By Binsal Abdulkader DUBAI, 3rd February 2022 (WAM) — The UAE and south Indian state of Kerala have “a very close heart-to-heart relationship,” the state’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
“Kerala-UAE relations are not something formal. It is a very close heart-to-heart to relationship. All top UAE officials whom I met here told me that Kerala and Keralites occupy a special place in their heart. I did not hear this touching comment from one official but from all,” said Vijayan, who is on a week-long official visit to the UAE.
In an exclusive interview with WAM in Dubai on Thursday, he added that the frank and friendly conversations offered by the Emirati officials in his meetings with them reiterated the deep relationship.
“They promised to support the developmental projects in Kerala. After all, they have always expressed their love and solidarity towards Kerala whenever the state is in need, especially when the devastating floods occurred in 2018 and 2019,” he said.
Why so many Keralites in UAE?
More than three million Indians constitute the largest expatriate community in the UAE; more than one million of them are Keralites, according to the Indian official.
“It was my privilege and honour to meet His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on Wednesday. He asked me why so many Keralites have made the UAE, especially Dubai, their second home. I told him Keralites love this country so much. They have been loved here very much and they just reciprocate to it,” Vijayan said.
Sheikh Mohammed met Vijayan at Expo 2020 Dubai, in the presence of H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and other Emirati and Indian officials.
“As per the protocol, Sheikh Mohammed meets heads of state and government. Still, he was willing to meet [me], the head of a state government in India; it shows his special consideration for Kerala and Keralites. This proves his broadmindedness and magnanimity as a leader,” the Chief Minister said.
Indians well protected in UAE
Keralites have been part of this country’s journey towards development and progress, even before the formation of the UAE, he pointed out. “I am happy that His Highness Sheikh Mohamed and other top leaders acknowledge their contribution.”
“If you ask Indians, they will tell you that the UAE is a place where you can live without any concerns about safety and security. Nothing will change that perception.”
UAE is a living example of how to transform a country into a developed land from the scratches, the Chief Minister believes. “The [Emirati] leadership has a vision for progress and development. Any country that wants to progress, can take a leaf out of the UAE’s book.”
Kerala Week at Expo
The Chief Minister will inaugurate Kerala Week at the Indian Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday. He said the state will showcase its culture, heritage, unique products, tourism potential, investment and business opportunities.
“It is also a window for Kerala to reach out to the rest of the world,” he said.
The underway Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEPA) between the UAE and India would benefit Kerala and Keralites, according to Vijayan.
“I am happy to see that with important agreements such as CEPA, India- UAE relations are going to new heights. Kerala will always contribute to such efforts to strengthen this historical relationship.”
Cooperation in railways, start-ups
The Chief Minister expects that his government would get support from the UAE Government for the flagship project K-Rail, a semi-highspeed rail project in Kerala. “We expect the UAE’s cooperation in the state’s plan to start COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing as well.”
A delegation from Kerala to enhance cooperation with the UAE on start-ups will visit soon. “There is a huge cooperation potential in digital technologies as the UAE is a leader in this sector.”
Among his meetings in the UAE were with H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence; and Abdulla Mohammed Al Mazrui, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.