A marching band from the UAE's defence forces will join the parade on Republic Day, the first time Arab soldiers will be marching in New Delhi.

After the French marching band joined the parade in 2016 in honour of Francois Hollande, the practice has caught the fancy of others as well. With UAE crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan preparing to be the chief guest this year, the visiting dignitary who is also the deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, will bring a contingent to match the music and rhythm of India's numerous military bands who put up a spectacular show on that day.

Sheikh Mohammed's visit will be an opportunity for India and the UAE, who have grown closer in the past few years, to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a "strategic partnership".

On January 20, India and the UAE will hold the first strategic dialogue, with minister of state M J Akbar and Anwar Mohammed Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs of the UAE.

 

 


The two countries have been moving closer on questions of security, counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing all of which will form part of the dialogue. However, the effort will be to take it further, including global and regional issues.

 

 


While the importance of the relationship will be played out in the pomp and ceremony of the Republic Day ceremonies, the ballast of the relationship will be in the economic sphere.

The UAE wants to invest in India's infrastructure, and the visit will see the Indian government rolling out measures to facilitate these investments, particularly in the roads and highways sector.

 

 


Energy, including populating the Indian strategic reserve and investing in downstream projects, will be another aspect of the engagement. Most of these had kicked off during Modi's visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai in August 2015.

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