UAE, Saudi look to invest in Indian-administered Kashmir after Modi government ends 'special status'

UAE, Saudi look to invest in Indian-administered Kashmir after Modi government ends 'special status'
Dozens of investors from the Gulf states and around the world arrived in Kashmir looking for business opportunities after the Modi government ended the special status for India's only Muslim-majority territory.
2 min read
23 March, 2022
Kashmir, known for its pristine beauty, is now viewed as an investment opportunity by the likes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE [Getty]

Investors from several countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, arrived in Kashmir earlier this week seeking investment opportunities in the disputed region, according to multiple reports.

The visit comes weeks after the local Indian-administered Kashmiri government signed agreements with various investors at the Dubai Expo 2020 in January this year.

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"During the international summit (in the UAE), there was lot of interest with regard to Jammu and Kashmir," said Ranjan Prakash Thakur, a senior member of the local government, according to the Indian Express.

"Most of them had doubt that the situation (in Kashmir) is not very good, that it is a conflict zone. We invited them so that they see for themselves and understand the situation."

The investors represent a variety of sectors including real estate, hospitality, agriculture and food processing, and want to capitalise on Kashmir after India's Hindu nationalist government unilaterally revoked its autonomous status for the region in August 2019.

Investment by Muslim-majority states in Kashmir is seen as a major victory for India in its attempt to legitimise its hold on Kashmir, which is also claimed by Pakistan. Many Kashmiris want an independent state.

The move by the Gulf states has been met with some criticism in Pakistan, which is currently hosting delegations from both the UAE and Saudi Arabia at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit in Islamabad.

Raja Farooq Haider Khan, former prime minister of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, tweeted that this is attempt by the Modi government to "fulfil Indianisation of occupied Kashmir".

While India's revocation of Kashmir's special status has opened the doors to foreign investment, it meant that Kashmiris lost their constitution, flag, and ability to govern themselves.

India’s only Muslim-majority state was subsequently carved into two territories, stoking fears that New Delhi aims to alter the demographics of this region.