Public display of enthusiasm is not something the UAE is used to. But on Sunday evening, hundreds of Indians gathered at the Sheikh Zayed grand mosque, the first stopover of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day in Abu Dhabi, chanted “Modi, Modi” and burst at the seams of the security cordon.
Modi did not disappoint the crowd, most of which hailed from the south. He waved at them and almost walked into their midst as most of them tried their best to capture the moment on their mobile cameras.
The symbolism of the Prime Minister making the grand mosque, a national heritage, his first stopover on his first visit to a Gulf country was also not lost on the crowd.
The visit will also see two countries stepping up security cooperation, energy, trade and investment ties. Modi will be concluding his visit to the UAE with a massive public event in Dubai on Monday.
“I am delighted to visit this magnificent place of worship. It brings together requisite skills and creation from around the world and serves as a fine example of human achievement and unity. I am confident that it will be a symbol of peace, piety, harmony and inclusiveness that are inherent to the faith of Islam,” Modi wrote in the visitors’ book.
He later posted a selfie with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, UAE cultural minister, and Anwar Mohammed Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs.
Modi meets NRI investors, Indian labourers
Later in the day, Modi met leading NRI investors in UAE, who briefed him about various projects they are investing in India.
Businessmen led by Abu Dhabi Chamber Director board member, Yusuffali M A briefed the Prime Minister about the prevailing business scenario in the UAE and also about the challenges faced by them while investing in India.
In the meeting, Modi appealed to NRI investors to renew their efforts to bring in more investments into the country especially in the infrastructure and related fields and highlighted the role of 'Make-in-India' for the future generation of Indians.
Kamal Vachani, Group Director, Al Maya Group and Regional Director (Middle East) of Electronics and Computer Software Export Promotion Council (ESC) said the entire community is excited about the visit.
PM Modi how reached out to Indian workers in the UAE to know their problems and discussed ways how the Indian government can help them.
Modi also Indian workers at the I-CAD residential labour camp that houses thousands of migrant labourers from India in an area spread over one square kilometre.
“I was always curious to know how the Prime Minister connects with people with such ease. Now I know…” said Ayesha Khan from Hyderabad.
Apart from interacting with the workers, he also took group photos with them.
“I had never thought it would be possible for a political leader to get such crowd support,” said Nizam, a driver from Kerala, adding “Hope he delivers on the huge expectations from diaspora like us”.
About 2.6 million Indians constitute nearly 30 per cent of the population of UAE.
Land for Hindu temple
The UAE government decided to allot land for building a temple in Abu Dhabi, the first in the Emirati capital as Modi began his visit of the Gulf nation.
Modi thanked the UAE leadership for this "landmark" decision.
While there are two temples in Dubai, one of Lord Shiva and another of Krishna, there is none in Abu Dhabi.
"A long wait for the Indian community ends. On the occasion of PM's visit, UAE Govt decides to allot land for building a temple in Abu Dhabi," tweeted external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup.
Earlier, in a break from protocol, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his five brothers were at the airport to receive Modi.
“I deeply appreciate the kind gesture of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who received me at the airport,” Modi tweeted. The Prime Minister will have a detailed meeting with the crown prince on Monday.