About Us India-Saudi Bilateral Relations

INDIA - SAUDI ARABIA BILATERAL RELATIONS

    India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. The establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947 was followed by high-level visits from both sides. King Saud visited India in 1955 and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the Kingdom in 1956. The visit of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Saudi Arabia in 1982 further consolidated the bilateral relations.

  1. The historic visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 was a watershed moment that resulted in 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 in 2010 and the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ signed during the visit raised the level of bilateral engagement to a ‘Strategic Partnership’. The visit of the then Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (now King) to India in 2014 further deepened the relations between the two countries, particularly in the area of defence cooperation.

  2. The highly successful visit of Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi in April, 2016 captured the spirit of enhanced cooperation in the political, economic, security and defence realms. The conferring of the highest civilian honour on Prime Minister Modi by the Saudi King is an indication of the importance the Kingdom attaches to its relations with India. Further, the ‘State Visit’ honour accorded to the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to India in February 2019 took forward this momentum further. During the visit, announcements of Saudi investments in India targeting a value of US $ 100 billion and increase in Hajj quota to 2,00,000 were made.

  3. On the invitation of His Majesty King Salman, Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi paid an official visit to Riyadh from October 28-29, 2019 during which the Strategic Partnership Council (SPC) Agreement was signed, identifying India as one of the Kingdom’s Strategic Partner Countries under ‘Vision 2030’ with a high-level partnership council at the leadership level. Twelve MoUs and Agreements were signed during the visit in the fields of energy, security, combating trafficking of narcotic drugs, defense production, civil aviation, medical products, strategic petroleum reserves, small and medium scale industries, launch of Rupay card, cooperating in training of diplomats, cooperation between stock exchanges etc. PM also delivered a keynote address at the Third Future Investment Initiative Summit during the visit.

  4. The landmark visits of Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi to KSA in 2016 and 2019 and the state visit of Crown Prince HRH Mohammed Bin Salman to India in February, 2019 marked a new and strong chapter in the bilateral relations which culminated in setting up of the Strategic Partnership Council.  The council is to be chaired by the Prime Minister on Indian side and the Crown Prince on Saudi side. The SPC has two pillars: 

(i) Political-Security-Socio-Cultural 

(ii) Economy and Investment. 

Foreign Ministers of the two countries are co-chairs of the first pillar whereas India’s Minister of Commerce & Industry and Saudi Energy Minister are co-chairs of the Economy and Investment pillar. There are a number of Joint Working Groups in different sectors under the two pillars and a number of meetings at official level have taken place between the two sides in the last few months. 

Economic & Commercial Relations

  1. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after China, USA and Japan) and a major source of energy as India imports around 18% of its crude oil requirement and 30 % of its LPG requirement from the Kingdom. In FY 2019-20, bilateral trade was valued at US $33.07 billion. During this period, India’s imports from Saudi Arabia reached US $26.84 billion and exports to Saudi Arabia were worth US$ 6.24 billion registering an increase of 12.18% over last year. Total trade with Saudi Arabia accounted for 4.23% of India’s total trade in FY 2019-20.

India-Saudi Trade (in US$ billion)

Year

Imports from Saudi Arabia

Exports to Saudi Arabia

Total Trade

% increase in Total Trade

% increase in Indian Imports

% increase in Indian Exports

2015-2016

20.32

6.39

26.71

-31.97

-27.70

-42.71

2016-2017

19.94

5.13

25.08

-6.12

-1.85

-19.70

2017-2018

22.06

5.41

27.48

+9.56

+10.50

+5.88

2018-2019

28.48

5.55

34.03

+23.83

+29.04

+2.61

2019-2020

26.84

6.24

33.07

-2.8

-5.73

+12.18

[Source: Department of Commerce, Govt. of India]

  1. According to Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), there are 476 Indian companies registered as joint ventures/100% owned entities worth US$ 1.5 billion in the Kingdom as of March, 2020. These licenses are for projects in diverse sectors such as management and consultancy services, construction projects, telecommunications, information technology, financial services and software development, pharmaceuticals, etc. Major Indian companies and corporate groups such as L&T, TATAs, Wipro, TCS, TCIL, Shapoorji & Pallonji, etc. have established a strong presence in Saudi Arabia. SAGIA is in talks with Indian start-ups such as OYO, Delhivery, Firstcry, Grofers, Policy Bazaar, Paytm to enter the Saudi market.

  2. Saudi Investments in India (as per DPIIT from April 2000 to Dec 2019):  Saudi Arabia is the 39th largest investor in India with investments amounting to US $315 Million. Major investment groups include ARAMCO, SABIC, ZAMIL, E-holidays, Al Batterjee Group. The Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund backed Soft Bank’s ‘Vision Fund’ has invested several billion dollars in the Indian Start-ups such as Delhivery, FirstCry, Grofers, Ola, OYO, Paytm and PolicyBazaar.

