New Delhi: After several recent security engagements with the Gulf countries, experts on Sunday claimed that India is strengthening its defense ties with the Middle East. In the past few weeks alone, the Indian Army has clashed with its counterparts in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

INS Sumedha, a patrol ship of the Indian Navy arrived Abu Dhabi on 20 February to participate in the Naval Defense Exhibition and International Defense Exhibition.

A week later, the Royal Saudi Air Force welcomed eight Indian Air Force fighters, tankers and transport aircraft for refueling and interaction with Saudi airmen.

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An operational turnaround request was made by an Indian submarine in the Omani port of Salalah on 28 February.

Indian defense cooperation with the Middle East has grown over the years, but has intensified recently as a result of the reduction in US presence there.

“The US is downplaying its security role in the region, and there is a void,” said Zakir Hussain, a Middle East expert and former fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi.

India is trying to fill this “void” to counter the influence of its rival China.

According to Hussain, a major factor enticing India to participate in defense and security matters is China. He said, ‘China’s influence in the region is increasing. In response to this, India has also increased its presence.

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But India is also dependent on the three Gulf countries for geo-strategic reasons and access to their ports.

Hussain further said, “The 21st century is known as the maritime century and if India is not increasing defense cooperation with these countries, only economic cooperation will fail. This is neither surprising given the current demand and Nor is it surprising.”

According to senior journalist and defense expert Ranjit Kumar, relations between India and the Gulf countries were like “distant neighbours”, but now the time has come to “play a bigger role”.

According to Kumar, Arab countries have traditionally supported the American or Russian camps. At this point both have already started to leave the area. India is seen as a natural partner in the Arab world.

Engagement in security is essential for the large Indian diaspora living in the region.
About 9 million Indians, including 3.4 million in the UAE and 2.5 million in Saudi Arabia, live and work in the Middle East and send home about $80 billion in remittances annually.

According to Kumar, “The Indian economy receives a major portion of its remittance earnings from the Arab world. In this context, this motive is also important.”

For the benefit of its economy and the welfare of its expatriate population, India needs peace and stability in that region.

Enhanced bilateral ties and diplomatic efforts, particularly with Saudi Arabia, are also reflected in increased security cooperation.

“Military diplomacy between India and Saudi Arabia is important… According to Kabir Taneja, strategic studies fellow and Middle East expert at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi,” all three services in India are now collaborating with Saudi Arabia in the defense sector . , which is an extremely important moment for bilateral relations between the two countries

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“Defence relations have always been a reliable indicator of the state of bilateral relations between two countries. Apart from being vitally important to West Asia, defense is something that India values.

According to him, the changing economic ties are in line with the growing defense ties. He claimed that India wanted to dispel the perception that it only supplied labor for Middle Eastern development projects.

According to Taneja, large sovereign funds in the region including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are looking to invest in India as an economic powerhouse. Arab countries are currently important to India’s economy and Gulf investments are now very attracted to India’s economy.