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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Visit to India

  • 21 Feb 2019
  • 5 min read

Recently, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman visited India.

  • This was the first state visit by the crown prince in India.

Outcome of Visit

  • A number of memorandum of understandings(MoUs) were signed during the visit on investing in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India, cooperation programme between Invest India and Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
  • Other MoUs include tourism, housing, exchange of Audio-Visual Programmes.
  • Saudi Arabia also agreed to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
  • Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned the terrorist attack on Indian security forces in Pulwama on 14 February.
  • The two sides called for early adoption of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India

  • The NIIF is a sovereign fund owned by the government of India (49% ownership) along with global and domestic institutional players. The size of fund is Rs. 40,000 crore.
  • The fund has an investment "mandate to invest in infrastructure assets and related businesses" that are projected to see "long term growth trajectory".

India-Saudi Arabia Relations

  • Strategic Partnership
    • Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner of India since the signing of the Riyadh Declaration in 2010.
    • India is also one of the eight strategic partners with whom Saudi Arabia intends to deepen partnership in areas of political, security, trade and investment and culture.
  • Economic Relations
    • Saudi Arabia is India’s 4th largest trading partner bilateral trade stood at around US$ 28 billion during 2017-18.
  • Energy Security
    • India imports more than 17% of crude oil and 32% of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) requirements from Saudi Arabia.
    • Recently, Saudi ARAMCO in partnership with UAE has agreed to invest US$ 44 billion in building Ratnagiri Refinery and Petro-Chemical project Ltd.
    • Saudi Arabia also has a major role in India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves (SPRs).

Strategic Petroleum Reserves

  • Strategic petroleum reserves are huge stockpiles of crude oil to deal with any crude oil-related crisis like the risk of supply disruption from natural disasters, war or other calamities.
  • India’s strategic crude oil storages are currently located at Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Mangaluru(Karnataka), and Padur (Karnataka).
  • Recently, the government had announced setting up of two additional facilities at Chandikhol (Odisha) and Padur (Karnataka).
  • Diaspora Relations
    • There are about 2.7 million Indians living in Saudi Arabia. They send remittance of over US$ 11 billion annually. Saudi Arabia also facilitates Hajj pilgrimage to over 1,75,000 Indians every year, which is the largest number of pilgrims from any country.

Challenges to the India-Saudi relationship

  • The Saudi-Pakistan and India-Iran relationship: Saudi Arabia’s relation with Pakistan and India’s relation with Iran are two important factors affecting the India-Saudi Arabia relationship.
    • India expects Saudi Arabia to restrain Pakistan from allowing its territory being used by terrorists targeting India.
  • Diaspora-related issues: This includes the treatment of Indian workers in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia’s Nitaqat Programme, which aims at increasing the employment of Saudi nationals in the private sector, might limit employment opportunities for Indian expatriates.
  • Radicalization in India: Many Saudi Arabia based agency have been blamed for funding spread of fundamentalist Wahhabi and Salafist ideology in India.
    • Saudi Arabia is considered to be the primary supporter of a supposedly more rigid interpretation of Islam. This has implications for how Islam functions in India.
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