Money in the pocket, a roof and enough food in the belly are the three basics for me. And when you have surfeit, it is a feast, as we witness every day in the UAE and the Gulf.
It has been estimated that real estate and infrastructure projects in the GCC add up to more than $1 trillion (Dh3.67trn), of which a third are in the UAE. Looking at the frenetic construction activity, the population of cranes and the churning out of waterfront developments almost as an afterthought makes it all surreal. The media habitually turns up its nose at any project below half a billion dirhams. Any less than Dh100 million is almost ignored.
All agree this is a vibrant and growing market full of potential and prospect – after all, more than 200 countries and territories do business with the UAE. One of them – in the top 10 from either side – is India.
Of late, the ancient ties have taken on a new aspect. Mega real estate developments are being promised in the rising powerhouse of the world. On Friday, we had the announcement of a $10 billion (Dh36.7bn) Economic City by Bahrain’s Gulf Finance House in Mumbai.
Indian officials said more projects of the same size are expected from the Gulf. Several have already been announced and are in various stages of implementation.
Befittingly, Indian firms too have looked to the Gulf as the first stopover to international markets. We have had the Tatas and the Bajajs, Larsen & Toubro and Wipro operating here. In fact, NR Narayana Moorthy, Chairman emeritus and chief mentor of Infosys, said he will use the UAE as a springboard.
Now giant Indian property developers have got into the act. It is true Indian developers have been touting their offerings to the petro-dollar rich expatriates since the oil boom started. But of late they have been setting up companies in the UAE, going through the international markets learning curve here and then launching themselves onto the world markets.
We have had the ETA Ascon group with strong Indian links and we have new entrants such as Dheeraj East Coast and Hircon.
Indian firms say that having operations in the Gulf provides them with a whole new perspective on quality, timely delivery and attention to detail – all key drivers for a successful global ambition.
That to me makes perfect sense. India is flexing its economic muscles and stepping out after decades of introspection. As a new entrant on the global stage, India still needs a comfort zone, which the Gulf happily provides.
This region is, indeed, promising to be the soft launch for Indian companies going international.
Watch this space - more is yet to come.
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