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UAE delegation explores investment opportunities in Indian-controlled Kashmir

Last month, the two countries signed free trade agreement aimed at strengthening investment ties
People enjoy a boat ride with snow-covered mountains in the background at Dal lake in Srinagar on 11 January 2022 (AFP)

A high-level UAE-led business delegation is visiting Indian-controlled Kashmir to explore investment opportunities in the region, a month after Abu Dhabi and New Delhi signed a trade agreement aimed at deepening ties.

The delegation arrived in Srinagar on Sunday and is expected to visit tourist spots, including Pahalgam and Gulmarg, during the four-day trip, according to Indian media. 

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Among the CEOs of more than 30 companies, including Saudi and Indian entrepreneurs, are the CEOs of the Emirati Royal International Group and Dubai-headquartered Al Tayer Group.

The delegation is led by Bal Krishen, CEO of UAE financial services group Century Financial.

The delegation will be looking into investment options in hospitality and tourism.

The administration in Jammu and Kashmir is "aiming to attract new investments in industries and tourism by highlighting key opportunities and growth sectors," an official was quoted as saying by Republic World.

The Indian government last year announced that Dubai would invest in infrastructure and other projects in Jammu and Kashmir, a region claimed by India and Pakistan.

The announcement was the first by any foreign government since Kashmir’s autonomy was revoked in 2019 and the Muslim-majority state was divided into two territories directly ruled by New Delhi.

In January, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha signed major investment deals with several UAE-based companies, including the LuLu Group, Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage LLC & Noon Group at the Dubai Expo.

Sinha also signed a memorandum of understanding with Century Financial for a $100m investment by the Dubai-based financial consultancy firm.

In February, the UAE and India signed a free trade agreement that cuts duties on almost 90 percent of goods traded between them, including metals, minerals, petrochemicals and petroleum, according to Bloomberg.

The deal is also expected to double bilateral non-oil trade to $100bn within five years. India is the UAE’s second-largest trade partner.

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