India-Saudi Arabia Relations: Basics Explained

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks with Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was in India to attend G 20 summit, who is on a daylong state visit to India. A total of eight agreements were signed between India and Saudi Arabia covering the domains of digitalisation, trade and investment, and corruption and law enforcement cooperation.

        Both leaders also  chaired the first meeting of the Meeting of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) at the leaders-level.

         Agreement on energy; agreement in the field of digitalisation and electronic manufacturing; agreement between Indian CVC and Saudi Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority; agreement with National Archives; agreement between the investment ministries of the two countries; agreement between the two EXIM banks and small and medium enterprises banks of the two sides; agreement on desalinsation.

      During the G 20 summit Saudi Arabia joined India and USA ambitious India-Middle East-East Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), an ambitious infrastructure project to connect India with Europe through the Middle East via railway and shipping networks.


             India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations followed by high-level visits from both sides. The relations become multifaceted thanks to the impetus given by the leaderships of both countries to other areas, including defense, maritime security, counterterrorism, science and technology, strategic oil reserves, investments, tourism, and so on.

                     The historic visit of King Abdullah to India in January 2006 was a watershed moment that resulted in the signing of the ‘Delhi Declaration’, imparting a fresh momentum to the bilateral relationship. The reciprocal visit by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Saudi Arabia from February 27 – March 01, 2010, and the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ signed during the visit, elevated the bilateral relationship to a ‘Strategic Partnership’. An agreement was signed in 2019 to pave way for Saudi Arabia to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA), which was launched by Prime Minister Modi. Prime Minister Modi visited Riyadh again on October 28-29, 2019, during which the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) Agreement was signed, which established a high-level council to steer the Indo-Saudi relationship. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trading partner. More than 18% of India’s crude oil imports are sourced from Saudi Arabia. During FY22 (Apr-Dec), bilateral trade was valued at US$29.28 billion.


                                       INDIA AND WEST ASIA

                With ties largely remaining energy-based, much diversification in other areas is happening. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are going to jointly develop the world’s largest greenfield refinery in Maharashtra, India. Both West Asian countries have pledged to invest in India in the areas of infrastructure, petrochemical, refining, minerals, and mining. In addition, in 2019 DP World Dubai agreed to invest in the construction of the $10 billion Mumbai-Pune hyperloop project. The region’s investors are also showing confidence in Indian startups. Security cooperation has also become an important focal point in India-West Asia relations, with cooperation on counterterrorism, cybersecurity, terror financing, money laundering, and securing sea lines of communication. India and Saudi Arabia will be conducting their first joint naval exercise in December 2019.

                    India’s primary interest in West Asia is its willingness to coordinate with the major regional and extra-regional players for stability and security of the Gulf region.

The stability and security of the Gulf region and the Indian subcontinent are closely interlinked. From an Indian perspective, the main challenges to regional stability include. India is also carefully watching the developments in Yemen. South Asia is also facing serious challenges, including terrorism and radicalisation. Cyber security and maritime security are other major issues in the region.

                Developments the ongoing civil war in Syria, US-Iran hostility and the Palestine issue  have given space for the formation of positive relations between India and Saudi Arabia given the Kingdom’s role and influence in West Asia and India’s relevance in South Asian geopolitics.


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