi pavilions are amongst the event’s largest and those that will remain part of the Expo 2020 legacy, he said.
India and Saudi Arabia’s cordial and friendly relations reflecting centuries of economic and social cultural ties were elevated to strategic partnership during the visit of Prime Minister Modi in October 2019, Dr. Puri said, adding the 2.6 million-strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community there and is highly respected.
Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner with substantial investments by Aramco and SABIC, amongst others, he said.
“Saudi Arabia has remained a dependable partner for India to meet its hydrocarbon requirements. There are some opportunities for India, Saudi Arabia collaboration in the new and emerging technologies as also in expanding the start of collaboration,” Dr. Puri said.
“I’m optimistic about the fruitful interactions amongst the startup and investors from both countries by following the theme of the Expo 2020 ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’.”
Cultural Co-curation Performance
Following the tour, the delegation was treated to a special co-curated cultural show at the Saudi Pavilion that included a colorful dancing performance from both nations, concluding the day’s activities.
“The beautiful cultural show underscores the collaboration between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and India,” Commissioner General Hanbazazah said.
The Saudi and Indian Pavilions are among the most visited pavilions at Expo 2020 Dubai, with the Saudi Pavilion receiving more than 615,000 visits during the month of October, accounting for more than a quarter of the 2.35 million visits to Expo 2020 Dubai that month. The India Pavilion attracted more than 200,000 visitors from October 1 to November 3, making it one of the most visited pavilions, according to Dr. Puri.