“It is all about getting to meet an Indian Prime Minister visiting this country after 34 years,” says Maharashtra’s Mustafa, who is a security guard at the ICARD labour camp on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The last Indian Prime Minister to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was Indira Gandhi in 1981.
The main gate of the labour camp, 50 km from the city centre of Abu Dhabi, is closed for the past two days for security reasons. The camp spread over one square km is one of the better places for migrant workers to stay in the country. A room here now houses an average of five people against the 10-12 of them cramming it a year ago.
And it is at the sports complex of this camp that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be addressing 300 Indians on Sunday afternoon. Modi will be visiting the UAE on August 16 and 17.
“It is unheard of that that a PM would be visiting labour camp in the Gulf,” says Palayiappan, a construction worker from Chennai. This camp houses around 90,000 people, mostly Indians followed by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Egyptians and a smattering of other nationalities. The annual remittance from the UAE is around $13 billion to $15 billion.
Some of the labourers opine that the embassy would have arranged the diaspora interaction there for the PM to get a truer picture on the lives of Indian workers in this country.
The Sudanese manager of the camp said he is not authorised to talk. “But one thing I can say, Indians are very excited to see their PM”.