The United Arab Emirates is the top destination for tourists from India, the official Emirates News Agency reported today.
In the first quarter of 2021 from January through March, 314,495 Indian citizens traveled to the UAE on tourist visas, according to statistics Indian Foreign Minister Vellamvelly Muraleedhara provided to India’s parliament. This is the last period for which data was available. The figure represented a 50% increase from March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to take hold, according to the agency.
More than 3 million Indian citizens live in the United Arab Emirates. By comparison, there are only around 1 million Emirati citizens in the country. Indians travel to the UAE not only for tourism but for business and to visit family. In 2019, 6,385,504 Indians went to the UAE, according to statistics from India’s Ministry of Tourism.
Indians can visit the UAE on tourist visas at present, despite the pandemic. However, travelers from India must submit to extra testing for COVID-19.
The Emirati government is currently seeking better trade relations with India. In October, the Dubai-based logistics company DP World announced an agreement to develop infrastructure in the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region of India.
India, as a major power and economy in South Asia, is important for many countries in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia also wants to increase trade with India. Israel hopes its normalization agreement with the UAE will help it do more business with India.
Relatedly, the UAE’s Trade Minister Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi visited India with an accompanying delegation yesterday with the purpose of enhancing bilateral trade, the Emirates News Agency reported.