Indo-Yemen bilateral relations [Archives:2008/1122/Local News]

January 21 2008

India celebrates Republic Day on 26th January. On this occasion the Indian embassy in Sana'a will hold a flag hoisting ceremony on 26 Jan. at 9:30 at the embassy's premises.

Indo-Yemeni relations date back to ancient times. The old and historical ties between India and Yemen are confirmed by the fact that even today there are about one hundred thousand persons of Yemeni origin in India in Andhra Pradesh and an equal number of people of Indian origin in Yemen, particularly in the South and the East of Yemen. Yemeni traders were intermediaries for Indian trade with the Roman Empire. Subsequently, contacts were intensified with the Haj route from India running through Yemen. In 1839, Aden became part of the British Empire, administered by the Bombay Presidency. The Aden administration was separated from India in April 1937 with the appointment of a Governor directly answerable to London. An India mission at the level of Commissioner was set up in Aden in June 1950. India was one of the first countries to recognise both the YAR after the 26th September, 1962 revolution and the People's Republic of Southern Yemen after its formation on 29th November 1967.

Political Relations

The foreign policies of India and Yemen have much in common. Both are committed to non-alignment, support for Arab issues and the PLO, and a zone of peace in the Indian Ocean. Yemen has also joined the Indian Ocean Rim – Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and participated in its first meeting held in MARCH, 1997 in Mauritius as well as in the Ministerial meeting in Mozambique in March 1999 and subsequent meeting in Doha, Qatar in 2001. During the outbreak of the Civil War in Yemen, Indian doctors and nurses were perhaps the only expatriates who stayed behind and rendered considerable services. In July 1994, following the successful conclusion of the Civil War, the Government of Yemen sought the help of the Government of India in admitting over 150 war-wounded persons for medical treatment in the hospitals in Bombay. India readily agreed to this request. The expenses for the treatment were paid by the Government of Qatar. The neutral stand taken by India during the Civil War and the services rendered by the Indian expatriates was highly appreciated by the people and the Government of Yemen.

Economic and Commercial Relations

In order to give a boost to the economic and commercial relations, an agreement for setting up a Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Co-operation was signed during the visit of Mr. Ahmed Zaif Ullah Alozeb, the then Permanent Under Secretary in the Yemeni Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 1993. So far, six JCMs have been held, the last one being in April 2007, which was co-chaired from the Indian side by Shri N. Ravi, Secretary (East). Both sides agreed to intensify the co-operation in various fields mainly in the energy sector.

Ghalib Ali Jamil, Permanent Under Secretary (Political Affairs) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited India on 4th-5th March 1999 to hold annual Foreign Office Consultations. Foreign Office consultations are an on-going process and the last consultations were held in New Delhi in January 2005. In the year 2008, the next Foreign Office Consultations would be held in Sanaa.

Some of the areas in which there has been an ongoing cooperation are: telecommunications, oil & gas, minerals, power, education, health, electronics etc.

In December 2006, a total of 7 oil blocks were awarded to Indian companies by the Yemeni Oil and Minerals Ministry. Reliance Industries Limited has got 2 oil blocks, GSPC and IOC-OIL in partnership with foreign companies have got 3 oil blocks and 2 oil blocks respectively.

Presence of prominent Indian companies/Indian experts in Yemen

M/s. Punj Lloyd – M/s. Punj Lloyd, a well-established company, have strong presence in Middle East and South East Asia in hydrocarbon and infrastructure sectors. For the past 5 months, Punj Lloyd has been setting up LNG terminal at Balhaf in Yemen, in which Indian company's share of the contract of the project is worth US $ 70 million. The total cost of the project is US $ 2.4 billion and the other portions of the project are being set up by Turkey, Egypt and Yemeni companies. LNG terminal in Balhaf is an important project and Punj Lloyd are expected to finish it by October 2008. Recently, Yemen Government has been active in setting up LNG terminals in Balhaf and Lahj regions of Yemen. The Yemen Government also has plans to eventually link LNG terminal and gas reserves in Balhaf and Lahj to Aden and Mukalla ports of Yemen, which will offer further business opportunities for Indian companies. M/s. Punj Lloyd have come for the first time in Yemen and with their experience in laying oil and gas pipelines, infrastructure, buildings, transportation, etc., they can have more business opportunities in future as Government of Yemen is placing a lot of emphasis on the development of oil and gas sectors in Yemen.

M/s. Petron Engineering and Construction Limited, Mumbai – M/s. Petron Engineering and Construction Limited, Mumbai are presently working for the last six months near Aden for setting up of National Cement Factory as contractors for M/s. Hayel Saeed Group. The contract is worth US $ 400 million. A total of approximately 1,000 Indians are presently working at this site, who have been provided camps and all other facilities on the site itself. This project is expected to be completed by May 2008.

