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Updated February 13th, 2024 at 13:02 IST

First Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi: How PM Modi Played A Crucial Role

The roots of the temple's construction can be traced back to PM Modi's first visit to the UAE in 2015, when Crown Prince of UAE donated land for the temple.

Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and PM Modi.
Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and PM Modi. | Image:PTI
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), marking his seventh visit to the country since his first in 2015. The focal point of this two-day official visit is the inauguration of the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, the BAPS Hindu Mandir, scheduled for February 14. 

This historic event underscores the deepening ties between India and the UAE, symbolizing not only religious harmony but also the diplomatic prowess of India.

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Land for the temple was donated during PM Modi's 1st visit to UAE

The roots of the temple's construction can be traced back to Prime Minister Modi's first visit to the UAE in 2015, during which the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, graciously donated 13.5 acres of land for the temple's construction. This gesture signified a landmark decision and strengthened diplomatic relations between the two nations.  

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I am very thankful to the UAE Govt for their decision to allot land in order to build a Temple in Abu Dhabi. This is a great step,” PM Modi said back then. 

PM Modi became the 1st Indian PM to visit UAE in 3 decades

PM Modi was the first Indian PM to visit the nation since Indira Gandhi, three decades ago. This is noteworthy because UAE is home to 3.5 million Indians/ people of Indian origin. For comparison, the population of Indian diaspora in the US is around 2.7 million, roughly speaking. In 2018, PM Modi laid the foundation stone of the temple and now in 2024, he is going to inaugurate the temple. 

During his public speeches in the region, PM Modi has repeatedly stated that unlike his predecessors, he hasn't forgotten Indians who reside outside India. The temple will allow the Indian diaspora in the country to congregate at one place, to celebrate their tradition and way of life. 

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Key points about the temple

Architectural Marvel: Situated in the Abu Mureikhah area, the temple stands as a testament to exquisite craftsmanship, built at an estimated cost of Rs 700 crore. Crafted from pink Rajasthan sandstone and white Italian marble, the temple's design draws inspiration from Vedic architecture and sculptures.

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Significance: The inauguration of the BAPS Hindu Mandir marks a historic moment, not only for the Indian diaspora in the UAE but also for global religious harmony. Its construction signifies the culmination of years of dedication and collaboration between the Indian and Emirati communities.

Symbolism: Each of the temple's seven spires symbolizes an Emirate of the UAE, further strengthening the bond between India and the UAE.

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Inauguration Ceremony: A symbolic 'Yajna' for harmony was held on February 12, paving the way for the temple's formal inauguration by Prime Minister Modi on February 14. The ceremony is expected to attract members of the Indian community from across the UAE.

Prime Minister Modi's visit to the UAE holds immense diplomatic significance, highlighting India's growing influence on the global stage. The UAE's decision to allocate land for the temple reflects its commitment to promoting religious tolerance and cultural diversity.

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A vision for global harmony?

During discussions with BAPS representatives when they invited him, Prime Minister Modi reiterated India's vision for global harmony, emphasizing the ancient Indian ideal of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' – the world is one family. His proactive engagement with the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries underscores India's role as a bridge between diverse cultures and civilisations.

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A look at the India-UAE ties

UAE is a crucial partner for India in West Asia. PM Modi has recognised this fact and, has capitalised on it. India and UAE established diplomatic ties back in 1972. UAE is important for India not just due to the number of Indian expats residing in the country. UAE is India's 3rd largest trading partner. The amount of total non-oil bilateral trade, in the year 2022, was valued at US $72.87 billion. Back in May 2022, India and UAE signed a bilateral trade agreement called the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). 

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The goal of CEPA is to boost India-UAE bilateral non-oil trade to US $100 billion. CEPA essentially encourages non-oil trade through tariff elimination. This is important as currently there is a trade deficit of around US$16 billion, in favour of UAE. India's goal is to boost its exports to UAE. India's exports to UAE has been going up swiftly and this trend will continue. 

UAE has also committed to grant 140,000 visas to highly skilled Indian by the year 2030. When one observes these trends, it becomes clear that, for India, UAE has turned from just another nation in West Asia to a reliable partner in the region. It is hardly a surprise that back in 2023, PM Modi said to the Crown Prince of UAE that "every Indian sees you as a true friend”.

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The inauguration of the BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi represents a historic milestone in the bilateral relations between India and the UAE. Prime Minister Modi's visionary leadership and diplomatic acumen have played a crucial role in fostering this relationship. As the temple doors open to devotees, it serves as a beacon of hope and unity, transcending boundaries and celebrating the spirit of inclusivity.

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Published February 13th, 2024 at 13:01 IST

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