NEW DELHI: The resident population of Indians in the Arab world has touched nine million, the Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, has said.

Simultaneously, India’s trade with Arab countries has crossed $240 billion; the Minister said while inaugurating the sixth India-Arab Partnership Conference in New Delhi.

The conference is the outcome of a Memorandum of Cooperation signed between the Arab League and India in December 2008 and subsequently renewed periodically. The Memorandum established an Arab Indian Cooperation Forum.

The India-Arab Partnership Conference is held alternately in India and an Arab country. It is attended by ministers, senior officials and businesspersons from Arab states and India.

The theme of this year’s conference was “New Horizons in Investment, Trade and Services.” Organised by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the General Secretariat of the Arab League, it was partnered this year by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Arab Businessmen and the Union of Arab Chambers.

Muraleedharan said India-Arab relations “have withstood the test of time. Even during the recent pandemic and global geopolitical conflicts, trade between India and the Arab world continued to grow. The region caters to about 60 percent of India’s crude oil imports and more than 50 percent of fertilisers and related products, making our partnership robust and indispensable.”

He said that over generations, India’s large expatriate community in the Arab world has contributed to the prosperity of countries of their residence, their adopted homes.

“A new thrust to our economic engagement is now being provided through entrepreneurship, science and technological collaboration, environmental protection and a greater focus on food and energy security,” the Minister concluded.