The Indian government has invited His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces, to be the chief guest at the country's 68th Republic Day celebrations in 2017. His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi has accepted the invitation.
This is the first time that a leader of UAE will be honoured with the invitation of being the chief guest at the Republic Day parade.
The affectionate relationship between the two countries were highlighted in February, 2016 when a UAE delegation that included Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, made a historic three-day visit to India. Shaikh Mohammed's visit was preceded by an August 2015 visit by the Indian PM Narendra Modi to the UAE, during which the two countries agreed to further strengthen mutual cooperation in several areas.
India shares a cordial relationship with UAE; being the largest importer of goods from the UAE, buying about 15% of its exports and about 9% of its re-exports, becoming the second-largest market of the UAE in the latter category. The total UAE investments in India amounted to $8 billion, including $2.89 billion in the form of direct foreign investments. UAE investments in India are concentrated in construction (16%), energy (14%), metallurgy (10%), services sector (10%), computer software and hardware (5%). By 2020, the total value of trade exchanges between the UAE and India is also expected to hit $100 billion.
Till date, 58 foreign heads of states have attended India's Republic Day celebrations as guests of honour. Previous instances of dignitaries from the Gulf region invited as chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations include Iranian president Mohammed Khatami in 2003. The French President Francoise Hollande was the guest of honour last year.