India and Saudi Arabia have shared very cordial and friendly relations since time immemorial. The relations began since the Indian independence and were duly followed by high-level visits from both sides. While India was graced by the auspicious visit of King Saud bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in 1955, India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the Kingdom in September 1956. The later visits of Indira Gandhi in 1982 further consolidated bilateral relations. Furthermore, the historic visit of King Abdullah in January 2006 was a deciding moment that led to the ratification of the ‘Delhi Declaration, imparting fresh momentum to the bilateral relationship. This step was further reciprocated by the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Saudi between February-March 2010 and the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ was duly signed during the visit which elevated a mere bilateral relationship to a ‘Strategic Partnership’.
The visit of Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud in 2014 further deepened the relations between the two countries, particularly with respect to defense and military cooperation. The next view visits of the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi facilitated the relations on a much bigger scale. Prime Minister Modi was conferred the Kingdom’s highest civilian honor by King Salman, indicating the importance of bilateral relations. The following visit of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to India in February 2019, brought in the gracious promise of investing approximately US$ 100 billion along with numerous agreements ratified in the fields of investment, tourism, housing, exchange of audio-visual programs. In addition, an agreement was also signed to pave way for Saudi Arabia to join the International Solar Alliance, initiated by the government of India.
Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth trading partner. The leading exporter catering to India’s crude oil needs is sourced from Saudi Arabia, amounting to almost 18% of the nation’s oil imports. The current financial year’s FY22 (Apr-Dec) bilateral trade was valued at US$ 29.28 billion, out of which the major share was through imports from Saudi Arabia amounting to $22.65 billion and the rest were the exports from India worth $6.63 billion.
India and Saudi Arabia also share very deep cultural relations despite having contrastingly different traditions. To bridge the cultural gap, India participated as the ‘Guest of Honor’ at the 32nd edition of the prestigious Saudi National Festival of Heritage and Culture – Janadriyah from February 07-28, 2018, hosted by King Salman in association with late Sushma Swaraj. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia also adopted Yoga and with time, it has escalated into a full-fledged sports activity. Subsequently, the Indian Embassy in prominent areas of Riyadh celebrated International Yoga Day in 2018 and 2019 which witnessed participation from a large number of Saudi nationals, particularly youth and diplomats and journalists from Indian origin and local citizens. The Embassy in Riyadh further observed glorious celebrations on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi and a similarly large event was organized by the Embassy to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji on November 14, 2019.
As the nation now celebrates 75 years of India’s Independence as ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, the celebrations correspond to 75 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Saudi Arabia.