Sheikh Khalifa grants India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi the Zayed Medal

Mr Modi honoured for efforts to boost ties between UAE and India

NEW DELHI, INDIA - January 25, 2017: HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces (L) and HE Narendra Modi Prime Minister of India (R) attend an MOU signing ceremony, at Hyderabad House.

( Mohamed Al Hammadi / Crown Prince Court - Abu Dhabi )
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President Sheikh Khalifa honoured India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Zayed Medal on Thursday.

The medal, which is the UAE's highest civil honour awarded to kings, presidents and heads of states, was conferred upon Mr Modi for boosting relations between the Emirates and India, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said on Twitter.

Referring to Mr Modi as his "dear friend", Sheikh Mohamed said ties between India are comprehensive and strategic. He praised the values that characterise Indian society in its diversity, especially tolerance, coexistence and respect, according to state news agency Wam.

Mr Modi responded on Twitter, thanking Sheikh Mohamed for his words.

“I accept this honour with utmost humility.

“Under your visionary leadership, our strategic ties have reached new heights. This friendship is contributing to the peace and prosperity of our people and planet,” Mr Modi said.

Indian officials also praised the gesture with the Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj saying it was an honour for the country and its people.

She praised Mr Modi for his part in fostering India’s “best ever relations with the Islamic world.”

The Ambassador of India to the UAE, Navdeep Suri, describing the honour as a "historic moment" that marks a "truly golden era" in the bilateral relations between the two countries.

In a statement, Mr Suri said that granting the Zayed Medal to Prime Minister Modi is "testimony to the dramatic transformation that we have witnessed in our ties ever since Prime Minister's landmark visit in August 2015."

Mr Modi has visited the UAE twice in three years. In his most recent official trip, the prime minister signed a wide range of agreements with the UAE and launched a project to build Abu Dhabi's first Hindu stone temple.

When Mr Modi visited the UAE for the first time in 2015 he became the first Indian leader to visit since Indira Gandhi 34 years earlier. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi has also visited India twice and was guest at India's Republic Day celebrations in 2017.

There are more than three million Indian residents in the UAE, representing the country's largest resident population and contributing to the UAE at every level of society.

UAE-Indian trade is worth $53 billion (Dh194.7bn) annually.