However, when India abrogated Article 370 on Kashmir in 2020, taking away special rights granted temporarily to that state, Pakistan was shocked to see Saudi Arabia and UAE’s comments more nuanced on this move. Riyadh has been slowly moving away from rabidly Islamic elements like Pakistan, Turkey, and Malaysia. Under MBS’s stewardship, Saudi Arabia is looking to diversify its economic strengths away from oil and in this effort, it sees India as a strategic partner. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner after China, the USA, and Japan and imports 18% of its oil from that country. New Delhi decided to stop all oil imports from Iran and shifted its wallet spend to Riyadh. This and many other interactions with Modi government officials have gone well for bilateral ties. On the other hand, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has destroyed his country’s relationship with Riyadh by supporting Ankara’s claim to Islamic leadership. Besides, the Pakistani economy is in shambles and has nothing to offer Saudi Arabia except more debt.
Highlighting the stark difference, India’s Deputy Chief of Mission in Riyadh, N. Ram Prasad wrote in the Arab News that under Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” plans and India’s Make in India initiative, “cooperation in the research, development and manufacturing of weapon systems and equipment offers great potential. Of particular interest is collaboration in the fields of shipbuilding, ammunition manufacturing, drone technology, cybersecurity, space, and emerging new technologies.” Riyadh recently announced plans to invest more than USD 100B in India and named it as one of the eight Strategic Partner countries.