Dubai, May 14 (PTI) The appointment of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the president of the UAE will give a big fillip to the India-UAE strategic ties and take them to the next level as the new leader is a “true friend” of India and has great regard for Indians, according to prominent Indians living in this key oil-rich Gulf nation.
Rulers in the United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday that they appointed Sheikh Mohammed as the new president, a day after the death of his half-brother and the UAE's President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Indian tricolour flew at half-mast at the Embassy of India in Abu Dhabi to mourn the death of Sheikh Khalifa.
The ascension of 61-year-old Sheikh Mohammed as the new president has filled Indians here with joy who hailed the new leader for his close links with the Indian community.
Sheikh Mohammed has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi several times. He visited India in 2016 and 2017, while Modi visited the UAE in 2015, 2018 and 2019.
Their most recent engagement was during an online summit on February 16, witnessing the signing of agreements in New Delhi, including the UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
"My best wishes to the Ruler of Abu Dhabi H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on being elected as the new President of the UAE. I am confident that under his dynamic and visionary leadership, our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will continue to deepen," Prime Minister Modi tweeted.
Surender Singh Kandhari, founder and chairman of the Dubai-based Al Dobowi Group, says Sheikh Mohammed has been a close friend of Modi and “a true friend of India.”
According to him, the new leader’s vision and approach towards progress and prosperity have no bounds and India and the UAE are at the pinnacle of the best relationship as both countries see growth and progress as part of the future.
“We have even closer ties now as the free trade agreement has been signed, which will bring the trade to 100 billion dollars,” he said.
“Sheikh Mohammed has great regard for Indians as we work towards progress and prosperity. Sanctioning the Hindu Mandir and now Sikh Gurudwara in Abu Dhabi are signs of tolerance and coexistence,” says Kandhari.
Chandrashekhar Bhatia of the Maharashtra Business Forum said the death of Sheikh Khalifa has left the Indian community sad.
“However, we are happy that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan is the new President as he has strengthened India-UAE relations and will definitely take bilateral ties to another level,” said Bhatia.
Senior member of the Indian community and Chairman of the ITL-Cosmos Group, Ram Buxani, recalled his meeting with Sheikh Mohammed during which he said he discovered “royalty with so much humility and simplicity.”
“When I was introduced to him for the first time, the person told His Highness (Sheikh Mohammed) that I have been in the UAE for a very long time,” he said.
“When I told him about my years in the UAE, he was pleasantly surprised that I had lived in the UAE before he was born. Immediately changing the subject, he asked how many grandchildren I have.
“I told him the number. In a very informal and jovial manner, he replied, "oh here also, you are ahead of me,” he said.
Buxani has one more grandchild than Sheikh Mohammed.
He says the finalisation of the CEPA signed between India and the UAE will be attributed to the efforts led by Sheikh Mohammed.
“Having assumed the presidential position and also becoming Ruler of Abu Dhabi will have far-fetched effects on Indo-UAE relations,” says Buxani.
Dawood bin Ozair, the Chief Executive Officer of Blue Star International FZCO, called Sheikh Mohammad as a great visionary leader.
“Right from the time of HH Late Sheikh Zayed he was playing key roles. As a Crown Prince he helped HH Sheikh Khalifa not only in governance of Abu Dbabi but also in international relationships with neighbours, Arabs and globally," Dawood said.
"He developed cordial relationships with other Emirates and worked shoulder to shoulder with HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the Prime Minister & Ruler of Dubai. Their leadership is a great blessing to the Emirates, India and the Arab world,” Dawood said. PTI CORR MRJ AKJ MRJ