About Substance Across The Arabian Sea India and Saudi Arabia are re-defining their foreign policy priorities: For New Delhi, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf states are becoming key interlocutors in the Middle East. For Riyadh, India is one of the eight major powers with which it wants to forge strategic partnerships as part of its Vision 2030. Turbulent South West Asia Ø  India-Pakistan tensions Ø  Crises in Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan. Ø  US-Iran tensions. Ø  Volatility in the oil market. India Saudi Arabia relations on a positive trajectory: Bilateral Harmony Ø  Mature relation: Following their third summit, the respective leaderships should be complimented for their sagacity in focusing on leveraging their intrinsic bilateral synergy instead of chasing the various wild geese. Ø  Circumscribing differences: the joint statement was significant for covering areas of agreement. The Riyadh Summit acquired added importance as it coincidentally preceded two domestic developments in India with considerable traction in the Islamic world: the conversion of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories that happened on Thursday and the Supreme Court verdict on the Ayodhya dispute. Ø  Acknowledging core interests: Saudi Arabia showed an “understanding” of recent Indian actions in Jammu and Kashmir and India “strongly condemned” the various attacks on Saudi civilian facilities. Ø  Cooperation: bilateral defense, security, and anti-terror cooperation have intensified and the first naval exercise is to be held soon. Ø  Indians in Saudi Arabia: the largest foreign community and their annual homeward remittances remain steady at $11 billion. Ø  India’s energy needs: India will be investing around $100 billion in oil and gas infrastructure by 2024 in creating additional oil refining capacity, laying new pipelines and building gas import terminals to meet the energy needs of an economy that is being targeted to nearly double in five years. Ø  Investment: due to political stability, predictable policy, and big diverse market, your investment in India will be most profitable. ex; Saudi national oil company Aramco, which is investing in the 60-million-tonnes-a-year West Coast refinery project in Maharashtra, Issues :

  • Trade has drifted downwards: Trade has drifted downwards largely due to lower crude prices. According to the latest Indian data, the bilateral trade in the first nine months of 2019 stood at $22,416 million, having fallen by 9.2% over the corresponding figure in 2018.
  • Low investment: The Saudi investment in India, too, remains far below potential. The kingdom’s cumulative investments in India are only $229 million, or 0.05% of the total inbound FDI.
  •   Kingdom’s Indian community has come down marginally to 2.6 million.

Opportunities :

  • Investment and cooperation: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had committed to investing $100 billion in India. At the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi listed five “trends” in India with global investors’ remit: technology and innovation, infrastructure development, human resource development, environment, and business-friendly governance.
  •  India and Saudi Arabia have already commenced leveraging opportunities across a vast eco-space, from energy to agriculture and from fintech to skilling.
  • Strategic Partnership Council (SPC): expedite the decision-making process. The SPC would be a permanent bilateral platform with two verticals jointly serviced by the two Foreign and Trade and Industry Ministries.
  •  WB’s Ease of doing business: “Ease of Doing Business” rankings included both India and Saudi Arabia in its ten “most improved economies”.
  • Potential areas: Bilateral cooperation in Indian infrastructure, agriculture, start-ups, skilling and IT. Shifting some labor-intensive establishments from Saudi Arabia to India would serve the respective national priorities by reducing the kingdom’s expatriate population and boosting ‘Make in India’.

Also read: The Evolution Of India’s West Asian Policy (ORF) India-Saudi Arabia Relations (Updated) Source 1 Source 2