Arab Yemen Cement Company, Mukalla (Yemen) – This factory is in the process of being constructed (commenced in 2006) at Mukalla by a Chinese engineering company, known as Synoma International Engineering Company. The consultancy is provided by three Indian experts. The cement company is having 85% shares by Saudi Arabia and 15% by Yemen at a total cost of US $ 220 million and is expected to be completed by 2008. When completed, it will be producing 1.32 million tones of cement per annum. It would use limestone as raw material for production of cement, available on the site itself.

Visits by prominent business houses from India

M/s. Kirloskar Brothers Limited, Pune – Shri Vinay Vaman Joshi, General Manager of M/s. Kirloskar Middle East and resident representative in Dubai of M/s. Kirloskar Brothers Limited, Pune, visited Sana'a from 7-8 May, 2007. During his visit, he had meetings with the Yemeni dignitaries, officials as well as some of the leading businessmen of Yemen. At present, M/s. Kirloskar Brothers Limited do not have presence in Yemen. But, there is an immense potential for Kirloskar products, mainly water pumps and generators used in agriculture and irrigation as well as pumps for oil wells. It is hoped that M/s. Kirloskar Brothers Limited would have a significant presence in Yemen in the near future.

M/s. Cosmos International, New Delhi – Shri Arun K. Aggarwal, Director, Cosmos International, New Delhi paid a business visit to Yemen from 20-30 July, 2007. Cosmos Group is a well-established trading and supplying company in New Delhi dealing in agricultural equipment and machinery, food and processing, engineering and electricals, construction and hardware, chemicals and laboratory equipment, Information Technology, pharmaceuticals and hospital equipment, transformers and emergency supplies for use during natural calamities, etc. Shri Arun Agarwal met various Ministers/Deputy Ministers in the local Government and several Government corporations and also several Yemen leading private companies and heads of Indian projects established in Yemen. It is expected that in the near future Cosmos International would be having a significant presence in Yemen in the areas of their business activities. Shri Anil Agarwal, President of the COSMOS Group visited Sana'a from 17-19 November, 2007, as a follow-up visit, and held discussions with various Yemeni dignitaries, leaders of industry associations and private businessmen.

SRTEPC, Mumbai – The Synthetic & Rayon Textile Export Promotion Council, Mumbai, organized an exclusive 'Indian Textile Exhibition' at the Sana'a Expo Centre, Sana'a, from 11-12 December, 2007, at which, 17 Indian companies represented by 29 representatives participated. TATA – A 2-member delegation led by Shri Alok Tyagi, Vice President (Projects), TATA, visited Sana'a from 17-20 November, 2007, to explore possibilities of investing in petrochemicals and fertilizers sectors in Yemen.

Future cooperation

The Government of Yemen is aware of Indian capabilities and is keen on seeing a greater interaction between the two countries. Specific avenues for cooperation are: Telecommunications, Highways and bridges, Civil engineering, Water Management and Irrigation schemes, Education, Health, Oil and Gas, Mineral exploration, Power projects etc.

Yemen heavily depends on import of all items except oil and fish. There is considerable scope for collaboration in setting up small scale industries with Indian collaboration and know-how for manufacture and marketing/export of consumer durables.

Expatriate Indians

There are sizeable Indian and Yemeni communities in each other's country due to historical reasons. People of Indian origin, estimated to be about 100,000 are concentrated in southern part around Aden, Mukalla and the Lahaj provinces. Similarly, there are about 100,000 descendants of Yemenis previously employed in Nizam's forces, settled in and around Hyderabad. Both communities pose no problems as almost all of them have acquired local nationality and got assimilated into the mainstream. The Gujarati community, who lived during the British time in Aden, constructed several temples. Most of them have been occupied by the local people except four, which are somewhat in a dilapidated condition. The Mataji temple and the Shiva temples are used by the members of the Indian community in Aden to congregate on the second Friday of every month to offer Ayyappan puja. A television team recently visited Aden to film these temples on the age-old links between India and former South Yemen. A consular team from the Mission in Sana'a visits Aden in the second week of every month to render consular services.

Indian expatriates, mainly hospital personnel, professionals, academic, skilled and semi-skilled workers, are estimated about 8,000, according to the Ministry of Labour and the Embassy of India, Sana'a.

The Mission runs an Indian Embassy School, Sana'a, affiliated to CBSE, which has classes up to 10th Standard. There are also Indian Schools located in Aden, Hodeidah and Taiz, run independently by the Indian communities in these towns.

Cultural Relations

During the Third session of the India-Yemen Joint Committee Meeting, a cultural agreement was signed on 20th July 1999.

India has been in the past providing about 30 scholarships every year through ICCR to Yemeni students and 30 scholarships under ITEC programme. Following a decision taken during the Fifth JCM, the ITEC Scholarships have been increased to 50 from 30. These scholarships have brought immense goodwill for India.