UAE-based Lulu group to invest ₹200 cr in Jammu and Kashmir to set up food processing, logistic hub

Dark Sorrow

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Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha termed it as a "historic agreement"



UAE-based retail major Lulu group on Thursday said it will invest ₹200 crore in Jammu and Kashmir to set up a food processing and logistic hub.
The Lulu group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Jammu and Kashmir Government in this regard, the company said in a statement.
The company will invest ₹200 crore in the first phase.
The announcement was made by Lulu Group Chairman Yusuff Ali M.A. in the presence of J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha during the MoU signing ceremony held in Dubai on Thursday.
The MoU was signed by Ranjan Prakash Thakur, Principal Secretary (industries and commerce), Government of Jammu and Kashmir; and Ashraf Ali M.A., executive director of Lulu Group.
Manoj Sinha, who is on a three-day official visit to the UAE, also inaugurated 'Kashmir Promotion Week' at Lulu Hypermarket, Silicon Central Mall.
Mr. Sinha termed it as a "historic agreement" and said the trade between Jammu and Kashmir and Dubai has remained steady and it reflects the resilience of the deep economic linkages.
"Relations between India and the UAE are long-standing and deep-rooted. People-to-people contact and trade have seen momentum in the recent years under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi," the Lieutenant Governor said.
The week-long promotion will highlight Kashmiri fruits, vegetables, Saffron, dry fruits, pulses, handicrafts and other specialty products.
Yusuff Ali M.A. said, "In the first phase, we will be investing ₹200 crore; and subsequently, another Rs 200 crore has been earmarked for further expansion." "Setting up of a Lulu Hypermarket is also in the plan. I am sure these projects will not only give considerable employment opportunities to the local youth but also benefit the agri sector and farmers immensely," he added.
Last month, the Lulu group announced an investment of ₹2,000 crore near Ahmedabad to set up a modern shopping mall.
It also announced an investment of ₹500 crore to set up a food processing plant in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
The company will set up 100% export-oriented food and agri-produce processing park in Greater Noida.
In India, the Lulu group already has four operational shopping malls at Kochi, Thrissur, Trivandrum and Bengaluru.
The mall at Bengaluru is not owned by the Lulu group but it is managing and operating the property.
The Lulu group currently has 220 hypermarkets and shopping malls in the Middle East, Egypt, India, Malaysia and Indonesia with a global workforce of over 57,000 employees.
The world-famous GI-tagged saffron has been launched at LuLu Hypermarket, which is a major step towards boosting the Jammu and Kashmir-Dubai partnership, Mr. Sinha said.
He added that the LuLu group is already importing apples from Jammu & Kashmir and with saffron, "we are adding Kashmir's finest spice to the basket".
The group's business portfolio ranges from hypermarket operations to shopping mall development, manufacturing and trading of goods, food processing plants, wholesale distribution, hospitality assets, and real estate development.

 

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UAE's LuLu Group confirms Dh100m investment push into Jammu & Kashmir
LuLu is already a major importer of fresh produce from the Indian state
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Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, Dr. Ahmed Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India, Dr. Aman Puri, Consul-General of India, and Yusuffali M.A., Chairman of Lulu Group, with senior officials. LuLu will now be one of the biggest investors in Jammu & Kashmir.

Dubai: UAE retail giant LuLu Group plans to invest around Dh100 million (Rs2 billion) in Jammu and Kashmir as part of its push into the Indian state.

LuLu Chairman Yusuffali said another Dh100 million had been earmarked by the company for further expansion. “Setting up of a Lulu Hypermarket is also in the plan - I am sure these projects will not only give considerable employment opportunities to local youth but also benefit the agriculture sector and farmers immensely,” he said.

Lulu, which sells Kashmiri products at its UAE supermarkets, had previously announced that it would build a food processing center in the state.

“We look forward to enhance and take forward the trade relation between the Jammu & Kashmir and UAE, as we enjoy a very great and historical relations between both the countries,” said Thani Al Zeoudi, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade. “I also look forward to inauguration of the Lulu Food Processing center in Srinagar and wish the project all the success.”

LuLu said the investment was the direct result of meetings between Yussufali and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where the retailer expressed interest in procuring Kashmiri agricultural produce and set up a logistics hub in Srinagar for uninterrupted supply.

