Modi’s Middle East Outreach

Investing and trading in the Middle East carry high risk due to difficult political transitions and ongoing conflicts. Like other major economies, India leverages economic clout for strategic purposes, especially to isolate rival Pakistan’s military and intelligence capabilities. India, soon to be the world’s most populous nation, has a minority Muslim population that’s larger than Pakistan’s. The Modi government actively cultivates ties in the Middle East with official visits to the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Israel and most recently to Saudi Arabia. “India’s ties with Saudi Arabia have grown over the last two decades based on burgeoning energy ties and the Indian diaspora – the largest group of foreign workers in the Saudi kingdom,” reports Harsh V. Pant, adding that “Saudi Arabia is cautious in balancing ties between Pakistan and India.” Pant concludes that Saudis probably won’t break with Pakistan, but “a declaration of opposition to state-sponsored terrorism would be considered a major step.”