Modi hails 'historic bond' between UAE and India at Ahlan Modi event in Abu Dhabi

India's Prime Minister praises Indian expats for creating history in the Emirates as he prepares to inaugurate Abu Dhabi's first Hindu temple on Wednesday

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the "historic bond" between the UAE and India in a speech on Tuesday.

Mr Modi addressed 40,000 Indian citizens at the Ahlan Modi event at Zayed Sports City Stadium on Tuesday evening.

It comes as part of his two-day visit to the UAE, where he will also speak at the World Governments Summit in Dubai on Wednesday, before inaugurating Abu Dhabi's flagship Hindu temple later in the day.

Mr Modi arrived at the stadium shortly after 7pm on Tuesday to cheers from a crowd of tens of thousands of Indian expats living in the UAE, and some who travelled overseas to see him.

The national anthems of the UAE and India were played as Mr Modi greeted the crowed by saying "Namaskar".

During his speech, Mr Modi said India was proud of the expats who have created history in Abu Dhabi.

"You have come here from different parts of the UAE and from different corners of India but we are all united," he said.

"I have come here to meet my family crossing the seas.

"I have come bearing a message from your countrymen in India, that people in India are proud of you. Bharat is proud of you," he said.

Mr Modi also used his speech to recall fond memories of meeting President Sheikh Mohamed during a visit to the UAE in 2015.

He said he could not forget how Sheikh Mohamed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi at the time, came to receive him at the airport with his brothers.

"I felt like it was meeting family," Mr Modi said. "This was not a greeting for me alone but for each and every Indian."

He then spoke of the President greeting him at the airport for his current visit.

"I have visited the UAE seven times and today Sheikh Mohamed came to meet me at the airport. I'm touched and honoured," he said.

Mr Modi said Sheikh Mohamed praised the contributions of Indian citizens to the UAE.

"Sheikh Mohamed has come to India four times and he was welcomed by people who came on to the roads," he said.

"When I meet my brother Sheikh Mohamed, he always praises you. He praises your contribution in the progress of the UAE."

Mr Modi also said that when a proposal was made to build a temple in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed "agreed immediately".

"The time has come to inaugurate the temple," Mr Modi said.

The Indian Prime Minister ended his speech by affirming India's wish to continue its strong bond with the UAE.

"The connection between our nations is historic and it is our wish that this continues in the future.

"Keep making the bonds between the UAE and India strong. And I thank you for coming here."

The event began with families across the Emirates chanting "Modi, Modi" hours before his arrival.

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

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 and some of those attending wore the colours of the Indian flag, or had it painted on their faces.

Earlier in the day, Mr Modi was received by Sheikh Mohamed at the Presidential Airport in Abu Dhabi, where an official ceremony was held for his arrival.

Mr Modi will join Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani at the World Governments Summit on Wednesday, before inaugurating the Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi.

President Sheikh Mohamed receives Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi – in pictures

Updated: February 14, 2024, 6:45 AM