In a boost to India-Saudi Arabia ties, Riyadh will be receiving 3 million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses from Pune-based Serum Institute of India.
Chief Executive of the Serum Institute of India (SII) Adar Poonawalla told Reuters the doses destined for Saudi Arabia would be shipped in a week or 10 days. SII is also supplying South Africa with 1.5 million doses at the same price of $5.25 each on behalf of AstraZeneca.
Recently, both Saudi Arabia and India have reiterated how the strategic and defense ties between the two countries are witnessing an “upward trajectory”. Writing for Arab News N.
Ram Prasad, deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, says the two countries are ascending powers and major players in their respective regions and are natural partners in addressing the various security challenges confronting the region.
India is one of the world’s largest vaccine producers.
— Indian Diplomacy (@IndianDiplomacy) January 20, 2021
He recalls the signing of the landmark ‘Riyadh Declaration’ during the visit of then-Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2010, which raised the relationship to a strategic partnership. Since then, the two sides have undertaken several measures to further promote the partnership.
The two sides had set-up a Joint Committee on Defense Cooperation (JCDC) to identify areas for cooperation in the field of defense. During the JCDC meetings, there were discussions on training and capacity building, intelligence exchange, maritime security, and the promotion of defense industries, Prasad highlights.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to India, Dr. Saud bin Mohammed Al Sati, has also penned a piece for the Indian news agency PTI, boasting the ties between New Delhi and Riyadh. Stressing upon the ties, he says, “The strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and India is witnessing a new dawn”.
— India in Saudi Arabia (@IndianEmbRiyadh) January 26, 2021
He notes, it is a relationship that has grown on the strong foundations of shared culture and thrived on opportunities for a strategic partnership. Bilateral trade between India and Saudi Arabia has increased in the past two years from $27 billion in 2018-19 to $34 billion in 2019-2020.
The Saudi diplomat goes on to highlight how from the supply of crude oil and refined products to a comprehensive energy partnership focusing on investment and joint ventures in petrochemical complexes, both countries are working on further strengthening this relationship.
Apart from what the two diplomats wrote in the praise of the bilateral ties, which came out at the same time, there are other factors that seem to have made the relations stronger than before. Indian army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane had visited Saudi Arabia in December 2020 on a “historic” trip.
The visit was aimed at “strengthening the country’s strategic and defense cooperation” with the two nations. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner after China, the United States, and Japan.
Mohammed Al Sati points out that the Indian government “permitted hundreds of healthcare professionals to travel back to Saudi Arabia, to join their workplaces in Saudi hospitals and medical institutions, which supported the Kingdom’s domestic efforts against Covid-19”.
It is pertinent to mention that the Gulf region is home to 8.5 million Indian workers, with more than 2.7 million living in Saudi Arabia.