His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces has been invited as the chief guest to India’s 2017 Republic Day celebrations.
The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup extended the invitation to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince for the country’s 68th celebration through a tweet.
IANS reports that after Act East, India has been following a policy of Think West encompassing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries that are home to around seven million expatriate Indians, most of whom are blue collar workers involved in the infrastructure sector.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is home to more than two million expatriate Indians and comes a little over a year after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in August 2016.
IANS also adds that the last time a leader from the Gulf region graced the Republic Day as chief guest was when then King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud visited India in 2006.
Last year India welcomed French President Francois Holland as the Chief Guest and he was the fifth head of state from France to be invited for the same. The first Republic Day chief guest was Indonesian President Dr Sukarno in 1950.
Till date, a total of 58 foreign heads of state have participated as chief guests for the Indian Republic Day celebrations.