 

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Dubai's DP World to build dry port in Jammu and Kashmir

Dubai ports giant DP World is set to build an inland port in Jammu and Kashmir as part of plans by the emirate to invest in the Indian territory, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said on Thursday.

The Centre last year said Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), would invest in infrastructure and other projects in the disputed region claimed by India and Pakistan but ruled in parts by both.

Sinha, who is in Dubai this week to promote investment, said DP World would soon visit the 250 acre site earmarked for the inland port facility.


"We will finalise it shortly," he told Reuters, describing the project as a "firm commitment" by state-owned DP World.

A DP World spokesperson said the company had a "productive meeting" with Sinha on Thursday and that it was preparing a proposal for the project.

The announcement last October that Dubai would invest in the region was the first by any foreign government since Kashmir's autonomy was revoked in 2019 and the Muslim-majority state was divided into two territories directly ruled by New Delhi.

Emirati newspaper Khaleej Times reported this week that Dubai developer Emaar Properties would build a mall in Srinagar, the main city in Jammu and Kashmir.

Lulu Group, an UAE-headquartered company headed by an Indian billionaire, also plans to set up a food processing hub there.

But investment in the heavily militarised Jammu and Kashmir is fraught with risk. There are frequent attacks by militants, while the Indian government has at times faced international criticism for widespread crackdowns there by security forces.

"As far militancy is concerned, we are dealing with it ... and I can assure it will be dealt (with) fully" said Sinha, who insisted the region was a safe place for foreign investment.

 

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Dubai's DP World to build inland port in India's Jammu and Kashmir
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After Emaar and LuLu Group, Dubai’s DP World will be the next big UAE company to invest in India’s Jammu and Kashmir, the region’s Lt-Governor Manoj Sinha told Khaleej Times.

Sinha, who is currently visiting the UAE to promote investments in J&K, said DP World will build a inland port in the newly created Union Territory.

“They have already earmarked a 250-acre site. We have met with DP World officials and they will soon visit the site and finalise the project,” Sinha said in an interview on Thursday.

The government of Dubai had recently inked an agreement with India to ramp up infrastructure investment in Jammu and Kashmir, and as per the deal, Dubai will deliver more than a billion dollars' worth of projects in Kashmir, including industrial parks, a medical college, a specialty hospital, logistic centres, IT towers and multi-purpose towers.

Recently, Emaar, Dubai’s state-owned real estate giant, announced it is building a 500,000-sqft shopping mall in Srinagar.

UAE-based retail major LuLu group on Thursday said it will invest Rs200 billion in Jammu and Kashmir to set up a food processing and logistic hub. The LuLu group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Jammu and Kashmir Government in this regard, the company said in a statement.

Group Director and partner Kamal Vachani said Al Maya has signed an MoU with J&K, in the presence of Sinha and Dr Ahmed Abdul Rahman Albanna, UAE Ambassador to India for import of fruits.

Vachani said: “Al Maya will catalyse trade ties between the UAE-India as we were the first retailers in the country to import saffron from J&K. This is just the beginning and we are confident that more opportunities will emerge as other key sectors are also offering lucrative investment opportunities.”

Sinha said he expects many more projects to come to Kashmir in the future and credited the strong India-UAE relationships to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“India and the UAE share historical ties. But we have not seen this level of cooperation between the two countries,” said Sinha.
“UAE is a launching pad for Jammu and Kashmir and its products to enter other Arab countries and also the rest of the world. With the coming up of an inland port by DP world, our freight problems will be solved and Kashmir’s products will reach the world markets. Our farmers will benefit with the production unit. We are going to have a sea change in Kashmir.”

Asked when the mall and the port will materialise, Sinha said: “There is no delay from our side. It is in our interest that projects kickstart at the earliest and we are facilitating it.”

He said the government is issuing permissions through a single-window system within 30 days.

“The land acquisition has been made easier through a landmark judgement. Our electricity is cheaper than any other state. We are also offering incentives on return of investments for businesses," he said.

As investments in the strife-torn region largely hinges on the security situation, Sinha insisted that “militancy is taking its last breath in Kashmir."

“We hope it will be dead soon. The government is dealing with it,” he said.

Plans are also underway to improve flight connectivity with Jammu and Kashmir. “We are looking at adding more direct flights from the UAE so that international tourists can enjoy the ‘heaven on earth,” he said.

