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Overview of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Saudi Arabia from October 28-29, 2019

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The Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi paid a 2-day visit, to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from October 28-29, 2019, at the invitation of the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for attending the Plenary Session of the 3rd Future Investment Initiative(FII) Forum in Riyadh. It is the second visit of Prime minister in 3 years to Saudi Arabia.

Aim of the visit: The visit was also part of India’s aim of boosting bilateral ties between the two countries in key sectors including energy and finance. The key events in brief are as follows,

modi visit saudi arabia12 MoUs signed:
India and Saudi Arabia have signed a total of 12 Memorandum of Understandings(MoU) in the presence of PM Modi and Crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman, in areas such as defence, security cooperation, civil aviation etc. The MoUs are as follows.

1Agreement on security cooperation.
2Strategic partnership council agreement.
3Cooperation in the Field of Renewable Energy. 
MoU was signed by Saudi Ministry of Energy and Ministry of New & Renewable Energy of India.
4Cooperation in combating illicit trafficking and smuggling of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and chemical precursors.
5Military acquisition, industries, research development & technology. 
MoU was signed by Saudi General Authority of Military Industries (GAMI) and India’s Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence.
6Cooperation in the field of Civil Aviation.
7Cooperation in the field of medical products regulations.
MoU was signed by India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA).
8Agreement by both nations was signed to launch the RuPay card in the Saudi Arabia. 
The MoU in this regard was signed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) and Saudi Payments.
9Cooperation between National Stock Exchange (NSE) and Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) signed by NSE Managing Director and chairman Mr. Vikram Limaye from the Indian side.
10Saudi Arabia’s oil storage of 2.5-million-tonne facility in Karnataka state.
MoU was signed between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) and Saudi Aramco.
11India’s Foreign Service Institute, MEA and Prince Saud Al Faisal Institute of Diplomatic Studies (IDS) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia signed MoU for cooperation programme.
12Letter of Intent (LoI) between Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (SMEA) of Saudi Arabia and Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Aayog, of the Republic of India

Launch of RuPay card: 
Agreement by both nations to launch the RuPay card in the Saudi Arabia makes Saudi, the gulf nation as the third nation in the West Asia to initiate India’s digital payment system. The Rupay cards are expected to benefit not only the 2.6 million Indians, who are the largest expatriate community in the Saudi, but also the pilgrims of Hajj and Umrah.
Members present: During the event Mr. T.S. Tirumurti, Secretary of Economic Relations(ER) of the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA); Mr. HPS Ahuja, Chief Executive Officer(CEO) & Managing Director(MD) of ISPRL; Mr. Arif Khan, Chief digital officer of NPCI and various other officials were present.

PM Modi’s address at 3rd Saudi Arabia’s Future Investment Initiative Forum in Riyadh
Shri Modi addressed the 3rd edition of the Future Investment Initiative(FII) Forum held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which was attended by the Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman and other high officials. During the address, 

  • The Prime Minister reiterated about the aim of India to achieve $5 trillion-dollar economy by 2024.
  • India’s aim of investing $100 billion by 2024 in refineries, pipelines & gas terminals to create energy infrastructure was discussed.
  • During the address, India’s focus on skill development by skilling and reskilling 400 million people would in the next 3-4 years were discussed. The use of Direct Benefit Transfer(DBT) that also helped the govt. to save $20 billion was also discussed.
  • In the infrastructure sector alone, the government aims to invest $1.5 trillion in the next five years.
  • The two nations re-affirmed to strengthen the strategic partnership envisaged in the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ of March 2010.
  • The two nations also reaffirmed to further deepen the trade and investment cooperation between them under the “Vision 2030” of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 is a plan to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, develop public service sectors etc.
  • About FII: The FII is also known as the ‘Davos in the Desert‘. It has been hosted by Riyadh since 2017 inorder to project the Kingdom as a potential investment hub in the region.

India, Saudi Arabia to establish Strategic Partnership Council 
India and Saudi Arabia decided to establish Strategic Partnership Council to strengthen the cooperation in combating against terrorism. The agreement in this regard was signed by Prime Minister Modi and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in Riyadh.

  • With this agreement, India became the fourth country to sign such an agreement with Saudi Arabia after the United Kingdom(UK), France and China. 
  • The strategic council will be headed by top leadership on either side.
  • Ahead of the visit, 450 Indian prisoners were also released.
  • The year 2020 will mark Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the G20 Summit whereas India will host the summit in 2022, the year of the 75th anniversary of Indian independence.

Bilateral meetings of Modi:

Meet with Saudi Environment, Labour ministers: Prime Minister Modi met Minister of environment, water and agriculture, Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadley and Ahmad bin Sulaiman Alrajhi, and held talks with them. He also met Minister of labour and social development, Ahmad bin Sulaiman Alrajhi and discussed issues related to labour.
Meet with Saudi King: Prime Minister Narendra Modi met King of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in Riyadh and discussed on various aspects related to further boosting cooperation with Saudi Arabia.
Meet with Jordanian King Abdullah II: Shri Modi met king of Jordan, King Abdullah II during the FII, and discussed to strengthen various sectors, especially in trade and investment, human resource development & people-to-people ties.

India-Saudi inter-related facts:

  • 18% of India’s oil imports are from Saudi Arabia, making it the second largest source of crude oil to the Indian nation. 30% of Liquefied Petroleum Gas(LPG) to India is also from Saudi Arabia.
  • At present there are almost three million Indian nationals working in Saudi Arabia, making them the largest community of expatriates in the kingdom.
  • Saudi national oil company Aramco has decided to invest 60 million tonnes a year for the West Coast refinery project in Maharashtra – that would be Asia’s biggest refinery in the near future.
  • Saudi Arabia’s national oil company Saudi Aramco along with United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed a deal with state-run companies in India in August 2019 for a 50% stake in a planned 1.2 million barrels per day refinery in India’s west coast.
  • India will also lease one-quarter of its strategic petroleum reserve in Padur to Saudi Aramco to store about 4.6 million barrels of oil. This was announced by the govt on October 30, 2019.
  • The first India-Saudi Arabia joint naval exercises will be held by the end of December 2019 –January 2020.
  • Joint Venture: That the two countries are moving beyond the traditional buyer-seller relationship is best exemplified by the joint venture for the $44 billion worth Ratnagiri refinery and petrochemical project.
  • Saudi Aramco is interested in partnering with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company(ADNOC)in developing an integrated refinery and petrochemicals complex at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, a $44 billion joint venture with Indian public sector involvement. Saudi Arabia is already one of the three largest suppliers of oil to India.
  • There are currently almost three million Indian nationals working in Saudi Arabia, the largest community of expatriates in the kingdom.

About Saudi Arabia:

Capital- Riyadh.
Currency- Saudi riyal.
Ambassador of India to Saudi Arabia- Dr. Ausaf Sayeed.

About Jordan:
Capital-  Amman.
Currency- Jordanian Dinar.