Who is Pratibha Patil?
A member of the centre-left Indian National Congress, Pratibha Patil is the 12th and current president of the Republic of India. She is the former governor of Rajasthan state and the first woman to hold the office. She was sworn in on July 25, 2007, after her election victory over Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.
What does the Indian President do?
In reality, the president has little day-to-day powers. India has a parliamentary system of government, much like the United Kingdom, where the president is a largely symbolic figurehead who signs laws passed by the cabinet into the statute books, in the same way as Queen Elizabeth II does in Britain. Unlike the Queen, the Indian president is elected from a group of nominees by the elected members of the Indian parliament and state legislatures and serves for a term of five years. Incumbents are allowed to stand for re-election.
What is her background?
Pratibha Patil was born in the village of Nadgaon in the Jalgaon district of Maharashtra and went on to study for a law degree from the University of Bombay. She started her career as a lawyer in the Jalgaon District Court and worked on several social activities, especially those aimed at helping women in poverty. Her political career began when she was just 27 years -old and elected to the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
When is she here?
Mrs Patil arrives for a four-day visit lasting from Sunday, November 21 to Thursday, November 25. During that time she will meet separately with Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. She will also tour Indian-related facilities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Why is she here?
MK Lokesh, the Indian ambassador to the UAE, has said the visit will highlight business, political and community-related issues. The UAE is India's biggest trading partner, with imports and exports worth US$44.5 billion (Dh163bn) in 2009, according to the Indian government.
What have previous visits between the two countries been like?
Although a first for President Patil, official visits between the two countries date back to when Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE, toured India in 1975. Several heads of state from India have visited the UAE since the 1970s, including President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in 1976. Prime minister Indira Gandhi's trip in 1981 also remains memorable to expatriates who were living here at the time. The last Indian head of state to visit was APJ Abdul Kalam, Mrs Patil's predecessor, in 2003.
What will Mrs Patil be doing in the UAE?
The Indian president is expected to meet the Abu Dhabi and Dubai chambers of commerce and address Indian expatriates at the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi, She will also inaugurate the Indian Islamic Centre on Al Falah Street, the foundation stone for which was laid by Indira Gandhi in 1981, the Indian Workers Resource Centre in Dubai and the Indian trade and exhibition centre in Sharjah.
Indian ambassador MK Lokesh: "It is a very elaborate visit, where she will be attending a lot of Indian functions. This is the first visit by the president to the Gulf and the UAE will be the first country she visits."
Sudhir Shetty, former president of the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi: "The India Social Centre is a proud moment for all Indians living here. Her visit will further enhance the projects we are putting up, and the facilities we are able to provide. These moments are rare. A person no less than the president of India is visiting the centre. This is a great honour."
Mohan Jashanmal, the chairman of the Jashanmal group, said: "When the late Sheikh Zayed had gone to India to visit Indira Gandhi, that was really memorable for us. This visit by the current president is a continuity of that relationship that Sheikh Zayed founded. He started by opening the doors to go to India."