President Patil to visit UAE, Syria to boost trade ties To further boost India's economic ties with the Gulf region and to promote trade, tourism and investment, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil will be paying a state visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 21 to 25 and the Syrian Arab Republic (Syria) from November 26 to 29. President Patil is visiting UAE on the invitation of UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Senior officials and a business delegation drawn from the leading industry associations will accompany the President on her visit. During her visit, President Patil apart from meeting the UAE President, will also hold meeting with the Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai; the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and the Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, and the Ruler of Sharjah. Apart from visiting Abu Dhabi, President Patil will also travel to Dubai and Sharjah during her first visit to the Gulf region. India-UAE relations have been traditionally warm and friendly and based on continuity, trust and confidence without any irritants. India has had social and mercantile contacts with the Gulf and West Asian region since times immemorial. People-to-people contacts and barter trade have existed for centuries. India-UAE relations have flourished after the creation of the UAE Federation in 1971. UAE is a significant trading and energy security partner. Indo-UAE trade, valued at US 180 million dollars per annum in the 1970s, was valued at US 43.4 billion dollars in 2009-2010. UAE emerged as the top destination for India's export with 13.41 percent share of total export in year 2009-10. UAE also ranks among the top five suppliers of crude oil to India. President Patil will be addressing the captains of business and industry in UAE during her visit, both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In Sharjah, the President would be inaugurating the Indian Trade Exhibition Centre the objective of which is to promote two-way trade, tourism and investment between India and the UAE. President Patil will also be interacting with a wide cross section of the Indian community in UAE, which numbers nearly 1.75 million and is the largest expatriate community in the UAE whose role and contribution for the development of UAE is widely appreciated. The President will launch an Indian Workers' Resource Centre during her visit, which is designed to provide 24-hour help line and counselling services to distressed workers. In addition, the President will inaugurate the premises of the Indian Islamic Centre in Abu Dhabi. President Patil will address the students and faculty of the Dubai International Academic City in Dubai where several Indian educational institutions have their branches. The President will also interact with the students of the Abu Dhabi Indian School in Abu Dhabi during her visit. After UAE, President Patil will travel to Syria from November 26 to 29 at the invitation of President Bashar Al Assad, who paid a State visit to India in June 2008. Significantly, this will be the first Presidential visit to Syria from India. India and Syria have ancient historical linkages dating back several millennia. Archaeological findings provide evidence of 4000-year-old trade links between India and Syria and there are linkages between the Mauryan Empire and the contemporary rulers in Syria. It is said that Christianity and Islam reached the shores of India from this region. President Patil's visit to Syria will provide the opportunity to carry forward our dialogue and engagement with the Syrian President and the leadership of Syria in all areas. Discussions on bilateral issues - political, economic and cultural are expected to take place during President Patil's visit. Both sides will also explore investment opportunities in each other's country. On the regional and international front, Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and Syria's relations with its neighbours will be important segment of President's discussions. The President's engagements in Syria include a meeting with the President of Syria followed by delegation-level talks, which are expected to cover bilateral relations, regional issues such as the MEPP and international issues as well. The President will, inter-alia, meet the Prime Minister of Syria, Eng. Mohammad Naji Otr, and the Speaker of the Syrian Parliament - Mahmoud Al Abrash. President Patil will address the Indian and local businessmen and launch the Syria-India Business Council. She would also be visiting the International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) in Aleppo.