'He is incredible': Thousands pack into Abu Dhabi stadium for Alhan Modi event

Indian PM is due to address 40,000 citizens at Zayed Sports City stadium

Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Modi's visit to the UAE

A festival atmosphere has taken over the venue where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to speak to Indian citizens in the UAE on Tuesday.

Mr Modi will address 40,000 Indian expats and citizens at 6pm at the Alhan Modi event at Zayed Sports City stadium in the capital.

It is part of his two-day UAE tour during which he will speak at Dubai's World Governments Summit on Wednesday, before inaugurating Abu Dhabi's landmark Hindu temple later that day.

Modi has a global reputation of being a dependable leader in a time of crisis
Srinivas Kini

Thousands of Indian citizens descended on the stadium ahead of Mr Modi's speech on Tuesday evening.

The event began with families from across the emirates chanting, “Modi, Modi” hours before his arrival.

Some told The National that they had arrived at the venue as early as 10.30am.

“I wanted to be here early because I'm so excited and happy to get a chance to hear him speak,” said Shilpa Shenoy, an Abu Dhabi resident who works in the oil and gas sector.

“Modi's message is vasudeva kutumbhbhava (the whole world is one family).

“I really believe that you can be from any part of India but the message is for the world and for all Indians to unite.”

Families and people from all over India danced and sang along with popular Bollywood songs at the Ahlan Modi community event.

A colourful parade and performances by dancers kept crowds entertained. Some of those attending wore the colours of the Indian flag, or had it painted on their faces.

Wearing a sari with the colours of the Indian tricolour, Neha Pandey described the prime minister as a “great leader” who worked to build good relations with the UAE, other Gulf nations and the rest of the world.

“He is incredible because of his vision not only for India but for the world,” said Ms Pandey, who owns a small fashion business in the UAE.

“For so many years, he has been building more friendship between the UAE and India, and all over the Gulf.

“This is something I feel we can all learn from him.”

Srinivas Kini, an engineer who has lived in the UAE for nearly 30 years, said there were lessons to be learnt from Mr Modi.

“Modi has a global reputation of being a dependable leader in a time of crisis – he always has a solution.

“This is very much like what we see in the UAE with the leadership of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed.

“We are blessed that both leaders are close friends and really proud to see how the relationship has grown.”

Part of a large group of friends sporting bright orange Indian kurtas (long shirts), Mr Kini said: “He has shown us his road map for India and how he wants our country to progress.

“India is currently fifth in the world and he has spoken about taking us to number three.

“I would like to know how we as NRIs can actively help in reaching these objectives,” Mr Kini said, referring to India ranking fifth in the world's GDP rankings in 2024.

People who had travelled from India were in the vocal audience who cheered cultural performances and shouted slogans such as, “Bharat mata ki jay (Long live Mother India).”

Chethana Prabhu, a housewife from southern India's Mangalore, is in Abu Dhabi to hear Mr Modi speak and for the inauguration of the capital's first Hindu temple.

“I'm just proud to be Indian and to have a prime minister who has a great vision for India and big plans for the country and us as people,” Ms Prabhu told The National.

Ms Prabhu lived in the UAE for more than 30 years with her banker husband before he retired and returned to India.

“The UAE and India having such a close friendship is important and a big thing for us,” she added.

Updated: February 15, 2024, 10:43 AM