India’s Middle East Policy

The Middle East consisted of the states or territories of Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Palestine (now Israel), Jordan, Egypt, The Sudan, Libya, and the various states of Arabia proper (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates).

Importance of Middle East to India

  • More than three-fourths of the India’s oil and gas requirements are imported and in this middle-east make a majority portion of our imports with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq occupying the top most sources of our imports.
  • A major portion of our exports is directed to middle-east with UAE being one of our biggest trading partners for the last several years.
  • Also about 7 million expatriates reside in middle-east and are a major source of remittances from abroad.
  • Also middle-east countries with their excessive wealth from oil resources can be a major source for foreign capital investment in our country.
  • They can play a very important role in India’s efforts to combat terrorism, piracy.
  • India is one of the first countries in the world to recognize Israel as a sovereign country and its expertise in various fields have played a crucial role for our country’s development.

Is there a need for Look Middle East policy similar to look east policy?

Present state of engagement is not very optimistic as the full potential of co-operation is not yet exploited. Some of the key initiatives needed include:

  1. Trade agreements with the region.
  2. Measures to tap the market in IT, Pharma sectors where India has expertise.
  3. Measures to attract investment.
  4. Deeper maritime co-operation complementing IOR-ARC (Indian Ocean Region Association for regional co-operation).
  5. New Oil and gas pipeline projects can be initiated.
  6. Welfare measures and security for Indians working in Middle East countries.

With all these points taken into consideration India’s relationship with middle-east needs a relook in order to take it to next level. So there is a need for Look Middle East policy similar to look east policy.

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