Research tie-ups with Saudi Arabia growing

In the last decade, India has seen a 10-fold increase in its research collaboration with Saudi Arabia, according to a study commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and conducted by Thomson Reuters.

In the period 2005-2008, Saudi Arabia was only the 20th most prolific contributor of India, with 123 jointly-authored papers involving Indian and Saudi Arabian researchers. This has skyrocketed to 1,303 in 2013-2014, making the oil rich kingdom India’s 12th most important contributor, surpassing Switzerland, Russia, The Netherlands and Poland. In other words, from having merely 0.1 per cent of India’s total collaborative research publication output in 2005, Saudi Arabia contributes now 1.25 per cent — a 10-fold increase. In comparison, the U.S. has only increased from 6.67 per cent to 7.47 per cent.

“This was a voluminous report that looked at various aspects of India’s research publication trends….we will look at the Saudi Arabia aspect more closely shortly. It’s an interesting find,” said by DST official involved with commissioning the study.

Saudi Arabia’s engagement with India is a point highlighted by the various of search engines. “Collaboration with Saudi Arabian universities increased dramatically… Many Saudi Arabian institutions now rank among India’s top 10 collaborating organisations.”

For their analysis, the report employs a tool called ‘Web of Science’, a popular, online search tool, used often by scientists to search for research related to their sub-fields. The most prolific Saudi Arabian university mentioned in the analysis is the King Saud University, which is now among the top collaborators with Indian institutions.

Key analysis:-


India and Saudi Arabia enjoy cordial and friendly relations reflecting the centuries old economic and socio-cultural ties. The establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947 was followed by high-level visits from both sides. King Saud visited India in 1955 and the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the Kingdom in 1956. The visit of the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Saudi Arabia in 1982 further boosted the bilateral relations. In the recent times, the historic visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 resulted in signing of ‘Delhi Declaration’ imparting a fresh momentum to the bilateral relationship. The visit provided the framework for cooperation in all fields of mutual interest. The reciprocal visit by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to Saudi Arabia in 2010 raised the level of bilateral engagement to ‘Strategic Partnership’ and the ‘Riyadh Declaration’ signed during the visit captured the spirit of enhanced cooperation in political, economic, security and defence realms. In February 2014, during the visit of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to India (now King), a Joint Statement was issued. In November 2015, on the sidelines of G20 meeting in Antalya, Turkey, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi met with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and discussed areas of bilateral interest.

Bilateral Agreements/MoUs:               
The bilateral Agreements and MoUs signed are as follows:            
1.      Signing of ‘Delhi Declaration’ in 2006 during the visit of King Abdullah; it laid the roadmap for bilateral cooperation;

2.      Signing of ‘Riyadh Declaration’ in 2010 during Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Riyadh. It raised the level of interaction to ‘Strategic Partnership’ in the political, economy, security and defence realms;

3.      MoU for Foreign Office Consultations;

4.      MoU on the Establishment of Joint Business Council  between Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CSCCI) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI);

5.      Bilateral Promotion and Protection of Investments (BIPA);

6.      Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Tax Evasion (DTAA);

7.      MoU on Combating Crime;

8.      Agreement in the field of Youth and Sports;

9.      MoU of Scientific and Educational Co-operation between the Ministry of HRD, India and Ministry of Higher Education, KSA;

10. Extradition Treaty;

11. Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons;

12. MoU for Cooperation in Peaceful Use of Outer Space;

13. Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation;

14. MoU between Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC) and  King Abdulaziz City for Science & Technology (KACST) on cooperation in Information  Technology and Services;

15. Agreement on News Cooperation between Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and Press Trust of  India (PTI);

16. MoU on Cultural Cooperation;

17. Agreement on Labour Cooperation for Domestic Service Workers Recruitment.

18. MoU on Defence Cooperation.

19. Joint Statement issued in February 2014 during the visit of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to India.


