As United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan arrived in India on Tuesday as chief guest for India’s January 26 Republic Day parade, the red carpet was rolled out in all its grandeur. Prime Minister Narendra Modi rejected all protocol and personally received the Crown Prince at the airport, with big smiles and even bigger hugs. Even the British Royal Couple, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who visited in April last year, were not graced by PM Modi’s presence at the airport, suggesting the significance of the Crown Prince’s attendance.

Mr Modi’s warm welcome to Prince Al Nahyan at the tarmac can be seen as a signal of blossoming friendship between the two countries. The visit is the second part of the photo op series that began with PM Modi’s visit to UAE in August 2015, which generated one too many awkward selfies. India and the UAE also decided to take the opportunity to call out Pakistan in veiled references to ‘dismantle the terrorism infrastructure’ and ‘bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice’. Gulf states are happy to ask Pakistan to fight their wars and their 39 state military alliance will be toothless without Pakistan. With a Gulf state making such deals, loyalty to Pakistan, or to the idea of a Muslim brotherhood, is in question.

Prince Al Nahyan, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces, is expected to boost bilateral ties in the key areas of trade and security. There are more than 2.6 million Indians in the UAE and their annual remittance is estimated to be around $14 billion. So if Modi has to suppress his Hindu nationalist sensibilities and invite royalty from the Gulf states as chief guests even though he refused to pay homage at Mahatma Gandhi’s shrine because of his “principles”, he will do just that. Principles only matter when there is no financial benefit in the offing.