First visit to a Gulf Arab nation: At UAE grand mosque, Modi hails ‘peace, harmony inherent in Islam’

In rare honour, Crown Prince receives PM at airport; talks to focus on security

Written by Manoj C G | Abu Dhabi | Updated: August 17, 2015 4:37:33 am
modi in uae, modi, pm modi in uae, Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque, modi uae, uae, narendra modi, pm modi, pm modi uae, uae modi, modi in uae, narendra modi uae, uae narendra modi, modi news, uae news, india news, indian express Modi was received by Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the airport, in a departure from the protocol. (Photo: @narendramodi/Twitter)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today began his two-day trip to the UAE by visiting the historic Sheikh Zayed Grand mosque, the world’s third largest.

After his arrival, Modi, on first public engagement here, visited the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a key place of worship in the UAE and known as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

The mosque is third largest in the world after the ones in Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia. It is named after the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The mosque can accommodate around 40,000 people. The mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007.

The first Indian Prime Minister to visit the UAE in 34 years, Modi was earlier received by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi along with his five brothers at the airport, in a departure from protocol. The last dignitary to be received by him was the King of Morocco in May this year.

The UAE too is attaching considerable significance to Modi’s visit.

Shaikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi crown prince and Deputy Commander of the UAE armed forces was at the Abu Dhabi presidential airport to receive him, underlining the importance attached by the UAE to his visit. Modi’s first stop will be the Sheikh Zayed grand mosque. Later in the day, he will visit a labour camp.

Modi has said that the Gulf region is vital for the economic, energy and security interests of India and made it clear that New Delhi wants to forge a strong strategic partnership with the UAE. Modi plans to engage with West Asia in a big way.

“I have begun my regional engagement with the UAE. This tells you the importance that I attach to the UAE,” he told Khaleej Times before leaving for Abu Dhabi.

 

“We have a range of common security and strategic concerns in the region, including terrorism and extremism. So India and the UAE have everything to be a top priority for each other…..We have resolved to sustain regular high level engagement and build a strong and comprehensive strategic partnership,” he has said.

The two-day visit is aimed at boosting the energy, security, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

Apart from seeking enhanced cooperation in energy and trade, Modi will look to reach out to investors to promote India as an attractive business destination.

Visit’s focus on trade and investments is also reflected in the fact that the Prime Minister will be attending a dinner hosted in his honour by Managing Director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

ADIA has USD 800 billion sovereign funds and India is expected to woo it to attract investments in the infrastructure sector.

India-UAE trade, valued at USD 180 million (Dh 660.6 million) per annum in the 1970s, is today around USD 60 billion making the UAE, India’s third largest trading partner for the year 2014-15 after China and the US.

Given that late Indira Gandhi was the last Prime Minister to visit UAE in 1981, Modi’s visit is seen as an opportunity to boost India-UAE ties in key areas of trade and security.

Marvelling at the UAE’s spectacular achievements, Modi described the Gulf nation as a paradise built up in a desert with unmatched vision and remarkable skill.

“I have always thought, how this paradise could come up in a desert? What vision! What remarkable skill!” Modi said of the country.

After his arrival, Modi’s first public engagement will be to visit Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, a key place of worship in UAE and known as a masterpiece of Islamic architecture.

The mosque is the third largest in the world after the ones in Mecca and Madina in Saudi Arabia.

It is named after the founder and first President of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Notably, a large portion of the 2.6 million Indians in the UAE are from Bihar and many are Muslims.

Modi will also interact with Indian workers at their camps I-CAD to know the problems they face and discuss ways Indian government can help them. The I-CAD Residential Labour Camp, housing thousands of migrant labourers from the Indian subcontinent in an area spread over one square kilometre.

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