Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, paid his first visit to India from 19-20 February 2019, at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and under the guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
i. The visit followed the official visit of PM Modi to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in April 2016 at the invitation of the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques His Majesty King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.
ii. He was received at the Palam airport by the PM Modi and was accorded a ceremonial welcome on 20th February, 2019 at the Forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, New Delhi. President Ram Nath Kovind also hosted a banquet dinner in honour of him.
iii. PM Modi and Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz held delegation level talks at Hyderabad House on 20th February 20, 2019. The two sides re-affirmed their deep commitment to strengthen the ‘strategic partnership’ envisaged in the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ of February 2010.
Agreements and MoUs signed during the visit
i. Saudi Arabia signed the framework agreement of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) and became the 73rd country to join the India-led renewable energy organisation which now has a total of 122 members.
ii. Apart from this, the following 5 MoUs were signed:
- MoU on investing in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund of India.
- MoU on cooperation in the field of Tourism between the Ministry of Tourism and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.
- MoU on cooperation in the field of Housing.
- Framework cooperation programme between Invest India and Saudi Arabia General Investment Authority (SAGIA).
- MoU for cooperation on Broadcasting between Prasar Bharati and Saudi Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) for the exchange of audio-visual programme.
Indian cos, including TCS, Wipro, sign 15 pacts to invest in Saudi Arabia
Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, Carnival Cinemas and Glenmark, along with other top Indian companies signed 15 agreements to invest in Saudi Arabia.
- 11 MoUs were signed to forge partnerships across strategic growth sectors, including energy and water, technology, arts and entertainment, healthcare, trade and investment and 4 new licences worth more than USD 28 million were handed out to Indian firms at the Saudi-India Forum.
- Licences were granted to AWJ Energy, SecurEyes, Carnival Cinemas and Red Sea Arabia Company to establish operations in Saudi Arabia.
India and Saudi Arabia to hold security talks at NSA level
- India and Saudi Arabia decided to hold “joint naval exercises” and agreed to constitute a ‘Comprehensive Security Dialogue’ at the level of National Security Advisers (NSAs), and set up a joint working group on counter-terrorism.
- Noting the potential and mutual benefit, the two sides agreed to cooperate and collaborate in joint defence production of spare parts for naval and land systems, as well as supply chain development, in line with ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vision 2030’.
- Expressing serious concerns at the misuse of cyberspace as a medium to promote subversive and extremist ideologies, the countries welcomed the signing of MoU on Technical Cooperation in Cyber Space and Combating Cyber Crime.
Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman talks of $100b investment, shares India’s concerns on terrorism
- Saudi Arabia has offered to share intelligence with India in fight against terrorism and called for dismantling terror infrastructure and rejected any attempt to link this universal phenomenon to a particular race, religion or culture.
- Saudi crown prince said that he sees investment opportunities worth USD 100 billion in various sectors in India and that they have already invested USD 44 billion since the PM’s visit in 2016. He has committed to invest USD 100 billion in sectors like energy, petrochemicals and manufacturing.
Release of 850 Indian prisoners and increase in the Haj Pilgrims quota
- Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the release of 850 Indian prisoners lodged in jails in his country on the request of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
- He also announced the increase in quota for Indian Haj pilgrims from 1.75 lakh to 2 lakh at the request of PM Modi.
- 2,340 Muslim women will go to Hajj this year, without mehram (companion) and without the lottery system. This will be the third such increase in the last 5 years.
Sushma Swaraj met the Saudi crown prince
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and discussed ways to add further momentum to the strategic ties between the two nations besides deepening engagement in the areas of trade and investment.