The crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan will be chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations in January. Tweeting his acceptance, Mohammed bin Zayed said, “Our strong relations are deeply rooted in history; our strategic cooperation has increased, driven by our mutual aspirations to develop it.”
The Indian invitation, which went out early this year, and Al Nahyan’s acceptance has strong political significance. As India reaches out West as part of a coordinated strategy, UAE is a lynch-pin of the economic, defense and strategic strands of the Indian outreach.
On one level it is a response to Modi’s own visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai last year. But on a deeper level the impending visit sends out an important message at a time when tensions are escalating between India and Pakistan. The UAE, like Saudi Arabia, are old strategic allies of Pakistan. The UAE, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were the only three countries to recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan.