Indians in the UAE ready to welcome their president

Pratibha Patil's visit next week will be her first to the Gulf and will take in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

India's President Pratibha Patil inspects honour guards during a welcome ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing May 27, 2010. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS)
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ABU DHABI // The Indian president's official visit to the UAE next week, her first to the Gulf, will highlight business, political and community-related issues, according to the Indian ambassador.
Pratibha Patil will arrive with a delegation of entrepreneurs and Indian politicians, said the ambassador MK Lokesh.
"It is a very elaborate visit, where she will be attending a lot of Indian functions," he said. "This is the first visit by the president to the Gulf and the UAE will be the first country she visits."
During Mrs Patil's visit, from Sunday until November 25, she will spend two days in Abu Dhabi before going on to Dubai and Sharjah.
She will meet Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, on November 22.
"Due to security considerations we are unable to reveal all the venues," Mr Lokesh said. "Her programme during the visit is also evolving. During her meeting with the President of the UAE, official discussions will take place. The official agenda is still being arranged."
She will also meet the Abu Dhabi and Dubai Chambers of Commerce. The UAE is India's largest trading partner, with imports and exports worth $44.5 billion in 2009, according to the Indian government.
The business delegation will include members of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India.
On the evening of November 22 she will visit the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi, where she will address the expatriate club members.
"The India Social Centre is a proud monument for all the Indians living here," said Sudhir Shetty, former president of the centre. "Her visit will further enhance the projects we are putting up, and the facilities we are able to provide.
"These moments are very rare. A person no less than the president of India is visiting the centre. This is a great honour."
On November 23, she will inaugurate the Indian Islamic Centre on Al Falah Street. The foundation stone of the building was laid by the Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1981.
She will also meet and address a group of Indian pupils from various schools at the Abu Dhabi Indian School.
"Given the size of the Indian community here, it is natural that she will want to interact with them," Mr Lokesh said.
The ambassador will hold a reception and dinner for the president in Dubai on November 24. She will also meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
She will inaugurate the Indian trade and exhibition centre in Sharjah on November 25, a building set up by Sharjah Chamber of Commerce that will house a permanent exhibition of India.
In Dubai, the president will inaugurate the Indian Workers Resource Centre, set up to provide a wide range of services for Indian workers, mostly labourers.
It will have a 24-hour helpline to answer queries about life in the UAE. Classes will also be conducted regularly to counsel workers about legal, medical and financial issues. The centre can process attestation of employment documents for workers as well.
K Kumar, who heads a welfare centre, part of the Indian consulate in Dubai, said he was looking forward to meeting the president again. He first met her in 2008 when he received the Pravasi Bharatiya Award for his role in the centre.
But Mr Kumar said the president's focus would be on meeting the UAE's leaders. "That is more important for her," he said. "It is important to further build on the relationship between the two countries."
 
sbhattacharya@thenational.ae

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