 

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Why Dubai plans to build infrastructure in Kashmir

Dubai's accord with the Indian government to build infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir comes at a time when the volatile Himalayan region is witnessing a resurgence in violence.

The government of Dubai, one of the UAE's seven emirates, recently inked an agreement with India to ramp up infrastructure investment in Jammu and Kashmir.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government said the deal will see Dubai building infrastructure in the troubled region including industrial parks, IT towers, multi-purpose towers, logistics centers, a medical college and a specialized hospital.


"The world has started to recognize the pace (at) which Jammu and Kashmir is traversing on the development bandwagon," Indian Trade Minister Piyush Goyal said in a statement.


Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman and CEO of DP World Dubai, told media in Srinagar: "We are committed to connect Jammu and Kashmir to the rest of India. We know how to do that, we know the obstacles."


No figure for the value of the accord was given but Sulayem pointed out that the investments by his firm will be part of the Modi government's "Make in India" initiative.


This is the first investment agreement by a foreign government involving Kashmir sinceNew Delhi scrapped the region's special status in 2019 and divided the Muslim-majority state into two territories directly ruled from the Indian capital.

The deal comes amid an uptick in violence in the heavily militarized region — as evidenced by a spate of militant attacks on civilians and a widespread crackdown by security forces that has left several people dead.


Suspected militants have killed at least 11 civilians, including five migrant workers, in Kashmir since early October.


Indian authorities were recently forced to move thousands of migrant workers in Kashmir to safer locations overnight as hundreds fled the Himalayan valley after a wave of targeted killings.


The killings led to widespread unease, particularly among the region's religious minority Hindus — locally known as Pandits — an estimated 200,000 of whom fled Kashmir after an anti-India rebellion erupted in 1989.


The trigger for the latest wave of attacks remains unclear, even though Kashmir has witnessed armed insurgency against New Delhi for decades.


Analysts say the investment agreement is a clear message that economic development and building peace go hand in hand, even in the middle of heightened security concerns.


"At this point, Kashmiri society is undergoing such upheaval — especially given the targeted killings of migrant workers — that I really do wonder which outside investors will ultimately see their investments through in the region," political scientist, Navnita Behera told DW.

Seeking legitimacy?

Some believe the new pact with Dubai is an attempt by New Delhi to gain international legitimacy for its actions in Kashmir over the past two years.


"The first test of legitimacy is whether the affected people accept an action as legitimate. Using this yardstick, Dubai's investment does not legitimize the removal of special status as far as Kashmiris are concerned," Radha Kumar, an academic and expert on Kashmir affairs, told DW.


Nevertheless, an influx of investment from Dubai will boost the Kashmiri economy, he added.


"If there is an inflow of investment from Dubai, it will surely provide a much-needed boost to Kashmir's economy, which has suffered enormously following the hollowing out of Article 370 [the law that granted special constitutional status to the region] and the measures that have followed," the expert underlined.

Dubai investors are 'upbeat'

The UAE is a strategic partner to India and the two countries have a strong bilateral relationship based on common geopolitical and economic interests.


The UAE does not consider the Kashmir crisis a threat to the Muslim community, rather a conflict between two countries that could be resolved through negotiations," Nagapushpa Devendra, an expert on the Middle East, told DW


That view is shared by Mohammed Muddassir Quamar, associate fellow at the Manohar Parrikar Institute of Defence Studies & Analyses.


"As far as the Kashmir issue is concerned, the UAE has come a long way from seeing the issue through the Pakistan prism, which was the case until the 1990s," he told DW.


"It now recognizes that India and Pakistan have a dispute over the territory but maintains that these are internal and bilateral matters of the two, and the UAE has no stake in the dispute," he added.

Although the UAE has attempted to facilitate dialogue between India and Pakistan whenever the situation in Kashmir became explosive, the Middle Eastern nation no longer takes sides, experts say.


And when New Delhi revoked Kashmir's special status, the UAE was one of the first countries that backed India, saying it viewed the decision as the nation's "internal matter."


Business delegations from Kashmir have been visiting Abu Dhabi and Dubai since then and have participated in a number of gatherings facilitated by Indian business associations.


"Hence, it does not come as a surprise that Dubai has agreed to invest in the region. As far as the motivation for investments is concerned, it is a business decision and, despite the risks involved, Dubai investors are upbeat about it because it offers an opportunity," said Quamar.

 

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