  3. Saudi Petrochemical Giant SABIC set up its R&D Centre in Bangalore with an investment of over US $100 million in 2013. Saudi Aramco and UAE’s ADNOC are jointly participating in the development of US $44 billion ‘West Coast Refinery & Petrochemicals Project Limited’ in Maharashtra. Saudi Company Al- Fanar is executing a 300 MW power project in Gujarat. Saudi Aramco signed a MoU with the Mumbai based GumPro to set up a drilling fluids facility in 2018. In August 2019, it was announced that Saudi Aramco plans to acquire 20% share in the Reliance Industries Limited’s Oil and Chemical business at an enterprise value of US $75 billion. Several Saudi Companies have invested in India through their non-Saudi subsidiaries. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign fund PIF (Public Investment Fund) has announced to invest US $1.5 billion in Jio Platforms, India’s leading telecommunication and digital services company. PIF will hold a 2.32% stake in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.

Cultural Relations

  1. India successfully participated as ‘Guest of Honour’ in the 32nd edition of the prestigious Saudi National Festival of Heritage and Culture – Janadriyah from February 7 – 28, 2018. The then External Affairs Minister Smt. Sushma Swaraj jointly inaugurated the India Pavilion with His Majesty King Salman.

  2. Yoga was announced as a ‘sports activity’ in November 2017. Since then, the Embassy has been organizing the International Yoga Day (IDY) celebrations in an open area in the centre of Riyadh. The IDY 2018 and IDY 2019 witnessed participation of a large number of Saudi nationals, particularly the youth, in addition to the diplomatic corps, journalists and Indian diaspora. Considering the COVID pandemic situation, IDY 2020 celebrations included an “Inaugural session” with Minister of State, AYUSH & Defence Shri. Shripad Yesso Naik as Chief Guest, live yoga demo on Facebook and a webinar on “Yoga and Post Corona Health Order”. The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi was marked by a series of events that culminated on October 2, 2019 with the unveiling of the Gandhi bust at the Embassy. A large event was organized by the Embassy to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Shri. Guru Nanak Dev Ji on November 14, 2019. Constitution Day was celebrated on November 26, 2019. Dr. Abdullah Al-Harbi, Saudi Shura Council Member and Chairman of the India-Saudi Arabia Parliamentary Friendship Committee was the Guest of Honour. As part of the 71st Republic Day celebration, an eight member ICCR sponsored Bhangra troupe visited the Kingdom and performed at Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

Indian Community in Saudi Arabia

  1. The 2.6 million strong Indian community is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom and is highly respected due to its sense of discipline, law abiding and peace loving nature. The contribution made by the Indian community to the development of Saudi Arabia is well acknowledged. In April 2013, His Majesty King Abdullah announced a grace period allowing overstaying expatriates to get new jobs or leave the country without facing penal action. More than 1.4 lakh Indians availed the amnesty and returned home without facing penalty. Saudi authorities announced another amnesty period between April – November, 2017 during which around 70, 000 Indians were issued travel documents to return to India. The integration of Indian e-Migrate system and Saudi e-Thawtheeq system for the convenience of migration of workers was announced during the Prime Minister’s visit in October 2019.

  2. Hajj pilgrimage is another important component of bilateral relations. The Hajj Quota was increased by 24,975 in 2019, enabling 2, 00,000 Indians to perform Hajj in August 2019. Minority Affairs Minister. Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Hajj and Umrah Minister of Saudi Arabia Mr. Mohammed Sales bin Taser Benten signed the Annual Bilateral Hajj 2020 Agreement in December 2019 making India the first country in the world to make the entire Hajj process digital. It would enable complete digitization of the Hajj process by providing  Hajj mobile app, health facility -“e-MASIHA" , "e-luggage pre-tagging" and HGOs  (Hajj Group Organisers) linked with the digital system.  However owing to COVID pandemic, the Saudi authorities have decided to organize Hajj 2020 in a restricted manner.

Collaboration against COVID-19

  1. In order to deal with the unprecedented COVID-19 crises in a coordinated and united manner Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi and Saudi Crown Prince had a telephone conversation on March 17,2020  during which they also planned to convene a G20 Virtual Summit. 

  2. Continued coordination has been maintained between the two sides at the ministerial level. Owing to strong people to people ties and continuous support extended by the Saudi government for the Indian community during the pandemic, External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar spoke with Saudi Foreign Minister His Highness Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud twice on April 23 & June 22, 2020 and conveyed appreciation for their efforts to take care of the Indian community in Saudi Arabia. Also, Minister of Commerce & Industry Shri. Piyush Goyal spoke to his Saudi counterpart Dr. Majid Al Qasabi over phone on June 12, 2020 and discussed bilateral trade and economic cooperation. Both sides are ensuring cooperation in health and food security, maintaining supply chains & trade commitments during the COVID period.

  3. Both nations have been sharing national experiences and supporting each other to ensure continued flow of food, medicines and other essential items. Saudi authorities opened up the healthcare system for the Indian community and provided free healthcare during the pandemic. Under this cooperation, a total of 1777 Indian healthcare professionals have returned to Saudi Arabia so far to resume their duties to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

  4. Mission has been involved in a large-scale repatriation exercise of the community due to COVID-19 pandemic. Until now, 78 Vande Bharat Mission flights in 4 phases have taken 15855 Indian citizens back to India. About 200 charter flights have repatriated 35201 Indian citizens. There has been excellent cooperation with the Saudi authorities in this endeavour. 

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As on July 2020