New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the first half of next month has been postponed, people familiar with the development said on Wednesday.
The prime minister was scheduled to visit the strategically important Gulf nation around January 6, they said.
The people cited above said the visit has been postponed in view of the rising cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant and that it could take place in February.
Both India and the UAE have witnessed rising cases of Omicron.
The year 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and the UAE and the visit was planned in sync with it.
The ties between India and the UAE have seen a major upswing in the last few years.
Both India and the UAE have been holding talks to firm up a comprehensive free trade agreement to further boost economic ties.
In reflection of their growing strategic ties, India and the UAE recently became part of a new four-nation grouping that is expected to be focusing on issues relating to trade and investment. The other two members are the US and Israel.
The upward trajectory in the ties followed Modi’s visit to the UAE in 2015 as it marked the beginning of a new phase in partnership.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, visited India in 2016. He again visited India in January 2017 as the Chief Guest at the Republic day celebrations.
It was during this visit that the bilateral relations were upgraded to a ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’.
Prime Minister Modi visited UAE again in February 2018 for the 6th World Government Summit in Dubai, where India was the guest of honour
He visited the UAE again in August 2019 to receive the UAE’s highest civilian award, ‘the Order of Zayed’.
The UAE is also home to over 3.3 million Indians who have been playing a key role in overall cultural and people-to-people ties between the two sides.
In August, Anwar Gargash, the diplomatic advisor to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited India.
The bilateral defence and strategic ties between the two countries have also witnessed steady expansion.
In December last year, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane travelled to the UAE and it was the first-ever visit by a head of the Indian Army to the Gulf nation.
In July, then Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria visited the UAE.