Economic & Commercial Relations:

Saudi Arabia today is our 4th largest trade partner and is a major source of energy as we import around 19% of our crude oil requirement. During 2014-15, our bilateral trade reached USD 39.3 billion registering a decrease of 19.24% compared to 2013-14 (USD 48.62 billion) due to sharp decline in oil prices since June 2014. During this period, our imports from Saudi Arabia reached USD 28.1 billion, registering a decline of 22.79% over previous year whereas our exports to Saudi Arabia reached USD 11.2 billion registering a decline of 8.65% over previous year. Saudi Arabia is the 5th largest market in the world for Indian exports and is destination of 3.6% of India’s global exports. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is the source of 6.3% of India’s global imports. For Saudi Arabia as per 2014 data, India is the 5th largest market for its exports, accounting for 8.87% of its global exports. In terms of imports by Saudi Arabia, India ranks 7th and is source of around 3.61% of Saudi Arabia’s total imports. Review meeting for the 11th JCM was held in Riyadh on December 29, 2015.

The import of crude oil by India forms a major component of bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia being India’s largest supplier of crude oil, accounting for almost one-fifth of its needs. MoS (IC) for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri Dharmendra Pradhan visited Kingdom from October 27-29, 2014 and held 2nd bilateral energy consultations with HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. MoS (IC) also held a bilateral meeting with Saudi Petroleum and Mineral Resource Minister Eng. Ali bin Ibrahim Al-Naimi and matters of mutual cooperation were discussed. He was accompanied by the Chairmen of IOC, HPCL & GAIL.

India-Saudi Trade (in million USD)


( April – March)
Imports from Saudi Arabia Exports to Saudi Arabia Total trade % increase in bilateral trade % increase in Indian imports % increase in Indian exports
2010-2011 20,385.28 4,684.40 25,069.68 19.35 19.23 19.90
2011-2012 31,817.70 5,683.29 37,500.99 45.59 56.08 21.32
2012-2013 33,998.11 9,785.84 43,783.95 16.75 6.85 72.18
2013-2014 36,403.65 12,218.95 48,622.60 11.05 7.08 24.86
2014-2015 28,107.56 11,161.43 39,268.99 -19.24 -22.79 -8.65

Current Trend (April – November)


(April – November)

2014-15 2013-14 % Increase
Imports 14,769.30 21,194.17 -30.31
Exports  4,571.31  8,461.83 -45.98
Total Trade 19,340.61 29,656.00 -34.78

Source: Department of Commerce, GOI. (


According to Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), it has issued 426 licenses to Indian companies for joint ventures/100% owned entities till April 2015, which are expected to bring total investment of USD 1.6 billion in Saudi Arabia. Actual investment figures as on date are not available. These licenses are for projects in diverse sectors such as management and consultancy services, construction projects, telecommunications, information technology, pharmaceuticals, etc. Moreover, several Indian companies have established collaborations with Saudi companies and are working in the Kingdom in the areas of designing, consultancy, financial services and software development. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is the 47th biggest investor in India with investments from April 2000 to September 2015 amounting to USD 58.83 million. In addition, Saudi Petrochemical joint SABIC had set up its R&D Centre in Bangalore with an investment of over USD 100 million in November 2013.

Cultural ties:

A cultural troupe from ICCR comprising of a Shehnai and a Qawwali group, performed in Jeddah and Riyadh from 25-29 January 2012, coinciding with the Republic Day celebrations. A 45-member Saudi youth delegation visited India on 10-day tour from March 22, 2012, to strengthen the cooperation in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector and to step-up efforts to promote understanding and friendship among the youth of the two countries. A 54-member cultural delegation visited the Kingdom to participate in the ‘Indian Cultural Week’, organized in Riyadh in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Culture from November 3-7, 2012. Shri Parvez Dewan, Secretary Tourism, Government of India, led a high-level delegation consisting of State Tourism officers and private tour operators to the Kingdom to participate in ‘Road Shows’ in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam on 19th, 21st and 22nd May, 2013, respectively.

Indian Community in Saudi Arabia: 

The 2.96 million plus strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom and is the ‘most preferred community’ due to their expertise, sense of discipline, law abiding and peace loving nature. The contribution made by Indian community to the development of Saudi Arabia is well acknowledged. In April 2013, His Majesty King Abdullah announced a grace period allowing overstaying expatriates to correct the status, get new jobs or leave the country without facing penal action till the end of the grace period i.e. November 3, 2013. More than 1.4 million (14 lakhs) Indians have availed the concessions during the grace period.The Haj pilgrimage is another important component of bilateral relations. During Haj 2015, around 136,000 Indians visited the Kingdom to perform Haj. Approximately 300,000 Indians perform Umrah every year.


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