Modi in UAE: India PM to address 60,000 in Abu Dhabi stadium

Leader due to speak at World Governments Summit in Dubai on Wednesday before inaugurating Abu Dhabi's first Hindu temple

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a crowd of more than 60,000 in Abu Dhabi next week. AFP
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More than 60,000 Indians will pack into the Zayed Sports City Stadium on Tuesday to hear Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi address the expatriate community in the UAE.

Organisers of the Ahlan Modi event said registrations to attend were now closed due to the significant demand.

Mr Modi will be in the UAE for two days and is scheduled to attend the World Governments Summit in Dubai.

The Indian Prime Minister will also inaugurate the capital’s first Hindu temple on Wednesday.

We want the whole programme to reflect the spirit of India-UAE friendship
Dr Nishi Singh, Ahlan Modi organising committee

The stadium gates will open at noon on Tuesday and all attendees must be seated by 4pm. Gates will shut at 5pm and Mr Modi is expected to arrive after 6pm.

The following evening Mr Modi will inaugurate the Baps Hindu temple after a morning prayer ceremony during which the place of worship will be consecrated and blessed.

He is expected to arrive at the temple in Abu Dhabi at 5pm and will be taken on a tour of the site, after which he is expected to speak to people in an amphitheatre within the temple complex.

Abu Dhabi Hindu temple prepares for public opening

Abu Dhabi Hindu temple prepares for public opening

Preparations are gathering pace with more than 700 local artistes readying to entertain the crowds at the Abu Dhabi stadium.

“We want to make the cultural procession and the stage performance like a true celebration of Indo-UAE relations,” Dr Nishi Singh, communication director of the Ahlan Modi organising committee, told The National.

“This will be a joyous event. We want the whole programme to reflect the spirit of India-UAE friendship.

“We need to come together and we wanted this to be a celebration much like the Prime Minister’s call and vision for India to be a vishwamitra [friend of the world].”

Hundreds of community groups from across the country have registered to be part of the February 13 event.

“We have schools, colleges, blue-collar workers and women’s groups coming in large numbers,” said Dr Singh, a consultant virologist who has lived in the UAE for more than three decades.

“The best thing is that the talent will be all local, we have more than 700 performers for the cultural procession and stage performances – all UAE-based artists and singers.”

More than 1,500 volunteers from the UAE have been part of the organising and planning process of the large-scale stadium gathering.

Excitement building

Over the last month, performers have met in homes and schools to practise. There will be rehearsals at the stadium in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

Shilpa Nair, the head of the cultural event, described the excitement building in the Indian community. “We are trying to make this a magical evening for everyone,” said Ms Nair, who also headed the programme during Mr Modi’s 2015 visit.

Tens of thousands of people gathered at Dubai International Cricket Stadium to see Mr Modi when he visited the UAE in August 2015, the first visit by an Indian prime minister to the Emirates in 34 years.

“When he visited us in 2015, it was more of a celebration for us that a prime minister was visiting us after so long.

“This time it is our tribute for what he has done over all these years.

“Using song, dance and performances, we will showcase the cultural heritage of both countries, the strong bond and the development taking place over the years.”

Mr Modi’s gatherings around the world at which he addresses Indian expatriates often draw large numbers. The most recent was in Sydney in May.

The visit comes amid strengthening of ties between the countries, frequent visits by heads of state, senior government ministers and major trade deals signed.

Agreements have recently been signed to expand investment in the food processing, health care and renewable energy industries.

Updated: February 14, 2024, 6:51 AM