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The Indian Direction | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia received the Indian Prime Minister in a historical and important visit with several meanings and symbols that deserve reflection.

India is coming to Saudi Arabia as a key player in the world economy and as a country with an effective and a value-added economy. India, a country where the Saudi Arabians used to send their sons to study and to practice medicine, learn Shariaa, and from where they imported spices, foods, tea, silk and materials, has now become an important source of technology in the areas of computer science, computer programming, medicine, pharmacology, the manufacturing of vehicles, vans, and ships, as well as hotels, administrative and education consultancy, higher education, cinema and television.

For many years, an Indian, according to the Gulf mentality, was stereotypically a character who nods a lot and smiles unnecessarily and does not understand what he is told. But today Indians hold the most senior positions in Indian companies such as Tata, Godrej, Ambani, Reliance, Infosys, Oberoi, Mittal and others, or in multinational companies such as Pepsi, Citibank, Booz, McKinsey etc.

India is a superpower under construction and it is fated to become a new UN Security Council member. India has the largest Muslim community in the world with a population of at least 200 million Muslims living peacefully. India’s influence worldwide today cannot be overlooked nor can it be underestimated. India has taken over international cinema and Indian movies are now attention-grabbing and globally well-established, the same applies to Indian literature and music. An Indian movie star’s fame is borderless, and this is not just among the tens of millions of Indian’s living abroad, but also to people belonging to other cultures. Today Indian companies are stretching their [financial] muscle and they possess large ambitions and are devouring grand hotels, steel and iron works, and automobile companies, worldwide. The Indian labour market is now the backbone of the most important software companies and economic firms in the US.

Major Indian universities occupy some of the top places in the list of top-ranking international universities, and some of the most prominent university deans have gone on to become management consultants for companies as well as authors of successful books. India is moving towards the Arab economy and the Islamic word in order to establish and develop a desirable and necessary relationship between India and the Arab world, and the Gulf region in particular. This has occurred following ties that lasted for many years but did not see any real development corresponding to the nature of these deeply rooted ties and the extent of India’s presence in the region and the friendship and good intentions that exist between the two parties.

There are many areas of potential communication and integration between these two parties, for example, India can benefit from Saudi expertise in the area of contracting and participating in infrastructure projects such as streets pavements, digging tunnels, constructing bridges, and water desalination plants. As for Saudi Arabia, it can benefit from the Indian expertise in low-cost Indian pharmaceutical operations and medical education. The Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the development of the bilateral relations between the two countries represent a step forward in Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the East. The major countries in the East like China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, and of course India, occupy a special position on the international economic map, and establishing ties with these countries is an extremely wise move.