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Preparations in full swing ahead of PM Modi’s mid-Feb UAE visit

Dubai: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to visit to the UAE mid-February for a massive Indian community gathering and a dedication ceremony of a large Hindu temple, officials from the Indian missions in the Gulf nation are preparing for the two major events.

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Modi is scheduled to address the Indian community event, Ahlan Modi (Hello Modi), at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed stadium on February 13 and is scheduled to attend on February 14 a dedication ceremony at the BAPS Hindu temple getting the finishing touches at the UAE capital.

“As construction of the religious campus nears completion, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are scheduled to inaugurate the Mandir on 14 February 2024,” a release from BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha said.

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Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UAE is not yet been officially announced. Regarding the Ahlan Modi event, India’s ambassador to the UAE, Sunjay Sudhir, said they are expecting tens of thousands of people to throng the site of the reception.

Prime Minister Modi along with then US President Donald Trump addressed a massive community event called ‘Howdy, Modi!’ in Houston, Texas on September 22, 2019.

A registration portal has been set up to smoothen the process and transport is being arranged from all emirates for participants to reach the venue. The event is being organized collaboratively by 150 Indian community organisations in the UAE.

A cultural programme involving 400 local talents has been put together to add colour to the show. During the last 3 years, over 2,000 artisans from Rajasthan and Gujarat have carved the 402 white marble pillars for the temple.

Earlier, addressing a gathering of diplomats invited to celebrate the Republic Day, Ambassador Sudhir said over 3.5 million Indians call UAE their home, thanks to the affection shown by the country’s leaders.

“One of the most significant developments in bilateral relations in recent years is the construction of the BAPS Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi,” Ambassador Sudhir said.

“The temple, which is expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi on the 14th of February, will be a spiritual oasis. Standing on top of a hillock on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, the temple will be a testimony to the enduring tradition of peace and tolerance as aspired by our forefathers Mahatma Gandhi and Sheikh Zayed,” he said.

As announced by the ambassador then, a preview of the temple for ambassadors and spouses from 42 countries to catch a glimpse of the architectural marvel spread over expansive 27-acre construction site before its inauguration was organised on Monday.

In his welcome address, Ambassador Sudhir shared his excitement at the Mandir nearing completion. “It seemed impossible, but the dream has truly become a reality,” he said.

In his keynote address, Swami Brahmaviharidas, head of the BAPS Hindu Mandir project, provided an overview of the temple’s historical significance, construction process, and global impact. He also expressed gratitude to both the UAE and Indian leadership, emphasising the temple’s role as a powerful agent of interfaith and intercultural harmony.

Tej Bahadur Chhetri, Ambassador of Nepal, called the temple a “tirthbhumi (place of pilgrimage)”, adding: “It is an inspiring building that teaches us about love, harmony and tolerance. It is something that we will gift to our future generations. Mahant Swami Maharaj is a great sadhu. Because of him, people were inspired to build this mandir, and it is a huge success.”

Jonathan Knight, Deputy Ambassador of the United Kingdom, said, “It’s wonderful to see a place that’s been contributed by so many different faiths coming together to build something that will last for generations. My hope is this building provides a home away from home.”

The foundation for the first traditional BAPS Hindu Mandir in Abu Dhabi was laid on April 20, 2019. Later, in May 2023, diplomats from over 30 countries visited the under-construction temple site.

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